Eucalyptus – Success Stories

When I replied to a newspaper reader about his chances of success with eucalyptus (low, in my opinion), I invited readers to share their eucalyptus stories. To my chagrin, at least a few folks have succeeded with this tree.

Here are their stories:

Walter,
I noted the Q & A regarding eucalyptus. We bought two of them about 7 years ago. One, commonly called Eucalyptus camphora (mountain swamp eucalyptus) didn’t last long: about a year and a half.

The other species, Eucalyptus gunnii or Cider Gum, leapt to the sky. It is now 35+ feet tall, greater than 14 inches circumference, and is the tallest tree that we planted since moving to this house 11 years ago. It has survived 0 to 5 degrees, and the terrible ice storm which rendered our landscape in Stone Mountain like a Civil War battlefield. The ice bent the whole tree to the ground, but within a year, it righted itself. It makes great flower arrangements.

The two eucalyptus plants were planted 30 feet apart, planted the same way, on the same day, and were bought from the same place: Forest Farm in Oregon. So I’d assume it’s the plant itself rather than other factors that caused one to survive while the other didn’t. Thanks for all the interesting information. Tim, Stone Mountain

Walter,
I had a 6 foot silver dollar eucalyptus in Toccoa, GA growing in among many young trees. We’ve moved now to Dahlonega, GA and in about 7+ years my new one has grown to only about 3 feet. It is growing under a pine tree and has winter kill at the top but the bottom usually survives the winter. I grew both of them from seed from Park Seed Co. So silver dollar does grow well north of Atlanta and does live for more then “a few years”. K. G., Dahlonega

Walter,
Saw your column on Eucalyptus today. At least one variety of Eucalyptus should do well here: Eucalyptus neglecta (just about everything I grow is a “neglecta,” but that’s another story). Admittedly I haven’t seen E. neglecta in Atlanta proper, but I’ve seen some real nice ones near Lake Oconee & also in Raleigh, NC at Tony Avent’s nursery — places not too different from here, climate-wise. Some varieties of E. gunnii aren’t too bad either. Anyhow if you go to the Hardy Palm & Subtropical Board and type in a question, “Which Eucalyptus are good for Atlanta/ z.7b?” you will get a lot more first-hand information than I can give you. W.R.
(Founding member of the Southeastern Palm & Exotic Plant Society)

Walter,
I have four eucalyptus species which have thrived for 11 years. I ordered small plants from Forestfarm Nursery in Oregon. I chose eucalypts which originated in the high mountains where the soil is wet and the temperatures are subject to freezing. They have done well. They are: Eucalyptus nova-anglica, E. neglecta, E. gunnii, and E. camphora. B. H., Tyrone

Walter,
I have a neighbor who has had a Silver Dollar gum for twelve years. It has reached a height of about 15 feet and is stunning. She also has a loquat tree about twelve feet high which greatly shocked me. It does not bear fruit like the ones in South Florida, but I have ordered one for fun and intend to try my skills.

This neighbor has given me a medicinal eucalyptus, the leaves of which smell delightful when crushed. I too have planted Silver Dollar, but mine are only a year old. We live around 50 miles south of Atlanta which may account for the difference. My neighbor does nothing special for these Eucalyptus of which I am aware. They look stunning and keep most of their leaves throughout the winter. P.D., Williamson

Walter,
I just read your Q&A column regarding eucalyptus in Georgia. There are two beautiful specimens in a perennial garden between the 5th and 7th tees at the UGA golf course in Athens. They are over 10 feet and don’t show any signs of cold damage from the recent frosty weather. They are planted in an open area and not sheltered from cold winds. I planted a 4″ pot in my perennial garden this past spring and it is already 4′. B. A., Monroe

Walter,
I live in (lesser) Druid Hills by Fernbank Science Center. I planted a tiny Silver Dollar eucalyptus in 1994. I twice have had to lop off 10-15 feet to keep it off the roofline! It always grows back, taller each year it seems. I let Confederate jasmine grow up its trunk. It’s very healthy, and doesn’t seem to mind me occasionally sawing off the top.
It’s in a short incarnation right now, about 7 or 8 feet high. It will probably shoot up ten feet over the summer if all goes as typical. L.S., Atlanta

Walter
Regarding your article in the AJC, I planted a eucalyptus tree about 6 years ago. The tree was about two feet tall when we planted it and now it is 20-25 feet. The only problem we have had is when the weather turns extremely cold, some of the leaves turn brown. Other than that the tree is thriving. In the summer you can see the oil dripping off of the leaves and when we are on the screen porch you can smell the oil. I love it!!! D. B.

