The eucalyptus tree is known for its intense aroma and blue-green foliage with a silver sheen. The woody plant originated in Australia and is therefore considered a sun and heat-loving plant . However, there are also hardy varieties that do well in this country as a container plant. How to plant the eucalyptus in a pot and care for it properly, we reveal in the article.
Table of contents
- Eucalyptus in a pot – a real eye-catcher for indoors and outdoors.
- How to care for eucalyptus in a pot
- Decoration ideas with eucalyptus leaves
Eucalyptus in a pot – A real eye-catcher for indoors and outdoors
The very special appearance of the eucalyptus plant makes it a popular choice on balconies, terraces and in the home. In principle, it is a woody plant, but the exotic plant is cultivated both as a tree and a bush. What form of growth the plant takes, depends mainly on the cut.
Which eucalyptus as a container plant?
There are more than 600 species of eucalyptus worldwide. While in Australia eucalyptus trees form entire forests, only a few species thrive in our latitudes due to differences in climate. The cider gum eucalyptus or still known as Eucalyptus gunnii is considered the most popular subspecies in this country. It is cultivated both outdoors and as a container plant. Probably the most popular varieties are Eucalyptus gunni ‘Azura’ and ‘Silverana’.
Other popular species are the lemon eucalyptus (Eucalyptus citriodora) and the red eucalyptus (Eucalyptus ficifolia). The former is known for its intense citrus scent and the latter enchants with beautiful red flowers.
Those who want to keep the plant at home or on the balcony or terrace, it is important to note that its leaves in larger quantities are toxic to dogs and cats . The reason for this are the essential oils , which are contained in the leaves . So better put the eucalyptus in the pot out of reach of pets.
Finding the right pot
Choosing the right pot is crucial for the eucalyptus plant, especially if it will stay in the pot. It should have good drainage, as the drainage holes will allow all excess water to drain out of the soil and prevent overwatering. Young plants can be planted in a smaller pot first and repotted once a year if needed, preferably in the spring.
Since eucalyptus has very long roots, the plant needs a tall pot or tub. The ideal container must be twice as large in volume as the culture pot.
When and how to plant eucalyptus in a pot?
Propagation is by sowing, as cuttings are extremely difficult to root. The seeds may take a year or more to mature on the tree, but can be collected if they divide easily. However, original Australian seeds can be found in specialty stores.
Seeds should ideally be sown in mid-February. Eucalyptus does not tolerate root disturbance, so root trainers (long pots) and peat-free soil are used. One should provide adequate soil warmth whenever possible. For optimal establishment, transplant seedlings to their final location by mid-summer.
Here’s how to do it step by step:
1. refrigerate the seeds. Place the seed packet in the refrigerator and leave the seeds there for two months. This is called stratification and helps bring the seeds out of dormancy and promote germination.
Stratification replicates the dormancy that occurs over the winter, so the seeds will come back to life and germinate when they are removed from the refrigerator.
2. Plant the seeds in late winter. Eucalyptus seeds should be sown in pots indoors a few weeks before the last expected frost. So the seeds should be sown in mid-February.
3. Fill the peat pots with potting soil. Use a porous potting soil that contains plenty of perlite for good drainage. It is also important to use peat pots that can be transplanted with the seedlings, as eucalyptus does not respond well to transplanting.
4. plant the seeds. Sprinkle a few seeds on the potting soil in each peat pot. Cover each pot with a light sprinkling of horticultural sand. This will keep the seeds in place and warm and moist while they germinate.
5. Spray the seeds regularly. Once you have covered the seeds with sand, spray them with water to help them settle into the soil. While the seeds are germinating, spray the soil every day or two to keep the growing medium evenly moist.
6. Keep the seeds warm. Place the pots in a warm location, such as a heated greenhouse or on top of the refrigerator. You can also place the pots on a heating pad to keep them warm during germination.
7. Cut off the weakest seedlings. Since you planted several seeds in each pot, more than one seedling may germinate. Examine each pot and look for the largest, thickest, and healthiest seedling. Use sterilized scissors to cut all weaker seedlings to ground level.
