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.


  1. Such a quick grower, and it has lovely flowers. This is also known as Australian Pea Vine over here in Oz, and you're right about the fact that it can become invasive here. It would be great as a potted plant however.

  2. that plant I don't know. Any idea about its wildlife appeal? Nectar for birds, or food for butterflies?

  3. "Mile a minute vine" sounds like a really apt nickname if it grows 5cm a day. Is this as fast as the bamboo?

  4. Whew, that grew fast!

    I also use the Plantzafrica site informative!

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  6. Wow! That looks like a great plant - I have never heard of it before. Love the flowers...

  7. I have been looking for a plant to cover an ugly wall just like that.
    It looks amazing-just what I need. Are they difficult to find in nurseries?

  8. Hi Samantha

    I have only ever seen it at the nursery at Helderberg Nature Reserve which has unfortunately closed down. If you can't find it then remind me next season and I will save some seed and post it.

  9. Lovely blog GardenGirl! This seems like an amazing plant, I'm going to look around for it, but just wondering if it will grow where I live (Tarlton, Gauteng), lots of frost in winter! Thanks for the info!

  10. Hi Maree

    It is essentially a Cape plant, but because it seeds itself so easily many gardener's treat it as annual. I am sure it will do well in your warm wet summer - just save some seed in case it is tender to frost.

  11. Lovely photos. Greetings from Montreal, Canada.

  12. Wonderfull garden, greeting from Belgium

  13. Hi Garden Girl.
    Your Cape Sweet Pea blog was very informative, especially since I stumbled upon a rambling spread of this plant , which I now regularly use various parts of the plant in my dishes. They are delicious, however I am a little scared that might be related to the wild sweet pea, which has got a bad wrap from 'Into he Wild'. Although that is all a bit vague… Please let me know if you know of a good reason not to eat this wonderful plant. Also is it indigenous?
    Sorry for the long comment. Cheers Charlie

    1. Hi

      If you have definitely identified it correctly, then yes it is indigenous to the Western and Eastern Cape. I have never tried eating it but according to to Plantzafrica the young pods are edible. Don't know about the "wild sweet pea - will check it out. BTW love your blog and you adventurous spirit.

    2. so you are still around.
      But too busy to blog?

      I have a False Bay blog now

    3. Hi Diana
      Thanks for enquiring. Yes I am still around - a few unsavoury comments and links posted on my blog made me disillusioned with humanity & blogging, but we have now bought a 1ha smallholding with nothing but weeds and wattle. So maybe it's time to start recording our experience of establishing home and garden.

    4. oh yes, please do! I moderate all my comments - that way I have the satisfaction of Marking as Spam.

      Do you have on your reading list? Dani has a smallholding near Swellendam.

    5. is there a new blog for you?
      I can still see visits from your blog ...

    6. Hi Diana
      Thanks for keeping in touch. Work & home pressure seem to dampen my creative spirit - so writing instead of being fun seems like a chore. Hope that will change. We are trying to design and build a butt & pass log home for our plot which is challenging but will also make interesting blogging - so maybe soon. Keep well and thanks again for commenting - you if anyone will by my inspiration for writing again.

  14. try something like this. A picture. A few lines.