Foliage Follow-up Day – July 2015 – what to do with the unexpected?

Last year, I planted a Eucalyptus. It was sold as an annual, in a 4″ pot. I planted it next to something that would benefit from its pretty blue foliage, thinking this was a short term assignment, and that it would soon die. Imagine my surprise when the following spring, it was still there. Granted, we had the warmest winter in memory, and it was planted on the lee side of our house, sheltered from the eastern winds – but still… I would for sure have thought it would have perished during our November Arctic Blast. Not so, apparently.


By now, it stands as tall as me. While I adore its foliage, I’m a little concerned. Enough to feel compelled to move it, actually – which I did late this spring. I have no idea how big something like this might get if it’s allowed to grow. In fact, I don’t even think it came with a species name. When I moved it, it sulked a little, but came right back. I placed it against the red brick of our chimney, where its blue loveliness will shine. With the weather being as wonky as it’s been this past year, who knows what this winter will bring… Perhaps it will kindly perish in the next Arctic chill. Or, weather permitting, perhaps it will grow another 5′-6′ by next summer.  Who knows..? I wouldn’t mind that scenario either… With these musings, I leave you to explore Foliage Follow-up day, a meme hosted by Pam at Digging.

About annamadeit

I was born and raised in Sweden, By now, I have lived almost as long in the United States. The path I’ve taken has been long and varied, and has given me a philosophical approach to life. I may joke that I’m a sybarite, but the truth is, I find joy and luxury in life’s simple things as well. My outlook on life has roots in a culture rich in history and tradition, and I care a great deal about environmental stewardship. Aesthetically, while drawn to the visually clean, functional practicality and sustainable solutions that are the hallmarks of modern Scandinavia, I also have a deep appreciation for the raw, the weathered, and the worn - materials that tell a story. To me, contrast, counterpoint, and diversity are what makes life interesting and engaging. Color has always informed everything I do. I’m a functional tetrachromat, and a hopeless plantoholic. I was originally trained as an architect working mostly on interiors, but soon ventured outside - into garden design. It’s that contrast thing again… An interior adrift from its exterior, is like a yin without a yang. My firm conviction that everything is connected gets me in trouble time and time again. The world is a big place, and full of marvelous distractions, and offers plentiful opportunities for inquiry and exploration. I started writing to quell my constant queries, explore my discoveries, and nurture my curiosity. The Creative Flux was started in 2010, and became a catch-all for all kinds of intersecting interests. The start of Flutter & Hum at the end of 2013 marks my descent into plant nerd revelry. I occasionally contribute to other blogs, but those two are my main ones. For sure, topics are all over the map, but then again - so am I! Welcome to my blogs!
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27 Responses to Foliage Follow-up Day – July 2015 – what to do with the unexpected?

  1. Linda Coombs says:

    I bought one of those a few years ago too. Same thing, thought it would die over the winter. I had it for a good few year before we had one of those bad winters…dead ! Didn’t even come back from the base, as they sometimes do.
    You can always cut it back in spring , it grows back with the more delicate foliage . I’m doing it with my more hardy ones .

  2. mattb325 says:

    I know they often sell these trees – likely to be Eucalyptus cinerea – as annuals in climates colder than USDA 7, but they are typically hardy to USDA zone 7/8 (as long as they have good drainage), in areas with heavy soils, they wouldn’t be much hardier than USDA 8. In these conditions they will attain a height of over 40′.
    Happily though, these are grown for their juvenile foliage, so you need to cut them back hard every other year. March or April is a good time. That way you can keep it manageable until the first sub-10F frost

    • annamadeit says:

      That’s awesome info, Matt. Linda just told me to cut it back hard too. Now I’m actually a little excited about keeping it short and sweet. 40′ would worry me more… 🙂

  3. Pauline says:

    Cutting hard back is the clue, that way you keep the pretty juvenile foliage, it’s not as pretty when the tree gets older.

  4. rusty duck says:

    I had one in a previous garden and did as Matt suggests. It stayed looking good and relatively compact up to the time we moved. I dread to think what has happened to it now. Perhaps if I drive past my old town I will be able to see it on the skyline..

    • annamadeit says:

      Oh my – what a thought! Never paid it mind before, but you’re right! Some plants really ought to come with warnings in real estate transfers. I bet you want to go back and check now – don’t you? 😉

  5. Alison says:

    Eucalyptus has such pretty leaves! Sounds like you have it well in hand, as far as advice about how to handle it.

    • annamadeit says:

      I took it to heart, and lo and behold – I got to use that information this very afternoon! I just came back from a client’s house, and she had bought the exact same plant!!! So, I helped her place it, and gave her the same instructions I just got from everyone here. Perfect timing! Your shared knowledge helped me appear smart – thank you! 🙂

  6. Me too! (was it at FM?) Mine lived and lived and lived. It was finally Andrew that did it in. Too close to the house and it was giving him nightmares.

  7. Kris P says:

    Keep a careful watch on it, Anna!

  8. rickii says:

    I have so many things that have grown larger than expected all jammed together. But the Eucalyptus we counted on to shade a corner of the house is dead (beautiful in its demise, tho).

  9. My Eucalyptus survived last winter in a pot pulled up close to a sunny wall, and is still growing in the pot. This post encourages me to plant it out with confidence it can survive our winter in the garden . Lovely photo !

    • annamadeit says:

      Thanks! I’m encouraged by all the comments and advice too. But I think I might have to move it farther out from the house. Good luck with yours! 🙂

      • Thank you for the advice to keep it well away from the house! I had no idea they grow so huge!

        • annamadeit says:

          I took the comments about the young foliage to heart. I will keep hacking my back to keep it small. 🙂

          • Yes, that is helpful advice. I never realized the foliage changes as the tree grows. I’m a total novice with Eucalyptus, and likely should add it to my deer proof list since it is hardy in 7b. I’ve always avoided Eucalyptus, expecting it to be more tender 😉 Great information here, Anna, and I appreciate it 😉

  10. rindymae says:

    I just bought a baby one this year. I stuck him in a pot, though, so we shall see!

  11. These are absolute annuals in my climate but all those leaves will be handy this winter if you have a cold and need something to clear your head. :o)

  12. Pam/Digging says:

    Wow, I’d never have guessed that eucalyptus would overwinter except in frost-free California. Live and learn, right? I’m smiling over your hope that it will kindly perish this winter. I have one or two of those kinds of plants myself.

  13. annamadeit says:

    Well, if it doesn’t – now I know that keeping it cut back is the way to go. The leaves are so pretty, I don’t really mind…

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