About Partridge Pea: This nitrogen-fixing legume often grows in recently burned prairie soil, helping to rebuild the nutrients of the soil until slower growing plants have become established; it has also been used to provide erosion control on riverbanks, sandy slopes, or bluffs. Its seed pods attract many wild birds including partridges, explaining its common name of Partridge Pea. In addition to being a good source of nectar for honeybees, this plant is a larval host for Sulphur, Gray Hairstreak, Ceraunus Blue, and Sleepy Orange species of butterfly. Its sensitive foliage wilts slightly when touched or brushed against.
Partridge Pea Germination: For the best germination rates, pour very hot water over the seed and soak it overnight; next, mix it with moist sand and store it in the refrigerator for 10-20 days before planting. In early spring, plant the treated seed ½” deep. If seed is fall planted, only the hot water treatment is needed before direct sowing ½” deep. This plant prefers sandy or well-drained soil.
Growing Partridge Pea Seeds: Since this plant tolerates drought well, watering is usually not needed. Taller plants may droop slightly, especially if the soil is rich. Partridge Pea makes an excellent addition to native prairie plantings or home gardens because of its attractive foliage and bright flowers, though it has also been used for erosion control. Though an annual, it will abundantly reseed itself. Many wild birds are attracted to this plant because of its seeds, which are a major food source for bobwhite, quail, and partridges. Butterflies and bees also flock to this plant.
Harvesting Partridge Pea: This sensitive plant tends to close up and wilt easily when cut, and does not make a good choice for a cut flower.
Saving Partridge Pea Seeds: This plant produces dark brown, 2-3” pods that split and release their seed when ripe; they must be harvested promptly to avoid loss. As soon as the pods turn color or contain mature dark brown seed, remove them and spread them out to dry. Crush or split the pods to separate the seeds. Store the seed in a cool, dry place.
Detailed Partridge Pea Info: Origin: US Native Other Common Names: Showy Partridge Pea, Dwarf Cassia, Locust Weed, Sleeping Plant, Beach Sensitive Pea Duration: Annual Bloom Time: Summer-Early Fall Height: 24-36 inches Spacing: 15-18 inches Light: Full Sun to Part Shade Soil Moisture: Medium to Dry USDA Zone: 3a-10b Seeds Per Oz: 3,300 Produces compound foliage with many narrow leaflets, and clusters of 1” bright yellow flowers with red markings at the center.