Thursday, January 31, 2013

Cape Sweet Pea

Finally the inspiration for a new post – the all new Dozen for Diana. Hopefully this year I will be able to contribute all 12.

I have been wanting to write about this amazing plant since I discovered it in 2011. I first saw it growing on the fence at the nursery in Helderberg Nature Reserve. It made such a stunning display I just had to try it. At the time I could find very little information on it, the only thing I knew was that it was a fast growing, sun loving creeper from the Western Cape. I planted it in a pot against one of the supports of our pergola. Well it certainly lived up to it's other common name – “Mile a minute vine”. Everyday when I came home from work I dashed outside to check on it's progress and sure enough it had grown by about 5cm.
It has beautiful heart-shaped leaves and typical pea type flowers which change colour with age, so at flowering time the vine will have pink, mauve, magenta  and purple flowers in profusion.

I have to admit that it was possibly not the ideal choice for a pergola as it does not want to grow across the top. It does however make a great quick covering for an ugly wall or fence.

I planted another 3 young plants in May last year against a really ugly wall.

By November they had almost fully covered the wall.

They do need a little encouragement to grow along the lateral supports as they seem to prefer to grow vertically.

 I would highly recommend these to any Cape gardener. However if you live in Australia then avoid them and eradicate them now if they are already growing. Like many South African plants growing there they have  a tendency to be invasive.

Plantzafrica have since added it to their wonderful site. See Dipogon lignosus for more info.