Perennially Pretty

The Everlasting Pea, Lathyrus Latifolius, is often confused with the annual Sweet Pea, Lathyrus Odoratus. One easy way to tell the difference between the two is to sniff: the perennial plant does not have a scent and the annual does. (Hence ‘odoratus’.) Neither variety is edible, but both produce beautiful flowers.

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The perennial plant thrives in full sun. Without support it will sprawl, but if there is anything nearby, including other plants, the tendrils on the leaves will take hold and may climb as high as six feet. They are easy enough to steer in the preferred direction, but do start early or you will have to spend some time untangling the vines, which are just as happy to climb around themselves. Some gardeners consider it invasive, as it will self-sow, forming pea pods (again – not edible!) at the end of the season, each of which contains a few seeds. These pods could be collected to prevent the seeds from falling, but I let mine be and have had no trouble so far pulling new plants from less than ideal areas in the spring when they are still small.

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