Australian Pea Flowers - Propagation

Introduction

Australian 'pea-flowered' plants are propagated by both seed and cuttings, the best method for a particular species being determined through experience.

Seed

The seed of pea-flowers is shed annually. When the seed is ripe the pods turn brown and split to release the seeds. By keeping watch on the ripening pods it is fairly easy to collect the seed before it is shed. In some cases, however, the pods are attacked by insects before the seed is fully ripe and this can result in the loss of much of the viable seed.

The seed has a hard coat which, in most cases, is impervious to water and germination will normally not occur unless some sort of pretreatment is first carried out. In nature this hard coating is designed to be broken down by the heat of a bushfire to allow the species to re-colonize burnt out areas.

This effect can be replicated in a number of ways but, for most species, the easiest is to pour boiling water over the seeds and allow them to stand overnight. The next day any seeds which have swollen are ready for sowing and can be removed; the remainder of the seeds can be treated with boiling water again and the process repeated for as long as necessary.

Another method of pretreatment is to rub the seeds between sheets of sandpaper to reduce the thickness of the outer coating so that moisture can penetrate.

The seed usually germinates well by conventional sowing methods in seed raising mixes. Pre-germination, by sowing into a closed container containing moist vermiculite or a similar material, is also a useful method. Using this method, germination usually occurs in 1-2 weeks and when the root has reached about a centimetre or so in length, the seedling can be placed into a small pot of seed raising mix.

Cuttings

Many of the pea flowers strike readily from cuttings of about 50-75 mm in length with the leaves carefully removed from the lower two-thirds. "Wounding" the lower stem by removing a sliver of bark and treating with a "root promoting" hormone both seem to improve the success rate, although wounding may increase the chance of a fungal infection rotting the cutting.

General Propagation

Further details on general plant propagation can be found at the Society's Plant Propagation Pages.


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