Initially I was keen on planting during the late summer to early Autumn, however I have now planted in early spring, during the summer and winter as well. Sufficient hydration in the soil is the biggest factor. If you are planting small plugs during the winter, then protection / shelter from the gales would be advisable, though having said this, Rodwayi I planted during the winter of 2020/21 survived without any issue on an exposed bank.
A study by teagasc recommends late spring to early summer planting to allow for good establishment before the first frosts of winter. I conducted a planting during frosty conditions experiment. As above, so long as the ground has moisture in it, then it doesn’t matter when you plant 😉
The teagasc report has some very detailed and scientifically presented information about growth rates and spacing, however they conflict with other reports and advice I have seen.
If you intend to plant just one, or a few specimen trees, then the shovel will be the only tool you will need in most cricumstances. If you are planning to plant a mini forest for personal firewood, some mechanical assistance will be helpful.
As of 2021 I still have my one person petrol earth auger, though it is hard work and in stony ground even more so. Hence I bought a small auger attachment for the electric drill and it works very effectively even though it can still catch on the stones. I now only plant and propagate plugs / root trainers and the drill attachment earth auger is perfect for planting this size of tree. Large plugs will be big enough to outpace most vegetation assuming you clear it first.
Check out my page on Planting Eucalyptus Trees
A couple of pellets of poultry manure and a few grains of mycorrhizal fungi will ensure that your Eucalyptus trees get off to the best start. I also pour half a cupful of Milk Kefir into the bottom of the holes.
In May 2019 I discovered the wonders of natural horse manure 🙂 and it certainly worked 😮 though I would only now use this as a mulch for established trees or if I can layer it into the ground with topsoil. If you are using hand tools and dig a deep enough hole to dig the horse manure into, then I’d still recommend it, although horse and farmyard manure can contain a lot of unhelpful bacterial and fungal diseases, so as I say, dug well in and layered with topsoil.
There is a good paper on Eucalyptus by the Forestry commission In Britain
To my mind the important points they note are:
- Cold damage to Eucalyptus is mainly caused by cold winter winds which cause wind burn to the leaves, and not frost !
- Eucalypts don’t have over wintering buds, and a period of warm weather during the winter will encourage new growth, and if it is followed by cold strong winds, the new new growth may be damaged.
Though Eucalyptus quickly recover and start growing again.
Certainly the above matches my experience. Planting in a location sheltered from severe winter winds will be helpful until certain varieties become established, though this may not be practical. Some varieties are better suited to exposed areas.
- Eucalypts don’t need fertile soil to grow well, and many can grow in moderately acid and alkaline soils.
- Some Eucalyptus varieties can become very large trees, and unless you intend to prune and cut back, then planting a suitable distance from buildings is advisable.
This conflicts with a lot of photos I have seen since starting this business; many very large Eucalyptus trees in residential areas close to buildings.
- Plant in unshaded areas of full sunlight.
- Eucalyptus roots are tender and care should be given when planting; don’t tease out the roots as you would normally do with most trees, but plant as is.
See my Planting Eucalyptus trees page
- Eucalypts are generally responsive to nitrogenous fertiliser, however this can cause rapid top growth, unbalancing the tree.
It is also considered that high nitrogen levels will also encourage Blue Gum Psyllid which, although don’t affect growth directly, produces sticky honeydew in the tender protected, unventilated area on the inner of new leaf growth which leads to sooty mould which from my experience does stunt growth.
My personal recommendation would a balanced natural fertiliser, such as Blood Fish and Bone which is high in phosphorous and promotes strong root growth. This was used at the relatives plantation to good effect. Poultry Manure which is also high in phosphorous, and certainly the results of the saplings at the end of the summer 2018 in comparison with those of 2017 strongly suggest a significant increase in root growth.
I’m also a big fan of using Milk Kefir to stimulate the microbial / fungal and insect life in the soil which will intern lead to better take-up of nutrients and hydration by trees and other vegetation.
- If planting smaller plugs, then weeds and other vegetation will need to be cut back until the second growing season, when the trees should be larger enough to compete with other vegetation.
I intend to sell three different sizes of plugs from 2021 onwards, and I’m hopeful that the largest will negate the need for vegetation control, other than an initial clearing before planting.
- If you pot on into poly pot trees and grow the trees on before planting, then likewise the need for aftercare should be minimal.
- All the trees I sell are balanced, i.e. they have root growth proportional to top growth, so staking shouldn’t be required. if you are growing a mini forest of say four hundred trees or so, then staking them would be untenable. Personally I did stake a few of mine, perhaps a dozen after some severe gales with significant precipitation within a few weeks. It was as much the soil being softer with the precipitation that was the issue as much as the wind.
I remove the tree seedlings from artificial environments (Poly Tunnels) as soon as possible and allow them to acclimatise. This slows their growth, but ensures they remain balanced.
NOTE they will do better if you can continue to give them protection from strong winds while establishing.
- Most Eucalypts can be pruned or coppiced, but as with all trees, they fall into two categories
- Those which regenerate using lignotubers ‘growth from the roots’ can be cut to ground level up to three times.
- Those which regenerate from dormant buds in the bark and branch junctions, which logically can only be cut down to a level which leaves healthy bark.
Some varieties may grow back more slowly after pollarding.
If cutting back, do so during the late spring / early summer to ensure the tree has sunlight to heal the wounds quickly, and the growing season ensures it gets back to full health before winter.
Cut at an angle which leaves the wound south facing and exposed to sunlight.