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) include Westringia fruticosa, Wynyabbie Gem, Blue Gem, Naringa, Jervis Gem, Smokie (variegated foliage).
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.