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Westringia | Australian Native Growing Guide

Westringia plants are worthwhile additions to any Australian garden. These native shrubs have garnered popularity thanks to their hardy qualities, attractive features and low-maintenance requirements.

Whether you’re looking for a functional or ornamental addition to your garden, one of these luscious plants may be the perfect pick for you. Here is your full guide to growing and caring for Westringia.

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Genus:

Westringia  

Species:

Many available

Family:

Lamiaceae

Location:

Outdoor

Type:

Shrub

Growth:

Multiple sizes depending on the variety

Sun requirements:

Full sun to part shade

Foliage Colour:

Green

Flower Colour:

Mauve, blue-purple, white

Flowering:

Spring

Maintenance level:

Low

Poisonous for pets:

Non-toxic to cats and dogs

Getting to Know Westringia

Westringias have become widely used in gardens across the country, serving many purposes within landscapes. Being rapid growing plants with abundant blooms and dense foliage, the westringias are also known to grow in a variety of conditions and they are well-suited to our sometimes more challenging environments.

Thanks to the frequent and easy flowering nature of these natives, they have become popular choices for avid and new gardeners alike. 

Westringias feature fast-growing, grey to deep green foliage and delicate mauve, blue-purple or white blooms depending on the variety

Part of the Lamiaceae family, members of the Westringia species sit comfortably in many garden styles and several of the more cultivated varieties are commonly known as Coastal Rosemary. 

The 33 species of shrubs are all native to Australia, commonly occurring in most states except the Northern territory. These shrubs are naturally tolerant to a variety of growing conditions and are known to be fast-growers.

Plant sizes will vary depending on which variety of Westringia you grow but either way, these bushy natives are excellent and vibrant additions to the garden. 

Westringias feature fast-growing, grey to deep green foliage and delicate mauve, blue-purple or white blooms depending on the variety. In some areas, these plants can flower prolifically throughout the year but are commonly known to bloom each spring.

Despite being known as local rosemary or mint, the plants and flowers don’t have a particularly strong aroma but they do retain a healthy bushy appearance for many years.

Enjoying this non-invasive native in your landscape will come easily and won’t require a lot of hassle.

Common Westringia Landscaping Positions

How to Grow Westringia

You can use the clean, vibrant variegated foliage to easily spruce up your natural spaces and the local wildlife will love your westringia, where it will be frequently visited by bees, butterflies and birdlife.

Here are some popular uses of westringia:

  • Ornamental shrubs to fill out sparse flowerbeds
  • Feature plant in native gardens
  • Rapid growing groundcover
  • Bushy and colourful hedging or screening
  • Natural boundaries for retaining walls
  • Embankment plantings
  • Large container plants
  • General garden edging
  • Box or topiary projects

Popular Westringias to Grow in Australia

Some Westringia species are more widely cultivated than others, many of which are also hybrids. These hybrids are specifically cultivated for certain purposes like formal hedging and box or topiary projects.

All of these plants can feature different growing habits and flower colours so be sure to find the right variety for your gardening needs. Some popular species include:

Coastal Rosemary
(Westringia fruticosa) 

Being the most commonly cultivated variety of westringia, especially for hedging, this plant has many hybrid cultivars all known as coastal rosemary.

Producing white flowers with purply spots, this variety grows to around 1 to 2 metres high and almost twice as wide.


Check out our comprehensive growing guide for Westringia fruticosa

Westringia fruticosa is the most commonly cultivated variety of westringia

Source: andreasensgreen.com.au

Violet Westringia
(Westringia glabra)

This variety features delicate bright-purple flowers and glossy green foliage. It is a smaller growing variety that makes for a great landscaping plant.

Westringia glabra features delicate bright-purple flowers and glossy green foliage

Source: plantmark.com.au

Long-leaved Westringia (Westringia longifolia

Commonly known as long-leaved westringia, this variety is endemic to south-eastern Australia and features linear leaves and mostly white flowers. Average growth is 1 to 3 metres tall and wide.

Westringia longifolia is endemic to south-eastern Australia and features linear leaves and mostly white flowers

Source: andreasensgreen.com.au

Coastal Rosemary (Westringia fruticosa)

Westringia fruticosa is the most commonly cultivated variety of westringia

Source: andreasensgreen.com.au

Being the most commonly cultivated variety of westringia, especially for hedging, this plant has many hybrid cultivars all known as coastal rosemary.

