Can You Grow Eucalyptus Indoors? Tips, Tricks, and How-To Guide
In its natural habitat, the eucalyptus tree can grow up to 60 feet. Koalas love hanging out in their swaying tree branches and munching on the moon-shaped leaves, but can these trees be grown and kept indoors? Yes, they can, with some caveats. Most eucalyptus trees can be grown indoors until they grow too big, which is when they’ll need to be planted outdoors to flourish. Smaller shrub varieties can be kept indoors year-round.
Eucalyptus has many practical uses in and around the home. Its leaves can be crushed and strategically placed to ward off insects, you can use them to make homemade floral wreaths, and their leaves can be added to herbal teas.
While most eucalyptus trees will grow too big to keep indoors indefinitely, it’s possible to do with some shrub varieties. Let’s check out exactly how to go about growing eucalyptus indoors.
Before You Start
You’ll have to identify and acquire a smaller type of eucalyptus, preferably one of its shrub varieties. The easiest way to grow eucalyptus is starting with a cutting of an existing plant, but you’ll have to plant it in its “forever pot.” Eucalyptus doesn’t like to be replanted, so a large pot it can grow into will be necessary.
It’s also possible to grow eucalyptus from seed if you don’t have access to mature plants. This guide will cover both growing from cuttings and planting from seed, so don’t worry too much about which one you’ll be doing. Alternatively, you can buy a small plant from a garden center or nursery to skip the first steps.
- Large pot with drainage holes
- Small pot with drainage holes
- Eucalyptus cutting/seed
- Southern facing window
- Compost/fertilizer (optional)
The 4 Steps to Growin Eucalyptus Indoors
1. Plant Seed/Propagate Cutting
To plant eucalyptus from seed, sow your seeds less than an inch in the soil of a small pot. You can wrap the seeds in a thin piece of cardboard or tissue paper so the medium will decompose into the soil. Thoroughly water the soil until it’s saturated, but don’t flood it. You’ll need to keep the soil moist in these initial stages.
To propagate a eucalyptus cutting, first cut an entire branch of a mature eucalyptus plant, then let it soak in a small vase of water. Within a couple of weeks, the branch will grow roots and you can plant it. Do not plant a propagated eucalyptus in a small pot, or it will increase the risk of transplant shock. Rather, plant the propagated cutting several inches in a large pot with drainage holes. Keep the soil moist but not flooded.
2. Plant Your Eucalyptus & Give It Sun
If you’re growing from seed, it’s time to replant once your eucalyptus plant has grown to a few inches tall. Carefully move the plant to the large pot it will permanently live and moisten the soil thoroughly. If desired, you can mix compost or fertilizer in the soil to increase nutrient levels, but it’s not required.
The hardest parts are past now. Simply make sure your eucalyptus gets as much sun as possible since they’re tropical plants and need as much as you can give it. A sunny place in front of a southern-facing window is the perfect spot. The same goes for a eucalyptus grown from a cutting.
3. Maintain Water & Sun Exposure
Eucalyptus are tropical plants that need high levels of sunlight and water. If you can’t provide your plant with natural sunlight, you may wish to consider artificial LED grow lights to supplement what natural light you can give them. They might be expensive and raise your electric bill, though. It all depends on how badly you want a eucalyptus indoors.
You shouldn’t be drowning the soil. Instead, add water until the soil is uniformly moist. Trickles may come out of the drainage holes, but you don’t want to see lots of water draining out. Balance is absolutely key for proper watering.
4. Trim The Plant To Keep It Small
To keep a eucalyptus indoors, you’ll need to regularly prune back new growth to keep it small. Think of how you need to trim a bonsai tree, and you have the idea. Never prune your plant during the fall or winter because that can encourage the plant to “die back” to the ground.
Instead, trim your plant during the middle of summer. Trimming to control plant height is known as coppicing, and isn’t nearly as complicated as the term implies. Simply cut off the side shoots of your plant’s bottom half during the first year, including unsightly stems and branches.
Leave the branches that look the best and let them develop. Cutting the other shoots and branches will allow the plant to focus its energy on the remaining branches, condensing its height in the process.
Eucalyptus is a little finicky to work with, especially because they dislike being transplanted. As long as you keep them in a large pot they can grow into, you’ll probably be fine. Give them the sun and water they want year-round, don’t forget to prune them in the summer, and your plants will grow gorgeously.
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Featured Image Credit: vividvic, Shutterstock