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Eremophila nivea: Silky Eremophila Growing Guide

A few years ago I wrote a post on silver leaf plants to experiment with. It was an attempt to identify many of the great plants with silver foliage characteristics that lend themselves beautifully to landscape gardening.

However, when I wrote that post I hadn’t become acquainted with Eremophila nivea (Silky Eremophila) – an endangered variety of Eremophila, commonly known as emu bush that resided in my own backyard (colloquial “backyard” – that is).


Introducing Eremophila nivea

I’m a real fan of silver foliage plants because they contrast with deep colours beautifully. So, when I recently upgraded a garden bed in my literal backyard I set about finding a suitable hardy, dry-zone native that could complement my other choices.

In the end it seemed that the Cushion Bush, Leucophyta brownii, was going to remain a stalwart in my garden. My hesitation: Leucophyta brownii stays a crisp silver on top but dry and brown underneath.

Fortunately, as I was days away from making a decision, I stumbled across our local Bunnings. Eremophila nivea was being sold off in reduced quantities.

Eremophila nivea Size

Apart from it’s already mentioned silver foliage I really loved the proportions of this plant. It will grow to about 1.5-2m (5-6.5ft) high with a similar diameter and retain its density without become leggy.

The whole plant will remain silver. This makes it ideal in the landscape as a filler perennial and allows the gardener to use it as a backdrop for other plants they want to display.

Silky Eremophila Flowers

While it flowers in spring, Silky eremophila’s blooms are quite subtle and actually add to the colour of the shrub without taking over. Drooping, mauve bells reward the observer up close but from a distance the flowers will shrink into the background and towards the end of the season will dry to a papery brown and drop.

How to Care for Eremophila nivea

Being a resident of Australia’s harsh outback – flooding rains and endless drought conditions – Eremophila nivea has learnt to survive. It doesn’t require a great amount of TLC and will reward you the more you neglect it.

So hold back on the regular fertiliser and weekly dowsing. This plant will look after itself and should only require a light prune, for shape, at the end of winter.

Having said this, Silky eremophila is an endangered species and its local habitat is declining. With threats from almost every angle; land-clearing, invasive weeds, overspray and use of herbicides ya-da, ya-da… planting one (or five) in your garden will help to keep the species in existence. It’s a win-win. You get an amazing landscape plant – and they get to remain in existence.

Eremophila nivea Frequently Asked Questions

What is Eremophila nivea used for?

Eremophila nivea, like most species in the genus, has been used in traditional medicines and has some antiseptic qualities. Its best use though, is as a vibrant feature plant, which pops out dramatically from other planting with its outstandingly coloured foliage.

What are the different types of Eremophila nivea?

There are two widely cultivated varieties of E. nivea; Eremophila ‘Beryl's Blue’, and Eremophila ‘Blue Velvet’. Both have blue tones to the foliage and are equally vigorous, but Eremophila ‘Blue Velvet’ has denser foliage and produces a stockier plant.

How big do Eremophila nivea get?

Eremophila nivea reached a mature height of 2m, with a similar spread. They are fast-growing once they have established and rooted into garden soil.

What is Eremophila pink form?

Eremophila laanii, another species of Eremophila does not share the typical silvery foliage or blue flowers of Eremophila nivea. The contrast of the two plants next to each other, with well-matched form, offers countless options to garden designers.

What are the pollinators of Eremophila nivea?

Eremophila is insect pollinated, though some with larger flowers are pollinated by birds. Most Eremophila you can grow at home, including Eremophila nivea, are insect pollinated plants.

Is Eremophila nivea toxic?

Eremophila is not toxic to humans, and while it is not generally used as a food plant, there are many medicinal uses that use different parts of the plant for preparation.

What family is Eremophila?

Eremophila is in the Figwort family, a large plant family incorporating many genera of shrubs, perennials, annuals and trees. The most famous member of the family, and most commonly used in gardens globally is Buddleja.

What is the lifespan of Eremophila?

Eremophila nivea should be treated as a short-lived shrub. It can thrive for decades, but in most conditions will fade and begin to look quite ragged after about six years. Regular pruning, and finding exactly the right planting spot will help to extend their life and keep your Eremophila looking good for longer.

How do you identify Eremophila?

Identifying Eremophila can be tricky because it is quite a wide genus including trees and shrubs. For the most part, their leaves are lightly scaled and occur alternately on either side of the stem. The flowers are easier to identify with spotted throats and curled bell-like shapes with four petals (the top-most petal tends to be bi-lobed)

What is Eremophila used for in medicine?

Eremophila was traditionally used as an antibacterial and antifungal medicine, but it also offers anti-inflammatory properties and is being explored for anti-diabetic and cardiac medicines too.

What are the best soil conditions for Eremophila nivea?

Eremophila doesn’t enjoy drought, but can just about cope with it. For that reason, well-drained soil on a moisture-retentive layer is ideal, but any well-drained compost-enriched soil that is regularly watered through summer will produce healthy plants.

How much light does Eremophila nivea need?

Eremophila nivea prefers to grow in full sun and will show its discomfort even in part shade. Find a bright spot in your garden, and don’t worry too much about wind, these plants are quite happy to be exposed to sun, heat and wind, provided they are well watered.

Discover more Eremophila species and cultivars below:

So, there you have it. My newfound favourite backdrop plant – Eremophila nivea.

Last Updated on June 4, 2024

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