Walter,
Seven or eight years ago I brought back from Myrtle Beach, S.C. a beautiful silver Eucalyptus. My husband planted it on the east side of our home. It has been cut back any number of time’s, and again is to the top of the roof. It is more of a tree than a bush. It has been the talk of the neighborhood for years. It is 5 maybe 6 inches at the base and has branched out over my fence. It is just beautiful. I have given cuttings to a number of people, but they have not be able to get them to root. I love to cut the branches off and bring them into the house, it gives off such a beautiful aroma. J. K., Sharpsburg

Walter,
I have a 4-5 ft. Eucalyptus plant that was grown from seed about 4 years ago that a friend gave me. I’m going on my 4th year of having it. Last winter the tops got frost bit, but come spring I trimmed off the dead parts & it looked gorgeous as ever & right now it’s real pretty. Many people are surprised when they see it. J. F. , Kennesaw

Walter:
About six years ago, a friend of mine gave me a small eycalyptus plant that had a tag that I believe read that the plant would grow to 3 ft. I proceeded to place this plant in my herb garden and take cuttings from it for my home. The only thing that I can think of that would have allowed this plant to eventually grow into a 16 foot tree is the way in which it was trimmed. It was also located in southern exposure about 3 feet from my house next to our deck which allowed me to tether it to the deck railing. This plant (tree) continued to amaze us year after year of freezes and strong winds—which did at one time cause about three feet of the top to snap off.

This “jack in the beanstalk” eucalyptus had to be cut down this past Fall because of its proximity to the house and I truly miss its uniqueness and aroma. L. M., Suwanee

Walter,
I think that eucalyptus do fine in the Atlanta area. In fact, if you look on the corner of Cheshire Bridge and Manchester (where Habersham Gardens has created a little oasis for their sign) there is a big old eucalyptus that has thrived for years. It is hard to imagine a more inhospitable place for a finicky tree, yet this one is a stalwart.

Impressed by that one, I purchased a young one at Hablersham and planted it with great success on a full western sun site in my yard in Tyrone. All was well until I decided to move it to another site. It did not make it through that winter. I believe I may have transplanted it in the fall which probably was a bad idea. I replaced the plant with a new one from Habersham. It is about 8 feet tall now. It is more columnar than I would like, but hopefully it will become fuller with time. I suppose if I stopped filching branches for floral arrangements it would help.

I would say that the eucalyptus will adapt to GA if it is put out in the spring after danger of frost and allowed a full growing season to adjust to the vagaries of our clime. I’d lump it in there with the gardenias and keep it off a south-facing wall just to be safe.
By the way, I ordered a eucalyptus from Plant Delights which succumbed in the summer. Maybe the Habersham folks are collecting their seeds from that urban tough on Cheshire Bridge! J. T., Tyrone

Walter,
Two years ago, I purchased a eucalyptus in a potted container; counting the root system, it was about 3 feet high and 3 feet wide. I was told it was a year old, so now it is three years old. Today it has survived two winters here in Middle GA, including last month’s 27-degree cold snaps; my town is right on the Fall Line, at the cusp of Zones 7 and 8.

We dug a generously deep and wide hole in our hillside slope of grayish kaolin clay, discarded that soil and planted the little tree in a mix of humus, old potting soil from discarded plants, topsoil, peat and about a cup of Osmocote, all mixed thoroughly. We also trimmed off some wide side branches and smallish branches with skimpy foliage, to encourage upward growth. We staked it, adjusted our irrigation system to give it water every other day and hoped for the best. Today it is about 15 feet high and has outgrown that stake. It has real bark on the lower trunk. We will have to put in a high spike of rebar to keep it heading straight up until that sturdy bark extends higher up the trunk. Oddly enough, its leaves have absolutely no scent at all, unlike that which florists and craft places sell. But its blue-gray foliage fits perfectly into our white/gray/bronze color scheme of the slope. R.W.

Walter,
I was reading your column this morning in Home & Garden and thought you would enjoy a eucalyptus success story. I planted the 1 gallon bucket about 6-7 years ago and it is currently 12-15′ tall with a trunk measuring 8″ wide. Although I do get leaf “burn” when the weather gets severe, the majority of the tree remains evergreen and in the spring, because of it’s prolific growth, I give it a good “haircut” which encourages even more growth. The tree is planted inside a stucco wall by our pool, so perhaps it has it’s own “micro climate” that keeps it so happy. Sometimes the magic works! Your column is always interesting and informative Walter, thanks. Y. B., Sandy Springs

Walter,
I read your note regarding Eucalyptus trees this morning. I have had great luck with them at Lake Oconee. I decorated 2 planters with them a few years ago and then in the fall transferred them to the yard on the lake side of my house. They have grown so large and I continue to cut them back and use the cuttings for decoration in my home. They smell beautiful. I do not know the variety; bought them at the nursery in Jackson, Ga. Enjoy your column and wanted share this with you. F. S.

Walter,
I saw your article in AJC’s Home and Garden recently and noticed the question about Eucalyptus. I have seven different species and all are thriving. From Ghost, Rainbow to Silverdollar all have shed their youthful bark and put on mature growth. The Rainbow sustained some ice damage a few years ago but it is even more magnificent now with it’s slight lean. All are from 20 to 30 feet tall. I have more than one of the different varieties and all seem well even after last year’s 3-5 degree winter. Some of the trees have been featured at The Atlanta Botanical Garden on display photos.

I planted all of them around early March with TLC and after a few years and they shed their bark they really took off. All were only about 1-2 feet tall.

Just wanted to let you know that all is possible in Atlanta if I can raise Euc’s and Bananas, Windmill, Palmetto, Needle and various species of Palms it should be possible there. As you may have noticed I am a tropical type of person. My living room looks like a greenhouse for the non hardy species: Shaloms, Palms, Lea, and others.

I think the problem with the Euc from Florida was that it was accustomed to the climate there. Acclimation is a key role to sustain growth in Northern zones. J. W., Chattooga county (near Summerville)

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