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PlantFiles: Forest Bell Bush
Mackaya bella

Family: Acanthaceae (ah-kanth-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Mackaya (MAK-kay-uh) (Info)
Species: bella (BEL-luh) (Info)

3 members have or want this plant for trade.


6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)
8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)
10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Light Shade
Partial to Full Shade
Full Shade

Pollen may cause allergic reaction

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From herbaceous stem cuttings

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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2 positives
1 neutral
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive cabngirl On Sep 3, 2010, cabngirl from Sonoma, CA wrote:

I've had this plant for years (potted); I never put it in the ground, so far.
Easy to take cuttings. I had it in shade and found it to remain quite gangly and sparse of flower and leaf; after pruning and moving it into more sun found it seemed to flourish much better, foliage became much darker and denser, bloomed better (spring). I noted it seems to attract specific bees, I believe some type of bumble bee (I'm still trying to ascertain what it is, hopefully a native). I have my main plant in full sun (Sonoma sun ie pretty dang hot!) with a water tray underneath. It tolerates it well. When I neglected to water it during a hot spell, or not in time, it withered but recovered very quickly w/o loss of leaf. During our heat wave I am careful to be certain the tray has water, needs watering at least once a day in that pot in full (90-100) sun. Otherwise it can go a day or so w/o as long as there is some in the tray. I am going to try to upload a photo of the flower w/bee.

Positive Dave_in_Devon On Aug 2, 2008, Dave_in_Devon from Torquay
United Kingdom (Zone 9b) wrote:

This is a very handsome small to medium sized evergreen shrub, ideal for growing in partial to full shade beneath trees or much larger growing shrubs. The very glossy, deep green leaves provide a perfect backdrop to its clusters of lavender tinted, white flowers in spring and early summer. It appears quite hardy here in coastal south Devon (UK) and remarkably tolerant of my rather poor, very sharply drained (AKA known as bone-dry) soil. Kept well watered in summer and mulched heavily with compost in spring, it is doing very well and even manages to put out a second flush of flowers in autumn. Mine was planted out 3 years ago and has grown to approx. 1m. high and across. It is early days yet to pronounce upon its hardiness for the UK, but so far Mackaya shows great promise for milder areas at least.

Neutral smiln32 On May 19, 2004, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

Origin: South Africa - genus Mackaya was named after James Townsend Mackay, author of Flora Hibernica and the specific epithet bella is Latin for beautiful in reference to its attractive flowers.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Perris, California
Sonoma, California

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