Sturt's Desert Pea
If you have ever travelled the outback, one of the most memorable sights is that of Sturt’s Desert Peas in full flower across the landscape.
The bright red and black flowers stand up proud of the foliage creating a living carpet and covering the sandy soil. The team at Nativ by Plantrite believe these hardy annuals shouldn’t be reserved only for the outback! We have been working hard behind the scenes to master growing the healthiest and strongest Sturt’s Desert Peas for your garden.
The Sturt Pea is a little tricky to germinate in the nursery environment, but as soon as they push their cotyledons through the soil they take off. Once they are planted in a garden, there is no stopping them. There are not many plants available where you can choose the hottest part of the garden, the corner with the worst soil, and be rewarded with stunning flowers throughout summer and autumn.
Move over cacti and succulent gardens, the Sturt Pea is here to stay. This easy to grow annual has proven its worth, producing a brilliant show for many months of the year in harsh conditions right across the country. They thrive naturally in small depressions of sandy alkaline soils with soaring summer temperatures. It is easy to replicate these conditions so you can have a show of Sturt’s Desert Peas to rival nature.
Choose a position that receives at least 6 hours of direct sun and in the case of Sturt’s Desert Peas overhead summer sun is ideal.
If your soil has been improved over the years, its time to add some coarse sand back to the immediate area where the Sturt Peas are being planted. In the case of improved soils aim to add volume of 1:1 with sand and existing soil. It’s important to replicate the free draining characteristic of the natural soils where they grow wild. It is also important to not get too technical when it comes to soils, common garden variety yellow sand grows the best Sturt Peas.
The addition of controlled release fertiliser for Australian plants is essential as this will deliver the nutrients the new plants require as needed. It will also help the plants strengthen and develop their root system, something which is more valuable than anything else when plants are establishing. Controlled release fertilisers are the future of plant care, releasing nutrients gradually over a period of time. Place in hole and mix with soil before planting.
When planting ensure the soil surface of the plant is level with the surrounding soil. Sturt’s Desert Peas are susceptible to collar rot if planted too deep and its one of the main reason’s gardeners don’t have success. For a spectacular show and to create complete coverage, reducing areas of exposed soil plant at approx. 60cm spacings. As plants grow (and if you’re feeling brave) nip the growth point out. Wherever there is a set of leaves there is a dormant bud and as hard as it seems, it is worth nipping the tip out to encourage branching, which results in 100’s more flowers.
Even though Sturt’s Desert Peas thrive in the desert areas of Australia, the plants growing in your garden will benefit from a little additional watering as they establish.
Water in well at planting and depending upon the weather water twice a week for the first month, then reduce watering to once per week and then at the start of flowering the water can be reduced even further.
For sunny small space gardens, they are the perfect choice for medium to large hanging baskets and pots. Chose a very free draining potting mix and add coarse sand to the mix, approx. 1/3rd to ½ sand is ideal.
It’s time to celebrate our Australian flora! Plant a verge garden, a few large pots or hanging baskets or compliment the native garden with some brilliant summer colour that is guaranteed to be to thrive with minimal care over the next few months.