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Freylinia tropica

Family: Scrophulariaceae

Common names: Honeybell Bush, Inyanga Hedge Plant (E);

Native to: Southern Africa
Shrub, Tree

Freylinia tropica











1.5m x 0.75m

Freylinia tropica


A dense shrub or small tree with slender, loosely spreading branches. It flowers profusely, bearing small, delicate flowers in white or lilac. The white flowering form is usually not as upright in its growth form as the blue.  It produces flowers throughout the year but the main flowering time for this stunning shrub is in spring.

I first spotted this growing in the wild along the roadside on the Vumba Road in Zimbabwe and again at the source of  Bridal Veil Falls in Chimanimani.  In the wild, with no pruning, they tend to be rather twiggy and can reach a height of 3m.

We’ve planted this extensively throughout Gauteng.  I’ve noticed that the leaves tend to be slightly larger and a darker green when plants experience fewer hours of direct sunlight.

The nectar-rich flowers attract butterflies such as the Brown Veined White.
It also attracts other pollinating insects such as bees, wasps and moths.
Water moderately throughout the year.
Freylinia is low maintenance. You may wish to prune it in autumn to encourage bushy growth.
May be grown as a single specimen in a mixed bed, or mass planted to form a hedge, lining a pathway. It will be encouraged to grow a more dense form with regular pruning.
A useful addition to a wildlife-friendly garden as it is frequently visited by birds and butterflies.
Suitable to grow in a medium-large container in a sunny position.
Bushveld, Country, Forest, Formal, French, Mediterranean, Rockery, Woodland
Seldom attacked by pests and diseases.

34 Responses

  1. Hi Shannon

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    Your plant may be undergoing some kind of nutrient deficienty. Perhaps try an application of Iron Chelate (available at most nurseries). Also apply an organic fertiliser and compost around the base of the plant.


  2. Hi Deon

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    Are you sure you’ve the correct plant as Freylinia tropica is not a bulbous plant but has a heart root system?


  3. Ive read through and chck for ssmples of bulbs for freylinia tropica white,as my potplant is marked.My bulbs look still ok after the whole plant died a few months ago.Will the bulbs grow again.I keep the bulbs moist in the ground.

  4. Hi Vee

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    Freylinia tropica can be trained into a hedge. We’ve found that the white form is better suited for this as it tends to have a more dense branch network.

    When trying to create a hedge, it’s best start trimming to encourage bushiness from an early stage so that you get a more dense growth from the plants natural drooping form.

    The amount to cut back will depend on the size and age of your plants as well as the desired height. Use your discretion without cutting back more than a quarter of the growth.


  5. Hi – we planted our freylinia to make a hedge last summer – they have grown quite large but I feel they are too leggy, how much can they be pruned back and will it help? Some seem bushier then others, my husband feels we should leave them as is but I cant imagine them becoming more bushier rather then leggier?

  6. Hi there

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    Freylinia tropica can be a little sensitive initially. It could be a number of factors:
    – Transplant shock as your conditions are vastly different from those of the nursery from which you purchased them.
    – Over-watering may be a possibility (especially if you’ve experienced the recent rains)
    – Perhaps your planters are contaminated either with a chemical or a fungus.

    Perhaps follow up with the nursery from which you purchased them as they may be able to assist.

    All the best.

  7. I planted 4 x of these amazing little shrubs . 2 each in very large containers. Sadly 2 of them have died. Leaves started falling off after 3 weeks. The remaining 2 are stunning.

    What could this be?

  8. Hi Mariette

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    For a more dense hedge, you’ll fair better with the Buddleja saligna. It has a very fast growth and will achieve your desired result much quicker.

    As you’ll need to be trimming it to maintain the hedge effect, you will not get any flowers as these form on the tips of new growth so the pollen will not be an issue.


  9. Hi Glenice, I trust you are doing well.

    We live in Pretoria (far) east and have a very natural garden (most flowers we have is proteas, lavender and these white and reddish butterfly flowers.

    We want to grow a hedge now to change the view out of our room and to add some privacy, but I do not know a lot about plants. We need the hedge to grow to about 2m high and it should be evergreen and indigenous. We have been advised that the Freylinia Tropica would probably be best for us from 2 different people, but I have googled a bit and really like the False Olive idea because it grows faster and will fit in better with our natural garden look than the freylinia tropica (although I am not totally averse to the idea of the freylinia).

    So in all I have a few questions. Firstly, will the False Olive thrive in our climate and do they form good hedges if trimmed properly? And if so – how do their pollen affect people that struggle with sinuses compared to the Freylinias?

    Furthermore – if you think that Freylinias would be more suited for us, do you recommend using both the white and blue flower types together in one hedge? Would they reach height of about 2m in our climate?

    And then – do you have any other recommendations for other type of plants keeping in mind what we need?

    Thank you in advance for your help and advice.

    Blessings, Mariette

  10. I live on the KZN South Coast and planted 7 Freylinia (blue/mauve flower) along our front boundary 4 years ago. They have formed a lovely hedge approx. 2 metres high and the small pretty flowers attract bees as well as butterflies and sunbirds etc.. This week I have pruned them back by approx. 15cm and cleared out all the dead wood in between in order to have new growth for the spring/summer seasons. I have had no problem with wasps. Freylinia is easy to maintain and makes an attractive screen hedge.

  11. Hi Bridget

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    Information on the height and width will vary according to the region in which the plant grows. In KZN midlands, you’ll find that most plants generally grow larger than other regions.

    To grow a hedge, I find that the white Freylinia tends to grow bushier than the blue. It will certainly reach the desired 2m height. Space the plants about 50cm apart to get a dense growth.


  12. Good afternoon

    I have recently come across the freylinia tropica. I am interested in it because it is fast growing and indigenous.

    I am slight confused about the height and width of the plant. I am looking to grow a tall hedge up to 2 m high along a wall of about 2,5 metres long. Will this plant be suited for this? It will be in full and partial sun along a wall. I live in the KZN Midlands.

    Thank you. With kind regards

  13. Hi Dave

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    Transplants are always risky and the best advice I can offer is:
    – Dig as much of the root ball as possible
    – Do the transplanting in the cooler part of the day.
    – Add lots of compost to the new planting hole.
    – Keep the transplanted plants well-watered.

    Fortunately, all three species seem to transplant with ease.

    All the best.


  14. Good Afternoon

    We have Freylinia hedging surrounding our garden in Hillcrest, KZN and it has established itself very well. We are wanting to extend the garden a bit further and therefore would like to transplant the hedging, which is about 4 years old. Would this work? We also have a Polygala Myrtifolia and a Indigofera Jucunda (River Indigo) that we would like to transplant at the same time; though I’ve heard they might not transplant well?

    Kind Regards


  15. Hi Pau

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    Freylinia is ideal for a French style garden and will work to create a box hedge.

    You could also consider Eriocephalus africanus (Wild rosemary).


  16. Dear Glenice,
    I am making a small formal French style garden in the middle of my edible garden on my old tennis court. Each small formal bed will be bordered with highly pruned, square, box like hedges, between which I will plant edibles. I want the hedge bit to look formal, straight and structured. Do you think that Freylinia would lend itself to that and dense out like Box hedges do? I’d rather keep it africanised. The hedge wouldn’t be more than a foot tall.

  17. Hi Alan

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    Freylinia tropica tends to be sensitive in the early stages of planting and is very sensitive to contaminated soil and dry conditions.

    You’ve described ideal planting practices, so it is highly likely that something from the building work has contaminated your soil. You don’t mention the size of the plants that you started with. Perhaps the ones that died were simply weaker ones. Very often a 10l or 20l plant is more established and hardy than one in a 4l container. It will however mean spending more initially.

    To remedy your situation, I would recommend digging a slightly larger planting hole, removing the soil dug up and filling it with a purchased quality top soil.


  18. I live in a complex where we planted about 200 Frylinia with the intention of growing a hedge next to a border wall last spring. The wall was replasted before we planted and unfortunately the contractors left a lot of cement and fine rubble from the process of removing the old plaster.

    We brought in several bakkie loads of compost and garden mix which was dug into the soil before planting. We also added an all purpose fertilizer. We had good summer rain and watered when it did not rain for more than a week.

    Most of the Frylinia are doing well and looking great. In fact we need to start pruning and shaping. But we have lost and replaced about 25 . Now another 10 have died or are looking really sad. They are in between ones that are doing well and healthy.

    Could this be the soil in the position the affected ones are planted and what can we do to remedy that. More compost and fertilizer?

  19. Hi Stephan

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    Yes, you may trim them as they make fantastic small trees.

    To grow them from cuttings, take a 5cm cutting of semi-hard wood. Use a rooting hormone and grow them in a potting mix in a shallow pot. You’ll need to take a few cuttings as you are likely loose a few. The cuttings can take up to 3 months to start rooting and showing signs of growth.


  20. Hi

    I have a few of these shrubs at my townhouse and would like to know if i can trim them into a small trees. (and if so, how high would they grow and will they grow higher as a tree or bush?)

    Also if i want to grow from cuttings, should i place them in water for a few days first or can i plant them directly

    Would appreciate any feedback

    Thank You
    Stephan Fourie

  21. Hi Ruane

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    Freylinia needs some sunshine otherwise it tends to grow rather scraggly. So ensure that your position will get at least 4 hours of sunshine in the day. Otherwise, you’d be better off considering another shrub that will tolerate more shade.


  22. I stay in Baardskeerdersbos a small village in the Overberg, about 25 km from Gansbaai. I planted 5 Freylinias about 3 years ago and after almost losing my house in a veld fire (half of my Fynbos garden lost as well as a lot of trees and shrubs). I decided to move the garden away from the house, I pruned the Freylinias then replanted them, watering the shrubs morning and evening and after 4 days they seem to be doing fine. I left the pruned branches in water and after 3 days planted them. Will it grow into shrubs?

  23. Hi Leigh

    Thanks for visiting our site and sorry to hear about your sting.

    Freylinias do attract a host of insects which is fantastic. However, I don’t think they are the cause of the wasp behaviour.

    The wasps are likely to be hovering over the lawn in search of water – they’ll drink droplets caught on the leaf blades. Even they are battling with the heat we’re experiencing!

    Here are a few things to try:-
    – Place a shallow dish of water at ground level for them in an area with less traffic. The drip tray from a large pot plant or a grinding stone will be ideal.
    – Water your lawn in the evening so the chance of having droplets on the surface during the day is reduced. Perhaps even avoid watering the lawn for a few days so that they can adjust to the new drinking station or move on to another source.

    I hope this helps.


  24. Hi Glenice,

    I recently planted a whole lot of Freylinias all over my back yard and have suddenly noticed a hectic influx of butterflies, bees, wasps and insects of all sorts. The bees and other insects do not concern me, however the wasps seems to have taken over our lawn specifically. They are constantly hovering over the lawn and obviously the Freylinias. I can only think that the main attraction are the Freylinias? It has become so bad that we are avoiding our lawn, but very difficult as we have a dog and small child. A wasp stung me on the foot yesterday afternoon as I walked across it and they seem rather aggressive.

    Please help, would like to keep everybody happy but a bit difficult at the moment.

    Thanks so much!
    Leigh Cooper

  25. Hi Denise

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    Since Freylinia is naturally found inland, I’m not sure how well it will handle coastal conditions. Its success will largely depend on the micro-climate on your property.

    An excellent hedging plant for coastal gardens is Buddleja saligna (False Olive). It has a fast growth rate and forms a more dense hedge than Freylinia.

    Since you already have the Freylinia, perhaps using it as a lower hedge in front of a Buddleja hedge will create a striking effect?


  26. I live in Wilderness on the edge of the cliff and was advised by a nursery that Freylinia could be grown as a hedge on the sea side of the property. I have done so and now discover that it is more suited to inland gardens? Is this correct? Any advice would be useful as this is a lovely shrub.

  27. Hi Maria
    Thanks for your comment. It’s not necessary to prune after the first flowering.
    You can prune to encourage bushy growth or to remove dry/dead branches.
    Enjoy watching your shrub grow and attract butterflies.

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