Lemon Eucalyptus Trimming and Cold Hardiness
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Chad
Posted on: November 13, 2001

I have read the articles in your Q&A section on Eucalyptus. I still have a couple of questions.

Over the summer I have been cutting back the lemon variety in order to control it. It has not worked out the way I wanted it to. I was not aggresive enough with my trimming practices. I had the fear of hurting the plant. Currently it is very large, has very rapid growth during the summer each time I cut it back. It is several feet high, around 3 meters. It has shed its bark during the summer and is now growing new bark. How can I get this thing under control without hurting it?

This brings me to the next question. I need to protect this thing for the winter, however, since it is so large it will be hard to bring it inside the house. How low temp wise can this plant take?

How do you propagate this plant? It has never bloomed to produce seeds.

Lemon eucalyptus can be grown out of doors in zones 9 to 10. South central Texas should be in zone 9, so you can leave the tree planted out of doors. If you keep it in a pot, you must sink the pot in the soil for the winter if you want the tree to survive. Out of the soil, the roots in the pot experience temperatures equivalent to two zones colder than in-soil conditions and that is too cold for this plant. Your best bet would be to plant it where you want a tall tree and forget about any major trimming.

To maintain the plant in a pot you will eventually have to trim the roots as well as the top- in other words "bonsai" it. Since eucalyptus do not like root disturbance, you may kill it if you are not very careful. I would suggest experimenting with root trimming on an ever increasing scale, but starting out with very little and seeing how the plant reacts to it in your conditions- then stop at a level where the top growth is reduced but the plant does not seem to want to die!

Also reducing fertilization to almost zero may also do the trick of slowing top growth, especially if the plant is potted in lean sandy soil.

The plant will not bloom until it is mature and only bonsaiing it will let it get both mature and not giant. Cutting off large chunks of top growth is a sure way to prevent blooming. Also fertilizing with high nitrogen fertilizers will cause a lack of bloom.

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