Growing Eucalyptus From Seeds

Collection of Eucalyptus nuts

Collection of Eucalyptus nuts

The Eucalyptus gum nuts (woody fruits) that are left on the tree after it has flowered, contain seed and chaff. When they have ripened some fall off naturally, or are nipped off by parrots and lorikeets.

These gum nuts can be collected and placed in a container or paper bag and left in a dry place until the valves in the top of the nut open and release the seed and chaff.

Some trees hold the nuts way past the first year. It is always best to take the older nuts as then you will be sure that the seed is mature and will germinate.

Some species of Eucalypt do not set much seed in the nuts, and some seed will not germinate.

Eucalyptus macrocarpa gum nut with seeds and chaff

Eucalyptus macrocarpa gum nut with seeds and chaff

Some easy ways to germinate the seeds:

Containers

Use a clean pot, about 100-150 mm across the top, with holes in the bottom.

Seed raising mix

You can buy seed raising mix from garden centres and some large supermarkets. It keeps, so just store it in a clean container, with a lid.

You can make your own with clean (washed) coarse sand and cocopeat.

  • The cocopeat is available from garden centres and supermarkets. The block is the size of a house brick and is made from coconut husks.
  • Half fill a 9 litre bucket with water, place the cocopeat brick in the water and leave it to absorb the water and expand and become moist and crumbly.
  • Use about two parts peat and one part sand mixed together.

Sow the Seed

  • Fill the pot to within 2 cm of the top of the pot and tap the pot on the table to settle the mix.
  • Press the surface of the mix lightly to make it smooth.
  • Sprinkle a pinch of the seed/chaff over the surface of the mix.
  • Sprinkle a very light layer of the seed raising mix over the seed.
  • Label the pot with the name of the species and the date.
  • Labels can be made from the lid of an icecream container, or pop sticks.
130mm pot sown with Eucalyptus macrocarpa seeds

130mm pot sown with Eucalyptus macrocarpa seeds

Caring for the pot of seeds

  • Stand the pot in a container like an icecream container and fill the ice cream container with water.
  • The water will soak up through the seed raising mix and wet the surface of the mix and the seeds.
  • The surface of the mix should be kept moist, not soggy, so once the moisture is there, keep the water level in the ice cream container at about 3cm.

(You could use a fine spray from a hose to water. Be careful that it is fine so that you do not wash the seed out of the pot.)

Seed container in icecream cotainer

Seed container in icecream cotainer

  • Keep the pot in a sheltered, well lit spot, out of direct sun if the weather is hot.
  • Seed should begin to germinate in 2-4 weeks, depending on the air temperature.
  • When the seed has germinated, keep the water level in the icecream container quite low, or remove it altogether, keeping the potting mix just moist.
 

27 Responses to “Growing Eucalyptus From Seeds”

  1. Elizabeth Crown says:

    My seeds sprouted and are now about 3 inches high with 2 sets of leaves. Now what?

    I’m in Palo Alto, California, and our weather is sublime.

    Should I leave the seedlings in the pot a while longer or should I plant them and when?

    And should they be planted in direct or partial sun?

    Thank you.

  2. Paul says:

    Elizabeth;

    have you planted them out now? They can usually stay in pots for quite a while, just be carefull they are not getting root bound as they have a tendency for their roots to spiral around the sides of the pots, unless you are using root training pots which have ridges down the inside to force the roots down.
    Full sun or shade depends on the species you have, though most Eucalyptus grow in full sun.

    Paul

    Canberra Australia

  3. Kozan says:

    Elizabeth, from reading around the net it is a good idea to plant them outside before they get too big for the pot. If they stunt then they might take a couple years to recover or not even be able to recover.

    With direct or partial sun, you will need to check around for more information.

    • Corinne says:

      These are all good comments. Timing sometimes determines the actions here. Cold, windy, wet weather can cause damage to young seedlings, so find a sheltered well lit warm spot in this case. Ideally, potting on, or planting out shoiuld be done when the ground is warm, ie spring or autumn. As this is often not possible, modify what is done by extra water, or adding a shelter of some sort, or a suitable mulch.

      Surprisingly, young Eucalypts will hold in deep pots for quite a long time. ‘Deep pots’ means around 150mm (6″). The trick is to keep the water up to thirsty root systems.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    Thanks to all of you.

    I am delighted to report that my little seedlings are now nearly six feet tall.

    I have them staked loosely.

    Next question: When and how to prune?

