Eucalyptus with Weak Stems
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Angela
Posted on: January 10, 2000

I have an eucalyptus that has so far been doing well. My concern is that the two approximately 12 inches (30 centimeters) tall branches keep falling over. I do not know if I should stake it or prune it or? If you could let me know what I should do, or if you could refer me to a book that could explain how to prune herbs, I would greatly appreciate it.

I am not sure if you have a tree with one main stem from which emerge two branches that keep drooping, or if your plant consists of two stems emerging from the soil and these two stems keep falling over.

If it is the former case, just allow the branches to droop, because the normal growth habit of the Eucalyptus globulus is upright main stems and gracefully arching branches. When the plant gets bigger and starts making more sidebranches you can cut off the awkward lower ones or shorten them to the point that they no longer touch the soil.

If it is the second interpretation, namely of two falling over stems emerging from the soil, it probably means that the plant is either not getting enough light and in its effort to reach better light is producing long skinny weak stems that bend so far towards the source of light that they just fall down, or the roots are damaged and can’t hold the plant securely upright. If the roots are poor, you will have to stake the plant securely and keep the soil moist but not wet and pop a plastic bag over the plant (to increase local humidity, since the roots won’t be able to take up enough to keep the leaves turgid) and only gradually remove it once the plant has produced a few new leaves - a sign that it is no longer too busy making roots to grow upward. If the roots seem OK but the plant is long and straggly and falling over towards the light, then you will have to move it to a sunnier spot or invest in a double light 4 foot (120 centimeter long) flourescent fixture and suspend it over your light starved plant. Keep the lights on for at least 12 hours per day.

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