Keeping a Eucalyptus Small

immobilus(9a)February 5, 2013

Hello:

This question has probably been asked 100 times, but I've been growing eucalyptus gunni (cider gums) from seed. The pictures that I had seen showed a tree about eight feet tall with beautiful blue foliage. I've come to learn that the blue foliage only appears on new wood (easy enough to handle) and that the tree gets incredibly big with very invasive root systems. I've heard of polyurethane root barriers. I was wondering if these are strong enough to tame the roots of a cider gum, but also if I got one that was restrictive enough to act like a pot (like an in-ground bonsai) whether it would maintain the tree at a small height, e.g. 10 feet or so. Pruning the old would off to grow more new wood for the blue foliage is easy enough - but I want the tree to stay small.

Otherwise, is there a way to stunt the tree's growth, specifically to keep the trunk diameter reasonably sized? Or should I scrap the whole idea and just keep it potted?

Thanks.

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i would suggest you scrap the whole idea .. too many downsides to my reading of what YOU provided ....

but what you failed to tell us.. is why you are fixated on this particular tree ... perhaps the better question is what we might suggest as an alternative ....

and what options do you have with real big pots???? ...

ken

ps: in-ground bonsai.. or top pruning .... will NOT RESTRICT THE ROOTS ....

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 7:26AM
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WxDano(5b-2a-6/7)

Every single plants species on the planet has a genetic predisposition to a particular size range. Nothing humans can do to change that.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 9:39AM
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eahamel(9a)

I've had a eucalyptus tree before. It got about 50' tall in just a few years, and had no branches in my reach. I don't know how tall it would have gotten if I hadn't cut it down - some get 200' or taller. I cut it down because it was too close to the house and would be a bad fire hazard because the oil in it makes it explode, and burning pieces go everywhere when it burns.

You can't stop it from getting large, that's its nature. Fall in love with something else if you don't have a lot of space for it. yes, they're great looking trees, but you can't keep them contained.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 7:54PM
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immobilus(9a)

I love the color of a cider gum. The blue foliage is gorgeous. I have crape myrtles in my yard, a Hong Kong orchid tree, butterfly bush, tecoma stans, lantana, but I want a small tree with unique colored foliage.

I have some western redwood seeds I am currently soaking, but I understand those are slow growing and difficult to get to germinate in my climate. Tucson, zone 9a.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 4:19PM
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WxDano(5b-2a-6/7)

I have some western redwood seeds I am currently soaking, but I understand those are slow growing and difficult to get to germinate in my climate. Tucson, zone 9a.

?!

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 7:52PM
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eahamel(9a)

Good luck with those redwood seeds. Not only are they difficult to germinate, they're exceedingly difficult to grow in Tucson.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 8:35AM
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immobilus(9a)

Redbud, I meant.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 12:39PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Back to the Eucalyptus gunii - these have been widely planted in the UK and a lot of people are now finding themselves living with giant trees. Where there is space old specimens do become very attractive with gnarled trunks and peeling bark. But an awful lot are getting the chop. You can grow it as a coppiced shrub or pollarded tree in which case it will produce attractive, rounded, blue grey, juvenile foliage much used by florists, rather than the long, less colourful adult foliage.

Here is a link that might be useful: Eucalyptus gunii

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 1:43PM
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Edymnion(7a)

I actually planted one in a large container with the intention of making a bonsai out of it. Just chopped it back a few days ago. Was half way worried that such a drastic pruning would kill it, but its putting out new shoots already.

If you want it for the foliage, I would greatly recommend going this route. Even if you don't want to chop it back into an actual bonsai, put it in a large tree container (they sell nice plastic ones at walmart pretty cheap these days) and keep it trimmed down to a glorified hedge.

Just remember to repot it every 2-3 years, give it a good root trim, the normal stuff, and you should be fine. If you let it go wild though, yeah, you're going to have a MONSTER of a tree on your hands.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 2:38PM
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DavidLMO(5 B)

Five types of Eucalyptus are suggested for Bonsai, so maybe one of these would be a good candidate to grow outdoors and keep manageable??

archeri
coccifera **
nicholi **
parvula
vernicosa **

These are also suggested as houseplants - but I have no ** experience. See for example:

http://www.blueram.net/eucalyptus/homepage.asp

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 4:54PM
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salicaceae(z8b FL)

There are many smaller Euc species, some are commonly grown in Arizona - they include E. cinerea, E. neglecta, E. parvula, E. perrineana, E. nicholii, E. polyanthemos, E. camphora and many others. If you look into this, you can find one that has just the foliage you want and stays small. Some are even mature at about 2 m tall and have awesome foliage and flowers!

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 9:01AM
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DavidLMO(5 B)

That is good to know. I am in Zone 5b so they wouldn't last full time outside - I think :-)

I am growing 2 types for Bonsai.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 10:57AM
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Dave in NoVA • 7a • Northern VA

Yes, just find a smaller growing species.

I've seen E. parvula form a nice smaller tree.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 11:43AM
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wisconsitom

I just read up on this species-for my own edification. Had to chuckle a bit-it said first that this was a smaller-growing eucalypt. Then later, its ultimate size was listed at upwards of 120 feet!

That said, it is also apparently one of the eucalypts used for bonsai, a process that most definitely does restrict ultimate size of plant!

+oM

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 2:11PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

A E. parvula was, until this winter, the fastest growing tree I've ever grown ;-)
I think "slow" in the world of Eucs is all relative.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 4:15AM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

But anyhow, as to the poster's question...my understanding is that most Eucs take to coppicing. in fact in various public gardens in Virginia & the upper south, it's common to see E. cinereas that die down every winter. Even outwith the excellent Lila Wallace garden, a walled collection of subtropical plants which was decommissioned, in Williamsburg there was an old planting that was treated this way. So if you really want to keep a Euc. small, you can always bring out the chain saw every other year.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 4:24AM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

I thought that coppicing is what is done in slightly cooler zones (8) to keep that juvenile Euc foliage coming for arrangements or as a tallish shrub in the garden. That is what I would try.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 11:19AM
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