Sturt’s Desert Pea: Growing Tips

by Australian Flowers

Sturt’s desert pea (Swainsona Formosa) is an Australian native plant that is well-known for its vibrant red flowers. Flowers are often used in floral arrangements, and the plant is a popular garden choice. If you are excited about adding this beautiful plant to your garden, here are some facts that you should know about it:

What is Sturt’s Desert Pea?

Sturt's Desert Pea

The plant is a member of the pea family (Fabaceae) and is characterised by its red and black flowers. The plant was made famous by the early Australian explorer Charles Sturt, who discovered the plant during his expedition through central Australia in 1844.

The scientific name for the plant is Swainsona Formosa, and it is found naturally in all mainland states of Australia.

How to Grow Sturt’s, Desert Pea

To grow Sturt’s Desert Pea, you will need well-draining soil and full sun.

  • You can direct sow the seeds in late spring or early summer. 
  • To start the seeds indoors, do so about 6-8 weeks before the last frost date in your area.
  • Sow the seeds on the soil’s surface and press them lightly.
  • Keep the soil moist but not wet and in a warm place until the seeds germinate.
  • Once they have grown, thin the seedlings so that there is one per pot.
  • Transplant them outdoors after all danger of frost has passed and they are about 8 inches tall.

How to Propagate

Sturt’s desert peas are best propagated from seed.

  • Sow the seeds in a well-drained seed-raising mix in late winter or early spring.
  • Cover with a fine layer of sand or vermiculite and gently water.
  • Keep moist but not wet and in a warm, sunny position.
  • Germination should occur in 14-21 days.
  • When seedlings are large enough to handle, transplant them into individual pots and grow on until large enough to plant out.
  • Choose a sunny, well-drained position in the garden and improve the soil with some well-rotted manure or compost before planting.
  • Water well and mulch around the plants to help retain moisture in the ground.

Growing from Seeds  

If you’re planning to grow sturt’s desert pea from seed, it’s best to start them indoors in late winter or early spring.

  • Sow the seeds on the surface of a well-draining seed-starting mix and keep them moist.
  • Once they germinate and develop their first set of true leaves, transplant them into individual pots.
  • To plant them outdoors, wait until all danger of frost has passed.
  • Choose a sunny spot in your garden with well-drained soil.
  • Space the plants 18 to 24 inches apart and water them regularly, especially during dry spells.

Growing from Cutting 

If you want to grow sturt desert peas from cuttings, here are a few tips:

  • Look for a healthy plant with good-sized stems.
  • Cut the stem at a 45-degree angle using a sharp knife or pruners.
  • Remove the bottom leaves so only two or three leaves are left on the stem.
  • Place the cutting in a glass of water and wait for it to form roots.
  • Once the seeds are started, you can plant the cutting in a pot or your garden.

Sturt’s Desert Pea Care

If you want to add some iconic Australian flair to your garden, why not grow the beautiful and unique sturt’s desert pea? This stunning native plant is not only easy to care for, but it’s also a great way to attract native birds and insects to your garden. Here’s what you need to know about caring for sturt’s desert peas.

  • Sturt’s desert pea is a member of the pea family, and it’s native to the arid regions of Australia.
  • The plant grows as a low-lying shrub, covered in beautiful red and black flowers.
  • The flowers are made up of two types of petals – the upper petals are black, while the lower petals are red.

Common Sturt Desert Pea Pests, Problems and Diseases

The main pests that affect sturt desert peas are aphids, caterpillars and cutworms. These pests can cause problems with the plant’s growth, as well as its appearance. To control these pests, it is essential to keep an eye on the plant and remove any affected leaves or stems as soon as possible.

Problems with sturt desert peas can also be caused by diseases such as powdery mildew and root rot. These diseases can kill the plant if left untreated, so it is essential to monitor the plant for any signs of illness and to seek professional help if necessary.

Fun Flower Facts about the Desert Pea:  

The sturt’s desert pea (Swainsona Formosa) is a beautiful flowering plant native to Australia. The plant gets its common name because its flowers resemble peas. The sturt’s desert pea is also known as the bush pea and is a member of the pea family (Fabaceae).

The sturt’s desert pea is a hardy plant that can grow in various habitats, from deserts to woodlands. The plant is also tolerant of poor soils and can grow in salt-affected soils.

