Observation of the early growth of Eucalyptus in your garden conditions is very important to later take appropriate decisions. Their behaviour is different depending on which species you choose to ornament your yard (fast or slow growing; mallee, mallet or single stemmed; big, medium sized or small adult tree sized), the conditions of the young plant when you retrieve it from nursery (aerial part size and architecture, rootball dimensions, rootbounded or not), planting time and early establishment practices (quality of soil preparation, root arrangement, fertiliser addition on planting spot and irrigation during the first weeks and further) and, of course, site factors as light availability and nice temperatures. Fast growing species do really go fast. For the pictured example we can easily see it has nearly doubled in size in just 10 weeks, up to almost 3 meters before the first frost event. Reaching "an inch per day" of height growth is realistic if all factors contribute positively to it.

This fast growth also means some early decissions will have to be taken. Size control can be very needed to minimise the risk of your new plant causing problems in future. If your garden space is limited or you have given little importance to the proximity of the growing tree to your house or other infrastructures you will have to take timely decisions. Some as appropriate species choice and appropriate placing of it in your garden cannot be taken anymore.

We saw before how eucalypt saplings of certain species can grow from two to seven meters height during their second and third growth seasons when established as plantations for timber production, and this meant some early management decisions had to be taken quite quick compared to other tree crop types in order to try to obtain a particular product in future. In gardens things happen in a similar way. Your desired product can easily be a certain outlook and size for the plant so it combines properly with your garden design. You can choose between letting your sapling grow to its natural adult size or manage its size and form. If the later is the choice, then get ready for frequent operations of pruning and clipping and for at least yearly pollarding.

In future installments we will see examples of tree size control operations aiming to produce small trees from 3 to 5 meters height with compact forms and as dense canopy as possible. For the tree above is now time to adapt to short days, slower methabolic activity, reduced growth rate, chilly winds, frosts and eventual snow. Its good growth rate from spring to autumn, formation of protective fibrous bark in the lower trunk and depletion before winter of the extra slow release fertiliser added at planting hole months ago do almost secure its survival in an average frosty winter. Frost damage is unlikely due to cold hardy species choice but could easily happen on the newest and most tender growth depending on intensity and duration of your frost events. As these trees do not really go dormant but barely sleepy, size control operations carried on immediately before the start of frost season can easily increase the risk of damage on newest winter growth after you cut some parts, especially if daytime temperatures regularly go over 8ºC. It does not necessarily have to happen, but it could. So first pollarding combined with maintenance pruning is to be delayed until late spring next year. This time then, later can be better than sooner!


GIT Forestry Consulting EUCALYPTOLOGICS Blog: Information Resources on Eucalyptus cultivation around the world / Blog EUCALYPTOLOGICS Recursos de Informacion sobre el cultivo de Eucalyptus en el Mundo

© 2006 Gustavo Iglesias Trabado / GIT Forestry Consulting - Consultoría y Servicios de Ingeniería Agroforestal