Spring Vetchling Lathyrus vernus 'Gracilis'
Lathyrus vernus 'Gracilis', also known simply as the spring vetchling, is a charming perennial known for its attractive display in the early part of the growing season. The plant features a clumping habit, with stems that bear compound leaves. Each leaf is made up of several small, oval-shaped leaflets that present a vibrant green hue. The spring vetchling blooms from early to late spring, showcasing a colorful array of flowers. The blossoms exhibit a delightful blend of pink, blue, and purple hues, often starting out as a deeper shade and fading to softer tones as they age. The individual flowers resemble those of sweet peas, having a typical butterfly shape with a standard petal, wings, and a keel, arranged in a way that creates an enchanting, romantic appearance. As the flowers mature, they develop into small, pod-like fruits which are typical of plants in this family. Although the spring vetchling is primarily grown for its floral display, these pods add an additional point of interest later in the season. Overall, the spring vetchling 'Gracilis' is noted for its compact, bushy form and lovely, early-season blooms, which make it an appealing addition to woodland gardens, borders, and cottage-style planting schemes. It thrives best in temperate climates and prefers well-drained soil with some shade, especially to protect it from the intense afternoon sun.
About this plant
Spring Vetchling, Spring Pea, Dwarf Everlasting Pea
Orobus vernus, Lathyrus vernus var. gracilis, Lathyrus gracilis.
Lathyrus vernus, commonly known as Spring Vetchling, is not typically considered highly toxic to humans; however, it is part of the legume family, which contains species known to have varying levels of toxicity due to compounds such as aminopropionitrile and alkaloids. Ingesting parts of the Spring Vetchling, particularly in significant amounts, could potentially cause symptoms such as stomach upset or more serious neurotoxic effects with prolonged consumption. Neurological symptoms could include difficulty walking or muscle paralysis, as observed in other Lathyrus species with a condition commonly referred to as lathyrism. Although cases of poisoning in humans from Lathyrus vernus are not commonly reported, it is prudent to avoid ingesting any part of this plant.
Spring Vetchling contains similar toxic principles to those found in other members of the Lathyrus genus and can be toxic to pets if ingested. While it is not one of the most common poisonous plants for pets, it does contain compounds that can lead to symptoms of toxicity in animals, especially with repeated exposure or ingestion in large amounts. The symptoms of poisoning in pets from consuming parts of the Spring Vetchling can include vomiting, diarrhea, and potential neurological issues such as weakness or paralysis, similar to the condition known as lathyrism. Pet owners should be cautious and prevent their animals from consuming this plant to avoid the possibility of these symptoms.
Color of leaves
1-1.5 feet (30-45 cm)
1-1.5 feet (30-45 cm)
- General Benefits
- Easy to Grow: Lathyrus vernus 'Gracilis', commonly known as Spring Vetchling, generally requires minimal maintenance and adapts well to a variety of garden conditions.
- Early Spring Blooms: It provides early spring color with its attractive flowers, making it valuable for gardeners looking to extend the flowering season.
- Compact Growth Habit: With its graceful and compact form, Spring Vetchling is well-suited for small gardens or borders without overwhelming the space.
- Drought Tolerance: Once established, it exhibits some drought tolerance, reducing the need for frequent watering.
- Attracts Pollinators: The flowers of Spring Vetchling are known to attract bees and other pollinators, supporting local ecosystems.
- Deer Resistant: It is often resistant to deer, making it a good choice for gardens in areas with high deer populations.
- Versatility: Spring Vetchling is versatile and can be used in various garden designs, including woodland settings, perennial borders, and naturalized areas.
- Medical Properties
This plant is not used for medical purposes.
- Air-purifying Qualities
This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.
- Other Uses
- Spring Vetchling can be used in butterfly gardens as it provides a food source for their larvae.
- This plant can be integrated into educational programs to help children understand the lifecycle of plants and insects.
- Spring Vetchling's dense growth can be used for low hedging in landscaping designs.
- The seed pods, which turn black when ripe, can be used for crafting or as natural decor in dry flower arrangements.
- Spring Vetchling can be used in succession planting schemes to maintain a continuous bloom in a garden bed.
- The plant can be grown for competitive gardening shows aiming for early season flowering categories.
- Photographers can utilize Spring Vetchling as a picturesque backdrop for spring-themed photoshoots.
- Gardeners may use this plant to create a 'living mulch' that can help suppress weeds and retain soil moisture.
