The benefits of salt bush: Rhagodia spinescens

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There are several species of salt bush that I like to put in gardens, this one is one of my favourites  Rhagodia spinescens, it comes in varying shapes and forms, some a little more silver leaved some a little more compact. It is growing here as a pathway and garden edge and does a great job as a weed suppressant. It is the grey-green sprawling shrub in the foreground, growing amongst the grasses.


I use it as a ground cover, it can grow to up to a metre high and does look rather sharp it it is pruned into a low hedge or even a sphere. This Rhagodia will grow in clay, sand, in full sun to fairly heavy shade. I love the way it looks soft from a distance but once you get up close you can see all those tough little coastal looking leaves covered with hairs and bumps. What’s more is Rhagodia provides nesting habitat for wrens and attracts birds like the Crimson Rosellas, which much on the foliage. Of course it is a favourite for the grey green to silver leaves!!!


5 responses to “The benefits of salt bush: Rhagodia spinescens”

  1. Jodie

    Hi Kath
    Thanks for sharing. Came across your website while looking for Mallee gardens. We’re in Port Pirie SA and have decided mallee is the look we want. Love the Engadine Garden you designed. You may be interested in Arid Lands Botanic Gardens website – they are in Port Augusta and have planted out 4 courtyard gardens, Mallee, Desert, Coastal and Flinders.The designs and plant lists are on their website. We have watched these courtyards grow since planted about 4 years ago and they are an inspiration to us.
    We too are big fans of saltbush. We stick them everywhere – to hide fences, grow where nothing else will and to add lift and contrast to the garden with their silver foliage. I particularly like old man saltbush for its larger leaves – and you can eat them!

    1. Kath Gadd

      Hi Jodie,
      I’ve been to Port Pirie, amazing part of Australia and you would be able to grow all those wonderful WA plants!!!
      I grow Atriplex nummularia in my garden in Wollongong, I didn’t know you could eat it, I will have to investigate. I am growing it in an extremely difficult spot, in clay, hot western sun as a hedge, it is a bit slow to respond to pruning but a very resilient plant.
      I will check out the website, I have seen an episode on ‘Gardening Australia’ about the Arid Lands Botanic Gardens, would love to visit sometime.
      thanks for the feedback,

  2. Lee

    Hi Kath,

    I’m in Adelaide, and live in what was once a mallee vegetation area. I’m having great success with many plants but really like the toughness and versatility of saltbush. I’m particularly impressed with Rhagodia parabolica and how well it clips to a shape. I also have tried to trim Enchylaena tomentosa into small spheres with some success but I’m finding their habit a bit too variable; most likely better as a ground cover but certainly tough and versatile!

    I’m considering using the spinescens in place of the tomentosa after reading your article. Great website ☺️

  3. Sean

    the the plants, e.g. branches and leaves, edible and pet safe?

  4. Marlie

    Would this do well under a bottle brush tree? I’m keen on planting something under our two bottle brushes but need something shade tolerant, but can also handle the dropping bits from the tree. The grass beneath them aren’t very happy.

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