There are about 75 species of erect, spreading, or occasionally climbing annuals, biennials, perennials, and subshrubs, in this genus. They occur in a range of habitats, including rocky sites, sandy soils, and coastal areas in South Africa. The leaves are smooth edged, lobed, or finely divided. Heliophila are grown for their loose racemes of cross shaped, 4 petalled, often scented flowers in white, blue, or pink, borne from spring to summer. For short lived summer color, grow in an annual or mixed border, alternatively, use in a cool greenhouse or conservatory to flower in late winter and spring. The long, pendent, chain like seed pods of H. leptophylla are useful for dried flower arrangements.
Indoors grow in soil based potting mix in bright filtered light. Water plants moderately at all times. Outdoors, grow in fertile, well drained soil in full sun, providing shelter from strong winds.
H. leptophylla – This slender stemmed, basally branching annual from South Africa grows 18″ tall and half as wide. It produces pinnate, blue-green leaves, 1-2″ long, composed of narrow leaflets. From spring to summer it bears slightly pendent spikes of clear blue flowers, to ½” across, with a yellow base to each petal.