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Eucalyptus is an attractive evergreen tree grown mainly for its foliage and peeling bark. These trees can grow quite large if left unpruned, but pruning techniques, like coppicing and pollarding, mean you can enjoy this tree in even a small garden.
Young eucalyptus specimens need some formative pruning to grow into well-shaped mature trees. Some species can also be trained into multi-stemmed bushes, either by coppicing an established tree, or by training two-year-old trees as multi-stemmed shrubs from the beginning of their life.
If you have a small garden, consider coppicing or pollarding established trees. Both these methods will keep their size under control.
Coppicing creates a multi-stemmed bush, by chopping back the stems to the ground every year or every few years. It is particularly good for Eucalyptus gunnii, E. globulus, E. dalrympleana and E. pauciflora as it not only encourages new stems each year, but also juvenile leaves, which some people say are more attractive than the mature eucalyptus leaves.
Pollarding restricts the growth once it reaches a certain height through pruning. Pollarding is more difficult and you usually would require the services of an professional aborist, especially if working at heights. Pollarding is suitable for E. dalrympleana and E. pauciflora.
Formative pruning, coppicing and pollarding of eucalyptus are best carried out in late winter to early spring (February to March), just before plants are actively in growth.
Standard trees have a clear trunk and a head, or canopy, of branches. Young eucalyptus can be grown as standards with a 1-2m (3¼ -6½ ft) trunk.
Eucalyptus grow with a clear central leading branch that grows upwards ahead of the other branches. It is important not to cut this central leader, as this could spoil the final shape of the tree.
Suitable for: E. coccifera, E. dalrympleana, E. gunnii, E. parvifolia, E. pauciflora, E. pulvurulenta and E. urnigera.
This method is particularly suitable for two-year-old trees of Eucalyptus gunnii, E. globulus, E. dalrympleana and E. pauciflora, as it shows off their attractive, rounded juvenile foliage.
Coppicing and pollarding are best initiated early in the life of the tree, rather than used on over large or damaged mature trees, which may or may not regenerate in response.
Eucalyptus is usually trouble-free, but may occasionally suffer from oedema, and from the very similar-looking eucalyptus gall wasp. In cooler or exposed areas, they may suffer from frost, wind and other winter damage.
Young shoots on recently coppiced trees can be vulnerable to snapping off in strong winds. Further shortening in subsequent seasons to encourage stockier growth may reduce the risk.
Acacia: pruningCoppicingEucalyptus gall waspPollardingPruning for colourful stems or large foliageTrees and shrubs with attractive barkTrees: reducing their size safelyWoody plant establishment
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