12 July 2014

Perennial Sweet Pea Vine is Lathyrus Latifolius

Perennial Sweet Peas are much more successful in our zone 7 gardens than the English Sweet Peas that prefer cooler, moist weather. The English varieties are well suited to zones north of us and on the west coast of the U.S.

Easily started from seed, Perennial Sweet Peas return from the root plus re-seed. The seeds need to be scarified but our winter freezing weather takes care of that.
The ones climbing the fence in full shade are almost finished for the season but the ones in part-shade are still loaded with flowers and there is no end in sight.

Phagat's article about them is titled "Invasive Perennial Sweet Pea" but in our low-care acreage, they are very well behaved.  

There are 150 Lathyrus species - annuals, herbaceous and evergreen perennials from Africa and South America. Generally, they prefer fertile, humus-rich, well-drained soil in full sun or dappled shade.

If you want to start some from purchased seed in the early spring, soak the seed or nick it to help them get started. They are hardy in zones 4 to 7. Farther south, it's just too hot for them.

In addition to using them to cover a fence and wind their way though crapemyrtle and white phlox, Lathyrus Latifolius can be used to cover a bank.

Bumblebees love to pollinate these!



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