Coral Pea Plant Care: How To Grow Hardenbergia Coral Pea

Coral Pea Plant Care: How To Grow Hardenbergia Coral Pea

By: Amy Grant

Growing coral pea vines (Hardenbergia violacea) are native to Australia and are also known as false sarsaparilla or purple coral pea. A member of the Fabaceae family, Hardenbergia coral pea information includes three species in Australia with a growth area covering from Queensland to Tasmania. A member of the pea flower subfamily in the legume family, Hardenbergia coral pea was named after Franziska Countess von Hardenberg, a 19th century botanist.

Hardenbergia coral pea appears as a woody, climbing evergreen with dark green leather-like leaves blooming in a mass of dark purple blooms. Coral pea tends to be leggy at the base and profuse towards the top, as it clambers over walls or fences. In Southeast Australia, it grows as a ground cover over the rocky, shrub filled environment.

The moderately growing Hardenbergia coral pea vine is a perennial attaining lengths of up to 50 feet (15 m.) and is used in the home landscape as a climbing accent grown on trellis, houses or walls. Nectar from the blooming vine attracts bees and is a valuable food source during the late winter to early spring when food is still scarce.

How to Grow Hardenbergia Coral Pea

Hardenbergia may be propagated via seed and requires acid scarification and pre-soaking in water at least 24 hours before sowing due to its hard seed coat. Hardenbergia also needs to germinate in warm temps of at least 70 F. (21 C.).

So, how to grow Hardenbergia coral pea? Coral pea vine thrives in sunny to semi shaded positions in well drained soil. Although it tolerates some frost, it prefers more temperate temperatures and will do well in USDA zones 9-11 with protection from frost; damage to the plant will occur if temps fall below 24 F. (-4 C.).

Other information on coral pea care is to plant in an area with western sun exposure (partial sun-light shade). Although it will stand full sun and flowers most profusely in it, coral pea prefers cooler areas and it will burn if planted in full sun surrounded by reflective concrete or asphalt.

Some varieties of coral pea are:

  • Hardenbergia violacea ‘Happy Wanderer’
  • Pale pink Hardenbergia ‘Rosea’
  • White bloomer Hardenbergia ‘Alba’

Coral pea comes in dwarf varieties as well and is relatively disease and pest resistant. A newer variety with a shrub-like habit is called Hardenbergia ‘Purple Clusters,’ which has masses of purple flowers.

Coral Pea Plant Care

Water regularly and allow the soil to dry between irrigations.

Generally there is no need to prune growing coral pea vines except to corral their size. It is best to prune in April after the plant has bloomed and one-third to one-half of the plant may be removed, which will encourage compact growth and coverage.

Follow the instructions above and coral pea will reward you with lovely flowers in late winter to early spring.

This article was last updated on

Spotlight on Hardenbergia, Australian Native Lilac Vine

This Australian native is easy to grow and has beautiful spikes of vibrant color to grace your garden trellis or arbor.

Hardenbergia comptoniana, an Australian native was named for Franziska, Countess von Hardenberg, sister of Baron Carl AA von Hugel, a 19th century Australian patron of botany. H. comptoniana belongs to the Papilionaceae family. According to Botanary, this family name is from the Latin papilio (butterfly), after the shape of the pea and bean flowers.

The name comptoniana relates to the Compton family of Newby Hall, Yorkshire, England.

Hardenbergia comptoniana is commonly referred to as Compton coral pea, native lilac vine, wild sarsaparilla and wild wisteria.

Hardenbergia comptoniana

Photo courtesy of Dave's Garden Member DaveH

Hardenbergia comptoniana

Photo courtesy of Dave's Garden Member kennedyh

Hardenbergia violacea seed/seed pod

Photo courtesy of Dave's Garden Member kennedyh

Growth Habit:

H. comptoniana is a twining vine that grows to six feet high but may also reach as tall as twenty feet when allowed to grow without pruning. Being an evergreen plant, H. comptoniana lends interest to the garden throughout the year. Plant has dark green leaves and pea-like purple blooms. Bloom time is from late spring through late summer. Training the vine on a trellis will create a nice screen for a deck or patio. If preferred, it will also make a thick, tangled groundcover in areas where other plants do not do well.

