Southern Eucs Trials Update: 2017's Top Performing Eucalyptus Trees

Posted on June 08, 2017 by Ed Coughlin

Southern Eucs are drought tolerant and tough trees that thrive when temperatures rise.  Add a little rain and they color up and grow up quickly in both the green house and the garden!

Recently introduced Southern Eucs ‘Maggie’ and ‘Funky Monkey’ are continuing to show tremendous growth in the Trials gardens.  They are resistance to pests and disease, and are maturing into stunning specimens.

The record holder in the Southern Euc Trials has to be this 35’ ‘Grace’ planted (from seed) less than 3 years ago.

Check out ‘Grace’s peeling and smooth bark. Sherwin – Williams calls the color “Roman Column”. I call it cool!!!

Still going through our Southern Eucs Trials and showing consistent, upright growth is Eucalyptus Macarthurii.

Its common name is Camden Woollybutt, reason enough to grow it, but it is also an endangered species in New South Wales.  

The leaves and stems are pretty impressive with a sweet fragrance and hints of copper to orange appearing on new growth.


Eucalyptus perriniana, or Spinning Gum, has long been considered one of the most cold hardy of the species (down to -20). It is showing well in its second year in the Southern Eucs Trials.

Still, I’m anxious to see how this sub-alpine species, which grows in areas that are snow-covered for months, will hold up to a hot, dry Southern summer.

Perrinianna’s seed is difficult to source from the coldest provenances, but its potential as a true “specimen” tree are outstanding.

Yes that is the stem growing right through the circular leaves. Not sure how common that is in the horticulture world, but this Master Gardener has never seen it.

Another tree two years into trials is Eucalyptus ‘Crenulata’.

I added it to our trials because of its upright but small stature.

A mature ‘Crenulata’ will grow up fast, and give you a nice specimen tree in the 20 – 30' range.

Next Southern Eucs blog: Textures in the Garden.


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Why I Love Eucalyptus: By Jeff Meredith

Posted on June 02, 2017 by Ed Coughlin

I grew up in Los Angeles, where warm temperatures, blue skies, and ever-blooming flora and fauna blend the seasons together. Though it’s been more than 20 years since I left, nothing takes me back to the sunny, carefree days of my childhood faster than the scents and smells that abound in so many parks and gardens in the Golden State.

Jasmine and gardenias can fill a neighborhood with sweetness, and citrus blossoms in winter are special. But as far as I’m concerned, the defining smell of Southern California is Eucalyptus.


My earliest memory of the fresh, spicy scent was on a Kindergarten field trip to the LA Zoo, where towering eucs line the pathways (and feed koalas, too).

Eucalyptus trees grow along freeways, anchor steep embankments, and seem to crown every distant hillside.

Bark ranges from near white to near black, as seen in this picture taken near Griffith Park (in a driving rain, alas). I think the contrast is really striking, though it was obviously more vivid in person.

On breezy days, the fresh scent of their leaves can even fill a car that has its windows up.

During a recent visit to San Diego, I couldn’t help but wonder if the men who imported Eucalyptus in hopes of a new lumber source had any idea they would contribute so meaningfully to the beauty of the state.

When I moved to Atlanta and began landscaping my yard, it never occurred to me that one of my favorite trees from the arid Southwest would also thrive in the humid Southeast. But, a passing comment from a friend inspired a quick Google search, and . . . that’s how I found Southern Eucs! I purchased Neglecta and Ripper varieties, and both are beautiful. They’ve shown promising growth, especially in the trunk, and their ease of care has been a welcome contrast to the nurture most other shrubs and trees require.

For all these reasons, I love Eucalyptus trees. My hope is that mine will create the same sort of happy “scent memories” for my children that I cherish from my youth.

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Coppicing: The Fountain of Youth for Eucalyptus Trees!

Posted on May 12, 2017 by Ed Coughlin

Coppicing a tree or shrub involves periodically cutting it back to the ground level to stimulate growth.  Designers, savvy gardeners, and homeowners use this method to achieve a desired effect, prolong life, or to fix a problem in the landscape. A coppiced tree’s foliage also remains at a juvenile stage.  A bonus for Eucs because that's when the foliage grows most vigorously and is most fragrant and ornate. A regularly coppiced tree will never die of old age!



Sounds like a pretty progressive concept, but the roots of this age old method sprouted with the harvesting of timber and can be traced back 3806 BC.

