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Barleria obtusa


Water Needs


Barleria obtusa
Shrub small
Bush Violet

1 m


Light Conditions

sun; semi-shade


light; moderate


lower Blue March to June; autumn winter

Garden Situation

sun; semi-shade; dry shade; rockery; walls; container; shrubbery; screen; slope bank; windy exposed; salty air; wildlife bees butterflies insects butterfly host


woodland forest; grassland; bushveld; coastal eastern cape


thicket; Subtropical East Coast; bushveld savanna; highveld

Rain Season

summer winter

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What would autumn be without the familiar blue of the Bush violet? One of the more well known of our small indigenous shrubs, this Barleria has flowers of the most beautiful blue to be found on any shrub from the summer rainfall garden. It forms a rounded shrub with dark green leaves that are quite unnoticeable until March to May when they burst open into beautiful soft mauve/blue tubular flowers. It tends to be rather untidy so is a good choice for a natural and relaxed design. It can also scramble over a supporting shrub or up into a tree if planted in its shade. There are other colours available – a soft pink or white – but this is by far the more common and prettiest of the colour palettes. It is a fast growing plant, and its softness belies the strength of the rooting system! It prolifically self-seeds and will be found all over the garden, and it is best to re-position them when still small as the strong root takes hold and can be very difficult to dig up, especially when it loves to surprise you in the middle of your favourite mix of perennials! In the garden: the best area for any plant is always as close to its natural distribution zone and habitat area as possible. This way you are assured of success without any need to pamper the plant. The Bush violet is found in the Eastern Cape up into and along the length of KZN, inland of KZN and the North of the country. The preferred habitats are rocky koppies, thicket and bushveld, as well as in grassland areas. In the more formal design of most gardens, plant a large group of them to form a soft mounding groundcover under the light shade of a tree, or in a mixed shrubbery where it will scramble through the other shrubs to pop out hanging sprays of flowering branches. It works well in rockeries and in raised beds and walls where it will bush out and hang over the edges. It is a summer rainfall plant so needs watering during this season, but it is fairly drought resistant, but in frosty areas will need some protection. Prune hard after flowering to prevent it from becoming too woody. The nectar attracts butterflies. This colour mixes really well with other autumn flowering plants: try it with the lemon yellow of the Senecio tamoides creeper for contrast, or with the Ribbon bush, Hypoestes aristata, for a more soothing combination. For the traditional orange/blue contrast, plant it in the grassland and thicket habitats along with the deep orange of Gladiolus dalenii (African Gladiolus or Natal lily)which can usually be seen in the grasslands and savannah regions at this time. These bulbs can be bought from specialist indigenous bulb nurseries, but in a wildlife garden within its natural distribution range, it is often self-planted. The Bush violet has a short flowering season, March to May, but it is a very easy, rewarding and beautiful little shrub whose flowering display makes it well worth its space in the garden. Size: 1 m Flower: blue March to June Frost: moderate Water needs: moderate Rainfall season: summer winter Garden situation: sun; semi-shade; rockery; walls; container; shrubbery; screen; slope bank; windy exposed; salty air; wildlife bees butterflies insects Habitat: woodland forest; grassland; bushveld; cec Region: thicket; subtec; bushveld savanna; highveld

Barleria obtusa
Barleria obtusa
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