- Spring Vetchling could be included in a sensory garden for its appealing early spring color and texture.
- The plant may be used in cut flower arrangements when in bloom, providing a unique and delicate floral option.
- Feng Shui
The Sweet Pea is not used in Feng Shui practice.
- Zodiac Sign Compitability
The Sweet Pea is not used in astrology practice.
- Plant Symbolism
- Spring Awakening: Lathyrus vernus 'Gracilis', commonly known as Spring Vetchling, blooms early in the spring, symbolizing the reawakening of life and nature after the winter.
- Youth and New Beginnings: The freshness of its blooms represents youthfulness and the start of new projects or phases in life.
- Blissful Pleasure: Due to the delicate and pleasant appearance of its flowers, the Spring Vetchling is often associated with the joy and simple pleasures of life.
For the Spring Vetchling (Lathyrus vernus 'Gracilis'), it's essential to keep the soil consistently moist, especially during the growing season in spring. Generally, watering once a week with about one gallon of water should suffice, depending on the size of the plant and the weather conditions. Always check the soil moisture level before watering by sticking your finger about an inch deep into the soil; if it feels dry, then it's time to water. In extreme heat, watering frequency may need to increase, but be careful not to overwater as this can lead to root rot. During the dormant season in winter, reduce watering and only provide water to prevent the soil from completely drying out.
The Spring Vetchling thrives best in partial shade to dappled sunlight conditions. It's ideal to place the plant in a spot where it is shielded from the harsh afternoon sun but still receives gentle morning or evening light. Ensure that the plant is never in full, intense sun as this can scorch the foliage and compromise its growth.
The Spring Vetchling is hardy and can cope with a range of temperatures but prefers to grow in conditions between 50°F and 70°F. It can endure minimum temperatures down to about 20°F for short periods, making it suitable for cooler climates. However, it should be protected from severe temperature drops and frost to prevent damage to the plant.
Prune the Spring Vetchling after flowering to maintain its shape and encourage new growth. Typically, pruning can be done annually in late spring or early summer once the flowers have faded. Remove any dead or damaged stems to promote healthy growth and improve air circulation. Pruning is also a good opportunity to cut back any overly long or leggy growth to keep the plant looking tidy and compact.
Spring Vetch 'Gracilis' thrives in well-draining soil with added organic matter. A mixture of garden soil, compost, and perlite or sand can create the ideal environment. The pH should be slightly acidic to neutral, ranging from 6.0 to 7.0. Regular feeding with a balanced fertilizer during the growing season will support its growth.
Spring Vetch 'Gracilis' generally does not need frequent repotting and can be done every 2 to 3 years. It is best to repot in the spring before the new growth starts, allowing the plant to settle in well.
- Humidity & Misting
Spring Vetch 'Gracilis' can tolerate a range of humidity levels but prefers a moderate one. The plant is adaptable to average household humidity when grown indoors, so specific humidity control is typically not necessary.
- Suitable locations
Place in bright, indirect light, keep soil moist.
Full sun to partial shade, moist, fertile soil, good drainage.
- Life cycle
Lathyrus vernus 'Gracilis', commonly known as Spring Vetchling or Spring Pea, begins its life cycle as a seed, requiring a period of stratification (cold treatment) to break dormancy. Upon germination, which typically occurs in spring, the seedling emerges and develops into a small, herbaceous plant with compound leaves. Throughout the spring, the plant undergoes vegetative growth, maturing and producing charming pink to purple flowers that are beneficial for early-season pollinators. After pollination, typically by bees, the flowers develop into slender seed pods, which eventually dry and release seeds for the next generation. During summer, as temperatures rise and days grow longer, the plant enters a period of dormancy, dying back to its rootstock. The perennial root system allows the Spring Vetchling to survive the winter and resprout the following spring, thus completing its life cycle.
Spring to early summer
The Spring Vetchling, Lathyrus vernus 'Gracilis', primarily reproduces through seed propagation, which is most commonly done in the spring. To propagate from seeds, they should first be scarified either mechanically or by soaking in water overnight to break the seed's dormancy. After scarification, the seeds can be sown into pots or trays filled with a well-draining soil mix, placing them at a depth of about 1/4 inch (around 6 mm). It's important to keep the soil moist until germination, which usually occurs within 2 to 4 weeks. Once the seedlings have developed true leaves and are large enough to handle, they can be transplanted into individual pots or into their final position in the garden, maintaining partial to full sun exposure and ensuring the soil is fertile and well-drained.