I just ordered a fun new plant… Eucalyptus! It’s actually ‘Silver Drop’ Eucalyptus, which grows in the form of a shrub, not a humongous tree.
Not only is it GORGEOUS, it’s also good for you. You know how it is, everything we plant around here has to have a use. And this beauty fits the bill!
I’m excited because eucalyptus can be used to treat respiratory infections, colds, and rashes.
Eucalyptus can also be used in homemade toiletries such as deodorant and bath products. I can’t wait to experiment!
Table of Contents:
- grows in zones 7-11 (can be potted and brought indoors during the winter in cooler climates)
- gets about 3 ft. tall; space 12-14″ apart
- likes full sun, but will tolerate partial shade (grows slower in shade)
- it’s an evergreen
- very aromatic
Those are just the basics. Ready to learn the details? Here’s everything you need to know about growing eucalyptus plants.
What Is Eucalyptus?
A fast-growing evergreen tree native to Australia, this warm-weather plant is commonly used as an ingredient in many products.
There are over 400 different species of eucalyptus, but the Blue Gum Eucalyptus, or Eucalyptus globulus, is the most common source of eucalyptus oil. It is also one of the most commonly grown.
Plants in the Eucalyptus family generally have fibrous, smooth, stringy, or hard bark. Their leaves have prominent oil glands and they have petals that are fused with sepals to form caps over the stamens.
Most Eucalyptus plants are native to Australia, with every state having some kind of representative species. In fact, over 75% of Australian forests are eucalyptus forests, with these plants well-adapted to fire.
These plants are grown in plantations in other countries, too. They are fast-growing and have valuable timber. These trees can also be harvested for pulpwood, honey production, or essential oils.
Because of their native growing conditions, eucalyptus trees are not tolerant of the cold. They can be damaged by temperatures below 23 degrees.
The Many Benefits of Eucalyptus
This plant is commonly used in a wide variety of products. The oil that is derived from the tree is frequently used as a perfume, a cosmetic ingredient, an antiseptic solution, and more. It’s also used in many industrial and dental applications.
This plant has a history in many styles of medicine, including Chinese, Greek, Indian, Ayurvedic, and European. To extract the oil, leaves are steam-distilled.
This process produces a strong, colorless liquid that has a powerful, woody scent. The leaves contain important tannins and flavonoids that are plant-based antioxidants – many of these also contain tannins that can reduce inflammation.
Eucalyptus has a ton of benefits, not all of which have been formally studied in scientific research. However, with minimal side effects, this plant is one to consider growing on your homestead for sure.
For example, eucalyptus has powerful antimicrobial properties. It used to be used for cleaning urinary catheters in hospitals in 19th century England, in fact!
More recent studies have shown that eucalyptus oil is a powerful cleaner and could be used with established antibiotics to develop treatment strategies for various strains of bacteria.
It is also often used to treat the common cold – have you ever noticed that most cough lozenges or inhaled treatments have eucalyptus as a primary active ingredient?
The oil of eucalyptus is a powerful decongestant and can relieve sore throats, sinus pressure, and even bronchitis. One of the most popular cough medications, Vicks VapoRub, contains eucalyptus.
Eucalyptus has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties that make it a prominent treatment in various dental settings.
It can fight bacteria that cause tooth decay, so if you are able to use eucalyptus in chewing gum, you may be able to fight off decay. It can also be used to treat skin wounds and fungal infections.
If you struggle with bugs around your homestead, you might want to consider using eucalyptus as a natural treatment, too.
It is a powerful miticide and insecticide and can even be effective against the pupae and larvae of the housefly. If you’re looking for a good eco-friendly solution to keep flies away from your farm, eucalyptus might be your go-to solution.
Finally, eucalyptus oil can relieve pain and is often used as an over-the-counter preparation for things like joint pain, arthritis, backaches, bruising, strains, muscle pain, and sprains. It can also stimulate your immune system and make it easier to fight things like cold sores, fevers, wounds, and burns.
There are very few side effects to using eucalyptus oil as a home remedy – you need to be careful about using it directly on your skin unless you dilute the oil.
I always recommend diluting essential oils with some kind of carrier oil, anyway, like olive oil. Otherwise, it can produce a burning sensation. You should also make sure you are not allergic to eucalyptus oil before using it on your skin.
Finally, you should not consume eucalyptus soil because it is poisonous to eat. It can cause issues like trouble breathing, dizziness, and digestive upset.
Best Varieties of Eucalyptus to Grow
Eucalyptus is a wonderful tree to grow in your garden. Not only is it beautiful and fragrant, but it is also very easy to care for. If you are looking for the best varieties of eucalyptus to grow, here are a few that you should consider:
Its leaves are dark green and glossy, and its flowers are white or cream-colored. The tree can grow to be over 100 feet tall, and its trunk is typically 2-3 feet in diameter.
