Eucalyptus or gum trees form fine evergreen varieties with luscious vegetation and striking bark hues, but some species develop tall and sensitive to strong winds.
They also drop long bark parts mainly in summer and drop leaves year-round as new ones grow. The commonest hardy eucalypt in UK gardens is the cider gum (E. gunnii) which, if left to its own devices, will amount to 40ft (12m) in height.
Juvenile leaves are oval and grey-green, but those on mature plants are lengthier and sickle-shaped.
It is a standard method to coppice the towering eucalypts in small gardens and support stems of young leaves recognized by flower arrangers.
After a couple of years, branches are cut hardback 3-12in (8-30cm) above ground in late February or March. The new growth is often left to grow but can be thinned out to create a more shapely plant.
This coppicing is repeated by cutting the resulting stems within a node or two of the base annually — or after several years, depending on the regrowth speed and required effect.
We have opted to grow two of the daintier gums in our garden. E. nicholii (known as willow peppermint gum) will grow tall; ours has reached house height in 20 years) but slowly and with a slender, weeping habit.
Better still is E gregsoniana, or Wolgan snow gum. It reaches 12ft (4m), it has peeling bark, handsome foliage, new red stems, clusters of yellow flower buds opening to white blossom, and corky pods.
Ours has two main stems, which we pollard by cutting higher up at about 6ft (1.8m). This gives us bark color and regrowth at eye level but prevents it from growing out over other plants and up into overhead wires. So prune now, either coppicing or pollarding, and use your instincts to shape the young three.
Grow Eucalyptus From Seed
Young seed-raised eucalyptus plants (especially E. globulus) were once widely used in tropical bedding schemes.
Some of the hardier species require cold stratification or chilling first.
Seeds soaked overnight are placed in a bag of damp compost in the fridge for a month or two before germinating in warmth.
Gums take better planted out as young specimens.
How To Coppice Or Pollard Eucalyptus
Here are 4 Steps in Eucalyptus Pruning, you can apply them as needed.
- A young eucalyptus is sawn down in February or March to leave a short leg from which regrowth will arise. You can cut even lower, to just Sin (8cm) above ground if you like.
- To pollard eucalyptus, saw through the trunk at about 6ft (1.8m) above ground. This one was coppiced originally, two stems were allowed to grow tall and they have been pollarded at different times.
3. This pollarded stem of E. gregsoniana has produced several tufts of growth from just below the cut and also lower down on the trunk.
3. Should you want a bushy, shrubby mass of new growth, then leave all the stems in place. Alternatively, thin the new growth out to create the effect you want.