Who else gets a natural boost of energy when they smell eucalyptus? Me too. But sometimes, fresh eucalyptus can be hard to find. When you learn how to grow eucalyptus in your own garden, you’ll have access to a versatile plant that can be used to naturally support your health.
There are over 700 species of eucalyptus, most of which are native to Australia. But luckily, there are varieties that will grow in the Midwest, too. Silver dollar eucalyptus is the most recognizable and available variety (aka the kind you find at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods), so I grow that kind, as well as baby blue and lemon eucalyptus.
In the Midwest, I start my eucalyptus seeds in February. Seeds can be tricky to find, so if you are planning to grow eucalyptus, make sure you source your seeds well ahead of time so you can stick to the correct seed starting schedule. And once you get your eucalyptus planting in your garden, you might think it is growing very slowly compared to the rest of your flowers and veggies. But although the plants may look sparse or leggy at first, come late summer/early fall, your eucalyptus should be voluptuous and ready for picking.
Most places sell dried eucalyptus, and I know many growers immediately dry eucalyptus, but I believe you should enjoy it fresh for as long as possible. Once you clip your eucalyptus stems, put them directly in a vase of water. Remove any stems or leaves below the waterline of the vase to avoid deterioration.
If you’re using a clear vase, you will notice the water turns visibly brown after several days. Go ahead and freshen up that water after a few days. The eucalyptus is naturally steeping into the vase water, essentially making a eucalyptus tea. It’s not harmful and won’t affect other flowers, but brown water in a vase is not very aesthetically pleasing to the eye.
Even if you intend on drying your eucalyptus so you can enjoy it long term, putting in water first gives you another opportunity to live the garden to table lifestyle. When you start the preservation process of eucalyptus by putting the fresh clippings in water, it actually helps to dry more slowly and prevents wrinkling in leaves during the drying process. The eucalyptus will actually dry on its own right in the water. Just remove the water from the vase after the eucalyptus has dried on its own, usually in about 10 to 14 days. Or just let the water evaporate!
Alternatively, if you’re just looking to dry your eucalyptus and not use it in the vase first, here are some quick steps:
Trim the eucalyptus to the length of your preference
Tie some string or twine snuggly around the base of a bunch of leaves and hang upside down by the string in a cool, dark, dry place. Sometime I’ll put my seedling fan on for good air circulation.
In about 2-3 weeks, the eucalyptus should be dry
There have been times where I’ve just laid it out flat and let it dry on its own. Yes, the leaves did get a little wrinkly, but it’s still great to hang in a shower or to make essential oil.
Once your eucalyptus is dry, you can leave it in floral arrangements, hang a bundle in your shower to elevate your at-home spa experience at home, or make DIY eucalyptus oil gifts for the holiday season. The amazing natural scent makes a great alternative to candles or other synthetic room sprays.
If you’ve never seen fresh eucalyptus before, eucalyptus essential oil is a popular scent and can be used for a natural health supplement. I often run eucalyptus oil in my diffuser in the winter so the natural antiseptic and antibacterial properties of the eucalyptus help ward off colds and coughs. Since I grow my own eucalyptus, I made homemade essential oil, amping up those holistic health benefits.
I throw the dried eucalyptus in a food processor to chop it up, and then measure it out into four ounce mason jars. Then I just slap on a cute label and instructions on how to add a carrier oil, process, use it and viola, homemade eucalyptus oil.
Did you grow eucalyptus in your garden this year? Let me know if this blog sparked your imagination, and drop a comment below with the creative ways you plan to use eucalyptus in your garden-to-table lifestyle.