Eucalyptus trees (Eucalyptus cinerea), also known as gum trees, are graceful and fragrant evergreens that were introduced to the United States from Australia, where they grow in abundance. Eucalyptus is hardy in U.S. Plant Hardiness Zones 8 to 11. Eucalyptus trees, which literally soak up water from the soil, often are used to treat poorly drained areas of the landscape. Before buying a tree for your home garden, consider the many different varieties of eucalyptus that will adapt to your location.
There are more than 700 species of eucalyptus trees, the majority of which are native to Australia. They come in different heights and forms. Varieties range from a shrublike dwarf tree that is 18 feet tall to varieties that exceed 100 feet at maturity. Eucalyptus trees also can be found in the Philippines, New Guinea and the West Indies. In the United States, eucalyptus trees thrive in the arid regions of California and in Florida.
Discuss your planting location, soil condition and landscape requirements with your local county extension agent or landscape contractor. A knowledgeable professional can help you determine which type of eucalyptus is ideal for your location. A new tree is a substantial investment in both money and time. Seek professional advice before you buy.
Look for eucalyptus trees for sale at nurseries and greenhouses. Southern California landscape contractors stock a diverse assortment of eucalyptus. Silver dollar eucalyptus (Eucalyptus polyanthemos), also known as argyle apple or silver dollar tree, is planted as an ornamental landscape tree in many California urban and rural settings. Or search the internet for tree nurseries that stock or can locate unusual varieties of eucalyptus. There are varieties that are incredibly fast growing, gaining more than 6 feet per year.
While many people consider eucalyptus trees to be landscape assets, not everyone is a fan. The Audubonmagazine website warns, in an article titled "America's Largest Weed:" "Of the many eucalyptus species that evolved with fire, none is more incendiary than blue gum. 'Gasoline trees,' firefighters call them. Fire doesn't kill blue gums. Rather, they depend on fire to open their seedpods and clear out the competition. And they promote fire with their prolific combustible oil, copious litter, and long shreds of hanging bark designed to carry flames to the crowns. Blue gum eucalyptus doesn't just burn, it explodes, sending firebrands and seeds shooting hundreds of feet in all directions. Living next to one of these trees is like living next to a fireworks factory staffed by chain-smokers."