Mackaya bella
Common Name: forest bell bush 
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Acanthaceae
Native Range: Temperate southern Africa
Zone: 10 to 11
Height: 3.00 to 6.00 feet
Spread: 3.00 to 6.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to September
Bloom Description: Pale lavender
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: High
Suggested Use: Hedge
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest


Winter hardy to USDA Zones 9b-11 where plants are best grown in moist, well-composted, moderately fertile, well-drained soils in full sun to dappled part shade. Best in part shade locations. Leaves may fade or acquire yellow tones in full sun. Best minimum temperature in winter is 45-50 degrees F. Plants are intolerant of frost. Best performance generally occurs in climates which mimic the climatic conditions of its South African native territory. This plant is often difficult to grow in greenhouses.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Mackaya bella, commonly known as forest bell bush, is an evergreen shrub in the Acanthus family that typically grows to 3-6’ tall. It is native to mixed forests in South Africa. Main ornamental features are opposite, slender-pointed, elliptic, prominently-veined, wavy-edged, glossy evergreen leaves (to 3-5” long) and arching terminal racemes of tubular, bell-shaped, five-lobed, pale lilac to white flowers (each to 2” long) which are finely veined with dark purple. Flowers bloom from spring to fall.

Genus name honors James Townsend Mackay (1775-1862), founder and original curator of the Trinity College Botanic Garden in Dublin in 1804 and author of Flora Hibernica (1836).

Specific epithet comes from the Latin word bella meaning beautiful in reference to the attractive flowers of this plant.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Where winter hardy, grow in shrub borders. Specimen. Informal hedge.