Needs of Hardenbergia comptoniana:

H. comptoniana like warm temperatures and sunshine but if grown in extremely hot areas, the vine should have a little shade.

Water regularly while plant is young and then enjoy, even in drought prone areas. Once it is established, it can take quite a bit of dry weather if grown in light shade. Feed a well balanced fertilizer I prefer compost tea, once every two to three months.

Pruning can be done after blooms fade. For a thicker vine, prune the vine only where it twines around itself. Closely watching growth will allow you to pull these limbs out and thread them into the trellis rather than having to trim them back.

It is important to note that this vine will scramble across the ground and wrap itself around other plants. Keep a watchful eye out for this tendency.


Propagation of Hardenbergia is easily accomplished by softwood and semi-hardwood cuttings in early spring. Cuttings should be rooted in a mix of 25% peat moss and 75% sand, kept moist and given plenty of light. Note that this mix can contain as little as 65% and as much as 80% sand with no notable difference in the process of rooting cuttings.

Seeds germinate easily but must be scarified before planting. An example of this can be found in Garden Terms by clicking the link above.

Perhaps an even better known species of Hardenbergia is the Hardenbergia violacea.

Hardenbergia violacea is also a twining vine. There are cultivars which have more shrub-like growth habits such as the H. violacea ‘Mini Haha'. Blooms appear from winter through spring in a variety of colors including white, pink and various shades of purple. A few cultivars are listed below.

Cultivars of Hardenbergia violacea:

‘Blushing Princess' (shrub-like, mauve blooms)

‘Bushy Blue' (shrub-like, blue blooms)

‘Mini Haha' (compact, shrub-like, purple blooms)

Har d enbergia violacea

Photo courtesy of Dave's Garden member mgarr

Har d enbergia violacea

Photo courtesy of Dave's Garden member ginger749

Hardenbergia violacea

Photo courtesy of Dave's Garden member Lyndaadlng

Hardenbergia violacea

Photo courtesy of Dave's Garden member Rich Swanner

Hardenbergia violacea

Photo courtesy of Dave's Garden member Kell

These are beautiful plants, especially when trained to grow on trellises and pergolas and allowed to drape down over sitting areas of the garden.

As stated earlier, Hardenbergia prefer warm climates. Gardeners living in zones colder than zone 9 can still enjoy this lovely plant throughout the summer but it should be considered a tender perennial in those areas.

A wonderful book about Australian native flora and how to use it in the landscape
Australian Native Plants Fifth Edition: Cultivation, Use in Landscaping and Propagation (5th Edition)
by John W Wrigley and Murray Fagg
ISBN: 9781876334901
ISBN-10: 1876334908

To see more photographs of Hardenbergia violacea, take a look at Dave's Garden Plant Files .

A source for seeds right here at Dave's Garden can be found in Plant Scout.

A quick online search for mail order sources brought up Heart Garden Friends, an Australian (only) source.

Hardenbergia Species, Australian Sarsparilla, False Sarsaparilla, Purple Coral Pea, Lilac Vine

Family: Fabaceae (fab-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Hardenbergia (hard-en-BERG-ee-uh) (Info)
Species: violacea (vy-oh-LAH-see-uh) (Info)
Synonym:Hardenbergia monophylla
Synonym:Kennedia monophylla


Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Water Requirements:

Requires consistently moist soil do not let dry out between waterings

Sun Exposure:


Foliage Color:




USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)

Where to Grow:

Suitable for growing in containers


Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

Bloom Characteristics:

Bloom Size:

Bloom Time:

Other details:

Soil pH requirements:

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:

From seed sow indoors before last frost

Seed Collecting:

Allow pods to dry on plant break open to collect seeds


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Citrus Heights, California

Fallbrook, California(5 reports)

West Sacramento, California

Gardeners' Notes:

On Aug 22, 2016, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

Evergreen xeric twining climber with very showy flower display in late winter/earliest spring. This is suitable for xeriscaping.