Gray gum trees are commonly used as ornamental plants, and their wood is sometimes used for furniture or flooring.
The tree is also an important source of food for koalas, possums, and other Australian animals. In addition, the oil from gray gum leaves is used in some kinds of medication.
Eucalyptus Globulus, commonly known as blue gum, is an evergreen tree that is native to Australia. It grows to an average height of 150 feet and has smooth, gray bark.
The leaves are long and narrow, with a blue-green tint. The flowers are white and fragrant, blooming from December to February.
The blue gum is particularly adaptable to a variety of growing conditions, making it a popular choice for landscaping. It thrives in full sun and well-drained soil, and is relatively drought-tolerant once established. However, it should be protected from strong winds, as the leaves can be easily damaged.
The eucalyptus gunnii, more commonly known as the cider gum, is a species of eucalyptus native to Tasmania. It is one of the most cold-tolerant eucalyptus species, and can grow in areas with temperatures as low as -5 F (-15 degrees Celsius).
The cider gum typically reaches a height of 50-65 feet (15-20 meters), and has smooth gray bark that is shed in strips. The leaves are glossy green and oval-shaped, with a length of 10-15 cm. The flowers are white or cream-colored and grow in clusters of 3-7. The fruit is a woody capsule with a diameter of 2-3 cm.
Cider gum was first discovered by European settlers in Tasmania in 1827. It was named after the English botanist Augustus Gunn, who collected specimens of the tree during his travels in the region.
Today, cider gum is widely cultivated in temperate regions around the world, and is often used as an ornamental tree or for timber production. It is also popular as a bee source for honey production.
Silver Dollar Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus polybractea) is a species of eucalyptus tree native to Australia. The tree gets its name from the silvery-blue leaves which are reminiscent of silver dollars.
The leaves are also aromatic and have a menthol-like scent. Silver Dollar Eucalyptus trees can grow to be quite large, reaching up to 30 meters in height. They are fast-growing trees and are often used for timber production.
The wood is strong and durable, making it well-suited for construction purposes. In addition to being an attractive tree, Silver Dollar Eucalyptus is also popular for its essential oils.
The oil extracted from the leaves is used in a variety of products, including cosmetics, perfumes, and soaps. It is also used in aromatherapy and has a range of medicinal benefits. Silver Dollar Eucalyptus oil is known to help relieve congestion, headaches, and muscle pain.
Eucalyptus citriodora, commonly known as lemon-scented gum or lemon eucalyptus, is a tall tree with a smooth, pale gray bark. The leaves are long and narrow, with a lemon-like scent when crushed. The flowers are white and fragrant, blooming in the spring and summer.
Lemon-scented gum is native to Australia but can be found in other parts of the world, including the United States. The tree is often used as an ornamental plant or as a source of essential oil.
Lemon eucalyptus oil is used in many different products, including insect repellents and aromatherapy oils. The oil has a strong lemon scent and is reputed to have insect-repelling properties.
Mallee eucalyptus is a species of tree that is native to Australia. The word “mallee” refers to the way that the tree grows – it has multiple stems that branch off from a single trunk. Mallee eucalyptus trees are typically found in dry, arid climates, and they are known for their ability to survive in hostile conditions.
The tree gets its name from the Aboriginal word for “thriving.” Mallee eucalyptus trees are an important food source for koalas, as well as a number of other animals.
Eucalyptus platypus, commonly known as moort, is a hardy species of eucalyptus tree that can tolerate heavy soils, cold temperatures, and drought. Native to Australia, moort is often used as a windbreak or shade tree in agricultural settings.
The tree’s thick bark is resistant to fire and its foliage is dense, making it an effective barrier against wind and water erosion.
Moort has smooth, greenish-gray bark. The tree’s leaves are oblong-shaped and have a sharply pointed tip. Flowers bloom in clusters of three and are white or cream-colored with a yellow center.
Eucalyptus platypus is an important source of food and shelter for many species of wildlife in Australia. The tree’s nectar attracts birds, bats, and bees
How to Grow Eucalyptus
Eucalyptus has a delicious menthol-like fragrance and is a popular plant to be grown at home. In the garden, it’s a great ornamental species, and when grown indoors it is equally stunning. You can use the leaves in crafty creations or extract the essential oil for home use, too.
If you live in USDA Hardiness Zones 8-10, you can grow eucalyptus as a tree. It will grow to towering heights and will be the same kind of plant that is used to feed the koalas in Australia!
However, if you are a home gardener, you may find it easier to grow eucalyptus as a small plant or potted shrub, as I did. You can trim it back frequently to keep it at a manageable size.