Long ago our ancestors realized that, for optimum wood production, certain trees can be perpetually cut to the ground and grow back.  Most deciduous trees can be coppiced, but beech, cherry and poplar produce weaker growth.

Very few evergreens can be coppiced, but one that thrives with this practice of pruning is Eucalyptus!

A lignotuber at the base of the tree protects eucalyptus stands from deforestation during fires and freezes. That single "protector" cell also provides gardeners a host of pruning possibilities when growing this diverse and tough tree.



 Eucalyptus Pruning Tips

How To Prune A Eucalyptus Tree To Control Height

Most species of eucalyptus respond well to this method of pruning. So, if you think you don't have room for a larger variety of Eucalyptus tree, or you like the juvenile foliage of a specific species better than the adult foliage, you can coppice it to control size or just to get wonderful new stems and young foliage.

Note: Perform coppicing pruning in late winter or early spring in hot and humid climates. Trees in cooler and dry climates can be pruned in summer. 

To coppice a eucalyptus tree, slightly angle the cuts, pruning the trunk(s) back about a foot to 18 inches above the ground and removing all side shoots. For unsightly or leggy growth, cut back to about 6 inches from the ground. Then, when new growth emerges, select the best looking shoot and allow this to develop, cutting all others at the ground.



How To Prune Eucalyptus Trees For A Privacy Screen

To encourage lateral branching for screening purposes cut tree trunks to about 6 to 10 feet above the ground leaving the side branches to fill in for privacy. 

How To Prune Eucalyptus Trees For A Hedge

Prune Eucalyptus trees for a hedge at the end of their second growing season, removing about a third of their height and cutting in pyramid shape. Each year thereafter remove about a quarter of the tree to maintain the neighborhood’s most fragrant, colorful, and unique hedge row.

Sourthern Eucs that make great hedge rows are:

'Funky Monkey'


How To Prune A Eucalyptus To Form A Tree

This one is easy. As your tree grows taller remove lower branches to desired height to form a tree with a nice canopy atop exposed trunks. This type of pruning is especially desirable on Eucalyptus varieties prized for their interesting and colorful bark. Don’t prune any lower branches for the first 6 feet until the third season.



 Shop Cold Hardy Eucalyptus Trees For Sale

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An Uber Cool Urban Smart Farm that Upstaged Disney World!

Posted on April 14, 2017 by Ed Coughlin

No, I'm not a Disney Hater!  I haven't even been to the park in a long time.  But when I was there, I remember being awestruck by the design and maintenance of the lush grounds.  But let's be real and factor in Florida sunshine, a battalion of gardeners, advanced irrigation/fertilization systems, and the dollars folks pay to walk through the gate, and the landscaping should resemble the world's best botanical gardens.

It was a Volleyball Tournament that brought me to Orlando.  Games were played at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.  The grounds there were nice, but nothing compared to the wash of colors and textures at the theme parks.  Lucky for me, some games were also played at the Orange County Convention Center where I got my first look at an interior Urban Farm.


The scene reminded me of the movie The Martian where, in the absence of soil, water, and oxygen, botanist Mark Watney - played by Matt Damon - had to keep experimenting to grow food to survive!

Plants like lettuce, herbs, chard, choi, mustard, celery, kale and the occasional tomato and pepper plant, start out small in the Urban Smart Farm. . . . .


They only require 18 - 24 days to mature.  The seedlings quickly filling out 81 towers with 44 planting ports in each tower.  


The quick math equates to 3,564 plants, ready for harvest in about three weeks, providing an annual yield of about 80,000 plants!


Besides holding the mantle as the largest indoor vertical farm in a venue in the U.S., the Urban Smart Farms take up a miniscule 2,000 square foot space in the massive Orlando convention center.


Look for our next Southern Eucs blog on "Coppicing Eucalyptus trees".  A great way to manage height, train you Southern Euc into a hedge row, or just to encourage more of that great fragrant Eucalyptus foliage!




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Eucalyptus as a Bonsai? Stay Tuned!

Posted on March 30, 2017 by Ed Coughlin

Many people think a Bonsai is a specific species of tree like a maple, oak, or eucalyptus. Not so. The word Bonsai is a Japanese term which, literally translated, means “planted in a container”.

The ultimate goal of growing a Bonsai is to create a miniaturized but realistic representation of nature in the form of a tree.