8. transplant the seedlings. Try to transplant the seedlings in mid-summer. By then, the seedlings will have had plenty of time to become established. The warmer temperatures at this time of year are also ideal for moving the eucalyptus outside.
The right location
In order for the eucalyptus to develop its full glory, it needs a suitable location. Whether indoors or outdoors, the ideal place for eucalyptus should be sunny and warm. The plant tolerates direct sunlight very well. In winter, cooler temperatures are also acceptable if the plant gets enough light. Too little sunlight will cause the leaves to bleach. But be careful – under the perfect site conditions, the eucalyptus plant grows very quickly in height.
The eucalyptus in the tub may stand outdoors on the balcony or terrace from May to October. There the plant functions not only as a beautiful eye-catcher, but its fragrance can also keep mosquitoes away . The plant must be well protected from the wind, so places against the wall of the house are best.
Eucalyptus likes a lot of light, so you need to put the plant in a place that receives at least 8 to 10 hours of bright sunlight daily. Likewise, eucalyptus plants grown indoors should be kept near a window that receives plenty of sunlight.
What soil for eucalyptus in the container?
For the eucalyptus in a pot, a special potted plant soil is perfect as a substrate. The ideal soil is sandy-loamy, fresh, low in nutrients and has a pH value that is between 5 and 6. The pot or tub must also have good drainage, as the plant is sensitive to waterlogging. A layer of expanded clay provides good drainage for the pot.
Proper care for eucalyptus in a pot
In principle, the eucalyptus is a very undemanding plant. If it is planted in the garden, little attention is needed from the gardener other than annual pruning. In a pot or tub, the plant has somewhat greater care needs. It will thank you with a beautiful foliage. Below we summarize everything about proper care.
How to water eucalyptus in a pot?
Eucalyptus in a pot needs a lot of water. During the growing season, which lasts from May to October, you should always make sure that the soil does not dry out. The root ball must always be moist. For watering is best to use decalcified (filtered) water or rainwater. In winter, the soil should also not be allowed to dry out completely, but the amount of water may be less. Since the plant does not tolerate waterlogging, the substrate should be allowed to dry slightly before each watering.
The eucalyptus tree prefers a nutrient-poor soil, so it does not need much fertilizing. A slow release fertilizer is the optimal solution.
Do I need to repot the plant?
Eucalyptus species such as Eucalyptus gunnii, which are cultivated in pots and tubs, grow more slowly than the other species, but can still show a growth of 40 cm per year. Therefore, you should repot the potted plant annually, and even twice a year in the first years.
Since the eucalyptus tree grows very quickly, pruning is indispensable. Compared to other species of eucalyptus, mustard gum eucalyptus grows more slowly, although you can expect 40-50 cm per year.
You have to prune the eucalyptus in the pot once or twice a year. The optimal time for pruning the larger saplings is after wintering. All dead shoots are cut off and branches growing crosswise are shortened. Do not cut into the root system.
Shaping corrective pruning can be done at any time. To do this, simply cut back the long shoots whenever necessary. As a result, the plant grows more and bushier, which will please any amateur gardener.
How to overwinter eucalyptus?
Must gum eucalyptus is considered hardy to -15 degrees. Nevertheless, the plant should be wintered indoors. In the winter quarters it must be very bright, otherwise the plant will react with leaf shedding.
Diseases and pests
As a rule, the eucalyptus is free from major disease and pest problems. The essential oils it contains and its intense fragrance keep most pests away. If there is a lack of water, the plant can become susceptible to aphids or mealybugs. Diseases almost never affect the eucalyptus.
If the optimum site and soil conditions are met and the plant gets the right amount of water, it will thrive.
What suits eucalyptus in a container?
Because of its rapid growth and large root ball, eucalyptus is often planted alone in containers. Since the cut branches can be kept for a very long time, they can be used to create beautiful arrangements.
Decoration ideas with eucalyptus leaves
In the vase, the cut eucalyptus lasts up to 10 days. Therefore, it is often used in floristry. Various DIY projects, such as door wreaths, call for fresh or dried eucalyptus leaves. It can also be used to make beautiful flower arrangements, which is why more and more brides are opting for the shimmering foliage for their bridal bouquets.