Q. Dying eucalyptus
I purchased a eucalyptus plant online. When I open the box half the leaves are dried out. I took it out and watered but it still didn't come back. After a week or so it still was dried so I repotted it. I checked the roots but it looks white and healthy. Is it dead? I bend the branches and they are not dry Should I cut the dried out leaves branches? Help!
If you are growing your eucalyptus as a houseplant, you are probably seeing only juvenile, rounded leaves on your plant. (There is a distinct mature leaf type as well but those rarely grow on plants that are small enough to keep as houseplants.) Even the immature leaves have distinct stages and the leaves become covered with a stiff, waxy, grey coating as they age. That may be what you are seeing and, if so, it is natural and your plant is probably in good shape.
Keep in mind that your plant will have been stressed by its journey to you in a box. It will have had no light or water for a period of time and it may have been exposed to high heat of chill (or both). It will take a period of time to become acclimated to its new environment and to recover from the journey. We are also entering a period of slow growth for most plants. Your plant is unlikely to put out new leaves or growth until it enters a growing phase in spring. Until then, the best thing that you can do it to keep it as stable as possible, give it ideal care and not make too many changes. Here is the care it needs.
Strong direct light is crucial to maintaining good leaf color. You also need to take care not to under- or over-water. Water thoroughly when you give it water, until water comes out of the bottom drain hole. Then let the top 1/3 of the soil dry out before you water again. If it is hard to judge soil moisture, a water meter stuck down into the soil may help you get a good care routine established.
The right planting container is important too. If the container doesn't have a drain hole, or if the saucer under the plant isn't emptied after watering, the root system will stay too wet.
If you can get the full watering and careful drying routine well established, along with sun, your plant should stabilize. You should protect the plant from further environmental stress by keeping it away from heating vents, cold window drafts and air conditioning blasts. Hopefully with some patience and gentle care the plant will begin to look more vigorous and you will see new growth in spring.
Courtesy of NYBG Plant Information Service