Taprooted, and not generally inclined to spread by root or seed. It can strangle and smother neighbors, and mounds on top of itself, so it may need frequent pruning/shearing if not well sited. Can easily grow to 20' tall or more.

Needs temperatures of about 40F to set flower buds.

Can be prone to scale and whitefly.

Depending on cultivar, flowers may be mauve/violet, pink, or white. In Australia, shrubby/nonvining cultivars have been developed.

'Happy Wanderer' is the name of a cultivar, though sometimes incorrectly used for the species.

On Jan 28, 2013, starfarmer from Ann Arbor, MI (Zone 6a) wrote:

(copied over from another location) Australian Lilac Vine (Hardenbergia violacea) and its cultivars are evergreen, with tough almost sandpapery leaves. It is a rampant grower both in sun and shade, and will tend to do the "honeysuckle thing", i.e. grow toward the top of whatever is supporting it, leaving naked stems below and layering on top of itself year after year I've grown annual vines beneath it on a chainlink fence with reasonable results. It will bloom in both sun and shade (in the species, little miniature purple wisteria clusters, with a lime green spot on individual flowers), but blooms more heavily in the sun.

One of the best things about this vine is its ridiculously low water requirements, along with its lack of need for fertilization. It will grow with as li. read more ttle as 10" of rainfall in heavier soils, although for best flowering 15" (with the lion's share in the winter) or one monthly deep soak will produce a much better looking vine. As for fertilization, it seems to share the sensitivity to phosphate fertilizers found in many other Australian plants see the article from Australian Plants Online at , where H. v. is listed in category 6 (don't confuse it with its sister H. comptonia, which is in category 1 and for which phosphorus is not at all toxic). Unless your soil is truly deficient in phosphorus, stick with once yearly fertilization with a low number general fertilizer (I favor a slow-release "evergreen" fertilizer with the formulation 10-3-6, which is suitable almost all desert, chaparral and Australian plants).

The Australian Lilac Vine is one of my favorite vines of all time, tied with another Australian, the Black Coral Pea Vine (Kennedia nigricans) which is similarly tough and which grew to thirty feel in an old Siberian Elm and dangled exotic black and yellow blooms like some kind of wisteria from hell!

There are at least four cultivated forms of H.v. in addition to the species. Most common, so common in fact that the species identity has been conflated with it, is the cv 'Happy Wanderer'. This is a consistently heavy blooming plant with rich lavender-purple flower clusters. It was originally propagated from root divisions and cuttings, but some growers now seem to use seed, which has diluted the benefits of the original selection.

Another named variety is H.v. 'Candy Wrapper', which has bright bubblegum pink flower clusters and slightly lighter green foliage than 'Happy Wanderer." Three other colorforms are reported: ‘Free-n-Easy' (white), ‘Pink Fizz' (pink) and ‘Purple Falls' (purple). In addition, a cluster of new shrub-form cultivars has appeared over the last two decades. The first was ‘Mini Haha', which is very compact and shrub-like with purple blooms resembling those of 'Happy Wanderer.' Two other shrubby varieties, which are a bit more open and less dwarf, are Blushing Princess', with pinky-mauve blooms, and ‘Bushy Blue', with bluey-mauve blooms.

In addition, there are two unnamed color forms, a white (sometimes, as on DG, listed as H.v. 'Alba') and a soft pink (usually labeled as H.v. 'Pink' or H.v. var. rosea). The white form seems variable in mass-market plants, showing various degrees of lilac or pink intrusion the pink form is lovely, but is much softer than the shocking pink 'Candy Wrapper'.

One of the most stunning plantings I have ever seen of this vine was one where multiple color forms were either intentionally or unintentionally mixed. The purple forms predominated, but the winding stems carrying blossoms in white, mauve and pink made the whole display unforgettable.

On Dec 27, 2009, gophersnake from Oakland, CA wrote:

First plant: planted 1993 by a fence under a large Eucalyptus. Grew vigorously. By 2004 had taken over the fence and was climbing 10 feet up the Eucalyptus trunk. Didn't seem to mind the shade or the Eucalyptus debris although a Solanum laxum planted nearby at the same time had perished. Got removed (along with the fence) in 2007 when the Eucalyptus was cut down.