This plant is easy to grow, despite the fact that it is a heavy feeder and needs a lot of sunlight. You can put it outside during the summer and bring it inside when the weather cools.
You will want to pay attention to the lighting, feeding, and watering needs of this plant, but know that it can adapt to most soils.
If you are able to put it outside for at least some portions of the year, know that it is valuable for its ability to attract bees with its fragrant blossoms.
How Big Do Eucalyptus Trees Get?
Outside, eucalyptus trees can be grown to heights of 60 feet tall or more! They will produce gorgeous half-moon-shaped leaves.
As potted trees, they will likely only grow to about eight feet tall in one season – however, it’s easy to keep these plants trimmed back to a more manageable size.
It is not recommended that you use a conventional round pot for your eucalyptus plants.
This will result in poor root development, as the roots will begin to circle around inside of the pot and become so tightly wound that it will be impossible to transplant the tree later.
Instead, you should plant the tree in a large, cone-shaped pot. You can then transplant it later if need be. You should plant in well-draining nutritious soil, and give it regular water.
Fertilizing Your Eucalyptus Shrubs
You should add liquid fertilizer to your plant water about once a week. You only need to fertilize during the early spring until the end of the summer – it will remain dormant for the rest of the year. Use a low-nitrogen fertilizer, as this plant has low nitrogen needs.
Where to Place Your Eucalyptus Plants
Your eucalyptus plant needs full sun to stay healthy. Place it in a sunny location (that also receives shelter from the wind) where it’s easy for you to water it.
In the summer, you might want to dig a hole and place the entire container in it. You can sink it into the lip of the pot and leave it in the ground all summer.
This may make it easier for your plant to warm up. Just make sure you bring it inside once the temperatures drop!
How to Water Eucalyptus
Water your plants by misting the soil. This will ensure that your plant remains properly hydrated but does not become water-logged.
This should be done just about every day. Make sure your eucalyptus is growing in well-draining soil, too, for best results. The pot should have plenty of drainage holes.
Eucalyptus Pests and Diseases
Eucalyptus trees are a popular choice for landscaping, but they can be susceptible to pests and diseases. One of the most common eucalyptus pests is the psyllid, a small insect that feeds on the sap of the leaves.
This can cause the leaves to turn yellow and eventually drop off. psyllids can also transmit a virus that can stunt the growth of young trees.
Other common eucalyptus pests include scale insects, which suck the sap from the leaves and cause them to turn yellow and eventually drop off.
Eucalyptus trees are also susceptible to fungal diseases, such as root rot and leaf spot. These diseases can cause the leaves to turn brown and fall off, and they can ultimately kill the tree.
To prevent these problems, it is important to plant eucalyptus trees in well-drained soil and to water them regularly.
Eucalyptus trees are typically low-maintenance plants, but they may occasionally require pruning to remove overgrown, broken, or misshapen branches and foliage.
The best time of year to prune eucalyptus trees is during the summer months or the active growing season, when the weather is drier and there is less risk of fungal diseases.
However, it is important to avoid pruning during very humid weather, as this can put the plant at risk of developing fungal diseases.
Growing Eucalyptus From Seed
If you don’t already have a eucalyptus plant, you can grow your own at home or purchase cuttings or transplants from the store. To propagate it from cuttings, you will need a cutting that is about four to six inches long.
Place it in a small pot filled with either potting soil or perlite. Keep it moist and regularly mist it until the roots form. Then, it should be kept in a warm area of about 80-90 degrees until it has become firmly established.
You can also grow eucalyptus from seed, which is often easier for the novice gardener. You will want to chill your seeds in the refrigerator for two months before beginning. This process, known as stratification, will bring the seeds out of dormancy and encourage good germination.
You should plant your eucalyptus seeds in late winter. While this timeline doesn’t matter as much if you plan on keeping your eucalyptus plant indoors full-time, it will help put you on a schedule that mimics your eucalyptus’s plants natural growth patterns.
To plant seeds, prepare peat pots with good potting soil. This should be porous and contain lots of perlites.
You will want to use peat pots and not any other kind of pot because eucalyptus does not take well to transplanting.
The peat pots will make it easier on your plants’ fragile roots, as you can just plant the entire pots.
Plant your seeds by sprinkling a few on top of the potting soil in each pot. Cover them with a light sprinkling of horticultural sand, which will help keep the seeds warm and in position until they germinate.
Never use sand from your backyard to do this, as it can be contaminated with pathogens that can kill your developing seedlings.
Mist your seeds regularly. Once they germinate, you should mist them every day to keep the medium evenly moist. They also need to be kept warm – a good spot is the top of the refrigerator or on a heating pad.
