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24 September 2014

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You are in: Lancashire > Nature > Features > Ask the gardener: Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus

Ask the gardener: Eucalyptus

Find out how to care for your Eucalyptus trees...

Warton's Bill Blackledge is one of the county's most popular and sought after gardeners.   If it's green and needs watering, Bill can tell you about it.  He has been answering BBC Radio Lancashire listeners' queries for over thirty years, which means he's been there nearly as long as the transmitter!

His knowledge is encyclopedic. After training at the under the then Ministry of Agriculture, Bill spent over twenty years at the Department of Biological and Environmental Services at Lancaster University.  Now, he's a regular course tutor at Alston Hall, Longridge and Lancaster Adult College.

For three decades, Bill has travelled the county with fellow judges as a regional judge for North West in Bloom.

So, whatever the problem, we like to think Bill can sort it out... at least that's the theory!

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Anita Dent asks...

I have planted a 6 foot high Eucalyptus Gunnii about 2 weeks ago into heavy clay soil which was very wet and heavy at the time with plenty of rain to follow.  In to the back fill soil I added a couple of handfuls of fish blood and bone fertiliser.  Unfortunately now the leaves on one of the specimens are turning brown.  Do you think the soil is too heavy, was too wet or has the fertiliser scorched the roots, or a combination?!  Do Eucalyptus recover from this type of damage?

Bill replies...

There are a number of reasons why the leaves on your Eucalyptus Gunnii are turning brown Anita.  The first reason could be the transplanting into a very heavy clay soil, secondly if the fertiliser you added has been in direct contact with the roots.  Fish Blood and Bone Meal is a safe organic fertiliser and is ideal if applied as a top dressing but the two large handfuls of fertiliser which you applied should have been mixed with a large amount of soil.  I am sure that your Eucalyptus stands a good chance of recovering but you will need to cut back from the shoots.

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Ernest F Winters asks...

We have a cinder block garden wall with a 2 ft deep foundation separating our property from the neighbours. The neighbours have built a 2 story house that overlooks our sitting room. To block their view my wife has planted 5 Eucalyptus Gunni within 4 feet of the garden wall. I am concerned that the roots will undermine the wall and damage the wall. Is this realistic? How far from the wall should the trees be planted? I am told that the trees will grow 3 feet a year.

Bill replies...

Your Eucalyptus Gunnis Ernest could quite easily grow to a height of forty to fifty feet and you will find that Eucalyptus branches do break off quite easily during windy weather. Taking this into account plus the distance of four feet away from your garden wall (which is very close) the roots could undermine your wall but this will all depend on what type of soil you have in your garden.  I feel that long term you would be far better choosing other species of tree such as Mountain Ash and the smaller Silver Birch but a lot will depend on what height you wish your trees to grow to for privacy.

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Michelle asks...

I have a 10ft eucalyptus tree which I planted in a raised bed (approx 1ft from ground level) as a very small plant about 3 years ago. I am moving soon and would love to be able to take it with me. Can I dig the tree up and plant it in a large pot?

Bill replies...

If you intend Michelle to dig up your ten feet Eucalyptus Tree and repot it into a large pot the chances of survival are fairly slim.  What you could do is cut back the tree to approximately two to three feet, then lift and trim the roots and, then replant into a large pot and there is a good chance that your Eucalyptus will reshoot and grow again.  I personally feel that the easiest method, unless your tree has sentimental value, is to start by replanting a new tree in your new garden or in a large container.  It is going to take a lot of time and effort to remove the tree and there is always the possibility that it may not recover.

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Beverly Cerexhe-Dicken asks...

I have a eucalyptus tree that I need to move. It is 4 years old and is about 15 feet high. We are having construction work done, and I have no choice but to move it to another part of the garden now. How should I do this, and how likely is it to survive a move? Thank you.

Bill replies...

It is not going to be easy Beverly to transplant a 15 foot Eucalyptus tree - your tree will have a very large root system and you will need to dig a large root ball to stand any chance of success.  I would be inclined before replanting to pollard/cut back your tree to approximately 6 to 8 feet.  The other alternative would be to coppice/cut back your tree to approximately 2 to 3 feet before transplanting and this is a regular practice with Eucalyptus to ensure that there are plenty of young vibrant shoots every year.  Cutting back your Eucalyptus before transplanting will reduce the need for water/nutrients

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Nicola Mills asks...

I have a large Eucalyptus Tree in my garden, and it's difficult to get anything to survive for long planted in the same area. I was wondering if it has an adverse effect on other plants, and if there were any that might thrive underneath it?

Bill replies...

