Westringia is a genus in the Mint Family with about 3 species, all endemic to Australia. Together with the closely related Prostanthera they are often called the Mint Bushes and many are used as ornamental plants
in the garden. Westringia, which can be differentiated from Prostanthera by its leaves arranged in whorls and calyces with 5 distinct lobes while Prostanthera has a caylx with 2 lobes and leaves
that are opposite. Westringia has a natural distribution throughout each state in Australia except the Northern Territories. They are
generally tough plants and useful as large scale tall groundcovers, specimen plantings or for formal or informal screens. They have attractive whorls of small leaves that are usually a light
gray-green color with some cultivars being attractively variegated. The flowers, which usually are most profuse from late winter to early summer color from white to light lavender though
some can bloom year round in coastal climates. They grow best in full sun but some can tolerate a varying amount of shade and while fairly drought tolerant most of the cultivated forms come
from the more mesic climates of eastern and south eastern Australia and appreciate irrigation in summer.
We grow or have grown the following Westringia at San Marcos Growers
Westringia Blue Gem ['WES03'] PPAF (Blue Gem Coast Rosemary) - A beautiful newer selection of the Australian Coast Rosemary shrub that has a compact upright form to 3 to 5 feet tall by 3 to 4 feet wide with foliage composed of narrow 3/4 inch long olive-green leaves on dark maroon-brown stems. The vibrant bluish purple flowers erupt in profusion in spring but are also present throughout much of the rest of the year. Plant in full sun to light shade and irrigate infrequently to occasionally. Like other Westringia cultivars this plant is tolerant of most soils so long as they drain and situations including coastal exposure, drought, inland heat and humidity. Hardy to at least 25° F and likely a bit lower - possibly to as low as 18° F for short durations. Prune to shape once or twice a year to keep it dense and it can be kept as a smaller shrub and with more regular trimming it makes an excellent compact low hedge to around 3 feet tall - tolerates this pruning treatment far better than the similar and larger cultivar 'Wynyabbie Gem'. With its long blooming period this plant also will make a great landscape specimen in the garden. This plant comes from the controlled breeding work conducted by University of Sydney's Plant Breeding Institute in October 2005. Under the cultivar name 'WES03' it received Plant Breeder's Rights in Australia in May 2013 held by NuFlora International Pty Ltd.
Westringia brevifolia - Small-leafed Westringia - An upright growing dense shrub 5-6 ft tall by 2-3 feet wide with gray-green 3/4 inch long narrow leaves
whorled in sets of fours around slightly hairy branches. The large wide open flowers are a very pale violet to white. Very tolerant of diverse conditions
from sandy to clay soils, wet or dry in sun or shade. This plant grew originally where the city of Hobart, Australia now stands. We grew this plant from 2002-2004 but no longer offer it
- Coast Rosemary - This spreading evergreen shrub grows is native the coast of New South Wales where it can be seen hugging the cliffs and growing near the
sand on the beach. In cultivation here in California it grows to 4-6 feet tall and spreads 6-12 feet and can be grown as a dense rounded shrub or be sheared for a more formal look.
The linear dark gray-green leaves look similar to rosemary foliage, explaining one of the synonyms for this plant, Westringia rosmariniformis. The small white flowers bloom along the branches
year-round in mild climates (spring-bloomer in colder areas). An excellent coastal plant that can tolerate wind. Plant in full sun. Drought tolerant but keeps better color and remains more
dense when given occasional spring and summer irrigation. Hardy to about 20° F. We have been growing this great shrub since 1984 and it has proven itself to be useful, fairly drought tolerant
and it is long lived in the landscape.
Westringia fruticosa Mundi ['Wes05'] PPAF - Westringia fruticosa Mundi ['WES05'] PPAF (Low Coast Rosemary) - This low spreading evergreen shrub to 1 1/2 feet tall by 5 feet wide with linear dark gray-green leaves white flowers bloom along the branches year-round in coastal areas and more spring-blooming at inland plantings.. The species is native the coast of New South Wales where it can be seen hugging the cliffs and growing near the sand on the beach. Plant in full sun. Drought tolerant but keeps better color and remains more dense when given occasional spring and summer irrigation. Hardy to about 20° F. This great new low growing Westringia was introduced in 2012 and it has proven to be a great addition to the great lineup of other durable landscape plants in this genus.
