Its not hard to maintain a good deal of interest in Phoenix and Scottsdale landscaping thanks to our mild cold season. We enjoy a lot of color from flowering shrubs, trees and other landscaping plants from spring through fall, but not that many options exist in winter flowering plants. Not all of the plants we use in xeriscaping landscaping will tolerate frost without some damage though. Eremophelia or Emu Bush, as it is commonly known, is a tough drought and frost tolerant evergreen shrub that offers you winter color and a variety of choices.
The latin words that make up its formal name, eremo and phelia, literally translates to desert love. A perfect description for this family of desert landscaping shrubs. In Australia where the Emu Bush originates from, these rugged arid region plants flourish where even man cannot survive. If you were landscaping a home in Australia you would have even more selections from this diverse group of shrubs to pick from. Still here in Arizona, we have variety in bloom color, leaf color and even the size at maturity when working Emu Bush into Phoenix or Scottsdale landscape design.
Valentine Emerophelia is a very popular shrub due to its rich winter color. Cold weather puts a red flush into the tiny leaves, giving the entire bush an overall appearance of being dark red. Brilliant red blooms seen in the image above appear in January and continue until April. In summer this fine textured plant will revert to its normal medium green foliage. While the Valentine Emu Bush will mature to 4 feet high and up to 5 feet wide, you can keep it smaller with clipping after the blooming is finished. Left to take on its natural shape, your finished xeriscaping landscaping plant will have a lovely architecture with dense branching and a softer appearance than those that have been sheared.
Spotted Emu Bush (Emerophelia maculata) flowers in March and April. The inside of the trumpet is spotted, giving this variety its name. The color of the blooms can vary greatly with this selection, as can its mature size, because E. maculata readily crosses with other Emerophelia species, of which there are over 200 known to exist. These can be a dwarf from reaching only 2 feet tall on up to medium classified shrubs that will tower at 9 feet high. The blooms can be any number of shades including light or deep pink, yellow to orange or red to purplish red. Spotted Emu Bush has good frost tolerance and is excellent at sailing through dry weather without much watering once established in your Scottsdale landscaping.
Easter Egg Emu Bush (E. racemosa) has blooms that change colors in each stage from bud to finish. A medium to large shrub, it will mature at 4 feet to 6 feet high. This selection blooms heavily in spring, but will lend sporadic color to your xeriscaping until cold weather arrives again. Blooms on this Emerophelia start out yellow then turn orange in bud and mature to pink and purple. In Australia, this plant is almost extinct as it doesn’t thrive for more than a decade in the wild, causing it to slowly decline in numbers. Having more care in your xeriscaping landscaping than it gets in the bush means you will be enjoying it far longer than that.
Blue Emu Bush (E. cancii) adds the interest of lavender blue flowers to late winter and spring and its silver foliage is present year around. Its quite lovely and grouped with Valentine can create quite a show in winter to spring color, though Valentine will begin to bloom earlier.
Another lovely silver leaved Emu Bush is Emerophelia glabra ‘Muchinsons River’ with a common name of Fire and Ice. Here’s a plant that demands a super arid location. It is stunning and also known to be short lived in Phoenix and Scottsdale landscaping for either improper drainage conditions or too much water being applied. The blooms on this small shrub sprawls across the ground and can reaches 4 feet high with a spread of up to 9 feet. The flowers are a beautiful red giving a very smart look for early color.