How to Grow Heliophila Plants in your Garden

Gardener's HQ Guide to Growing Cape Stock, Wild Flax and Sun Lovers

The Heliophila genus contains perinials, hardy annuals and half hardy annuals that reach from 30 to 90 cm in height.

They flower from the end of spring through to the beginning of autumn. Heliophila Plants carry flowers of pink, blue, white or yellow; there are many varieties that have two coloured flowers.

Some common names for Heliophila include Cape Stock and Sun Lovers.

Heliophila scoparia
Heliophila scoparia by Peter Baker; creative commons.

Heliophila Growing and Care Guide

Common Names: Cape Stock, False Blue Flax, Wild Flax, Sun Lovers.
Family: Brassicaceae.
Life Cycle: Half hardy perennial commonly grown as a half hardy annual by gardeners.
Height: 8 to 30 inches (20 to 75 cm).
Native: Southern Africa.
Flowers: Spring, summer and autumn.
Flower Details: Violet, blue, pink, yellow, white.
Foliage: Thin stemmed.
Sow Outside: Cover seed. Late autumn; then sow every two or three weeks from just before the last frost until early summer. Spacing 6 to 30 inches dependent upon species (15 to 75 cm).
Sow Inside: Germination time: two to three weeks. Temperature 61°F (16°C). Six or seven weeks before expected last frost. Transplant outdoors following the last frost.
Requirements: Full sunlight. Good drainage. Provide support. Regular watering.

How to Grow Sun Lovers (Heliophila Plants)

It is best to just cover the seeds of Heliophila once sown. They should be plant from the beginning of spring (before the last frost) and sowing continues for a few weeks to supply successive blooms.

Heliophila Plants should be grown in a sunny part of the garden that has good drainage, the soil type is not too important.

If you first plan to grow Sun lovers indoors as seedlings, then they should be started about eight weeks before planning to put outside.

It should take from two to three weeks to germinate at a temperature of 18 degrees centigrade. The plants should be put out following the last frost of the spring; you may like to make successive plantings to maintain a continuous bloom.

Caring for Sunlovers and other Heliophila Plants in the Garden

Once you have seedlings they should be spaced at between 15 and 90 cm depending upon the size of the variety. The bigger varieties of Heliophila may require some support.

Heliophila photograph by Peter Baker; creative commons.

Common Heliophila Questions and Further Information for Gardeners

What are Heliophila plants?

Heliophila is a genus of plants in the Brassicaceae or mustard family. They are native to the southern parts of Africa.

The genus is about 80 strong. It is named for its flowers which open towards the sun.

The plants are annuals or perennial, and grow from 12 to 36 inches (30 to 90 cm) tall.

The flower gets its name from the Greek word Helios, which means sun, and Phile, which means to love. Thus, the flower was so named because it loves the sun.

Flowers are beautiful and come in a variety of colors, including blue, purple, pink, and white.

The flowers of Heliophila grow as racemes or atop thin springy stems. This genus has the greatest range of flower type in the Brassica. But four petaled varieties, with a white or yellow heart, are common.

They are often used in wildlife gardens and for wildflower meadows.

The leaves usually lack hairs (glabrous) and plants often have a strong smell.

Heliophila flowers bloom in the late spring and early summer.

Heliophila plants are drought tolerant and easy to grow. Just avoid a clay soil.

Plants can be direct seeded into the garden. Alternatively, start indoors and transplant later.

They prefer full sun and a well-drained soil.

The flowers are pollinated by bees and butterflies, and make a beautiful addition to a summer garden.

There are many reasons for growing Heliophila in the garden. The flower is drought tolerant and can thrive in a variety of soil conditions. It is also easy to grow and propagate.

Heliophila seeds provide a valuable source of food for birds and other wildlife.

The plants can also be used in flower arrangements or dried for potpourri.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Heliophila plants. You may also enjoy the following Gardener's HQ growing guides: How to grow Money plant and Ionopsidium plants.