February 13, 2017

Occasionally in the plant world, a new introduction comes along that gets everyone excited. In this case, not one, but three different, drought-tolerant shrubs have recently become quite popular with homeowners and landscape professionals. All of these shrubs belong to the Eremophila family and the reasons for their popularity range from the fact that they each have attractive, evergreen foliage, need little pruning, all while producing lovely flowers. All of these shrubs come from cultivars of shrubs native to Australia and are well-adapted to growing in our arid climate and do best when planted in full sun.

Let’s take a look at each of these Eremophila species to help you decide which one fits your needs.

Eremophila glabra ‘Winter Blaze’ – This hummingbird favorite has glossy green leaves, which are covered with red/orange flowers throughout most of the year. ‘Winter Blaze’ is a great choice for areas that receive full, even reflected sun, although it can also handle light shade. Allow enough room for it to grow to its mature size of 3-4 feet tall and 4-5 feet wide and prune, if needed, in early spring.

Eremophila hygrophana ‘Blue Bells’ – Lovely gray-blue foliage sets this species Eremophila apart from the others. It is prized for both the violet flowers that appear all year long as well as its relatively compact size, reaching 3 feet tall and wide. ‘Blue Bells’ has a similar appearance to Texas sage (Leucophyllum frutescens), but differs in that it flowers throughout the year and stays much smaller.  Little to no pruning is required making this shrub a lovely choice for those who desire low-maintenance and year-round flowering.

Eremophila maculata ‘Valentine’ – Colorless winter gardens used to be the norm before this red flowering beauty showed up. The arrival of winter brings with it red flowers that decorate the dark green foliage made up of small, circular leaves. Flowering continues into spring, peaking in February, hence its common name. Valentine has a slightly spiky growth habit and grows to approximately 3-4 feet tall and 4-5 feet wide. Pruning once a year in late spring will promote flower growth for the next year.

Whether you plant one or all three types of these Eremophila, you’ll enjoy the rewards of a landscape filled with attractive, evergreen foliage and flowers that will add beauty through the year with minimal maintenance.

Did you know that up to 70 percent of water use is outdoors? That’s why we love desert plants and feature them each month. It’s still a great time to plant non-tropical plants in your landscape, and you can learn more about Eremophilas and other plants on our Arizona Low-Water-Use Plants page. Visit our page on Choosing and Planting Low Water-Use Plants for tips on plant selection and how to plant properly. Also, be sure to read through all of our featured Plant of the Month blogs!

Note from Water – Use It Wisely: There are many Eremophila species available. Some are sold under the common name “Emu Bush.” You may also find additional cultivated variety names to those mentioned in this article. For example, Eremophila maculata ‘Cupid’ is also a red-blooming variety.

From time to time, Water – Use It Wisely features guest bloggers who write about topics related to water and water conservation. Noelle Johnson is an urban horticulturist, Certified Arborist and freelance garden-writer who helps people create beautiful, low-maintenance gardens through helpful advice on her blog She is passionate about teaching people about the amazing desert plants that thrive in our landscapes.