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Sweetpea bush

Podalyria calyptrata

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Belonging to the Podalyria genus, Sweetpea bush has a botanical name of Podalyria calyptrata.”;:
Podalyria calyptrata is a sturdy, fast-growing, well-branched shrub of 2-3 m or a small tree of 4-5 m. The leaves are simple, alternate and oval or egg-shaped, 10-45 mm long and up to 25 mm wide, green-grey in colour and sparsely covered with silky white hairs on the upper and lower surfaces that give the leaves a silvery sheen. Young growth is velvety.

Bush in flowerThe flowers are large, 25 mm or more across, very showy, mauve-pink to pink, most have a white spot in the centre, usually visible on the standard petal, and very occasionally you find a bush where the whole flower is white. Flowers are borne in winter-spring-early summer (July-Oct.). Flowering time varies in that some bushes flower earlier than others in the same area.. Flowering is extended – bushes start off attractively dotted with their large flowers and in full bloom are completely covered in flowers. The flowers are typically pea-like with the standard/banner, keel and wing petals; the keel completely encloses the stamens and the stigma. They are also strongly fragrant, and really do ‘fill the air of whole valleys with their sweet scent’ (Marloth in Palmer & Pitman 1972), a scent that reminds me of some grape-flavoured sweets of my childhood.

When in bud, the flowers are covered by small, hairy bracts joined together to form a silken cap, which turns pale brown and appears to shrink as the bud grows, until it is balanced on the tip of the bud and falls off as the flower opens. It is an obvious feature once you notice it, and it distinguishes Podalyria calyptrata from all other species of Podalyria.

The flowers are followed by hard, inflated, furry brown pods roughly 40 × 15 mm. They are found on the bushes from about October until January or later. The pods split to release several small seeds with a fleshy, collar-like aril.

It grows mainly as an Evergreen, so it will tend to keep its leaves throughout the entire year.

Sweetpea bush is known for its bushy habit and growing to a height of approximately 30.00 metres (97.50 feet). This plant tends to bloom in mid spring.

South Africa is believed to be where Sweetpea bush originates from.

Due to how easy it is to grow in a variety of conditions, Sweetpea bush is great for beginner gardeners and those that like low maintainance gardens.

This plant info is provided by the myfolia gardener's wiki. All details about Sweetpea bush have been kindly provided by our members.

How to grow Sweetpea bush

  • Full Sun

  • Medium

Plant Podalyria calyptrata along a boundary to provide an informal hedge or screen. With its attractive foliage and flowers, it can be planted in the mixed border, or as a backdrop. It makes a handsome specimen plant, or rewarding container plant in a large pot. To achieve a more compact, bushy specimen, plant it in full sun and pinch back young growth. In a shady spot it will grow taller and be more sparsely branched.

Plant in a location that enjoys full sun and remember to water moderately. The USDA Zones typically associated with Sweetpea bush are Zone 9 and Zone 13. Keep in mind when planting that Sweetpea bush is thought of as tender, so remember to wait until your soil is warm and the night time temperature is well above freezing before moving outside.

See our list of companion Plants for Sweetpea bush to see which plants you should plant in close proximity to encourage growth.

Growing Sweetpea bush from seed

Podalyria calyptrata is quick and easy to grow. It does best in well-drained, well-composted, acidic soil and in summer rainfall areas it must be watered well in autumn and winter. It does not thrive in alkaline soils. Podalyria calyptrata is wind-tolerant and drought tolerant, but it performs best in a well-watered position. Although Podalyria calyptrata comes from a frost-free climate, it does tolerate frost; it is considered to be frost hardy on the Highveld and should survive outdoors in Zone 9 (-7 to -1 o C/20-30 o F) . In cold climates it is best grown in the cool glasshouse.

Transplanting Sweetpea bush

Podalyria calyptrata is best propagated by seed. Podalyrias do not root easily from cuttings, and the plants are never as strong as seed-grown plants. Seed can be sown in autumn or spring. Soak the seed in warm to hot water (water that you can put your hand in) until the water cools and sow. Podalyrias like most legumes are very susceptible to pre-emergence damping off and treating the seed and/or the seed trays with a fungicide to combat this will improve the percentage of surviving seedlings. Sow the seed into plugs, or into individual bags or pots, or prick them out while they are still in the cotyledon-stage i.e. before the first pair of true leaves develops. We find that this minimizes root disturbance and maximizes the number of surviving seedlings.

As Sweetpea bush is tender, ensure temperatures are mild enough to plant out - wait until after your last frost date to be on the safe side.

How long does Sweetpea bush take to grow?

These estimates for how long Sweetpea bush takes to sprout, grow and harvest are from real observations from real gardeners, right around the world.

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Sweetpea bush Etymology

The genus Podalyria was named by Lamarck after Podalirius/Podalyrius (Latin) from Podaleirios (Greek), the son of Asklepios, god of healing. According to the Iliad, Podaleirios and his brother Machaon were physicians to the Greek army during the Trojan Wars. The specific name calyptrata comes from the characteristic cap that covers the flower buds, the Latin calyptrata meaning ‘bearing a cap-like covering’.

Sweetpea bush Folklore & Trivia

Podalyria calyptrata appears to be purely decorative as no records of other uses could be traced.

Other names for Sweetpea bush

Large pink keurtjie, Water blossom-pea, Keur (afrikaans), Keurtjie (afrikaans), Keurblom (afrikaans), Ertjiebos (afrikaans), Waterkeurtjie (afrikaans)

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