    Elizabeth

  5. […] Growing Eucalyptus From Seeds Jan 17, 2009 … Collection of Eucalyptus nuts. The Eucalyptus gum nuts (woody fruits) that are left on the tree … […]

  6. I am trying to grow Eucalipts & Australian bushes from seeds,following the instructions from the book”Australian native plants”by John W.Wrigley & Murray Fagg-fifth edition. That’s on pages 26 to 29.I am using river sand,peat moss & 8 nutrients mix inexact relations,but I still didn’t have succcess untill now.I wonder,what I am doing wrog!? Maybe you can give me some additional or different instructions.I would be very gratefull! Thank you very much in advance-Z.Breber.

  7. Suleiman Wamala says:

    I hope every one is fine. Am in Uganda-Africa and interested in starting Eucalyptus growing in my 30 acre land where the Eucalyptus Grandis species is growing well. (i tried a sample). Being a big area, i would want to buy good seeds and make a seedbed of my owm.
    I would want anyone to direct me to a site where i can get good information especially regarding that early stage of seedbed, putting into pots ant transplanting stages. I will be very greatfull if assisted. Suleiman

  8. Mick Affleck says:

    Work for Maroondah Council, would like to plant Australian Natives in
    Reserves and Parks

    • Corinne says:

      Most councils have a nursery, or access to one that will provide plants that are suitable for the climate and rainfall. If this is not so for you, then try growing your own using the principles I wrote about. I have been raising Eucalypts for Trees for Life here in SA. I have discovered that the tiniest pinch of seed (seed and chaff) will yield 2 or 3 seedlings in a pot. When they have their 2nd pair of true leaves, you can carefully lever out the excess and transplant to other pots. Keep shaded and moist for a week or so, then gradually expose to more light. It’s not too late to get seed in now and have plants with plenty of roots and height by June for planting out.

  9. uliuls says:

    Hi Corinne,

    This is an awesome website! Thanks for the detailed description about how to grow Eucalypts from seed. Just a question: is there any good or not so good time of the year to start seeding them? I am in Melbourne, which I assume has similar climate to SA?

    Thank you!
    Uli

    • Corinne says:

      Trees For Life, an organisation involved in revegetation projects, sows Eucalypt seed in January for planting during winter. This is probably the best time to plant. It assumes no follow up watering. If that is not an issue for the first year, then sowing can take place whenever you like. Summer/Autumn seems to be best in the mallee where I live. Much lower rainfall than Melbourne 340mm average. Adelaide is much higher.

      • Corinne says:

        Having just checked what I originally wrote about raising Eucalypts from seed, there is one modification to make. Rather than covering Eucalypt seed with fine potting mix, I now leave it uncovered apart from a thin layer of fine gravel. This holds the seed down, and helps to retain moisture, and also assists with moderating the temperature during very hot weather like we are experiencing now.

  10. Alex says:

    Great information, I just noted your newest comment about adding a layer of fine gravel. Do you mean the size you would find in a fish tank or something smaller? Thank you.

    • Corinne says:

      Gravel the size of that in a fish tank would be fine. Sometimes garden landscape centres will sell a bucket full of fine gravel for a few dollars. The gravel is about the size of that used to patch road surfaces.

  11. Nico says:

    Hi,
    I’m growing some frost hardy mallee type eucalypts for my balcony in France. They’ve germinated, so I’m gonna keep them in their original small container for a couple of weeeks now. I’m using a seed raising mix which is perlite, sand and peat. Seems to be working fine, however putting some cling film over the container helped retain the moisture and heat, so I got germination in 7 days. Now since I’m gonna later transplant them into bigger pots I’m wondering two things :
    1) Should I go directly from the pots they’re in right now (a small plastic container about 8 cm wide) to their final pots (probably about 30 L air pots like this one : http://www.cultureindoor.com/2483-air-pot-superoots-30l-hydro-kit.html ) or should I use an intermediate size (about 3 l) ?
    2) What potting mix should I use ? Most potting mix available in France is heavily pitted and moist, I can’t find a good draining mix except for the seed raising mix, should I use that one with fertilizer or could you advise me on the mix I should use ? Thanks.

    • Corinne says:

      I would go to 3l pots first. I would suggest at least a 50/50 mix of seed raising and the potting mix. Test it by squeezing. If it holds together in your hand add more seed raising mix. Most Eucalypts need good drainage. Eucalypts will manage in a pot with one feed of a basic liquid fertiliser, in Spring, summer, and autumn.

  12. Brian says:

    Have sighted a beautiful relation of the Red Flowering Gum in our bush block. Seeds have browned off but it is mid winter. How do I care for them between now and spring. Will dry, dark, cold suffice. It is a Bloodwood, do I need to heat the seeds at any stage to help germination?
    I know my chances of getting anything like the mother plant are about Buckleys but it’s only ten years or so.

