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Everlasting pea - Lathyrus

Lathyrus from Lubera

The Lathyrus (everlasting pea) enchants in numerous colours and shapes. Whether as a perennial climbing plant on fences with a wild, romantic character or as a perennial at the edge of woody plants – this plant with its decorative flowers in white, pink, purple or red is suitable for every near-natural garden.

   
 
   
 

More information about the everlasting pea – Lathyrus

 

 

The summer-flowering broad-leaved everlasting pea (also known as a perennial pea or hardy sweet pea) is a wonderful way of decorating fences or railings. With the help of tendrils, they spiral upwards - provided that they have suitable scaffolding. They can grow to over two metres high or long. They also like to hold on to bushes. Compared to the annual sweet pea, they do not have a significant fragrance, but make up for this disadvantage with their winter hardiness and robustness. Once they have established themselves in the soil, they can also survive drier phases without any problems due to their pronounced roots. They are popular cut flowers and also cut a fine figure in larger pots on a balcony or terrace.

It is easy to make a climbing aid yourself - for example, a simple framework of bamboo sticks is sufficient, and grids are also suitable. It is important that the main shoots of the plants are firmly attached and the poles are not too thick.

 

Not all Lathyrus species climb.

 

Species and varieties

  • The Lathyrus latifolius 'Rote Perle', like other varieties, blooms from June to August and shows its bright  flowers. Its deciduous leaves are medium green and pinnate. It grows to about one metre wide. ‘Weiße Perle' and 'Rosa Perle' are the white and pink flowering varieties respectively.
  • The undemanding spring everlasting pea (Lathyrus vernus) is an original species. It remains relatively small at 20 to 40 centimetres and is a pretty spring flowering plant that also has attractive foliage. Its decorative flowers change colour from red-violet to violet-blue in April and May and magically attract pollinating insects. The plants work best in small groups of three to five. L. vernus is a beautiful plant for cottage gardens and is also very effective in semi-shady borders. Beautiful planting partners are for example hellebore, Vinca or lungwort.

 

Interesting facts about the everlasting pea - Lathyrus

 

The everlasting pea came to Central Europe from Mediterranean zones in the second half of the 16th century, where it was introduced as a garden plant. The approximately 160 species of the genus Lathyrus are mainly found in the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. They are closely related to the pea (Pisum) and the vetch (Vicia) and belong to the subfamily of the papilionaceous plants (family of legumes).

These are deciduous, herbaceous plants that form long, underground runners. In addition, it sometimes conquers new places and can then, admittedly, also become somewhat annoying. The stems are branched in the lower part and grow in a low or climbing position. Characteristic are the up to 6 mm wide wings, which feel somewhat rough.

Everlasting peas are a great bee pasture: the nectar-rich flowers are swarmed with insects - especially bumblebees love them. After flowering, the seeds/legumes develop. They are poisonous to animals and humans when eaten.

 

Suitable location and soil

 

Choose a sunny to semi-shady location for the everlasting pea and it will thank you with lasting, rich flowers. The soil should ideally be loose, moderately nutritious and slightly moist. The plants thrive very well in a soil supplied with ripe compost. Loamy sandy soils to permeable, loamy soils with a high lime content are preferred.

Especially on the balcony, these plants should be placed in a sunny, airy and dry location, as high humidity combined with stagnant air increases the susceptibility to fungal pathogens (mildew).

The spring type (Lathyrus vernus) is a typical woodland perennial. It likes to thrive in semi-shady areas and loves nutrient-rich, humus-rich soils, which should tend to be calcareous. A permeable soil is optimal for L. vernus because too much moisture, especially in the winter, can damage the plant.

 

Planting and care

 

It is best to plant Lathyrus species and varieties in autumn or in the spring.

The planting distance to neighbouring plants should be about 30 centimetres. Like its relativs, itt is not as tolerant to drought. The species needs moist soil and should, therefore, be watered more often.

The formation of new buds is stimulated in these plants if the flowers are cut off more often. The fresh shoots can also be pinched off at the ends - this produces bushy growth. Withered plants should be removed in good time before the pods are formed - this prevents undesired self-seeding.

The broad-leaved everlasting pea should be pruned back a little in autumn when the perennial starts to die back. If the plant is cut back in the spring at ground level, this will promote new shoots.

 

Propagation

 

If the ripe pods are harvested just before they burst open, you can put the seeds they contain into the ground next spring. Sow the seedling a little deeper, as the seeds need darkness in order to germinate. You will need some patience until you see the first tender little plants - about four weeks may pass after sowing.

This plant is a cold germinator. The seeds should ideally be sown in late autumn in pots. After a cold period of several weeks, they will germinate in spring. However, the plant can also be left to sow its own seeds.

It is also possible to divide the seeds in early spring. Lift the root ball out of the soil and divide it with a bold cut. The cuttings are then planted in the soil as required.

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