Producing white flowers with purply spots, this variety grows to around 1 to 2 metres high and almost twice as wide. Check out our comprehensive growing guide for Westringia fruticosa

Violet Westringia (Westringia glabra)

Westringia glabra features delicate bright-purple flowers and glossy green foliage

Source: plantmark.com.au

This variety features delicate bright-purple flowers and glossy green foliage. It is a smaller growing variety that makes for a great landscaping plant.

Long-leaved Westringia (Westringia longifolia

Westringia longifolia is endemic to south-eastern Australia and features linear leaves and mostly white flowers

Source: andreasensgreen.com.au

Commonly known as long-leaved westringia, this variety is endemic to south-eastern Australia and features linear leaves and mostly white flowers. Average growth is 1 to 3 metres tall and wide. 

How to Grow Westringia in Australia

Young and healthy plants can be purchased from reputable local nurseries or westringias can be propagated using cuttings. It is not recommended to try growing them from seeds as this is not a reliable way to ensure the quality of the species or cultivars.

It is recommended to grow or propagate these shrubs in spring as the roots will develop faster in warmer conditions.

Westringia Propagation

Westringia Propagation

Propagating Westringia Using Cuttings

  • Select healthy young stems to take cuttings from.
  • Using sharp and sterile garden shears, take a cutting by snipping below a leaf node on your stem and remove the foliage from the bottom two nodes.
  • It is recommended to take multiple cuttings as there might be some losses along the way. 
  • Place your cuttings into well-draining containers or growing trays filled with a potting mix of 90% perlite and 10% peat moss. The sections of the cuttings that were stripped away should be placed into the soil mix.
  • Water well after planting and keep your propagation mix lightly moist at all times being careful not to let it dry out. 
  • Place your cuttings in a well lit but sheltered location away from direct sunlight or strong winds. 
  • Roots will start to develop in around two to three months depending on temperatures. 
  • Once your cuttings have good healthy root development you can plant them as desired in organic soil rich in nutrients. 

It is important to note that these plants can struggle to establish themselves in cooler climates so be patient and you should have a healthy plant in no time.

In the past, we suggested the use of peat/sphagnum moss. But, in light of its environmental impact, we've adjusted our recommendations to favor more eco-friendly alternatives that are equally or even more effective. Be sure to read our guide If you're interested in exploring peat moss and its substitutes.

Westringia Planting Guide

Westringias are great additions for the overall health of Australian gardens. These hardy natives can thrive in many different locations in landscapes as long as frequent exposure to frost is avoided.

Whether you live in an arid or coastal region, westringias should be able to establish themselves in your landscape. Be sure to water your plant well after planting. 

Whether planted directly into your garden or used as a large container plant, there are naturally certain conditions that will allow your westringia to grow best. 

How to Plant Westringias

Source: screenhedgeplants.com.au

Ideal Lighting Condition

These plants grow best in full sun positions but they can also grow in partially shaded locations. 

Best Soil for Westringia

These plants have adapted to many different soil types so they can grow in most soils as long as they are fast-draining. These plants do not enjoy wet feet.

How to Plant Westringias

Planting Westringia in the Garden

  • Choose a spot in your garden that gets full sun to part shade.
  • Dig a planting hole twice as wide and to the same depth as the root ball. 
  • Gently remove your plant from its current container and lightly tousle the roots with your fingers to remove old soil. Try disturbing the roots as little as possible.
  • Gently position your plant in the hole and slowly backfill with your soil. Lightly firm the soil around the plant with your palms being sure not to overly compact it. 
  • Water well after planting to settle the soil around the roots.
  • Mulch around but not too close to the base of the plant with organic mulch.
  • Keep the soil moist for several weeks to help the plant establish itself. 
  • You can optionally add a native fertiliser occasionally to ensure strong root development.

Planting Westringia in a Container

  • Choose a pot or container that is well-draining and at least twice the size of your plant. 
  • Fill your new container with a quality potting mix and dig a hole at least twice the size of the root ball.
  • Carefully remove your plant from its current container being sure to disturb the roots as little as possible. 
  • Position in your hole and backfill with your potting mix. 
  • Gently firm down and water in well. 
  • Mulch around but not too close to the base of the plant with organic mulch.
  • Keep your soil lightly moist but not waterlogged.

How to Care for Westringia

Once established, these plants are tolerant to cold, drought and moisture but they do not enjoy long exposure to freezing temperatures or icy winds. Overall, these natives are especially low-maintenance and easy-going in Australian gardens. 

