Prune and Overwinter Eucalyptus: What Should You Pay Attention to in Fall?
Eucalyptus is a real eye-catcher. To ensure that the sun-loving plant gets through the cold months safely, you should follow a few tips on how to prune and overwinter eucalyptus.
Eucalyptus is an attractive evergreen plant for the home and garden, valued for its aromatic, blue-green leaves and colorful bark. The plant, which is native to Australia and serves as food for koala bears, prefers a mild climate and should therefore be properly overwintered. However, before you prepare it for winter, it should be lightly pruned in the fall. Discover our tips on how to prune and overwinter eucalyptus, whether you grow it in a container or in soil.
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Prune and Overwinter Eucalyptus: What Should You Pay Attention to?
Eucalyptus plants are easy to care for and can be grown in containers or as a shrub or tree in the garden. There are over 600 species, but their hardiness varies. Eucalyptus gunnii is the only species that is considered hardy and if it is already well rooted, it can survive mild winters or in sheltered locations without damage. All other species, which are also referred to as conditionally frost-resistant, should not be planted in the ground but in pots and should definitely spend the winter indoors. Below you will find out what you should pay attention to when overwintering and how to properly prune your plant in fall.
Pruning Eucalyptus in Fall
As temperatures get cooler, you’ll want to properly prepare your eucalyptus for overwintering, which not only requires a change of location, but also some light pruning. Remember that the plant should not be pruned heavily until spring. Any frost damage can be removed at the same time.
Shorten the shoot tips in fall and remove all brown and dry leaves. Make sure that you prune the plant before the first frost so that it has enough time to recover and settle down.
Overwinter Potted Eucalyptus
Eucalyptus plants grown in containers are sensitive to cold temperatures and have difficulty surviving frost. That’s why they should be brought indoors in the fall. Place them on a porch, greenhouse or room no later than mid-October. Provide the right overwintering conditions so that the plant survives the winter successfully.
However, before you bring the eucalyptus indoors, you should isolate the plant for a few weeks to ensure that it is free of pests.
After cutting the tops of the eucalyptus, place it in a bright and cool location where temperatures are between 41-50F/5-10C.
Reduce watering. Water the plant once every two weeks with low-lime water. But make sure that the soil never dries out. Also stop fertilizing during the winter months.
If temperatures do not drop below 14F/-10°C, you can overwinter potted eucalyptus outdoors by wrapping the container with cardboard or burlap to protect the roots from the cold. It is best to place the pot in a protected, sunny location on the balcony or patio deck.
Once winter is over, acclimate the potted plant to the outdoors again by placing it on the balcony or patio for a few hours, preferably on a cloudy day.
If you grow eucalyptus as a houseplant, be aware that it is poisonous to humans and animals. Remember that the fast-growing plant should be repotted in spring.
Protect Hardy Eucalyptus from Frost
Eucaliptus gunii is the only species that tolerates temperatures below -4F/-20C and can also be grown in the garden. Although it has a certain degree of frost resistance, it is advisable to protect it from low temperatures, especially in the first few years.
Keep the roots warm by placing a thick layer of straw or dead leaves around the trunk. This will allow the eucalyptus to re-sprout during the summer months, even if its above-ground parts are dead.
Wrap burlap or reeds around the trunk and secure them well around the base of the trunk. Remove this protection temporarily on milder days to provide aeration and remove it completely when the danger of frost has passed.
Reduce watering during the winter months, but be careful not to let the roots dry out.