Westringia fruticosa (Coastal Rosemary, Native Rosemary)

Coastal Rosemary has dense green foliage and small fan-shaped white or lilac flowers that bloom in the spring and summer months but can appear year-round.

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Featured Image: Georgios Liakopoulos I 500px, Wikimedia I CC BY-SA 3.0

Westringia fruticosa is a native Australian plant that goes by the common names Coastal Rosemary and Coastal Westringia.

This large shrub is evergreen, which means it will keep its leaves all year round.

Westringia fruticosa is in the Lamiaceae family which also includes Lavender, Oregano, Thyme and Marjoram.

Westringia fruticosa Appearance

Danielle Langlois I Wikimedia I CC BY-SA 3.0

Coastal Rosemary is a compact, rounded shrub that grows up to 2 metres tall and up to 4 metres wide, making it well suited for low hedging or as an ornamental plant in a native garden.

It has dense green foliage and small fan-shaped white or lilac flowers that bloom in the spring and summer months but can appear year-round.

John Tann I Flickr I CC BY 2.0

These flowers are covered in small hairs and the upper petal is uniquely divided into two lobes.

The leaves are needle-like and are covered in tiny hairs.

Location & growing conditions

Westringia fruticosa thrives in coastal areas, particularly the coastal regions of eastern Australia.

It’s a hardy plant that prefers full sun and well-draining loamy soil.

Coastal Rosemary can tolerate a range of soil pH, drought as well as moderate frost and salt spray.

Coastal Rosemary in your garden

Coastal rosemary is used in ornamental gardens for its attractive foliage, as well as in habitat gardens to attract birds and butterflies.

Westringia fruticosa is an excellent choice for use as a contrast plant in native gardens, or as a low hedge or screen plant because of its dense foliage.

Here are the pros and cons of growing this native shrub in your garden:

Pros

  • A lovely rounded plant with soft grey foliage and pretty white or purple flowers.
  • Great for coastal gardens.

Cons

  • The plants don’t respond well to a hard prune.
  • Only tip pruning of the soft growth is recommended.

Caring for Westringia fruticosa

Daderot I Wikimedia I CC0 1.0

Coastal rosemary is a hardy, low-maintenance plant that will grow in full sun or partial shade.

It is hardy and drought tolerant, but it needs some care when young in order to establish itself.

When you first plant your coastal rosemary, mulch it heavily and water regularly until it is established. Once established, it requires minimal watering.

Coastal rosemary can be lightly pruned when it is young to encourage denser growth.

It can be fertilised once every year or two with a slow-release native fertiliser (low phosphorus) in spring before new growth begins.

Why grow Australian natives?

Growing native plants is the perfect way to add a touch of Australia to your backyard.

Native plants are easier to grow and maintain than exotic species, plus they provide food and shelter for local wildlife and help support our environment.

If you’re looking for inspiration to get started with natives, here are some reasons why growing native plants can be beneficial:

Low maintenance and easy to grow

Native plants are naturally suited to the local climate and soil, meaning they require less watering and fertiliser.

They’re also generally less fussy about conditions, so you don’t need to spend hours giving them extra TLC each weekend.

Native plants are often more resistant to pests and diseases than exotic varieties, which means you’re less likely to spend time and money dealing with these types of problems.

Provide habitat and food for local wildlife

Grevillea and Lewis Honeyeater

Native plants provide food, shelter and nesting areas for a huge range of local wildlife.

They provide a home for native birds, with their fruits and seeds being an important source of food.

For example, the seeds on a banksia will attract seed-eating birds like the cockatoo, while the nectar will attract birds like the honeyeater or wattle bird.

Native bees also benefit from native plants because they prefer the nectar from native flowers as opposed to exotic varieties.

Require less water and are drought tolerant

Native plants are well suited to their local environment. They’re typically adapted to the climate, soil, and other conditions of a particular region.

Because they’re so well-adapted to their surroundings, they usually require little or no additional water or fertiliser.

In Australia, this means our native plants are more likely than non-natives to survive in dry climates and hot temperatures.

They are therefore also more resistant to challenging conditions like drought than most non-native plant species.

Sustainable and support a healthy environment

If you want to grow a sustainable garden that preserves natural biodiversity, native plants are the best option.

Unlike exotic species, native plants require very little in the way of fertilisers and pesticides.

When added to our lawn or garden, these chemicals run into our waterways and can cause imbalances in the soil.

If you want to minimise the amount of chemicals you spray on your garden, natives are the way to go.

Beautiful bright flowers

Chrysocephalum apiculatum I Captain-tucker I wikimedia I CC BY-SA 3.0

Australia’s native flowers are unique, beautiful, and come in a range of colours, shapes and sizes.

From big, bold flowers with striking colour combinations to tiny delicate blooms, native plants are really special.

They can be fragrant too. Some species have an intoxicating scent that attracts birds, bees, butterflies, and other insects.

The Hymenosporum flavum (native frangipani), for example, has highly fragrant flowers that attract local wildlife to its nectar.

Versatile and useful

Not only will they grow in areas where others won’t, but native plants are also great for a variety of different uses in the garden.

A wide range of uses means natives will work in any garden environment: whether as a feature plant or an underplanting for larger trees or shrubs, or as groundcover to prevent erosion on slopes.

They can also be used for privacy screens, windbreaks, or shade.

Cheaper to buy than exotic varieties

Australian natives are generally cheaper to buy than exotic varieties.

Native plants are also cheaper to look after, as they have a higher resistance to local pests, diseases, and environmental conditions.

References

Photo of author

Steve Kropp

Based in Melbourne, Steve's passion is vegetable gardening, and he’s been writing about it for almost 5 years. He also loves all things DIY, and is always up for a new project. When not working on his own garden projects or blogging, Steve enjoys spending time with his family, cooking delicious meals from fresh produce picked from his garden, and coaching his son’s footy team.