Honeybell Bush, Heuningklokkiesbos - Freylinia

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Freylinia tropica "Blue' Picture courtesy www.newplant.co.zaFreylinia tropica "Blue' Picture courtesy www.newplant.co.za Condensed Version:

There are 9 species of Freylinia in South Africa, of which 8 are found in the Cape Province; their distribution extending from Namaqualand in the Northern Cape to Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape. South African species include F. crispa, F. decurrens, F. densiflora, F. lanceolata, F. tropica, F. undulata, F. visseri and F. vlokii. Species vary in height and spread, according to the climate and rainfall of the region in which they are grown.

They are loved for their delicate clusters of bell-shaped or tubular flowers in various colours, and are excellent low-maintenance plants for gardens large and small. Freylinia are also virtually pest free and will attract birds and butterflies to the garden, as well as other beneficial garden insects.

Honeybell bushes are perfect to plant in "fynbos" and rock gardens; and they can also be clipped into hedges or screens; as well as standards or 'lollipops'. They are beautiful container plants with an English cottage garden feel about them, blending effortlessly with other flowering shrubs in the mixed border. If trained, they can also be used to good effect in narrow spaces, or to screen walls and fences.

They are wonderful garden plants for the winter rainfall regions and are remarkably drought hardy, requiring little water during the dry summer months.  Some, and especially Freylinia tropica, which grows naturally in the Northern Province of South Africa, are hardy to frost and grow well inland.

Freylinia lanceolata. Picture courtesy David Jones. Visit his flickr photostreamFreylinia lanceolata. Picture courtesy David Jones. Visit his flickr photostreamIn the garden freylinia thrive with regular watering during dry spells, and although they are tolerant of poor soil, will respond to well composted soil. Mulch the roots regularly and feed occasionally with a balanced organic fertiliser.

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Description, History & Interesting Facts:

There are 9 species of Freylinia in South Africa, of which 8 are found in the Cape Province; their distribution extending from Namaqualand in the Northern Cape to Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape. South African species include F. crispa, F. decurrens, F. densiflora, F. lanceolata, F. tropica, F. undulata, F. visseri and F. vlokii.

They are loved for their delicate clusters of bell-shaped or tubular flowers and are excellent low-maintenance plants for gardens large and small. Freylinia are also virtually pest free and will attract birds and butterflies to the garden, as well as other beneficial garden insects.

Species vary in height and spread, according to the climate and rainfall of the region in which they are grown.

(Freylinia lanceolata) This freylinia is widespread in the Cape Province where it thrives in moist conditions and is commonly found growing along the banks of streams. Because it grows equally well in the winter and summer rainfall areas, tolerating wind and temperatures ranging from about -2°C to 37°C; it remains a popular evergreen garden plant which can be trained into a graceful shrub or small tree.

If kept well-watered it grows vigorously; reaching anything from 2 to 6m tall, with an equal spread. It's lovely arching branches of willow-like leaves bear clusters of golden-yellow, honey-scented flowers; mainly from late winter to early spring,  but also in summer and sporadically throughout the year.

It can be planted in sun or semi-shade; will grow in ordinary fertile garden soil; and is perfect to utilise in poorly drained areas of the garden. Water it regularly during dry spells and prune after flowering to keep it neat. It is easily propagated from fresh seed and should germinate within three weeks.

Stem cuttings taking during the warmer summer months root easily and young plants grow fast; flowering within a couple of seasons.  Place it at the back of the informal border or site it close to water.

Freylinia visseri Picture courtesy www.newplant.co.zaFreylinia visseri Picture courtesy www.newplant.co.za(Freylinia visseri) This freylinia is an exceptionally attractive species with lovely foliage and beautiful clusters of long tubular, wine-coloured flowers from September to November; the flowers will attract sunbirds to your garden. This species is classified as threatened in the Red Data Book and is endemic to the Velddrif and Hopefield areas in the Strandveld habitat of the Western Cape; strandveld is characterized by very loose, sandy, neutral or alkaline soil.

Due to insensitive farming in the area it may have become extinct, if not for the efforts of Mr Floors Visser, who in 1954 planted four plants that he had saved from the farm 'Grootklipfontein' in Aurora where he lived. Two of these survived and grew into substantial shrubs and in 1983 cuttings taken from them were cultivated at Kirstenbosch. In 1992 the Botanical Society Search and Rescue Team went back to the Velddrif District to re-plant 20 of these cultivated plants back on the farm where they naturally occurred; all the plants in cultivation today come from these specimens. In 1992 A second population of Freylinia visseri was also discovered by Geoff Hemm on the Farm 'Steenboksfontein' near Hopefield; occurring on a small site of only 3 ha about 1 km from the Berg River.

This plants tolerance of very loose, sandy, neutral or alkaline soil makes it ideal for coastal gardens. It prefers a sunny position and is a vigorous plant which can reach 3m tall; making it good for screening and perfect for the back of the mixed shrub border. Prune it hard in winter to keep it tidy and feed before flowering.

Freylinia visseri grows easily from seed and should germinate within three weeks. Semi-mature cuttings can also be taken in autumn, spring or early summer and treated with a rooting hormone; rooting should take place within four weeks.

Freylinia tropica 'White' Picture courtesy www.newplant.co.zaFreylinia tropica 'White' Picture courtesy www.newplant.co.za(Freylinia tropica) Blue Honeybells, Blouheuningklokkies, Inyanga Hedge Plant. This freylinia grows naturally in the Northern Province of South Africa and Zimbabwe; occurring at high altitudes, often on exposed misty mountain slopes; or on the margins of evergreen forests and alongside streams; and frequently occurring as a pioneer plant on disturbed land.

In the wild it often forms a small tree  3 to 4 meters high but in the garden it is usually a fast growing evergreen shrub with an upright growth habit and slender loosely spreading branches; bearing delicate white, lilac or blue flowers which are attractive to butterflies. Its main flowering time is in spring but it can flower sporadically throughout the year. Plants can vary in height from 1 to 3m tall with a spread of 75cm or slightly more. The roots are not aggressive, making it ideal to plant close to pathways or foundations.

This species is cold hardy once established and can be planted in semi-shade to sun. It is wind resistant and prefers fertile well drained soils. Water during dry summer spells, but a lot less in winter. It needs trimming to keep it neat and tidy and makes a good screening or hedging plant. It is also excellent to mass plant underneath trees in light shade. The white flowering variety is not as upright in its growth habit.

Plants are easily propagated by cuttings taken during the growing season.

In the Garden:

Honeybell bushes are perfect to plant in "fynbos" and rock gardens; and they can also be clipped into hedges or screens; as well as standards or 'lollipops'. They are beautiful container plants with an English cottage garden feel about them, blending effortlessly with other flowering shrubs in the mixed border. If trained, they can also be used to good effect in narrow spaces, or to screen walls and fences.

Cultivation/Propagation:

See individual species descriptions above for more specific growing instructions.

In general, honeybell bushes are wonderful garden plants for the winter rainfall regions and are remarkably drought hardy, requiring little water during the dry summer months.

Some, and especially Freylinia tropica, which grows naturally in the Northern Province of South Africa, are hardy to frost and grow well inland.

In the garden freylinia thrive with regular watering during dry spells, and although they are tolerant of poor soil, will respond to well composted soil. Mulch the roots regularly and feed occasionally with a balanced organic fertiliser.

Problems, Pests & Diseases:

Freylinia are virtually pest free.

Warning:

We have no confirmation that any part of this plant is toxic, however we urge caution as this information may be incorrect.

Additional Info

  • Common Name: Honeybell Bush, Heuningklokkiesbos
  • Latin Name: Freylinia