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Coppice eucalyptus trees23 May 2013
Coppice eucalyptus trees to keep them at a manageable size, turning them from trees into willowy, graceful shrubs that sit beautifully among other plants.
There are dozens of varieties of eucalyptus, some with multicoloured or peeling bark, others with silvery evergreen and fragrant foliage. You'll find a good selection in your favourite garden centre. However if left to their own devices most make sizeable trees, far too big for all but the largest gardens.
You don't have to give up on growing eucalyptus, though, as they respond really well to coppicing – removing all top growth to the ground. It's particularly good for the popular Eucalyptus gunnii as new growth comes through with the prettier, more delicate young foliage, much loved by flower arrangers.
Annual coppicing keeps the plants smaller but will weaken them over time, so a better compromise is to coppice every 2-3 years. It's very straightforward to do: simply use loppers or a pruning saw to remove all the top growth to about 15cm from the ground. It looks drastic, but you'll find the plant very quickly starts producing young, whippy growth, reaching up to 2m tall in a season and making a spectacular backdrop to tall perennials and grasses.