It is very difficult to establish any plants under tree canopies and the Eucalyptus Tree with its vigorous root system is no exception.  Therefore, you have to choose plant species which can survive in shade and also very dry conditions and I have listed below some plant species Nicola which hopefully will survive, but you should ensure that these plants are grown in containers or pots and well established before transplanting under your Eucalyptus and you will also need to ensure that they are keep well watered until well established.

If you require ground cover plants I would recommend Vinca Minor, Vinca Major (Periwinckle) and Hedra Caneriansis (Ivy).  Shrubs:  Eleagnus Ebbingei, Hypericum, Alchimilla Mollis, Osmanthus and Gaultheria.

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Paul Johnson asks...

I have a 15 year old eucalyptus tree, what can I grow under it, I want to bank up soil around the trunk, about 6", the lawn grows under it as does mint, but has become undulating and bumpy. It's a sunny site very well drained soil, over a sand base.

Bill replies...

It is not going to be easy Paul but I have listed below a selection of plants which will tolerate a very sandy and well drained soil.  I suggest that you use container grown plants and also, if possible, to work into your soil some well rotted manure which will assist in retaining the moisture.

Listed Plants:  Potentilla Fruticosa (a hardy shrub which produces yellow flowers during the summer time)
                      Lavenders - Santolina (Cotton Wood Lavender)
                      Artemesia (Limelight - variegated foliage)
                      Genista Hispanica
                      Echinops (Toplaw Blue)
                      Oenothera Macrocarpa

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Liz Pepler asks...

I have inherited a Eucalyptus tree in the garden of the house I have recently bought. I am not sure how old it is but it is about 6/7 feet tall. I am very much a beginner when it comes to gardening - this is the first I have ever had - and am worried that it might be diseased. It has small raised brown/red spots on its leaves. I would be very grateful if you could let me know if this is normal or if it is something I can treat.

Bill replies...

I would not worry too much about the brown/red spots Liz it could be a physical disorder caused by the winter conditions or a deficiency problem.  I do however feel that it would be worthwhile to give your tree a feed with a general balanced fertiliser such as Fish Blood and Bone Meal or Vitax Q4, and hopefully when the new leaves appear during the summer months they are healthy.  If the brown/red spots still appear on the new leaves I would be grateful if it is at all possible for your to email BBC Radio Lancashire with a photograph of the infected leaves so that I can identify the problem.

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Dawn Taylor asks...

Following the storms last month, our Eucalyptus became unstable and we have had to fell it.  How may I best utilise the leaves in the garden, or would it be best to send them to the recycle heap?

Bill replies...

I would place your Eucalyptus leaves on your compost heap Dawn and when they have composted down they can then be used in the garden.  Eucalyptus trees do easily suffer from storm damage but you can restrict the height of the Eucalyptus by coppicing the tree back hard each springtime.

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Chriss asks...

I have a eucalyptus tree about 4.8. metres high and 6 metres away from my house. It is in clay soil. Can this cause subsidence on my house?

Bill replies...

Your Eucalyptus tree is now 4.8 metres high Chriss but it can easily grow to 15 - 20 metres and the roots can then cause problems with your house foundations.  The damage usually occurs during dry summers when the roots seek out any available water and they will also take any moisture from the house foundations which can cause subsidence to occur.  They can also cause blockages to drains around the house.

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Yvonne asks...

I have a eucalyptus tree and a poplar tree which have both grown rapidly over the last few years.  I am concerned about possible root damage to a containing wall.  If they were pruned would this halt the spread of roots? Or would it be better to remove them?

Bill replies...

One of the problems with both Eucalyptus and Poplar trees Yvonne is that both have a vigorous root system and even if you prune the trees back the roots will still grow and I am afraid if both trees are growing close to the wall the roots could well damage the foundations of your containing wall.

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Julie Southern asks...

My eucalyptus tree (approx 4yrs old) seems to be dying.  The once beautiful green/silvery leaves are turning brown and the tree is drying out.  Can you offer any advice please?

Bill replies...

Eucalyptus trees are susceptible to frost and wind scorch damage Julie and this could quite easily be the cause of your Eucalyptus leaves turning brown.  We have had a very mild winter this year and both trees and shrubs have not quite fully hardened off and this has made them susceptible to the sharp cutting cold winds which have occurred over the past few months.  I am sure that your tree will recover but you will need to keep an eye on the larger branches they are prone to breaking off and also you will need to consider the height to which your Eucalyptus will grow  - some trees grow to over fifty feet high.  You can however prune your tree back in the springtime.

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last updated: 14/05/2008 at 11:25
created: 23/10/2006

You are in: Lancashire > Nature > Features > Ask the gardener: Eucalyptus



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