Plant of the month: April
Sometimes known as the forest bell bush, Mackaya bella is a beautiful shrub with slender branches bearing dark green leaves. However, it is the large, bell-shaped, mauve flowers with their fine purple-pink lines which steal the show! These are also responsible for the plant’s specific name – bella – which means “beautiful”. Mackaya bella is the only member of its genus, which was named after James Townsend Mackay, author of Flora Hibernica. In the wild it occurs only in Southern Africa which means is endemic to this region. Mackaya bella performs best in sub-tropical to temperate regions. However, it can be grown in a large pot in loam based compost in full light. Prune lightly after flowering and provide a minimum temperature of 3°C.