How to Grow The Everlasting Pea

The Everlasting Pea is the perennial form of the annual sweet pea which, as you can see from the images, looks very similar to the annual climbing pea. Its Latin name is Lathyrus latifolius, compared to  the annual sweet pea which is called Lathyrus odoratus, and the Latin name, "odoratus" highlights the essential difference between the two peas. Most annual sweet peas are scented, hardly any everlasting peas have scent.   

The Everlasting Pea plants offered for sale are usually the nonscented varieties.  There are about 20 varieties of everlasting Peas seed available to buy. There is one variety available to grow from seed called Lathyrus nervosus, Lord Anson's Blue Pea, which has a discernable sweet pea scent. It is a vigorous climbing plant, with blue/lavender coloured scented flowers.

The Everlasting Pea is an attractive shrubby climber, easy to grow from seed with many delicate flowers, usually in soft pastel shades, blues and purples. There is also a pure white variety called "White Pearl". Many climbing plants are more difficult/time-consuming to grow think of Clematis, Wisteria and the annual sweetpea whereas the Everlasting Pea is refreshingly easy to grow.

Growing Everlasting pea from seed

The everlasting pea is germinated in the same way as annual peas, except they are always sown in the Spring. Sow anytime between Feb and March, in seed trays or small containers using a peat free compost. Keep in a warm place around 18C to germinate, which will take around 10 days.  

Pot on when large enough to handle and then move outside to gradually harden off, ready for planting out. 

The everlasting pea is easy to germinate, and a hardy perennial

Planting and Growing the Everlasting pea

The Everlasting Pea will flower best grown in full sun, although it is tolerant of some shade. It growth is similar to the annual sweet pea clinging on with tendrils and it will climb or scramble over an obelisk, trellis or adjacent shrubs. It is very hardy, H7 which means it will survive the most severe of winters. It is not particular about the soil type, acidic or alkaline, clay, etc, although it will grow best in fertile soil with plenty of moisture.  Ensuring it has plenty of moisture will help to fend off powdery mildew. 

Except for cutting back the Pea in the autumn, the growing conditions for the annual and Everlasting Pea are really the same. The tendrils can be a problem as it will grab adjacent plants, so it's best to check it is constraining those plants growing nearby.

I do not find it necessary to feed it or grow in particularly rich soil. The everlasting pea is vigorous and grows easily. It will flower all summer long, but to get it to do this dead heading is essential. Remove all spent flowers and seed head so that the shrub keeps producing more flowers. 

It is deciduous and should be cut back to ground level in the autumn.

There is also a variety called Lathyrus grandiflorus, which you may want to give a miss as it is very vigorous, bordering on invasive, whereas L. latifolius is better behaved but in common with many climbing plants it is vigorous and will grow from 0-1.5/2m in the growing season. It can be a bit thuggish scrambling over neighbouring plants, but because it is so vigorous, if you chop it about a bit, it keeps on growing .

Updated 03.10.2021