Eremophila and its Relatives - Cultivation

Cultivation of Eremophila

Among the Australian members of the Myoporum group of plants (Tribe Myoporeae of the Scrophulariaceae family), Eremophila has received by far the greatest horticultural attention. Although mainly grown by Australian plant enthusiasts, emu bushes have considerable potential for more general cultivation, particularly in areas with relatively dry summers. Once established they are very drought tolerant and rarely require artificial watering. With many different forms, growth habits and flower colours, eremophilas can be used for many different purposes in the garden. In addition, the flowers of many species produce nectar and are excellent for attracting birds.

In cultivation all species of Eremophila perform best in well-drained soils and rarely succeed in continually wet soils. Shallow clay soils can present problems but if garden beds are built up to 300-600mm, greater success is experienced. Many species tolerate alkaline soils. Eremophilas are generally at their best in open, sunny positions with good air circulation (ie. not crowded by adjacent plants.

Many species are adaptable to humid climates but those species with hairy foliage may be subject to fungal diseases is those areas and are best avoided.

Emu bushes are not demanding as far as fertilizing is concerned but they do respond to applications of slow release fertilizer applied after flowering. If desired, the plants can be pruned back by about one third after flowering to promote a bushy habit of growth.

Cultivation of other members of the Tribe Myoporeae

There has been some limited cultivation of Calamphoreus inflatus and Glycocystis beckleri but there appears to be no information regarding cultivation of the four Diocirea species. However, all six of these species occur in south Western Australia and it can be assumed that they would require similar conditions to Eremophila that occur in the same region (i.e. they can be expected to suited to climates with a dry summer, they will be less successful in humid temperate areas and they will be very difficult in tropical and tropical regions).

Myoporum has received wider cultivation and some species are well known in general horticulture (e.g. Myoporum floribundum, M.parvifolium, M.insulare). Although generally not as spectacular as the eremophilas, they are usually hardy and reliable. However, myoporums occur in a range of habitats ranging from arid to tropical - some, like M.montanum are widespread over that whole range of climates. Selection of plants for cultivation in a particular district should therefore consider the climatic conditions that the species experiences in nature. Myoporums appear to be adaptable to a range of soils, provided they are well drained.

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