danilicious: (cheshire black)
[personal profile] danilicious posting in [community profile] oz_native_gardening
Eremophilas are a group of extremely hardy, drought tolerant, waterwise choice for planting in Australian gardens. That there are a ton of them, and they all generally look varying forms of stunning, is an excellent reason to place them in your garden. The grow as small trees, shrubs, low-spreading shrubs and ground-covers, and more and more nurseries are offering cultivars.


Eremophila racemosa - one of the more common species to be found in nurseries.





Eremophila literally means 'desert lover,' and it's a great and suitable name for these beautiful plants. All 215 species (barring one) are endemic to Australia. Flowers are immensely variable in colour, and even within a single species, there can be immense flower colour variation. In addition, the sepals are often brilliantly coloured (sometimes moreso than the flowers). When the flowers drop off, the sepals remain on the plant for a long time, sharing their vivid colour for months. Many are salt resistant and suitable for coastal planting. Most are low-maintenance and suited for beginners. Some hold their shape so well that tags will literally say 'no pruning requires,' since they just don't get straggly.

A truly fantastic book to read on the subject is Australia's eremophilas: changing gardens for a changing climate. by Norma Boschen. With full colour photographic plates for every species of eremophila, and including photos of cultivars and not-yet-named/recently-discovered species, it is an incredible book and a must-have for any Eremophila enthusiast.

The only really two significant notes with Eremophila is that most can't take heavy pruning. And unlike many exotics, if you prune below the 'leaf line' on a branch, you will NOT promote any new growth, and that section will simply die off. There are exceptions, and you can read the nursery tag, or inquire as to which they are.

The second significant not is that once established, they need almost no watering, and they will sicken if you water too much. This means that if you have it in a section of reticulation that gets watered once or twice a week, your Eremophila could sicken, die, develop fungal rot, or simply not flower. Unlike many exotics, eremophilas often do better the less water they get. The ones we have get watered once or twice during an unusual heatwave, and the rest of the time, get whatever nature gives them. This makes them fantastic for xeriscaping/waterwise gardening; but, it makes them less good for planting in sections amongst exotics. They also won't take phosphorus heavy fertilisers and do best in nutrient poor soils with very intermittent spread of slow-release phosphorus fertilisers designed for natives.


As with all natives that basically aren't Grevilleas, these can be hard to find in general nurseries. Try and seek out Australian native nurseries for your best diversity. But for some of the best species, you will probably need to raise from seed, or actually contact Eremophila enthusiasts directly.

Eremophila arachnoides
- 4 metres high, 3 metres wide
- naturally grows in limestone soils
- has pale flowers that are generally violet and beautiful grey-green foliage
- can take very heavy pruning (i.e. below the leafline).



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Eremophila bignoniiflora
- Shrub to 5 metres (can be encouraged to a small tree shape)
- All soils and full sun, very hardy.
- Pink or white flowers.
- can take very heavy pruning.



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Eremophila dempsteri
- Tolerates pruning but not below the leafline
- Most soils (avoid clay)
- Showy, densely flowering shrub.
- 3.5 metres by 3.5 metres.



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Eremophila saligna
- Hardy, all soils, full soil, especially recommended for beginners
- Responds to light pruning above the leaf line.
- Beautiful showy white flowers.
- 2 - 5 metres high, 3 metres wide, fast-growing.
- Exudes a brilliant vanilla perfume at night.



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Eremophila abietina
- Well-drained soil (not suitable for clay), full sun
- 2 by 2 metres
- prune after flowering, lightly.
- They have significantly metallic sepals.



*

Eremophila cuneifolia
- Well drained soil + full sun.
- Responds well to pruning.
- 0.5 -> 1.5 metres high and wide
- striking flowering form.



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Eremophila nivea (or Eremophila 'Eyre Princess' - growing in popularity)
- 2.5 metres high by 2 metres wide
- silvery white cylindrical leaves, white to violet flowers
- will tolerate most soils (except very heavy clays) and full sun
- responds well to pruning, but not below leaf line.
- very floriferous



*

Eremophila calorhabdos
- Extremely striking, unique habit
- 1 -> 4 metres high, less than 1.5 metres wide.
- Bright pink flowers
- responds very well to pruning.


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Gardening with Australian Natives.

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