Fast Growing Desert Landscape Trees: Eucalyptus

Fast Growing Desert Landscape Trees: Eucalyptus

There are two different types of Eucalyptus that do great in Phoenix landscaping. Pay no attention to the varieties grown around old Arizona homes, they have given these lovely, evergreen trees a bad reputation from brittle wood and a messy habit. Actually there are hundreds of types of Eucalyptus, so do yourself a favor and take a good look at excellent selections for landscaping in Phoenix without the mess.

The best Eucalyptus for your xeriscape landscaping will be continually full of pretty leaves and mature rapidly to create welcome shade. These wise choices tolerate drought well, but grow more rapidly to cast shade with regular deep, wide watering to encourage rapid root development. The best way to ensure fast growing shade in your Phoenix landscaping is with the use of drip irrigation from an automatic sprinkler system.

Unlike those shady characters found in old neighborhoods around Phoenix, these three Eucalyptus trees do not get so huge they become a problem. All of the following types of evergreen shade trees are lovely in their own unique way and small enough to be just right for home landscaping in desert areas. None of these are brittle wood trees, making them great for windbreaks to shelter your home from high winds.

Red Cap Gum (Eucalyptus eruthrocorys) has long, narrow foliage that is dark green and glossy, along with a nice upright natural shaping. Blooming from fall through spring, the rich red flower buds are very showy on their own, but then burst open to display clusters of brilliant yellow flowers. A great tree that is moderate to fast growing for full sun that will be right at home in the lawn areas of your Phoenix landscaping even fully mature at 25’ high and wide. You’ll also enjoy the wonderful color and texture of the bark on the Red Cap Eucalyptus Tree which is tan and white becoming interesting due to its peeling habit. No brittle qualities at all from this little shade tree that loves the full sun of Arizona.

Coolibah Tree (Eucalyptus microtheca) has handsome blue-green leaves that are long and narrow. Due to its fast growth habit and evergreen hardiness in the Phoenix climate, it is a popular addition to desert landscaping. Not only does the Coolibah tolerate that Arizona sun at full blast, it will also do just fine under the strain of reflective heat. Blooming fall through spring in your Phoenix landscaping, the white flowers are not as decorative as those on the Red Cap Gum. A multi-trunked shade tree offers your yard a beautiful shape and readily adapts to our Arizona soils. This particular Eucalyptus will give you spreading shade at 30 – 40‘ high and wide.

The beautiful, slightly weeping silhouette of the Ghost Gum (Eucalyptus papuana) is sensational looking on the powdery white trunk. Your desert landscaping in Phoenix will find wonderful accent from all parts of this gorgeous tree. The light green leaves are large and contrast just right against that ghostly trunk. You won’t have messy droppings to cleanup from the Ghost Eucalyptus, it is such a wind tolerant and great candidate for desert xeriscape it is the preferred tree for city streets and highways in Arizona. Rugged and oh so lovely, the Ghost Gum is evergreen with white flowers from fall through spring, maturing to 40’ high by 20’ wide.



  1. stuart williamson

    I grew up in florence arizona old town i lived next to a house with two eucalyptus one Yellow foilage and one dark green these trees were 50 to 60 feet tall and yes it is my favoite tree alog with the austrilian bottle tree

  2. Author

    Hi Stuart – They are beautiful to be sure. Glad you stopped by. Hope you visit us again… Jesse

  3. Michelle

    Hi, we are very interested in purchasing some Ghost Gum Eucalyptus trees for our property. Do you happen to know of a good place to buy them in Arizona? We live in the West Valley, near Surprise.

    Thanks so much!

  4. Author

    Hi Michelle,

    Sorry, but we do not know of a source for these trees at this time. They are hard to find with most landscapers wanting smaller trees in order to deal with overhead power line issues before they begin. They Ghost Gum is gorgeous, but you must plan ahead with overhead wires before planting them. In today’s smaller properties, this has become a big issue and hence the reason why you’re having a hard time locating them. If you have the space to accommodate them, they’re an excellent tree for our climate.

  5. Nan

    I have 9 every tall eucalyptus trees on my block in the Biltmore area. I don’t know what type they are. They have the shaggy bark. 3 have fallen in 2 years; 2 of them in the Sept storm. They are growing in limited open ground at their base with oleanders underneath. I’ve heard that eucalyptus trees needs lots of non-paved ground around them in order to thrive. Is this true? Is there anyone of knowing what caused these trees to fall? Got any ideas or suggestions?

  6. Author

    Hi Nan,

    An interesting question, but you need to talk to an arborist for answers. That’s where you’ll get the best advice. Contact: Tree Pros AZ

    (602) 892-6510

  7. zulma Turner

    I need to plant a tree for my back yard. how far from the house should it be planted. can I plant a Birch tree in Màricopa az?

  8. Author

    Hi Zulma,

    No, a birch tree is not what you want for landscaping in Maricopa. They are not for this climate.

    Whatever tree you decide to plant, find out how wide it will get at maturity. It should be half that far from the walls of your house when planted. So – if it will someday be 60 feet wide, then you want it 30 feet away from the house.

  9. zulma Turner

    Planted an eucaliptus tree 2 weeks ago is 6ft and is not a full,wide tree. I live in the desert and rght now temp. Is 114 degrees. One side of the tree is dry. Do u think I planted this too late for this weather?

  10. audrey

    We live in the high desert above Albuquerque and below Santa Fe, about 5600 in elevation.
    Could I get a eucaliptus tree to grow here?
    Thank you,

  11. Author

    Hi Audrey,

    Sorry for the delay, but you won’t be able to grow Eucalyptus. They don’t do well at all above 4600 feet elevation.

  12. Beth B

    Can you use eucalyptus tree wood for shelving or a table? Have a friend who has a 50+ year old tree that needs to come down.
    Thank you

  13. Author

    Hi Beth,

    Yes, if properly cured, eucalyptus makes a tight grained lumber that can be used for furniture building. So, there’s no reason you couldn’t turn it into a shelf.

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