The eucalyptus must be, by far, the most hated tree: it has very invasive roots, it does not let anything grow under or around it, it is capable of impoverishing soils, … in short, with these qualities, nobody plans to put one in their garden .
But the reality is that it has an unjustified bad reputation, caused by the lack of knowledge of the humans who decided to plant specimens replacing the native flora, without thinking about the consequences. Also, do not forget that it has other uses as well.
Origin and characteristics of eucalyptus
The eucalyptus trees are evergreen trees or shrubs originating above all of Australia and Ceuta. They belong to the genus Eucalyptus, which comprises about 700 species, which grow to reach heights of up to 150 meters , although it is normal to stay in “only” 30 meters. The trunk is straight, with a light brown bark that falls off easily.
The leaves are of two types: the young ones are oval, but the mature ones are elongated. Both are green-grayish. The flowers are grouped in inflorescences, and are usually whitish.
- Eucalyptus camaldulensis : known as red eucalyptus. It is native and the icon of Australia, especially its hot deserts. It grows up to 60 meters high, with a thick and spongy bark, reddish, gray, greenish and whitish.
- Eucalyptus deglupta : known as rainbow eucalyptus , it is undoubtedly one of the species -but the one that most- that attract attention. It is native to New Britain, New Guinea, Seram, Sulawesi and Mindanao. It grows to a height of 75m, with a multicolored bark.
- Eucalyptus gunnii : known as Gunn eucalyptus, gunni or eucalyptus cider, is an endemic tree of Tasmania that reaches about 37m.
- Eucalyptus globulus : common eucalyptus, white eucalyptus, or blue eucalyptus. Native to southeastern Australia and Tasmania, it is a tree that reaches 40 meters.
What uses does it have?
Normally, in the pages of the blog plants we talk first of their care and then of the uses, but this time we will make an exception because it is the eucalyptus, a plant that is often seen quite badly.
Other uses of eucalyptus
What matters is the essential oil, which is extracted from the leaves. It is used as a nasal decongestant , as well as to fight colds and similar illnesses . Nowadays, it is easy to find pills, candies, syrups, etc. of these trees even in pharmacies.
In addition, it is also effective as a mosquito repellent.
Timber and paper industry
Being fast growing trees, they are used a lot to make small furniture, as well as paper .
Is it good to reforest?
Well, in my opinion … no. You have to think that, for example, in Spain they have been planting eucalyptus trees ( Eucalyptus globulus in Galicia and the Cantabrian cornice, and Eucalyptus camaldulensis in the southwest of the peninsula) since the 19th century. As we said at the beginning, these are plants that not only grow very fast, but prevent others from growing alongside them . And that’s not to mention that, if the conditions are right, the seeds germinate easily.
Apart from this, intensive plantations harm the native flora and fauna , since it is known that in a monoculture there is a very low number of pollinators. Also, there are several studies, such as one published in Serralheiro & Madeira in 1994, which says that the soil is also affected, as it runs out of nutrients.
To make matters worse, as the bark is detached in strips, in case of fire, it spreads much faster .
Eucalyptus as an ornamental plant
Does it mean everything we have said so far that eucalyptus should be banned or, at least, concentrated in small areas? Of course not. But you have to use common sense, especially if we would like to have one in the garden.
If that is your case, then we tell you what your care is:
It has to be placed outdoors, in full sun . Keep in mind that their roots are very invasive, so plant them at a minimum distance of ten meters from walls, pipes, floors, etc.
- Garden : grows on all types of soils, except those that are permanently wet.
- Flowerpot : it is not a plant to have in a pot, not forever. Anyway, if you want to grow it there for a while, you can use universal growing medium.
Watering 3-4 times in summer, and every 4 or 5 days the rest of the year.
It is not necessary.
Remove the dry, diseased, weak or broken branches at the end of winter.
Propagation of eucalyptus
It is multiplied by seeds in spring.
The majority of eucalyptus species resist frost between -3 and -5ºC , but there are some, such as E. pauciflora , E. globulus , E. gunnii and E. subcrenulata , that resist up to -10ºC and even up to -20ºC.
The, in my opinion more beautiful, the eucalyptus rainbow, can only be grown in warm climates, without frost.
What did you think of this tree?
I am Don Burke, one of the authors at My Garden Guide. I am a horticulturist that cultivates, grows, and cares for plants, ranging from shrubs and fruits to flowers. I do it in my own garden and in my nursery. I show you how to take care of your garden and how to perform garden landscaping in an easy way, step by step.I am originally from Sydney and I wrote in local magazines. Later on, I have decided, more than two decades ago, to create my own blog. My area of specialization is related to orchid care, succulent care, and the study of the substrate and the soil. Therefore, you will see many articles dedicated to these disciplines. I also provide advice about how to improve the landscape design of your garden.