My first lemon eucalyptus; it grew to over 2 meters tall

I’m not new to growing the lemon eucalyptus.

My first try at growing this plant was when someone in the local gardening forum conducted a small mass order from a lady who was growing this plant locally. When I received it then, it was only about 15cm tall at the most. Somehow, I managed to grow it until it reached about two meters before I had to prune it down.

This plant is one of the most unfussy and unassuming plants I’ve grown. Give it a moderately moist soil mixture, about four hours of direct sunlight a day, and daily watering, and it’d grow and grow and grow happily for you (maybe it’d grow so happily until one doesn’t know how to handle it as a tree).

The callousing of the stalk to become a trunk; even with hard pruning, the plant will continue to grow

I’d placed a thick wooden stake to support my first plant, and tied cable twists and twine around the stalk to support the then-young plant. I promptly forgot all about the cable twists and twine, and as the plant grew, the stalk thickened, and the twists and twine cut deeply into the growing stalk, callousing the plant in a supposed-bonsai technique (my bonsai expert friend told me about this), and thickening the stalk until it became a small trunk of about an inch thick. I think that through this mistake, my plant’s trunk was the only one amongst all the people who had joined the mass order which had grown so thick.

The plant was sturdy, and very useful when one needed some citrusy-soothing scent, or apparently in an attempt to repel mosquitoes.

However, there was one issue: after about a year or so, my lemon eucalyptus plant started dying. It wasn’t the hard surface pruning my dad had given it twice. But the leaves and stalks gradually turned brown and died, one by one, until I had to kill the whole plant.

My current plants grown from seeds

What went wrong? I checked the trunk – it was sturdy and very hard, so it definitely wasn’t rot; the leaves were browning in the sequence from new growth to old growth, before completely dying off; sunlight shouldn’t be the problem as it had gone through two cycles of the typical climate and sun-shifts here.

I decided to Google a little, and came upon this blog post at The Herb Gardener. Then I realized – my plant’s roots had effectively strangled themselves in the very large pot (but still a pot, nonetheless) and committed suicide through a lack of my own knowledge.

So, I’ve learnt that the lemon eucalyptus is a little like the mint plants, which do well with a yearly root pruning.

Some plants take well to being pot-bound; others don’t – the roots grow so compacted the plant strangles itself to death. The lemon eucalyptus is one of those which definitely requires some maintenance on its roots.

The plant and leaves grow readily and easily

Currently, I’ve grown two small plants from seeds, and they are in a small pot. I don’t intend to really upsize the pot, but from now on, I’ll remember to give it a root-cut now and then.

Care: A relatively moist soil mix
Fertilizing: Does well with frequent weak fertilizing
Sunlight: Full sun preferable, but it will tolerate some bright shade
Propagation: By seeds
Special care: Do yearly root pruning

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