When to prune eucalyptus - Experts reveal the perfect time to ensure optimum health

Timing is everything

(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you’re lucky enough to have eucalyptus in your garden, you’ll know that its decorative bark and blue-green leaves really stand out from the crowd. But if you’re growing it as an ornamental tree or shrub, knowing when to prune eucalyptus is key.

Eucalyptus can grow incredibly quickly, and while this works in your favour if you want to take cuttings for a budget decoration idea or you want to propagate your eucalyptus, it’s essential to prune it correctly. You must also prune it at the perfect time to avoid disease or damage. 

Below, you’ll find the exact time you should be pruning your eucalyptus to maintain the health and beauty of this evergreen plant. 

When to prune eucalyptus 

While pruning eucalyptus is a great way to maintain its shape and health, green-fingered gardeners often grow eucalyptus in different ways. Because of this, when you prune the eucalyptus depends on how you grow it.  

Steve Chilton, garden expert at LeisureBench, explains, ‘If you're growing eucalyptus as a tree, then it doesn't require scheduled pruning. However, it could probably do with the removal of dead, damaged and diseased branches and leaves, in March-early April time.’


(Image credit: Getty Images)

This makes it another task to add to your list of jobs to do in the garden in March, but you don’t have to do it immediately if you still haven’t finished what to plant in March. After all, your tomatoes and dahlias aren’t as flexible. 

Don’t worry if you’re not growing eucalyptus as a tree, though. Steve adds, ‘If you're growing a shrub eucalyptus (Eucalyptus Gunnii), then it will need to be hard pruned every year. You should take the plant right back to ground level, and in the very early years of the plant, you should think about coppicing it. This should also be done in March-early April time.’

Coppicing (cutting to ground level) is a great way to promote new growth from the base of the shrub and will ultimately result in a bigger and bushier eucalyptus the next year. But however you prune your eucalyptus, pruning in spring is key to its survival. 

Eucalyptus in basket

(Image credit: Future PLC)

‘Pruning should always be done in early spring, as they heal much more quickly and more efficiently when they're pruned when the sap is rising in the spring,’ explains Steve. ‘This is because the active sap flow helps the tree to seal off pruning wounds and recover more effectively.’

‘Pruning during this time also minimises any stress on the tree and reduces the risk of disease or pest infestation, as well as allows the tree to put all of its energy into new growth and development as the weather finally starts to warm up.’

In fact, this follows the general rule of thumb when cutting back shrubs in the garden. Like other evergreen shrubs, pruning in early spring is key to its survival. 

Headshot of gardening expert Steve Chilton
Steve Chilton

Steve is a passionate and knowledgeable garden expert with several years of experience within the field and has developed strong expertise for all things nature and plants. Steve is a keen educator and loves to share this knowledge with others. He strives to simplify complex garden practices and encourage eco-friendly gardening.


How far back can you cut a eucalyptus tree?

Although eucalyptus trees can benefit from a hard prune, eucalyptus is also very specific. If you’re growing eucalyptus as a tree, you can generally prune it however you want. You can cut it back far if you’re looking to reduce the size or change the shape, or you could just take off a few branches here or there.

In all cases, however, you should make sure that you’re focusing on cutting back dead or diseased branches rather than healthy ones. Ideally, you should also do this every two years.

If you’re growing eucalyptus as a shrub, it may benefit from coppicing. This means cutting it back to the ground each year and allowing new growth to form. If you choose this option, it’s a good idea to feed your tree after pruning. 

Exact pruning requirements will differ depending on the type of eucalyptus you have and how you grow it, so it’s always best to do your research before whipping out the garden shears. 

Wooden shelf with candles and glass vases holding moss, pine cones and eucalyptus

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

Can I cut the top off my eucalyptus plant?

Most experts would advise against cutting the top off your eucalyptus plant, as this will expose too much of the tree to the elemtents. Instead, you should focus on pruning the lower branches and cutting a few centimetres off the top and the sides. 

Craig Morley, a gardening expert from Budget Seeds says, ‘Other kinds of pruning that may be carried out for eucalyptus plants are pollarding (removal of the upper branches) and coppicing (felling a tree at its base to create an area where new shoots can grow), which are usually used to make them suitable for smaller gardens.’

So, focus on pruning eucalyptus like this, rather than cutting off the top.

Now you know when to prune eucalyptus, you can clean your pruning shears in preparation. 

Lauren Bradbury

Lauren Bradbury is a freelance writer and major homes enthusiast. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English and Creative Writing from the University of Chichester in 2016, before dipping her toe into the world of content writing. After years of agency work, writing everything from real-life stories to holiday round-ups, she decided to take the plunge and become a full-time freelancer in the online magazine world. Since then, she has become a regular contributor for Real Homes and Ideal Home, and become even more obsessed with everything interior and garden related. As a result, she’s in the process of transforming her old Victorian terraced house into an eclectic and modern home that hits visitors with personality as soon as they walk through the door.