The Yellow Honeybell Bush is quite a beauty

Freylinia lanceolata. Picture courtesy David Jones. Visit his flickr photostreamFreylinia lanceolata. Picture courtesy David Jones. Visit his flickr photostreamThis fast growing evergreen, with its gracefully arching stems and very fragrant flowers fares well in both our winter and summer rainfall regions, tolerating heat and low temperatures. Read more below on how to plant, grow, propagate, and use this enchanting plant in the garden.

Most gardeners are familiar with our beautiful indigenous Blue Honeybell Bush (Freylinia tropica) but the Yellow Honeybell or Heuningklokkiesbos, (Freylinia lanceolata) is not as well-known. It is an enchanting multi-stemmed evergreen shrub that grows quickly and vigorously. Its lovely arching branches, with their pale grey bark and willow-like green leaves, bear masses of drooping, honey-scented sprays of creamy-yellow flowers at their tips.

It will bloom sporadically throughout the year but its main flowering season will depend on whether it is grown in the winter or summer rainfall regions of South Africa. In the winter rainfall regions, flowering is from late summer (February) through autumn and winter to early spring (August), and sporadically throughout the year. In our summer rainfall regions it may bloom mainly from mid to late winter and spring (June to August), but also sporadically through summer. The flowers are followed by fruits which are small brown capsules, and produced all year.

The yellow honeybell varies in height and spread, depending on climate, rainfall and soil type, but in the garden it reaches anything from 3 to 5m tall with an equal spread, and under optimal conditions it can even reach 6m in height.

In the wild Freylinia lanceolata thrives in moist areas, and is commonly found growing along the banks of streams or on the edges of marshes or vleis. It is found in the Northern Cape from Namaqualand and Calvinia in the western Karoo, southwards and westwards through the Western Cape, and eastwards to Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape.

In South Africa there are 9 species of Freylinia, 8 of which are found in the Cape Province, and Freylinia tropica which occurs in the summer rainfall regions. South African species are: Freylinia tropica, Freylinia crispa, Freylinia densiflora, Freylinia helmei, Freylinia lanceolata, Freylinia longiflora, Freylinia undulata, Freylinia visseri and Freylinia vlokii.

Freylinia tropica must be the most well-known honeybell bush in South Africa, and is cherished for its abundance of dainty flowers in delicate shades of pale blue, mauve and white, and also for its hardiness and ease of growth. Members can click here to read more about Freylinia tropica on this website

Freylinia visseri is an exceptionally attractive garden species with lovely foliage and beautiful clusters of long tubular, maroon-red flowers.  Sadly, this species has become extremely rare in its natural habitat, and is classified as threatened in the Red Data Book, so if you find some for sale, snatch them up. Members can click here to read more about Freylinia visseri on this website

Click here too see Google images of Freylinia tropica

Click here too see Google images of Freylinia crispa

Click here too see Google images of Freylinia densiflora

Click here too see Google images of Freylinia helmei

Click here too see Google images of Freylinia lanceolata

Click here too see Google images of Freylinia longiflora

Click here too see Google images of Freylinia undulata

Click here too see Google images of Freylinia visseri

Click here too see Google images of Freylinia vlokii

In the Garden:

The yellow honeybell bush is a lovely large shrub for the garden, and if allowed to mature fully it is better suited to medium sized and larger gardens where it can be allowed to grow without restriction into its naturally graceful shape, and be admired to its fullest.

Its most enchanting attribute is its lovely weeping habit which gives the plant a less formal look, and the soft, flexible branches and long thin leaves sway in the breeze, creating movement within the garden. If you retain the lower branches, these characteristics are also what make this freylinia an excellent choice for an informal windbreak or screening plant. It can also be clipped into a neat, formal hedge, but this requires a lot of maintenance.

It is perfect to plant in fynbos and rock gardens, and because it loves moisture, it’s a good candidate to utilise in poorly drained areas of the garden. On farms or in large parks, it would be perfectly at home alongside a large dam, pond, or water feature. It also holds its own if planted towards the back of an informal shrub border.

For smaller spaces, it can be pruned up into a traditional, small, single stemmed tree, suitable for even tiny gardens, or for planting into pots on balconies.

To get the most value from the flower displays, plant it alongside a winding pathway where the flowers can be seen close up. They attract hosts of butterflies and a variety of insects, which in turn become food for insectivorous (insect-eating) birds such as the black-headed oriole, pied and crested barbets, Cape robins, and thrushes.

Click here to see images of the African Black-headed Oriole

Click here to see images of Pied Barbets

Click here to see images of the Crested Barbets

Click here to see images of the Cape Robin

Click here to see images of South African Thrushes


In the garden it is most accommodating, and fares equally well in both our summer and winter rainfall regions. It tolerates heat and temperatures as high as 37°C, as well as moderate frost and temperatures as low as -2°C.

The yellow honeybell enjoys moist conditions and is very fast-growing if well-watered. It prefers a sunny spot in the garden, but will take some light shade.  It grows easily in ordinary, fertile garden soil. Too look at its best in the garden, it needs to be watered regularly, and especially during dry spells. It also requires regular trimming after flowering to keep it neat.

It is easily propagated from fresh seed which should germinate within three weeks. Stem cuttings taken during the warmer summer months root easily, and under suitable conditions young plants grow fast and may flower within a couple of seasons.

Problems, Pests & Diseases:

If planted in a sunny spot with sufficient amounts of water, the honeybell bush is a relatively undemanding garden plant, with few pests and diseases that worry it. In too much shade, however, shrubs have sparse foliage and the bark may become covered in lichen.


I have no confirmation that any part of this plant is toxic, however I always urge caution as this information may be incorrect. Always supervise small children and pets in the garden, discouraging them from chewing on plants.