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In depth guideHistory & hardiness in UK Eucalyptus history in the UKHardinessProvenance Cultivation Plant sizePlanting timePlanting & aftercareDistance from buildingsProtection from animalsPests and diseasesTransplantingScreening and planting distance Site suitability Lime toleranceShade toleranceCoastal sitesInland exposureDroughtClay soilsWaterlogging Container growing HouseplantsGrowing in tubsBonsai Pruning methods CoppicingPollardingHedging/'A' pruning Growth features Unique growth featuresJuvenile & adult foliageImmature foliageBarkFloweringAromaGrowth per year/mature height Miscellaneous Letter from propritorTestimonialsExotic varietiesQuick resultsVariations of individualsCarbon sinkCritisisms of EucalyptusMedicinal usesCommercial usesAcaiaVisitorHelp & advice


Commercial uses

1) Cut foliage: A great deal of the cut Eucalyptus foliage sold in this country is imported. By the time it arrives in this country and is distributed around the markets and shops it can already appear somewhat tired. There are a number of large growers of Eucalyptus cut juvenile foliage in the U.K. and the numbers are increasing each year producing fresher foliage with more variety than just E. gunnii. At present this market is far from being saturated.

Although the main production areas are in the South West there are other successful producers in most parts of the U.K. A sheltered site is a prime requirement without which the young foliage, as it meets in the rows can rub against one another causing damage to the growing tips. Also over winter, if not sheltered, there will be wind scorch or leaf tear reducing the amount of saleable material. Complete weed control is necessary for good growth and again to avoid damage by large weeds by friction to the juvenile foliage. Planting distance is commonly 1.5 x 1.5 metres (5ft x 5ft) or 1.2 x 1.8 metres (4ft x 6ft) giving 5,102 plants/hectare (1,742/acre). It is important to leave headlands and access drives unplanted. See the notes on coppicing. Fertilise the whole planting area with 20-10-10 depending on the soil nutrient status. Irrigation is beneficial on dry sites. If the plants are growing too vigorously and leaning pinch out the top growth a few times during the season. Pinch back to a short sturdy side shoot which will then become the new leader.

After two seasons, cutting commences in October and continues to March in mild areas or is completed by December in colder areas. This first cut will yield less marketable foliage than subsequent years because some of it will not be juvenile. The shoots are graded into different sizes and bunched together. Returns are more or less double if you can sell direct to the florists rather than into the markets. At present the major demand is for foliage of E. parvula followed by E. gunnii but mixing in some of the other different leaf forms can increase marketability. E. coccifera is grown for its adult leaves and for this purpose it should be pruned and not coppiced.

2) Glycerined foliage: Successful methods have been developed for preserving Eucalyptus foliage through the use of Glycerine and dyes. These techniques are not widely known.

This method is more suitable for foliage than flowers, but certain flowers with "bracts" (modified leaves), such as Hydrangea and Molucella laevis (Bells of Ireland), will glycerine well. Both the flowers and foliage of Garrya elliptica preserve well, turning almost black. Grasses are also very successful, as is Gypsophila and Alchemilla mollis. Conifers also produce some lovely results.

Evergreens can be preserved all the year round, as long as they are kept reasonably warm during preservation, but deciduous material should be preserved between the end of June and mid-September. New spring growth will not take up the solution, nor will leaves which are turning colour in Autumn (Fall). Foliage should always be mature when preserved.

The colour of foliage preserved in glycerine is usually brown, but different types of plant material will glycerine to different shades of brown, from straw colour, through olive, to tan to nearly black, and every shade in between! The time of year that material is glycerined, and the light levels will also make a difference to the finished colour. For example, Beech leaves will preserve to a different brown when glycerined in July, than they will in August, and if they are kept in the dark whilst being preserved, they will turn a deep olive colour, but if done in light, they will turn tan colour. Experimentation is the name of the game! Laurel, White Poplar and Garrya elliptica leaves all turn black when glycerined, which is a lovely contrast in colour, from, for instance, Molucella laevis (Bells of Ireland), which turn very pale straw colour. One way to test what colour foliage will turn when glycerined is to pick a leaf and allow it to dry naturally. Whatever colour it goes will be roughly the colour it will turn when preserved. Autumn is the best time to observe this process, as the results are more accurate.

Pick your foliage, and remove any damaged leaves, as these tend to show up even more when glycerined, and is a waste of glycerine! Cut the stems at an angle, and split woody stems about an inch up the stem. It is important to condition your plant material before glycerining to be sure they are drinking, as the glycerine solution is thicker than water, and will often clog stems, resulting in wilting. Place the stems in warm water, and let them drink for a couple of hours, or preferably overnight, before placing in the glycerine solution.

To make the glycerine solution, mix two parts very hot water with one part glycerine and stir thoroughly. Hot water must be used as glycerine is heavier than water, and will sink to the bottom if cold water is used. Allow the mixture to cool off until it is just warm before use. **SPECIAL NOTE - The solution can be re-used time and again. Just sieve it through a fine sieve (or a pair of old tights!) to remove any debris, and re-use it or add it to a fresh batch. Although it turns brown after use, this is perfectly normal, and won't affect the finished results.**

Once conditioned, place the stems in the glycerine solution. The time it takes to preserve the plant material very much depends on what type of plant material is being used. Some things such as Cotoneaster horizontalis will be ready in about 30 hours, whilst things like Aspidistra elatior may take two or three months! Check the material daily, you will be able to see the brown glycerine solution being taken up the veins of the leaves, and when it reaches the top, it's done! Don't allow material to stand in the solution any longer than necessary, as this will result in the glycerine "bleeding" from the leaves, and this can cause a black sooty mould to form, as well as being very messy.....

3) Biomass: There have been a number of successful biomass trials with the faster growing hardier Eucalypts. Their value for firewood varies between species owing to the initial moisture content, rate of drying and final moisture content. The relative density of fast grown Eucalypts (0.42-0.44) is superior to Poplar (0.35-0.39) and Willow (0.34-0.36). In trials 2-4 year old E. archeri has achieved a mean annual increment of between 6-10 tonnes (dry) per hectare per year depending on site.

4) Forestry: At present plantings of Eucalypts in the U.K. on a Forestry scale, apart from experimental purposes, have been limited to amenity planting around the edges of coniferous plantations to improve their appearance and interest. There is also interest in Eucalypts as a short rotation (10-12 years) pulp crop. The best timber trees with the straightest form are not reliably hardy on a forest scale in the U.K. and at present there is not a short fibre pulp mill for production of quality paper and board in the U.K. However we have initiated research that initially selected the hardiest individuals from about 5000 plants from already hardy provenances and these are at present being clonally propagated. Individuals that show outstanding hardiness will be combined by various genetic fusion processes with the hardiest of the good timber, rapid growth and straight form individuals. These will then be evaluated in the field. At the same time selection for good form and hardiness is being undertaken from trees growing at our Nurseries and a new technique of grafting and hedging will be used to propagate these individuals. Full results from this research is not yet available. This work continues slowly because of the high cost of research.

5) Shooting cover: The bushier species that will keep their lower branches and leaves are increasing in popularity for planting because of the much shorter timescale to grow and become useful cover.

For information on commercial sales, please view our Wholesale section.