Second plant: planted July 2008 in same spot, this time with much more sun. Bloomed in February 2009, seemed to do well until September, then turned brown and died.

Third plant: just planted in the same spot. If it dies off like the second, I'll suspect the remains of the Eucalyptus -- or perhaps something applied to them to keep them from resprouting. Whatever it is, I'm hoping it'll diminish in tim. read more e so I can keep a Hardenbergia there.

On Aug 10, 2007, Opoetree from Oak View, CA wrote:

We bought one of these years ago and loved its enchanting blossoms year to year. Unfortunately, we had to remove it when we moved the fence it was clinging to. I hope we can replace the lost lovely one in the future. I miss it!

On Jul 23, 2005, StarGazey26 from (Zone 10a) wrote:

I have had this in the ground for about three years--bought it in a one gallon. It isn't that bushy, and seems to grow slow, but when in bloom, it's just amazing! I fertilize often with a acid fertilizer, and it seems to be healthy--just slow growing to me, and not many leaves to the vine. So, if you are looking for a fast growing privacy vine, this isn't the #1 choice. But, I do like the flowers. Just giving it a neutral because it doesn't seem to grow fast.

On Dec 15, 2004, hanna1 from Castro Valley, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

A very hardy bloomer in our region. Fertilize after flowering, great against a trellis or fence. Prune as needed anytime. Mine is just starting to bloom in December!

On Jul 14, 2004, pokerboy from Canberra,
Australia (Zone 8b) wrote:

Long pointed leaves are Evergreen while mauve-purple flowers flower from Winter to Spring. Some in my area even flower in Summer. Very fast-growing habit. Ground cover or Climber. Loves long, deep waterings in hot, dry weather and hard prunings. Another hardy Australian native. pokerboy.

Maybe my plants are a fluke, but I live in Phoenix, and I planted these on an East facing wall.

Potted plants bought in 1 gallon containers about 8 months before they were 8 feet tall, dense, and COVERED in blooms (and bees) Even in summer I water them at MOST once a month, I never add amendments or fertilizer, and they continue to grow like crazy. My lacewings (which just showed up one day) make their home there and keep away all the bad bugs.

Evergreen climber from Southern Australia.

Has lance shaped, mid green leaves upto 5 inches long. Bears racemes of small, purple, white, pink or lilac, pea like flowers with a little yellow or green spot on the standards.

Flowers come at any time between February through to June but mine is budding now in October.

Likes a moist, well drained, fertile, neutral to acid soil in full sun or light shade.

Is only hardy down to 25F so bring indoors in frost prone areas.

Prepare the seed

Whether you're planting indoors or out, it's a good idea to break or soften the hard seed coat before planting. You can do this by soaking the seeds overnight in water or nicking the brown coating with a nail clippers or a piece of sandpaper.

If you start your seeds indoors, use biodegradable pots, such as Cowpots, homemade Paper Pots or peat pots. The seedlings resent root disturbance, so it's best to have a pot that can go in the ground right along with your transplants.

Shown here with cucumbers, Trellis Netting can be used to convert any vertical space into a suitable trellis.

Happy Wanderer, Hardenbergia

The common name for the native climber Hardenbergia is happy wanderer and that’s an apt title as they flower in mid-winter with sprays of delicate-looking but long-lasting pea-shaped flowers.

Plant name

Hardenbergia violacea 'Happy Wanderer' or ‘False Sarsparilla’ or ‘Purple Coral Pea’

Superb pea-shaped flowers make this slender climber good as a groundcover, for fences, pillars and lovely in pots (with bamboo stakes for support). Hardenbergia attracts birds and butterflies, will grow in light to medium shade but will handle full sun. Flowers form on long racemes and bear a tiny green spot on each of the petals.

Photo - Libby Cameron


Great plants for garden beds, banks and retaining walls, mass plantings, rock gardens, bush gardens and containers. We like growing the purple intermingled with the white. Colours are in traditionally in purple and lilac shades (pictured here is Hardenbergia ‘Purple Spray’) though new cultivars in pink and white are now on the market. Hardenbergia is best used as either a groundcover or fence screen, grown along horizontal wires.


