Saltbush - How to Grow Saltbush



    Saltbush comes from all across the world with over 250 different plants identified. Not all are palatable, grow well or are edible. In Australia, it's quickly become one of the most wide-spread plants at outback cattle grazing stations as it thrives even in drought conditions and is delicious fodder for the animals. 

      Origin

      The saltbush found in sachets in boutique retailers come from the Old Man's Saltbush (atriplex nummularia) as its salty flavour and low bitterness gives it a overall delicious touch in dishes. 

      We supply also another species called Coastal Saltbush (Atriplex cinerea), which has a less bitter leaves when eaten fresh, and like its cousin, grows in a variety of soil types and climates.

      Saltbush leaves did not form a substantial part of traditional diets of Aboriginal Australians, but instead the seeds were used as a flour for the making of damper. The leaves were mainly used a medicine for cuts and wounds. 

      Coastal Saltbush grows along the coast in Victoria and has become naturalised in other states. It is often used by humans/local councils to help stabilise soils, prevent erosion and revegetate/rehabilitate at risk areas.

      Ruby Saltbush (Enchylaena tomentosa) is covered by hundreds of small, red and yellow coloured berries which were used by Aboriginal Australians as a source of food.

      Old Man Saltbush flakes
      Photo: Melbourne Bushfood

      Good for:

      - Beginners

      - Pots

      - Balcony

      - Drought 

      - Cold regions

      Water

      Drought Tolerant

      Sunlight

      Part shade/full sun

      Size

      2m+ high
      2m+ wide

      Planting

      Planting in pots

      Saltbush is a no-fuss native bushfood, growing well in pots with gardeners who may become neglectful at time.


      For best results, plant in well-draining, premium potting mix. 


      It has a natural tendency to shoot straight up (like bamboo), so to keep in a neat, hedge-like shape, we suggest trimming and pruning once it reaches 30cm to encourage outwards growth.


      Planting in soil
      All three species of saltbush (coastal saltbush, old man saltbush, ruby saltbush) are extremely tolerant of a range of soil types. They are tolerant of nutrient-poor soil, clay, loamy, and saline type soils.


      When planting, do not disturb the roots, and plant directly into the ground. For best results, aim for a full-sun position, and water with a seaweed solution frequently. 


      Keep pruned in a hedge shape as Coastal and Old Man Saltbush have a tendency to shoot up like bamboo. 


      Saline soils tend to give leaves the saltiest flavour.


      Maintenace

      Watering

      Saltbush are extremely drought tolerant. Until established (after a year or two), watering may be required during the warmer weather. During cooler months, reduce the watering. 


      If grown in pots, underwatering and overwatering may cause damage to the plant which it can completely recover from. 


      Harvesting

      Coastal Saltbush + Old Man Saltbush: The leaves are harvestable immediately. Make sure to wash before using. Enjoy fresh, mix into a salad, or chuck a handful into a stir-fry. Dry the leaves and use as a salt replacement.


      Ruby Saltbush: The colourful berries are harvestable when soft and in full colour (late summer), with the fruit being crisp, with a sweet and salty flavour. They're great in salads, or eaten fresh. They are great in a cranberry sauce or other jam used for savoury purposes.


      Fertilizing

      Fertilize irregularly with a high-quality native fertilizer. We recommend monthly watering of a seaweed solution to maintain plant health. 

      Other guides: