Our plant for this week is the Blue Honeybell or Freylinia tropica. I have successfully planted these in my own garden where they have done well, both as a single specimen plant and as a hedge. They can be planted in full sun and can also be planted in very light shade under tall trees to form an undergrowth layer. Just remember if you plant them under existing trees you will need to plant them into well-prepared and composted soil. You will also need to have a regular feeding schedule every month throughout the year, except the winter months. A slow-release 3.1.5 fertiliser and regular top ups of compost should do the trick.
Freylinia is an upright growing shrub of about 2.5 x 1m, it grows quickly and is also suitable for pots. Remember though, because it has a rather upright–ish shape it benefits from regular trimming when it is young as this helps it to become a bit more bushy. I would normally plant three or more together in a mixed bed to create a more substantial bush effect and if I were planting a hedge would space them a meter apart. Freylinia make excellent windbreaks when planted closely together in a staggered line, one forward and one back. They are quite drought resistant once established but obviously do better with regular watering. Both white and lilac /purple flowered varieties are available and both varieties flower from spring right through summer. The small flowers are slightly scented and will attract butterflies to your garden.
Specimens of this plant cut into standard topiaries are also available. Do not be afraid to trim regularly, if you cut off the flowers new ones will very quickly appear. So here is a very versatile indigenous shrub that we should all have
in our gardens – plant and enjoy!