Once seedlings emerge, you can trim back the weakest ones. You don’t want to have multiple seedlings in one pot, as this can cause overcrowding. Use sterilized seedlings to trim back the weak links.
How to Transplant Seedlings
Once your seedlings have fully developed, you will need to transplant them either into larger pots or directly into the garden. If you are transplanting outside, you will want to wait until mid-summer.
If you planted in the winter, your seedings should have had plenty of time to establish themselves. Plus, the temperatures will be warmest and best-suited for these plants at the height of summer.
Make sure you select a well-lit location that receives at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight every day. It should be a few feet from nearby buildings because this rapidly-growing tree can cause damage with its falling branches. The site should also be protected from heavy winds for this reason.
You may want to add a bit of compost to your sol. This will help improve the ability of the soil to drain and hold moisture.
Your planting holes should be slightly larger than the peat pots. Plant them gently and make sure you pack soil up and around the roots to protect them as they adjust to the new setting.
Caring for Eucalyptus Plants
Regardless of whether you are growing eucalyptus outdoors or in a container, it may benefit you to add a thick layer of mulch.
Mulch can control the temperature of the soil and protect it from drying out. You should use a bulky type of organic matter like compost or bark.
Water your trees at least once a week. Watch out for shriveling leaves, which indicate that your plants aren’t getting enough water.
Once the plant is at least five years old, you won’t have to water at all, even during dry periods, as the plant will have exceptional drought tolerance.
How to Harvest Eucalyptus
You should cut the branches of your eucalyptus plant regularly. You can use all parts of the plant, including the bark, leaves, and roots, which all contain valuable essential oil.
If you want to extract the oil, you should have the branches by the stem in an upside-down bundle. You may also remove the leaves and let them air-dry until they are leathery. The leaves can then be stored long-term in glass jars.
Extracting Eucalyptus Oil
You can easily distill your eucalyptus plant into your own essential oil by using a common homestead appliance -the Crock Pot!
To do this, you should start by gathering your eucalyptus leaves. You will need about a quarter cup of leaves for every cup of oil you want to make.
Wash the leaves in the sink in water, rinsing them well before you let them dry. Get them as dry as possible and then put a cup of carrier oil like olive oil into the Crock Pot.
Strip your eucalyptus leaves from the stem and crush them with your hands. Put them into the Crock Pot with the oil and set it to low. Let the mixture steep for about six hours – the longer it steeps, the stronger the oil will be.
Once the oil has steeped, let it cool. Pour it through a fine mesh strainer into a jar. Try to use a dark glass jar and make sure it has a tight-fitting lid. Any water or bacteria that make their way into the jar can lead to mold.
And that’s essentially all you need to know about this fun plant. I’m anxious to get my new plants! I have just the perfect place for them in mind.
As with most plants, the answer to how often you should water your eucalyptus plant depends on a number of factors, including the type of soil it is planted in, the climate conditions, and the time of year. In general, however, it is best to water eucalyptus plants deeply but less frequently.
This means giving the plant a good soaking once or twice a week, rather than a light sprinkling every day. During hot summer months, you may need to water more frequently, and during cooler months, you can cut back on watering.
Eucalyptus trees are native to Australia, but they have been introduced to many other countries around the world. In some cases, they have become an invasive species, crowding out native plants and disrupting ecosystem balance.
Eucalyptus trees are fast-growing and they produce a lot of seeds that can be dispersed by birds and other animals. They also have a high tolerance for drought and fire, which allows them to outcompete other plants in dry conditions.
In addition, eucalyptus trees produce a chemical that inhibits the growth of other plants nearby.
There are many different types of eucalyptus trees, and not all of them are fragrant. However, there are a few varieties that are known for their pleasant scent.
One of the most popular fragrant eucalyptus trees is the lemon-scented gum. This tree is native to Australia and has a strong lemon aroma.
Other fragrant eucalyptus trees include the Tasmanian blue gum and the silver-leaved mountain ash. These trees have a softer, more delicate scent than lemon-scented gum.
Unfortunately, once a eucalyptus tree has reached its full height, it is not possible to significantly reduce its size. Pruning may help to encourage branching and promote a fuller appearance, but it will not have a significant impact on the overall height of the tree.
In short, if you want to control the height of your eucalyptus tree, you will need to choose a smaller variety or plan to keep it trimmed on a regular basis.
Eucalyptus is a fast-growing tree that can reach heights of more than 200 feet within just a few years.
Despite their fast growth rate, eucalyptus trees have a relatively short lifespan, with most species only living for 20-30 years.
After they reach maturity, eucalyptus trees typically stop growing and begin to decline.
Do you grow Eucalyptus plants? I’d love to know how you use them!
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.