Variable habit from trailing groundcover, small shrub to climbing plan with narrow green leaves and masses of pea-shaped flowers in late winter to spring.

Photo - Libby Cameron


Can reach 3m across the ground, or along a fence, 2m up a trellis.


Full sun to semi-shade location in free draining soil or native potting mix in pots. Plant in a semi protected spot to avoid frost damage as some varieties are mildly susceptible. Give a native controlled release fertiliser in spring.

Photo -

We like

'Bushy Blue' is an erect form with rich purple flowers, 75cm tall and wide. This selection arose in California, USA.

'Mini-Haha' has a dwarf, erect compact habit to 15cm with deep mauve flowers. This variety is not as long-lived as others.

‘Happy Wanderer’ is the most commonly grown variety of Hardenbergia, with masses of purple flowers on a 2m high and wide small bush.

‘Meema’ from Ozbreed, is a long lived and long flowering variety that makes a good informal native hedge as it grows 50cm tall and 2m wide. ‘Meema’ is a robust plant that has very clean, compact foliage with a high frost tolerance.

‘Alba’ pure white flowers on a bushy 1.5m high and wide plant with deep green foliage.

‘White Out' is a strong climbing form with snow white flowers and deep green leaves. Growing to 10cm high and 2.5m wide, perfect as a climber.

'Free N Easy' has soft mauve coloured flowers on a spreading plant reaching 10cm high and 2m wide.

‘Pink Spray’ is a shrubby variety that has masses of soft pink flowers with a contrasting light green dot on each petal. 80cm high and 1m wide.

Family: Fabaceae subfamily Faboideae
Distribution: A widespread species occurring in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia. It occurs in a variety of habitats from coast to mountains, usually in open forest/woodland and sometimes in heath.
Common Name: Native sarsaparilla Purple coral pea
Derivation of Name: Hardenbergia. after Franziska Countess von Hardenberg.
violacea. referring to the typical flower colour.
Conservation Status: Not considered to be at risk in the wild.

General Description:

Hardenbergia is a small genus of three species, the most common and best known of which is Hardenbergia violacea.

Hardenbergia violacea is usually a climbing plant whose branches twist around the stems of other plants. It is moderately vigorous but rarely covers other plants so extensively as to cause damage. Shrubby forms without any climbing tendency are known. The leaves are dark, glossy green with prominent veins and are 75-100 mm in length.

Typical purple-flowered form of Hardenbergia violacea (top)
and a pink-flowered form (bottom)

Photos: Brian Walters

The flowers, which appear in winter and spring, are usually violet in colour but pink, white and other colours are sometimes found. The flowers are the typical "pea" shape consisting of 4 petals the "standard", the "keel" and two "wings" as shown in the diagram below.

A number of colour varients of H.violacea are becoming generally available in nurseries, with some imaginative cultivar names attached - for example:

  • "Happy Wanderer" (very vigorous, purple flowers)
  • "Pink Fizz" (pink flowers - climbing, not vigorous)
  • "Mini Haha" (compact, shrubby - purple flowers)
  • "Alba" (white flowers)
  • "Free 'n' Easy" (whitish flowers, vigorous climber)
  • "Blushing Princess" (shrubby - mauve-pink flowers)
  • "Purple Falls" (trailing - purple flowers, good for rockeries)
  • "Bushy Blue" (shrubby - blue-purple flowers).

H.violacea is a popular and generally hardy garden plant which is widely grown. It is adaptable to most soils and aspects although sunnier positions will usually result in better flowering. Given the wide range of the species, however, forms from drier areas may not be vigorous in tropical areas, and vice versa. Where possible, it is best to select forms from similar climatic zones to the area where they are to be cultivated.

Propagation is easy from seed following pre-treatment to break the physical dormancy provided by the impervious seed coat. Pre-treatment can be carried out by abrasion or by the use of boiling water (further details can be found in the Seed Propagation page). The seed retains viability for many years. Cuttings strike well using firm, current season's growth.

Updated: May 2015.
Thanks to Cas Liber for information on cultivars of this species.

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