How to Care for Westringia

Source: ozbreed.com.au

Watering Needs

Water to keep your soil slightly moist but not wet as these plants don’t like sitting with wet feet. They generally have low water needs so be careful not to overwater as this can lead to root rot issues. 

Pruning Westringias

These plants will respond best to light pruning done during spring to early summer. Try only cutting back soft, leafy growth and not too much hardwood.

Hard, vigorous pruning can lead to stunted growth so this should be avoided as much as possible. For westringia hedge pruning, a frequent but light routine is great to keep tidy and encourage denser growth. 

See our review on the best hedge shears to help you get that perfect hedge every time. 

What Fertiliser to Use

Though not necessary, you can feed your plants annually in early spring with specifically designed native plant food or an organic-based fertiliser.

Popular Westringia Hedge & Screen

These bushy shrubs make for excellent native hedge plants. Great for coastal or arid areas and relaxed or formal garden settings, these plants are widely used for their hedging and screening abilities.

They are very drought-tolerant plants which means they are also very water-wise options. 

Popular Westringia Hedge

Source: alpinenurseries.com.au

Here are some popular westringia cultivars for hedging and screening:

  • Westringia fruticosa ‘Smokey’ – This plant features hardy qualities and subtle, silvery-green variegated foliage. 
  • Westringia fruticosa ‘Seafoam Swell’ – The ideal compact growth habit and profuse flowering of this plant are what make it such a popular hedging option.
  • Westringia fruticosa ‘Naringa’ – Perfect for taller westringia hedges and screens, this variety will grow to about 1 to 2 metres and is naturally dense and compact. 
  • Aussie Box Westringia – A hybrid cultivar that makes for an excellent medium hedging option with masses of mauve flowers and luscious green foliage.

Plant at least 50cm apart for hedges and screens. Larger growing varieties can be planted further apart whereas the dwarf varieties will need to be planted closer together. 

Check out our guide for more in-depth information on other excellent Australian native hedge plants

Common Pets, Problems & Diseases

Westringia are rarely affected by pests or diseases

Source: diacos.com.au

Luckily, these natives are rarely affected by pests or diseases. The only issue that is common with these plants is overwatering which can quickly lead to root rot.

You will know your plant is suffering from root rot if the roots start to look black and feel mushy. Healthy roots may still appear dark or pale but they will feel firm and pliable to the touch.  

To treat root rot, you can clean the roots under running water and then gently remove the affected areas of the root system. Discard your old soil and replenish your bed or container with fresh organic soil.

Wash your pots and equipment and water your plant well. It should be able to recover soon with some extra care. 

Westringia Frequently Asked Questions

Are Westringia roots invasive?

The westringia root systems are regarded as non-invasive and safe for planting near paved or built-up areas. 

How tall do westringias grow?

On average, these plants grow to around three metres tall. There are naturally taller growing varieties as well as a few dwarf varieties to choose from. 

Why is my Westringia going yellow?

This could indicate that there is too much phosphorus in your soil which can poison many native plants. If the leaves of your plant are yellowing, this could also indicate that your soil is deficient in iron or that the pH balance is incorrect.

In severe cases, use soil testing kits to see how you can improve your soil quality.

For more information on growing Australian natives, be sure to have a look at our helpful guide below:

Westringia Australian Native Growing Guide

Add some Native Wonder to your Landscape with Westringia

Offering growers so much variety and functionality within their gardens and natural spaces, these hardy native shrubs are an easy choice if you’re looking for a vibrant and fast-growing plant that flowers abundantly and requires little effort.

Seamlessly blending into formal or relaxed gardens, the Westringia plants are also perfectly suited to the Australian climates. Add some wild native wonder to your garden with one of the stunning Westringia varieties.

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About the author 

Lorri Hopkins

Hello Aussie Green Thumb community. I am Lorri Hopkins from South Australia and proud to be collaborating with the wondering team here at AGT to bring you practical gardening advice for Aussie gardens.

I have been gardening and growing vegetables since before I could walk, and the joy of spending time in my family garden with loved ones lead me to start my own hobby farm many years ago. I get to enjoy the fruits of my gardens daily and also volunteer at my local garden centre.

I started with Aussie Green Thumb as a fun project, sharing gardening advice with the team and collaborating on a few articles. Now my main role at AGT is to review the information provided here to ensure we are covering all bases and providing the best advice we can to gardeners all over Australia.

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