Westringia fruticosa 'Morning Light'
- Variegated Coast Rosemary - A small compact shrub which grows to 3 to 4 feet tall by 4 to 5 feet wide. The tightly crowded linear leaves have a cream colored
variegation along the margins. The flowering period for the species Westringia fruticosa can be year round in coastal gardens but this plant is a bit more shy to bloom and flowers are typically
only seen in spring - a good thing as the showiest aspect of this plant is the clean variegated foliage. The small white flowers are the same as those of Westringia fruticosa. Plant in full sun
or in bright filtered light. Will tolerate moderately dry growing conditions but looks best with some late spring and summer irrigation and can also be used in well drained moist soils. Hardy to
about 20° F - we lost our first garden planting of this cultivar in the disastrous freeze of December 1990, when we experienced several nights at or below 20° F. This origins of this cultivar are
not known but it was noted in 1981 as growing in a nursery in Canberra, Australia. We received this plant from Kathy Musial at the Huntington Botanic Garden and have been growing it since 1990.
Westringia fruticosa 'Smokey'
- Smokey Coast Rosemary) - This is a medium sized compact shrub which grows to 4-6 feet tall and as wide. The tightly crowded linear leaves have a cream colored variegation
along the margins. The flowering period for the species Westringia fruticosa can be year round in coastal gardens but this plant is a bit more shy to bloom and flowers are typically only seen in
spring although the attractive foliage makes up for this. The small white flowers have a tinge of violet but otherwise are very similar to those of Westringia fruticosa. Plant in full sun to light
shade. Tolerates coastal conditions and is drought tolerant. Hardy to about 20° F. It is similar to Westringia fruticosa 'Morning Light', but has is more upright growing and has a more overall gray
look, whereas 'Morning Light' is squatter and has a yellowish cast. 'Smokey' also is more upright growing. The origins of this plant are unclear though it a plant first listed as Westringia rosmariniformis
'Smokie' was first listed in Norwood's (a specialty tag company) reference book in 1982. It continues to be offered in Australia under this spelling. We received this plant from Robert Abe of Chia Nursery
in 1999 and and have been growing this plant since 2000.
Westringia glabra - Violet westringia - A fast-growing compact, rounded shrub to 3-8 feet tall with dark blue green rounded leaves and lavender flowers over a very long season. Violet westringia is moderately
drought tolerant but looks best with some occasional water. Plant is full sun to medium tolerant shade. It is hardy to 20-25° F. We grew this plant from 2000-2001 but no longer offer it
Westringia longifolia (Winged Westringia) - This is an upright airy shrub to 6 feet tall by about 5 feet wide. Soft green narrow leaves have slightly recurved margins. The 2-lipped flowers are pale
mauve and emerge either in pairs or solitary in the leaf axils near the branch tips. The flowering period is primarily in the summer and fall but flowers can often be found throughout the year. It has
proven to be a very drought resistant shrub for full sun or shade. We received this plant from the University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC) Arboretum in 1988 (as Westringia linifolia) and grew it from 1990 to
2002. We stopped growing this plant when we were notified by Brett Hall at the UCSC Arboretum that they were having this plant seed out widely and considered it a potential weed species.
Westringia 'Wynyabbie Gem'
- Coast Rosemary - This hybrid between the coastal Westringia fruticosa and the inland Westringia eremicola is a fast growing upright dense growing shrub can reach 6-8 feet tall by 6 feet wide with slender gray-green (white beneath) 1 inch long leaves that
radiate out from the dark stems in evenly spaced whorls. The clusters of attractive mauve-pink flowers are produced throughout the year. Plant in full sun to light shade. It is drought and seaside tolerant,
and will take cold down to 25 degrees F. This plant has proven useful as a large specimen shrub or as a sheared hedge, though we have had reports that regular shearing may shorten the lifespan of this plant
and 8 to 10 years may be all one can expect it to live with this treatment; with its interesting foliage and rapid growth this may still be acceptable to some. We received Westringia 'Wynyabbie Gem' from Gary Hammer in
1991 and have been growing at San Marcos Growers since 1992.
Westringia 'Wynyabbie Highlight' (Australian Variegated Rosemary) - A compact evergreen shrub that grows to at least 3-4 feet tall and as wide with cream margined slender gray-green (white beneath) 1 inch long leaves that radiate out from the dark stems in evenly spaced whorls. The clusters of attractive mauve-pink flowers are produced throughout the year. Plant in full sun to light shade. It is drought and seaside tolerant, and like 'Wynyabbie Gem' should take cold down to 25 degrees F. This plant is a vegetative sport of Westringia 'Wynyabbie Gem', itself a hybrid between the coastal Westringia fruticosa and the inland Westringia eremicola. It is distinct from the parent plant with its more compact growth form and attractively variegated leaf margins.