Wednesday, 6 January 2010



Why aren't we South Australians all growing this stunning plant? Sturt's Desert Pea (Swainsona formosa) requires absolutely no water after germination and the seeds remain viable for hundreds of years! Seeds are available, evidently, from State Flora in Belair National Park.

Its one need is very good drainage and preferably sand. These are photos of when I grew it in the summer of 2007, in a very sandy patch of soil that the previous house owners must have used to backfill behind a retaining wall. They grew to be about 60cm wide and high. If your children have grown out of their sandpit, fill it with these!



As you can see at the bottom of this second photo, in the middle, it is a true pea and forms pea pods. The "eyes" of the flowers go from red to black as they mature and each spray forms a circle around the stem. I have no idea why I didn't collect the seeds or if I did, what happened to them but I am going to try growing them again. I don't know when to sow them, but I will find out! 


If you want to do the permaculture thing and make sure everything you plant has 3 or more uses, then here is one such plant for all South Australians..... they will attract native birds to be your pest controllers, they require no extra watering, they must be one of the most mesmerisingly vibrant plants in the whole plant kingdom and they are all our's!




Here is a shot of them growing in their natural habitat, courtesy of aaardvaark and flickr.


Maggie said...

They are such a beautiful plant, I tried to grow them when I lived in Canberra and had half an acre of native plants growing everywhere. The soil was poor but they died.
Maybe I shall try again.
Do they have any growing in the Adelaide Botanical Gardens?

Kate said...

They need some things we have plenty of in Adelaide..... heat and drought! Put them in one of your boxes, in some sandy soil Maggie, out the front where it is dry and watch them flourish like magic.

John L said...

There's a lady who moved here to Kapunda from Hawker and brought some seeds with her. She used to grow Sturt Peas up there. I must check and see how she's managed with them in Kapunda.

Kate said...

If the lady from Hawker has any spare seeds, John, it would be great to get some of them to try here in Adelaide.