Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus and Corymbia species)

Gardeners tend to avoid planting eucalyptus or gum trees, fearing they will become towering giants that drop limbs and pose a hazard to people and property. Fortunately, there are small gum trees that possess the features we love about these iconic native trees – varied growth habits; textured bark; fascinating juvenile and adult foliage as well as spectacular flower buds and blooms that are followed by intriguing seed capsules.

Mallee eucalyptus are particularly suitable for garden planting because they develop multiple trunks. These trunks emerge from a swollen stem base containing stored nutrients and dormant buds called a lignotuber The list below represents species and grafted hybrids suitable for suburban planting and the state where they are endemic.

  • Bell-fruited Mallee (Eucalyptus preissiana) – WA.
  • Bushy Yate (Eucalyptus lehmannii) – WA.
  • Coarse-leaved Mallee (Eucalyptus grossa) – WA.
  • Drummond’s Mallee (Eucalyptus drummondii) – WA.
  • Dwarf Crimson (Corymbia ficifolia) – Grafted hybrid – Vic.
  • Dwarf Orange (Corymbia ficifolia) – Grafted hybrid – Vic.
  • March Mallee (Eucalyptus leptophylla) – SA, NT.
  • Mottlecah (Eucalyptus macrocarpa) – WA.
  • Plunkett Mallee (Eucalyptus curtisii) – Qld.
  • Red-budded Mallee (Eucalyptus pachyphylla) SA, WA, NT.
  • Rusty Jacket (Corymbia peltata syn. Eucalyptus peltata) – Qld.
  • Silver Princess (Eucalyptus caesia Silver Princess) – WA.
  • Summer Beauty (Eucalyptus ptychocarpa x E. ficifolia) – Grafted hybrid – Qld, WA, NT.
  • Summer Red (Eucalyptus ptychocarpa x E. ficifolia) – Grafted hybrid – Qld, WA, NT
  • Swamp Bloodwood (Eucalyptus ptychocarpa) – Qld, WA, NT.

Growing conditions

Climate While many species in commercial cultivation originate from Western Australia, they often perform equally well in other parts of the country, particularly in Victoria and New South Wales. There are species that cope with everything from extreme heat and drought to temporary waterlogging during tropical wet seasons as well as cold, frost and snow.

Soil The key to success is choosing a species adapted to your climate and soil type. Where soil is compacted or requires other improvement, aerate deeply with a garden fork, and incorporate home-made compost or mix Seasol Garden Mix into the existing soil. Prepare the soil so that roots can penetrate deeply to ensure plant stability and less stress during seasonal extremes.

Aspect Eucalyptus trees prefer full sun, but will tolerate some morning shade. Lightly stake young plants for the first year or so as to provide some degree support for the main trunk and branches, while still allowing movement. Trees should be self-supporting after this time, except in the most exposed situations. The tough leathery foliage is tolerant of wind and exposed conditions.

General Care

Watering Eucalyptus vary in their water needs. Some originate from extremely dry climates, while others prefer wet conditions. Where the soil repels water, apply Seasol Super Soil Wetter & Conditioner. Regular applications of Seasol are beneficial when plants are young or during other periods of stress.

Feeding and mulching PowerFeed with Troforte All Purpose including Natives is suitable for young eucalyptus trees. Add to the soil in advance of planting and reapply after pruning.  You can also boost growth at any time of year with liquid PowerFeed All Purpose including Natives. Avoid creating overly soft growth as this will be more prone to caterpillar attack. Mulch plants with a coarse mulch to keep the roots cool and retain soil moisture.

Pruning Tip prune young trees to create the branched habit that best fits your landscape. Annual pruning is not essential, but trimming behind old gum nuts is a useful strategy to keep trees tidy and encourage new growth. Mallee species are particularly well-adapted to pruning. Single branches or entire trees that have become untidy or too large can be cut back to just above the lignotuber in a technique known as coppicing.

Watch for Pests and diseases on eucalyptus typically indicate trees are growing where the climate and/or soil are unsuitable, or trees have not received appropriate care. This is particularly the case with psyllid attack. These sucking insects construct distinctive lace-like covers for protection. Caterpillar attack occurs from time to time, but trees rarely suffer long term damage so control is unnecessary. Eucalyptus trees are potentially susceptible to myrtle rust. Speak to staff at your local nursery about the most disease resistant varieties for your region.