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.