Westringia (Westringia species)

Westringia are the quiet achievers of the native plant community. Commonly known as native or coastal rosemary, they are less flamboyant than bottlebrush, grevillea and banksia, but these unsung heroes are hardy and versatile. Plant them as informal shrubs; use their grey, green/grey or variegated foliage for contrast; trim them as hedges and topiary; grow them in pots and planter boxes or use them as groundcovers.

Westringia are related to basil, thyme and rosemary. Look closely and you will recognise similarities in the flower structure. Blooms are produced year-round in warm, coastal regions. Elsewhere they flower in all, but the coldest weather and most extreme heat. Flower colours range from white through to pink, mauve/purple and blue. The blooms attract small birds, bees, butterflies and other insects.

There are several varieties of westringia to suit most locations and positions within your garden. Check with your local hardware or garden centre for a variety to suit your garden. Look for these popular selections: –

  • Low growing and dwarf types (1m or less) include Grey Box, Low Horizon, Mundi, Aussie Box, Peppermint Cream (variegated foliage), Zena, Blue Moon, Double Wonder.
  • Medium shrubs and screening plants (1-2m) includWestringia fruticosa, Wynyabbie Gem, Blue Gem, Naringa, Jervis Gem, Smokie (variegated foliage).

Growing conditions

Aspect Full sun positions are preferred. Westringia will grow in partial shade for some part of the day, but growth will be slower, and flowering may be reduced. They tolerate steep, sloping northern and western sites and provide a useful buffer to more tender plants in exposed coastal regions.

Climate Westringia occur naturally in most parts of Australia, except the Northern Territory and the wet tropics. They are easy care plants. Once established they tolerate drought, heat, humidity, wind, coastal exposure, cold and frost.

Soil Poorly drained soil is the enemy of westringia, but they cope with varying soil fertility and soil pH. For faster growth, improve the soil prior to planting with home-made compost and try Seasol Super Compost. Westringia tolerate average phosphorous levels found in soil and fertilizer products, but also grow happily in soil that supports species that are intolerant of phosphorous including grevillea, banksia and wattles.

General Care

Watering Water plants regularly until they are established. Westringia generally thrive on natural rainfall, but benefit from additional watering during extended dry periods; after pruning and following fertilizer application. Seasol and Seasol Super Soil Wetter & Conditioner can be applied to the soil at any time, but are particularly beneficial during plant establishment; when it is dry or during other periods of stress.

Feeding and mulching Westringia are not hungry for fertilizer, but growth is improved where some additional nutrition is provided. Unlike some other natives, they tolerate normal levels of soil phosphorous. For a granular plant food try Seasol plus Nutrients All Purpose including Natives to boost the health and growth of your westringia. You can also boost growth at any time of year with fortnightly or monthly applications of liquid PowerFeed All Purpose including Natives or PowerFeed PRO SERIES Plant Food All Purpose including Natives. Apply mulch to keep the roots cool and retain soil moisture.

Pruning Tip prune young plants and lightly prune established plants to maintain a neat shape. Prune hedges regularly. Where possible, delay hard pruning during very hot, dry weather unless you can water in the weeks that follow. If you prune old plants back to bare branches, they may not recover.

Watch for Westringias are largely pest and disease free. Dense hedges can suffer from fungal leaf disease in the tropics during the wet season when moisture and humidity become trapped within the foliage. Speak to staff at your local nursery about the most suitable westringia varieties for your region.