Flowering Beauty for Winter and Spring, Valentine Bush

I must admit that I am getting a bit tired of looking at my brown, frost-damaged shrubs and perennials.  Like

Emu Bush 'Valentine'
Emu Bush 'Valentine'

I must admit that I am getting a bit tired of looking at my brown, frost-damaged shrubs and perennials.  Like many of you, we have had an extremely cold winter (cold for us anyway) and the temperatures in my garden hit a low of 20 degrees. Now I realize that may not seem particularly cold for some of you.  But, for this Southern California native and current Arizona resident – it was a new experience.

I am a big believer in having a colorful garden year round.  So, I make a point of including flowering plants in my garden that bloom at different times of the year.  In the warmer areas of the Southwest, the winters are mild enough to be able to actually have flowers in the garden in winter.  Sadly, many people do not know this and they are reduced to staring at their brown garden throughout the winter months.

Well, I am happy to tell you that there are quite a few beautiful, cold-hardy, flowering plants that you can include in your garden.  Believe it or not, amidst the brown and crispy plants in my garden, I do have vibrant, green shrubs and perennials that are in flower this month.

I would love to share with you my favorite shrub of all time.  Its name is Valentine.  Yes, that is really its name or to be precise, it is called Emu Bush ‘Valentine’ (Eremophila maculata ‘Valentine’).

Emu Bush 'Valentine' flowers
Emu Bush 'Valentine' flowers

Aren’t the flowers so beautiful?  It gets even better – the flowers begin to appear in late December in my zone 9a garden and last until early May!

Valentine also possesses a characteristic that is a must have for any plants that I use in my garden…. it is low-maintenance.  It does not require extra fertilizer and only requires pruning once a year when it should be pruned back by 1/2 after it has finished flowering, in late spring.  Now, that is my kind of plant – beautiful AND low maintenance.

Although drought tolerant, this Australian native does require supplemental water.  At maturity, this shrub reaches approximately 4 ft. tall and 5 ft. wide.  Valentine is cold hardy to 15 degrees F, making it suitable for many of the warmer areas in the Southwest.  Plant in well-drained soil and full sun.

Valentine would look great when planted near Blackfoot Daisy (Melampodium leucanthum) or Desert Marigold (Baileya multiradiata) and can also be grown as a container plant.

So, try planting some Valentine in your garden.  You will be rewarded with beautiful flowers all winter long.

Check out this article at Birds & Blooms for more suggestions of great plants to use in your winter landscape.

I hope you come back for a visit.  I have a brand new photo of an owl in an unusual place that I can’t wait to share with you!

Noelle Johnson
Noelle Johnson is a horticulturist and certified arborist who lives and gardens in the desert Southwest. When she is not writing or helping other people with their gardens, you can find her growing fruits and vegetables, and planting flowering shrubs and maybe a cactus or two.