By Nikki Phipps
(Author of The Bulb-o-licious Garden)
Eucalyptus tree plants are well known for their rapid growth, which can quickly become unmanageable if left unpruned. Pruning eucalyptus not only makes these trees easier to maintain, but it also can reduce the amount of leaf litter and improve their overall appearance. Keep reading to learn more about how to prune a eucalyptus tree.
When to Cut Eucalyptus
While many people assume fall to early spring is an appropriate time for eucalyptus trimming, this isn’t the case at all. In fact, pruning too near the onset of cold weather or post freezing temperatures can trigger dieback and encourage disease. The best time for pruning eucalyptus is during the heat of summer. Although some bleeding of sap may occur, these trees actually heal quicker in hot weather. For large wounds, however, applying a wound dressing may be necessary after cutting to prevent infection.
Also, you may want to avoid cutting eucalyptus tree plants during excessively humid conditions, as this can leave them susceptible to fungal infections, which are most prevalent under these conditions.
How to Prune Eucalyptus Tree
There are several methods for pruning eucalyptus, depending on your needs and the species grown. This includes the following:
- Hedge pruning is a suitable method for species like E. archeri, E. parviflora, E. coccifera, and E. suberenulata. In order to shape these trees into hedges, prune them at the end of their second season, removing about a third of the height and cutting in a pyramid shape. Continue to remove about 1/4 of the tree the following year and thereafter in the same manner.
- Specimen pruning helps keep eucalyptus looking attractive when used as a focal point in the landscape. Do not cut any lower branches for the first six feet. Instead, wait until the tree has at least two season’s growth. Keep in mind that many of the faster-growing species will actually shed lower branches on their own.
- Coppicing is another method of eucalyptus pruning to help control the tree’s height. With this method, slightly angle the cuts, pruning back about a foot to eighteen inches from the ground and removing all side shoots. For unsightly or leggy growth, cut back to about six inches from the ground. Select the best looking shoot and allow this to develop, cutting all others.
- Pollarding encourages branching at the tops of trees and lower height. This pruning is recommended for trees that are at least three to six years old. Cut eucalyptus tree trunks about six to ten feet from the ground, leaving the side branches.