Frequently Asked Questions about this Flower 

Why is it called Sturt’s desert pea?

The Sturt’s desert peas are called that because they were first discovered by Charles Sturt, an explorer who mapped out the area around present-day Adelaide. He found this plant while travelling through the Australian Outback and noted its potential for use as a food source.
This plant is a legume that grows in dry, sandy soil and has reddish-purple flowers. It’s highly nutritious, containing high protein, fibre, and micronutrients like iron and zinc. The seeds of the desert pea can be ground into flour that can be used in baking or cooked into a porridge.

Are Sturt desert Peas hard to grow?

Desert peas are a hardy legume that can tolerate hot, dry conditions. They are native to Australia and were first introduced to the United States in the early 1990s. Desert peas grow best in sandy, well-drained soils and require little water.
The flowers of desert peas are pink or lavender and are pollinated by bees. The pods of desert peas contain up to six seeds that can be eaten fresh or dried. The seeds of desert peas can also be ground into flour for baking.

How does the Sturt’s desert pea survive?

The Sturt’s desert pea is a unique Australian plant that has adapted to the harsh, dry environment of the outback. It features a deep root system that allows it to access water underground and waxy leaves that help conserve moisture. The plant also produces large quantities of seeds, spread by wind and animals, and can remain dormant in the soil for many years until conditions are favourable for growth.

How do you take care of a Sturt desert pea?

To take care of a Sturt desert pea, you should water it regularly and fertilize it twice a month. You should also deadhead the flowers as they fade to encourage more blooms. If the plant looks like it’s been stressed, you can give it a little bit of water or fertilizer, but be careful not to overdo it.

Is Sturt Desert Pea an Annual or Perennial?

Sturt Desert Pea is a perennial, meaning it has lived for more than two years. It flowers from late winter to early summer and dies down after flowering. The plant re-sprouts the following year from its underground stems.

How Long do Sturt Desert Peas flower for?

The flowers usually last for around one week.
The Sturt Desert Pea is a beautiful purple flower found in Australia. They typically flower from late September to early October. The flowers usually last for around one week, but they can vary depending on the climate and weather conditions.

Are Sturt’s Desert Pea Protected?

Yes, the Sturt’s Desert Pea is a protected species in Australia. It’s listed on the threatened fauna and flora schedule under the Wildlife Conservation Act of Queensland.
The main threats to the survival of these plants are changes to their natural habitat, trampling by livestock, and competition from weeds. Several measures have been put in place to protect them, including cattle grazing restrictions, weed control, and management plans for preserving their natural habitat.

What is a Sturt Desert pea used for?

The Sturt Desert pea is used as an ornamental plant. It has a prostrate habit and produces striking deep purple flowers in spring. It’s a great addition to any garden and is drought-tolerant, so it’s perfect for arid areas.
The common name also knows the Sturt Desert pea of “Swainsona”. It was named after the botanical explorer Charles Sturt, who discovered it during his epic journey through Australia in the early 1800s.

How does the Sturt desert pea survive?

The Sturt desert pea is a small, bushy shrub found in Central Australia’s deserts. Despite the extreme conditions – hot days and cold nights – the Sturt desert pea manages to survive by storing water in its thick leaves and pods. The plant also has a deep root system that helps it soak up moisture from the ground.
Interestingly, the Sturt desert pea produces a bright red flower pollinated by bees. The flowers are so toxic that they are poisonous to humans and animals, but the protein-rich seeds are not. The seeds are so nutritious that they have been used as a sustenance food by aboriginal people for centuries.

How do you propagate Sturt desert Peas?

The Sturt desert pea (Swainsona Formosa) is a perennial shrub native to central Australia. It produces an edible seed pod that can be eaten fresh or dried. The plants are easy to propagate from seed and grow in most soil types.
Seeds can be sown directly into the garden in fall or spring. The plants do best in full sun and well-drained soil. They will tolerate some drought conditions but prefer regular watering. The seeds will germinate within a few days, and the plants will begin flowering within a few weeks.

You may also like

Australian Flowers is the number one place to learn about flowers, whether you’re interested in botanical gardens, planting at home or just learning about the amazing wildlife we have in Australia


Join our newsletter if you’d like to get automatically notified when we post new content on the site. We’d love to let you know!

Copyright © 2022 Australian Flowers. All Rights Reserved.