 I was first bitten by the Bonsai bug when I saw Mr.  Miyagi in The Karate Kid practicing the art form and trying to teach Daniel San about inner peace.

I would mess with them back in early 2000 when I owned Walnut Creek Nursery.  It was fun to cut back on a small, pot-bound Crape Myrtle or pull a Juniper with potential and just start pruning.

 I wish I could take credit for the Juniper or any of the pictures in this blog, but these works or art were stumbled upon at a roadside Bosai garden in Cottondale, FL.  You can't miss the billboards on Interstate 10, west of Tallahassee, announcing "Bonsai by Dori".  And yes, if you are any kind of plant person or artist, it's well worth a visit. 

 Before I show you some of my favorites, I have to report on some of my findings.  Trees with smaller leaves, contorted trunks, and interesting bark make great specimens.  Japanese Maple, Elms, Ficus, and, why not, Eucalyptus meet that criteria and thus make great Bonsai!  Recommended Southern Eucs varieties are:

Eucalyptus parvula 'Funky Monkey'

Eucalyptus stellulata 'Sheila'


Eucalyptus nicholii 'Angus' (seen below in Bonsai form)

Experts say that the many qualities of Eucalyptus trees transfer well to larger 2-4' formed Bonsais.  Can't wait to get started!  Until then, a few of my favorites from Bonsai by Dori. 

Ficus Retusa
Age: Unknown
75+ Years Old
Chinese Elm
Just under $7,000
Trident Maple
80+ Years Old


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Jay Fortner's Florida Potted Southern Eucs

Posted on March 20, 2017 by Ed Coughlin

I started eucalyptus neglecta 'Big O', eucalyptus elliptica 'Grace', and eucalyptus camphors  'Lucky Country' from 4" containers about a year ago.   My goal was to grow them in pots on the patio of my Tampa home.

Originally the soil in the pots dried out quickly in the Florida heat and needed to be watered daily.

Larger pots with water reserves helped immensely and now they stay well-watered throughout the hot Florida days!

Aside from some occasional black mites  on 'LC', they're all real healthy and pest free.

They smell absolutely amazing and the cuttings have been helpful in keeping my home smelling nice.  A bonus is that my bird cages smell nice too and the birds love to chew on the leaves and bark.


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How do I know if a plant will survive in my area?

Posted on February 14, 2017 by Ed Coughlin

People often ask me if a favorite plant they saw on vacation or at one of the big box stores will survive in their area.  Well, the answer is not always as black and white as you would like.


At Southern Eucs we take the "cold hardy" label and the science behind the trees very serious.  Species research leads to sourcing seeds form the coldest provenances in the world.  From there, the trees are planted in trials gardens for observing cold hardiness, resistance to drought and disease, growth habits, and characteristics of foliage, bark and trunk.   


That being said, the first step to planting success is to know your USDA planting zone.  This helpful map divides up the U.S. into zones.  Know your zone, match it to a plants tag, and you are in the game.

Keep in mind growers and retailers are trying to sell you plants and are pretty aggressive with pushing a plant beyond its ideal zone. 


But here's where the game gets fun.  There are areas known as "micro-climates", areas of your property that might have a southern exposure, a wind break, a low lying area, ideal soil, etc. that can "extend" a plant beyond its advertised hardiness zone.  But "micro climates" with  windy conditions, damp soil, exposed sites, etc. can also have the opposite effect and reduce a plants hardiness. 


Long time gardeners know this all to well, and this is why you see that tropical palm, western conifer, or Monkey Puzzle Tree growing at your neighbor's house and outside its advertised zone. 


Below are some techniques to create that micro-climate and improve your chances of a plants survival.

  • Utilize a good 2 -4" ring of mulch around the plant's base.  Pine straw, chips, shredded rubber, they all work equally well to insulate the plants roots.  The ones from Mother Nature will need to be replaced more often, but they also help feed you plant with a steady diet of organic matter.


  • take the time to develop a fertile, well drained healthy soil.  It not only will help with hardiness but improve fruit, flower, and overall appearance.


  • Give your marginal plant a south-east facing location to warm up faster after cold nighttime temperatures.


  • Protect marginal plants with your home, fence, or natural plant screens.

Bottom line is this.  Know your plant and its hardiness zone, trust your supplier, and take the time to create a "plant healthy" environment that will greatly improve your chances of growing a happy and healthy plant!


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