Freylinia tropica in full flower in mid September, a spectacular show,

Freylinia tropica, Blue Honey-bell, is one of southern Africa’s most attractive and versatile shrubs for the garden. It gets a showy abundance of flowers in spring, but has some flowers all through the warmer months. The dainty flowers may be white, pale blue, mauve to purple.  The plant may be a spindly, narrow and upright shrub or small tree, but can easily be shaped into an attractive, dense shrub. Freylinia tropica is cold hardy and a water-wise, drought resistant plant.

Family              SCROPHULARIACEAE     (Snapdragon family)

Name Derivation:

  • Freylinia – named in honour of Count L de Freylino, an Italian who in the early 19th century owned a famous garden at Buttigeliera, near Marenga.
  • tropica – from Latin, from or of the tropics

Common Names:         Blue Honey-bells(Eng), Blouheuningklokkies (Afr)

SAF Number:                   670.3          Zim Number:                   915

Form:                                A medium-sized, evergreen, flowering shrub.

Size:                                  2 – 3 m (7m) by 1 – 2 m


  • The flowers are tubular (1cm) with 5 spreading lobes (“petals”).
  • They are cheerful plants, flowering in profusion in spring and flowers all through summer.
  • Flowers are rich in nectar.

Colour                  White, pale blue to purple.

Flowering Months:          Aug – Mar (-Jul).


Freylinia tropica flowers are tubular with 5 spreading lobes.

Freylinia tropica flowers

The flowers of Freylinia tropica are borne on short stems from the leaf axils. The simple leaves are opposite, obovate to oblanceolate and dark, shiny green.


  • Evergreen.
  • The leaves are simple and opposite,
  • Leaves are narrow obovate to oblanceolate and shiny green.
  • The margin of the apex half is serrated.

Thorns:        No thorns. 


  • The fruit is a small (<5mm), ovoid light brown capsule.
  • The fruits are dehiscent.


  • Branches are quite squarish, four angled.

In the Garden:

  • Freylinia tropica is a very versatile garden plant.
  • Ideal for English country style gardens.
  • Plants can be planted in groups of 3 or 5 in mixed beds.
  • May be planted and pruned into formal hedges.
  • Freylinia tropica are often grown as topiary features.
  • They may be trained up on a single stem to be standards.
  • You may plant in informal groups to act as screens.
  • Their flowers attract adult butterflies, other insects and birds.
  • Freylinia tropica make very attractive pot and planter subjects

Soil Needs:    Best in well drained, fertile soil.


  • They are basicaly low maintenance plants.
  • Feed with organic fertilizer and mulch with compost.
  • Pinch out the growing tips to encourage bushiness.
  • Prune from time to time to keep a good shape’
  • In cold areas protect young plants for the first 1 or 2 winters.

Cold Hardiness:                Hardy.

Water Requirements:

  • Drought hardy, but thrives on regular summer water.
  • Water-wise.

Light Requirements:        Sun or partial shade.

Roots:       The roots are not aggressive.

Freylinia tropica is worth growing in your garden if only for its cheerful display in spring.




Freylinia tropica can make an exceptional pot plant, but will need regular watering and feeding.

The Green-banded Swallowtail butterfly is a regular visitor to Freylinia tropica flowers in our nursery.


  • Sunbirds and other nectar-feeders will visit the flowers for nectar.
  • Insectivorous birds will come to the tree for that visit the flowers.

Butterflies, Bees and Other Insects:

  • Flowers are a good source of nectar for bees and adult butterflies.


  • Not known for medicinal properties.

Poisonous:        Not poisonous.


Natural Distribution:

  • Found in NWP, north western L, eastern Zim and adjacent Moz.
  • To the north of southern Africa, the range extends into Tanzania.

Natural Habitat:

  • Grasslands, savanna-bushveld and forest edges.
  • Grows on mountain sides, in open bushveld, along stream banks and in grasslands.
© Malcolm Dee Hepplewhite & Witkoppen Wildflower Nursery, (Text and Photographs) 2018