Eremophila Maculata is a wide and varied species of Eremophila with many different flower colours, as well as hybrids and cultivars. Eremophila Thundercloud is just one of them.
Obviously named because of the showy purple flowers which are a feature during winter and spring. Last February though the name thundercloud took on a whole new meaning when the downburst from a passing thunderstorm all but flattened my 1 m Eremophila Thundercloud. The wind coming from the storm was absolutely phenomenal as the rain was nearly horizontal and actually caused the roof of our local shopping centre to flood and drown some of the shops.
Therefore I’m not going to say for a moment the Eremophila Thundercloud isn’t wind tolerant as it was a ferocious storm and I’m truly amazed that it and another plant were the only ones in my garden to get damaged.
Anyway as a result E. Thundercloud had a split at the base of the trunk that was maybe going to prove fatal. Therefore I felt my choices were to either just bite the bullet, pull it out and replace it or just prune it back as hard as I could, inspect the damage and then make a decision. I already knew that Eremophilas could be pruned quite hard but this one was going to have to be pruned right back to the stump so I was reluctant to remove it completely, so this is what I did.
First I cut it back to the stump and inspected it. The split was fairly deep and there really wasn’t any possibility of pruning it back below the split as there would just be roots left. Therefore it was probably going to be best if it was just dug out and replaced.
But I suppose my curiosity got the best of me and I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Therefore I decided I would just leave it and let it (hopefully) grow back again. You see there was still a complete structure of living roots under the ground that were just waiting there to help the little stump burst back into life and I suppose I just couldn’t deny what was left of that Eremophila the opportunity to regrow again.
Sounds very sentimental, I know, but I’ll be honest with you I did have another reason for letting that plant grow and that other reason was this.
There are some gardeners that still believe that many Australian Native Plants tend to grow fast and die. They also believe that if you prune them you will kill them and as result as you drive or walk around the suburbs you do see some really average specimens of Grevilleas, Banksias and even Eremophilas growing in home gardens.
Now I also know that some gardeners like to replicate the Australian bush and if that’s their intention then that’s fine, while others are just lazy and so I suppose that’s just the way it is as you will never interest these “gardeners” in tidying up their gardens. But there are also many gardeners out there that love to garden but don’t realize just how beneficial pruning your Australian Native Plants can actually be.
Therefore if you have a plant in your garden, be it an Eremophila, Grevillea, Banksia or whatever and you believe it’s passed it’s used by date and are thinking of replacing it then why not experiment and prune it. You may be able to regenerate it back into an entirely new shrub or tree.
Now I know that not every plant can be cut back to a stump and then regrow but many can. Therefore if you’re unsure then why not just cut back part of it, well back below the green growth and then wait and see if the bare wood regrows. If it responds, then you have the green light to go ahead and cut the rest of the shrub back to your liking.
As you can see Eremophila Thundercloud has started to grow back again and in hindsight maybe I could have pruned it back even harder again, below the split, but I also know that if I keep the plant well pruned and compact it should be reasonably wind tolerant and shouldn’t (fingers crossed) split any further.
So that’s the story of my Eremophila Thundercloud. It’s growing back just nicely and if I’m lucky it may even flower again in a few months, but we’ll just have to wait and see.
And just in case your wondering Eremophila Thundercloud is very hardy and fairly easy to grow. It will form a rounded shrub up to 2 m just like the other members of the Eremophila Maculata family.
If you’re new to the magical world of Eremophilas then Eremophila Maculata is probably one of the best choices to start with. It’s fairly easy to grow, readily available in most nurseries and the other great feature is it comes in a variety of flower colours due to the fact there are several different sub species and hybrids to choose from.
So if you’re looking around for it the most common variety you may come across is the red form which flowers mostly over winter and into spring. There is also a deep pink form as well which in some circles is said to have cerise flowers. I have one of these growing in my garden and I’ve found it to be a very prolific flowerer which one year started to flower in winter and then continued through spring and summer, before finally having a short break in autumn to then again flower up again in winter. When I bought this particular Eremophila it’s label identified it as Eremophila Maculata subsp brevifolia but on closer inspection I’m not sure if this is completely correct as I believe the leaf shape on brevifolia is more of a rounder leaf.
If you live in the USA, though I do believe that brevifolia is known as “Valentine” due to the flowering reaching it’s peak in February.
Eremophila Maculata also comes in flower colours such as Apricot, Orange, Pale Pink and of course Yellow.
So if you’re into yellow flowering plants there are two that are worth having a look at that are equally worth while but also slightly different.
The first is Eremophila Maculata “Aurea’. This variety forms quite a rounded attractive bush especially if regularly pruned. It will flower over winter and also sporadically throughout the year. The flowers are quite attractive but the only real downfall of this Eremophila from my perspective is it doesn’t appear to be as prolific a flowerer as some Eremophilas.
The other yellow flower form is Eremophila “Winter Gold”. This also flowers over winter and has yellow flower buds en mass which persist for a couple of months before finally opening into a pale yellow flower. For my way of thinking they don’t actually form as brilliant a feature as those of Aurea but the bright yellow buds are quite prolific and do persist for quite a while before opening so depending on your taste this may be the highlight of this form.
This other point to make about Winter Gold is that it doesn’t grow as uniform as Aurea but if you prune it each year after flowering it is possible to easily shape it into quite an attractive bush.
Another form of Eremophila Maculata I have, or maybe should say had, growing in my garden is the apricot flowering form. This plant recently got blown over from a recent downburst from a thunderstorm. The apricot flower colour on this variety though, was a colour that I wasn’t really all that taken by. The colour was a bit dull and it wasn’t really all that prolific. I probably could have taken some cuttings before I finished off what the thunderstorm didn’t quite finish but I felt it was a bit inferior. Therefore if you do come across an apricot form make sure it’s in flower if you’re considering buying as I’m sure there may be some apricot forms that do have a more superior flower colour.
Another flower colour to keep an eye out for is the purple variety. The one I’ve got in my garden is called Eremophila “Thundercloud”, which for me is a bit ironic because the wind from the thunderstorm that flattened my apricot form also split the trunk of “Thundercloud”. This has very attractive purple flowers but just like Aurea it isn’t a particularly prolific flowerer but if you have a look around I know there are some slightly different varieties of Thundercloud so some of these may be more superior.
What I have done though, is to prune my Thundercloud back to the stump to see if it reshoots. Maybe it will of maybe it won’t but if it doesn’t it can be easily replaced as Eremophila Maculata is a reasonably quick grower, tolerates most soil types and responds really well to hard pruning if need be.
So for if you come across the cerise flowering form of Eremophila Maculata you really can’t go wrong and along with Eremophila “Winter Gold”, both are very prolific flowers but I’m sure anyone who’s grown Eremophila Maculata has their own favourites. But if you’re new to Eremophilas, Eremophila Maculata is a great one to start with keep an eye out for it at your nursery and it might just be the first of many Eremophilas you’ll grow in your garden.