One of Australia’s most famous desert wildflowers, Sturt’s desert pea is found across inland arid regions of Australia, including far west NSW. One of the most easily-recognised Australian native plants, Sturt’s desert pea thrives in red sandy soil, or loam, and has vibrant red leaf-shaped flowers with a black centre, known as a ‘boss’.
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Common name Sturt’s desert pea Scientific name Swainsona formosa
Sturt Desert Pea – Floral Emblem South Australia
Swansona Formosa, popularly known as Sturt Desert Peas, is a popular flower in Australia. It is the state flower of South Australia and is prevalent very commonly in mainland Australia. It was adopted as South Australia’s floral emblem on 23 November 1961. This plant grows efficiently in harsh environments and was once considered to be a flowering plant that was impossible to grow in one’s backyard. Nowadays, there are many who cultivate these bloody faced wildflowers in their gardens and backyards. The Sturt Desert Pea is a very popular Australian wildflower and has a distinct blood red coloured leaf like flowers that has a rounded black centre.
The Sturt’s Desert Pea belongs to the Fabaceae family. The flowers of this plant are so different that it is very difficult to consider this as a member of the pea family. The main axis of the plant hosts the spirally arranged, pinnate grey-green leaves. They are arranged on the lateral stems in two opposite rows.
The flowers are blood red in colour and are about 9 centimetres in length. They often grow in clusters, about 6, on a single vertical stalk. The plant will flower between the spring and summer, after the rains. The plant grows well in its natural habitat in the arid regions of Western and Central Australia. Its flowering period is from July to March and depends on the onset of the rain. It grows in sandy, well drained soil.
How it grows naturally?
This annual plant will make use of the good rains to germinate, grow and seed quickly.
In the natural habitat, the plant will die. The hard coated seeds will crack open during higher temperatures and will get ready for germination in the next rains. It can survive any harsh conditions, but cannot be grown easily as a garden plant.
Home growing tips
It is very delicate to cultivate this plant, but if you take great care of the plant, it can produce beautiful flowers. This plant can be grown in pots and placed on sunny patios or in places where there is adequate sunlight.
- Even if you are using grafted plants, you need to grow it in a good potting mix or well drained soil in humid climates and in coastal areas. You should choose a place where the plant is protected from the rain.
- You can plant it in an unglazed terracotta pot or a hanging basket or in a mound. This will ensure better water drainage.
- Placing the Sturt Desert Pea in the shelter of the leaves in well it areas is an ideal place for it to grow.
- Make sure that you do not water the leaves while watering the plant.
- To make the plants to flower well, it is ideal to keep it compact. You should pinch off its tips to encourage the growth of the plant.
- Cut off all the old stems of the plant after flowering. You can use liquid food as a fertiliser when the plants are growing actively.
- They can also be grown indoors if they are placed in very warm sunny areas.
- You should never over water the Sturt Desert Pea as wetness can result in fungal attacks.
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