    • Corinne says:

      This was written a long time ago but the answer is still relevant. Sorry if I didn’t reply to this personnally. Gum nuts will easily release their seeds. Look for older nuts to be sure of mature seed. Store them in a paper bag or open container until the seed is released. Some alpine seed needs cool conditions to germinate. Mostly in those areas the seed should be sown in cold weather. For seed from warmer areas than that sow in spring or early autumn. Unless the plants are growing with different species of Eucalypts or Corymbia (some Eucalypts have had a name change) you have a reasonable chance of growing the same colour form.

  13. KB says:

    Hi,

    I have tried to grow seedling twice and have had no success, I have followed your instruction and have planted spotted gum, lemon scented gum, and red iron bark.
    All the different seeds have sprouted and grown to different ages from two weeks to three months and then over a couple of days turn their heads over and die, I even got one tree to grow its first leaves and then it died.
    I have been growing them in store bought seedling mix and keeping them in a semi sunlight with not much water only have the seedling mix moist, I think water has got something to do with it but any good ideas would be appreciated as Its getting very disappointing, thanks KB

    • Corinne says:

      Such a disappointment when half the battle is getting germination. I agree that it is a moisture problem. Do you have the seed pots in a place with plenty of ventilation? Too much seed being sown and consequent thick germination can be a problem. Seed germinating ar different rates is normal. The problem you have is called ‘damping off’. Seedlings are affected at soil level. One way of dealing with it is 5 drops of Tea Tree oil in 500 ml water, in a spray bottle. Capillary watering can be achieved by placing pots with seed sown in a larger container like a take away food container with the water level at 1-2 cm. Either cut the container at this eight or make holes in the sides. This avoids overhead watering. Excessive heat can also be a cause. I hope some of this helps.
      The seeds you are trying to raise germinate at warmer temperatures E citriodora at 25-30C daytime temp, E maculata 25C,
      E sideroxylon at 20C. which can also be achieved by using a hot house.

    • Corinne says:

      One extra thought: E sideroxylon requires light to germinate, so surface sow seed.

  14. KB says:

    Hi Corinne,
    No problem with germination here in Perth they jump out off the ground with in 9 days most times, I have knocked a few gum nut off the local spotted gum so will be trying again.
    I think you have touched on some of my problems, no.1 I have been sowing a heap of seed in the one pot which in turn has put all my eggs in one basket, no2 is I have been over head watering after germination has happened, I don’t understand what this could be doing to the seedlings but one lot fell over only days after I did so I am sure your right.
    I am thinking of mixing my own soil mix that drains a bit better lower in the pot.
    I am interested in your thoughts on the above.

    Regards
    Kevin

    • Corinne says:

      Hi Kevin,
      Eucalypt seed that comes from a pod contains both chaff and seed. You need only the tiniest pinch of seed. Fine seed does best sprinkled over the surface. Add gravel to prevent washing the seed out or a screen of shade cloth. You may find that a block of cocoa peat soaked in half a bucket of hot water and added to 2 buckets of potting mix will give you a lighter mix. ie. 1:2 cocoa peat:potting mix in a wheel barrow. Tis makes a lot but keeping it in plastic bag retains moisture. This is quite a good mix for cuttings as well. Try the Tea tree oil treatment after germination. It acts as a fungicde.
      regards
      Corinne

  15. Terry says:

    Hi I would like to plant gumnut seeds directly into the ground. I have a wildlife corridor 20mts by 1.2 kilometers and would like more trees in it. The existing trees have plenty of gumnuts and wondering if I can seed direct?
    Cheers Terry

  16. SOKO™ says:

    For everybody hope all is well I am an amateur gardener I have had this Hobby for about 3 years in which I try to grow hard to grow trees and plans not native to this area,indoors. I try to grow them from seeds and I had bought some eucalyptus Robusta or (swamp mahogany) and have not had any luck can somebody please tell me where to look or how to get the seeds to grow

  17. Simon says:

    Hi Everyone,

    My names is Simon, and Im interested in growing from seed, my dad has a small farm and loves the gums he has already planted. He is apprehensive about buying and planting more as he has had not the best track record.
    Cant wait to try to grow some babies from seed, to eleviate the cost of buying more mature plants. Also I think if he raises them from seed he may look after them a little better when it comes to planting.
    I live In Mount Gambier South East South Australia.
    The in for on here has been great, can anyone point me towards anymore great references and maybe a seed supplier, just for the option of different varieties.
    Thank you all again, my email is simmo87wilko@gmail.com please forward anything on to a budding begginer.
    Thanks again

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