Lathyrus is a well loved family of climbing hardy annuals and herbaceous perennials grown for their abundant pea like flowers. The perennial form (Lathyrus latifolius) is not as popular as the annual varieties (Lathyrus odoratus), due to its lack of fragrance but it is still an attractive climber if you have the space.
Family: Papilionaceae (legume, pea, or bean family)
Botanical Name: Lathyrus latifolius
Common Names: Everlasting sweet pea, broad-leaved everlasting pea.
Foliage: Deciduous, simple grey-green pinnate foliage, with tendrils used for climbing.
Flowers: Flamboyant, pea-like flowers, in shades or pink or white.
Flowering Period: June to September.
Soil: Fertile, humus-rich, well-drained soil (chalk, clay, sand or loam). Any pH.
Conditions: Full sun or partial shade. Best in a west or south facing aspect, in an exposed or sheltered location.
Habit: Spreading, self-clinging with tendrils.
Origin: Europe and North Africa.
Toxicity: Although related to the legume family they are not edible. Ingestion can cause stomach upsets.
Hardiness: Fully hardy in UK.
This fast growing, perennial climber, is well suited to scrambling over walls or through shrubs.
It initially it needs to be tied into supports such as canes, netting or trellis but it will self climb once fully established.
Perfect for traditional cottage gardens, on trellises and pergolas, in borders and growing through hedges, shrubs and trees. Ideal for a sunny wall.
Pinch out the shoot tips to encourage bushy growth and tie in new shoots to a support.
Dead-head or pick flowers on a daily basis to encourage successive flowering.
Cut down perennial forms to ground level in autumn.
Slugs may attack seedlings and new growth in early spring.
Can be affected by mildews and moulds.
Sow perennials into pots in a cold frame in spring, ready for planting out in autumn. To improve germination, soak seeds in water overnight.
Lathyrus latifolius (Everlasting sweet pea) is available with either white or pink flowers. Fast-growing and very simple to maintain. Supported height to 6ft (2m), spread to 3ft (1m). The cultivar 'Rosa Perle' bears a bright display of delicate pink-lilac flowers throughout the summer. For sale at Van Meuwen. 'Red Pearl' has showy sprays of scarlet flowers. For sale at Crocus. 'White Pearl' bears pure white, sweet pea-like flowers. For sale at Crocus.