Planting a tree uses all the same techniques as any other plant. However, a tree is a long term plant so a little more care, consideration and a few extra steps need to be taken. For advice on exactly where to plant you tree see our Where & What Size pages
When To Plant?
The best time to plant container grown Eucalyptus is between March – October. Keeping the trees well-watered is essential until they have put down enough roots to find their own water. If planting during hot periods then you will need to water every day.
Trees bought over the winter can be kept in their pots until early Spring, keeping them somewhere sheltered (ideally a greenhouse or similar) and make sure they are watered occasionally. The most important thing is to ensure that the roots do not freeze, so a little jacket of fleecing or similar around the pot would help. Winter planting can be done but you will need to ensure sufficient protection from the cold. For this you choose a more sheltered location and use a layer of mulch 15cm deep (6 inches).
Before You Start Digging…
1. Before planting your tree it is advisable to remove any vegetation within a 0.5m radius, including grass, as trees establish and grow faster without any competition. If you can't apply herbicide in advance then it's best to remove as much of the vegetation as possible, using a spade, hoe, mower or strimmer as applicable.
2.To give your trees the best start they need lots of water. Fill a bucket or large container with water and dunk the pot and leave for 5-10 minutes for a real good soak.
The Digging Begins
3. Your hole should be roughly twice the size of the pot, with room at the sides and at the bottom. Prick the sides of the hole with a fork to make it easier for the roots to break out into it, this is especially important in heavy clay soil. Give the hole a generous watering.
4. Fill the bottom of the hole with a mixture of compost/manure and top soil. If you have generally dry soil then the soil in the pot should be slightly below ground level, if you have very wet soil it should be slightly above. Otherwise it can be in line with the current level.
5. Carefully remove the tree from the pot (If the tree is in an Air-Pot, take off the sides by unscrewing the green fixings. Remember to remove the slotted base before planting.) Place the tree in the hole and position it to an angle that suits. It’s worth taking a few steps back to see if the position is right, once planted the tree will be there for years so it’s worth taking some time over the decision.
6. STAKING: There are differing views on the staking of trees. Modern techniques indicate that staking is for the benefits of the roots to stop the root ball rocking rather than to make the trunk grow straight.
Low stakes at a height of 1-2ft (30-60cm) are preferable. At this height they hold the root ball in place but allow the trunk to grow strong.
We would advise against using a tall stake on Eucalyptus as if they have a nice firm stake to hold them up they won't waste any energy on growing a strong trunk. Once the stake is taken away the tree will just flop over. Trees in this condition will not recover and need to be pruned back and allowed to grow again.
If you decide that you do want to stake your tree, the stake should be placed before back filling the hole with soil. Place the stake into position butting up against the rootball (it’s best to avoid piercing the rootball to minimise root damage) and hammer into the ground. You may want to take the tree back out of the hole to avoid being damaged).
7. Back fill the hole with more compost and top soil, firming as to go. Once the soil is level you can use your foot to really firm it down. If you are using mulch mat, now is the time. Cut a slit to fit around the tree and stake, use the pegs to secure it to the ground.
8. If you are using a tree shelter or spiral guard you can put it on now. Incisions can be made to allow for a tree tie.
9. Attach the tree tie to the stake, and then around the tree. The tie should be loose enough so that it does not pull the tree towards the stake but just tight enough to give support. You should check your tree tie a few times in a year to make sure it is not causing damage to the growing tree.
10. Water the tree very well, wait for the water to soak in and do it again. The most important things you can do now to help your tree establish are the three W's: Water, Weeds and Water. Eucalyptus are thirsty trees, for their first year make sure so water regularly and well.