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Click for previous Image Image 1 of 2 Westringia fruticosa 'WESO4' Grey Box coast rosemary
Grey Box coast rosemary (Westringia fruticosa 'Grey Box'). Photo: Ozbreed

Grey Box coast rosemary (Westringia fruticosa 'Grey Box'). Photo: Ozbreed

Westringia fruticosa 'WESO4' 'Grey Box'

Grey Box coast rosemary

Grey Box™ coast rosemary is a small evergreen shrub with a dense rounded growth habit.  It has narrow gray-green foliage and small white flowers almost year-round.  Growing to around 2-3' tall and wide, it's a true dwarf selection that has a natural “Box” shape.  It's perfect for a hedge or group planting in pocket gardens and home gardens, yet tough enough for commercial applications as well.  The only downside to this shrub is its accurate, but rather unimaginative, name!

Coast rosemary was first introduced into cultivation in the U.S.A. by William Walker at his Golden Gate Nursery in San Francisco in 1858.  It has a long history in California landscapes and has proven itself to be a useful, water-wise and long-lived shrub in both home and commercial landscapes.

Name
The name for the genus was given to it by Sir James Edward Smith, an English botanist and founder of the Linnaean Society in 1788.  The name honors Dr. Johan Peter Westring (1753-1833), a botanist and physician to King Charles XIII of Sweden who was a student of Linnaeus.  The specific epithet comes from the Latin word 'frutico' meaning "to put forth shoots" or "become bushy," probably in reference to the dense bushiness of this species.

In addition to 'Grey Box,' there are several other cultivars of this species including 'Aussie Box,' the variegated forms 'Morning Light' and Smokey' and the low growing 'Mundi.'  

Native habitat and range
Coast rosemary (Westringia fruticosa) is native to the coast of New South Wales in Australia where it can be seen hugging the cliffs and growing near the beaches.

Growth habit, foliage and flowers
Grey Box has a particularly dense, compact growth habit.  It forms a tight mound of attractive, narrow gray-green foliage that rarely needs pruning unless you're using it as a formal low-growing hedge.

White, quarter-sized flowers appear in small clusters along the stems from late winter to summer and sporadically throughout the rest of the year.

Exposure: Where to plant
You can plant Grey Box coast rosemary in full sun or light shade.

Soil
Grey Box is tolerant of most soil types including clay.  Just make sure it's not planted in a location that's likely to be completely waterlogged for days on end in the winter.

If you have a very sandy soil, we recommend adding a lot of organic matter to it in order to make it more water retentive and reduce the need to water your plants in summer.

Watering
Once established, Grey Box should survive without any summer irrigation in coastal areas.

Propagation
Propagate Grey Box by semi-ripe stem cuttings.  As the plant is patented, you can't propagate it for commercial gain though.



Grey Box coast rosemary Growing and Maintenance Tips

Grey box coast rosemary doesn't need any maintenance other than, perhaps, an occasional light pruning to maintain its very dense and compact growth habit.


Height:

2-3 ft

Spread:

2-3 ft

Spacing:

3 ft

Westringia fruticosa 'WESO4' 'Grey Box' Characteristics

Attributes

  • Salt Tolerant
  • Wind resistant
  • Long Blooming
  • Evergreen

Flower color

  • White / Cream / Ivory

Foliage color

  • Green / Blue-green
  • Silver, White, Grey

Growth habit (plant shape)

  • Upright
  • Columnar / Fastigiate

Exposure

  • Sunny all day - Coast
  • Light or dappled shade
  • Morning sun
  • Sunny all day - Inland

Season of interest (flowering)

  • Spring
  • Fall
  • Summer
  • Winter

Season of interest (foliage)

  • Year round

Your soil type

  • Clay
  • Sand

Water requirements

  • None
  • None - Low

Critter resistance

  • Deer resistant
  • Rabbit resistant

Wildlife appeal

  • Attracts bees
  • Attracts beneficial insects

Suggested uses

  • Under CA native oaks
  • Hedge or screen
  • Firescaping
  • Container
  • Median strip

Origin

  • Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania