The scientific name of Butterfly pea plant is Clitoria ternatea. The colors of the flowers are blue, although other species showcase a pink-purple color. The flowers are traditional used for tea, food coloring, and for cosmetics. In its native habitat, the flowers are actually very easy to gather during tropical forages.

The Butterfly pea plant originates in Africa and India. Thus, the plant is a perennial in tropical areas and also an annual in areas with frost. The Butterfly pea plant is a fast-growing ornamental plant that showcases an abundance of blooms from early summer into the fall.    


Butterfly Pea Plant Info

The botanical name: Clitoria ternatea

The common name: The common names are Asian pigeonwings, Butterfly pea, bluebell vine, blue pea, Darwin pea.

The family : Fabaceae

Height and spread: About 6-10 feet tall, 2-3 feet wide.

Light requirement: The plant prefers full sun.

Soil requirement: The plant does well in sandy, slightly acidic, well-drained soil.

Water requirement: Medium watering, the plant somewhat drought-tolerant.

Pests and diseases: Aphids, spider mites, leaf spot, root rot.


Actually, the Butterfly pea plant is an easy-to-care-for plant, most especially when you provide an environment it loves. The plant is found naturally in Southeast Asia, so it likes warm, humid climates. Continue reading to learn more about growing this interesting plant with its beautiful flowers.  

Sun and temperature requirement: Actually full sun is ideal for the blue pea flower, but it will tolerate part sun as long as it receives six to ten hours per day. Ideal temperatures are sixty-five to eighty-two degrees Fahrenheit. When grown in USDA hardiness zones eleven to twelve, it is a perennial. At lower zones, it is annual since it’s sensitive to temperatures below sixty degrees Fahrenheit.

A greenhouse is a perfect place to grow Butterfly pea plant because it emulates its natural environment. 

Water and humidity requirement: The Butterfly pea plants will actually tolerate a large amount of water as long as the water doesn’t sit on the roots. When you’re growing them in a pot make sure you keep the soil moist but not soggy. Make sure you water from the bottom of the plant in the morning to prevent introducing fungal issues. Also continue to keep the soil moist even if you bring the Butterfly pea plants in for the winter.  

Soil requirement: Butterfly pea flowers can be grown in many types of soil as long as they are well-drained. Nevertheless, the best soil type is sandy. A slightly acidic to neutral soil with a pH range of 6.6-7.5 is ideal. Since Butterfly pea flowers prefer plenty of water, using soil that drains well is very important. The plant won’t thrive in soggy soil and if the soil is too wet, it can easily attract fungal growth.  

Fertilizing Butterfly pea plants: The Butterfly pea’s roots actually form nodes that perform a process called nitrogen fixing. These roots also form a symbiotic relationship with the soil bacteria to convert atmospheric nitrogen into nitrogen-rich plant material that can then be used for themselves.

The first time you plant the flowers, mix in a balanced NPK fertilizer to give it a good head start. This will actually ensure a healthy plant with plenty of flowers. Then, after that, a potassium and phosphorus-rich liquid fertilizer after pruning is needed once or twice per year.

Pruning Butterfly Pea: You need to prune your butterfly pea plant when it gets leggy in other to encourage bushy growth. Also, plan to deadhead the spent flowers if you want to extend how long it produces flowers. If you don’t deadhead the flowers of the plant, all the energy from the plant will go toward forming seed pods instead of flowers. Finally, give it a good pruning to allow it to rest until the next time it’s ready to bloom.


How to Grow Butterfly Pea from Cuttings

Butterfly Pea plants can be propagated from cuttings. Actually, propagating from cuttings provides a larger plant with flowers in a shorter amount of time. Choose a soft to semi-hard cutting from an established plant and then cut the stem six to eight inches and remove all the leaves, leaving two to four from the top of the stem. Dip the stem in rooting hormone and place two to three inches of the cutting into moist vermiculite or sand.

Furthermore, put the cutting in a warm place that provides at least six hours of sunlight. Make sure you keep the soil moist, and it should form roots within thirty to forty-five days.


Butterfly Pea Growing Problems

The biggest issue when growing Butterfly Pea plants is the amount of water it receives. Since it originates in tropical zones, the plant loves plenty of moisture. A well-draining soil is ideal for preventing the soil from becoming soggy. Also, the plant doesn’t enjoy being cold. Ideal temperatures are above sixty degrees Fahrenheit. You can bring the plant inside when temperatures drop to keep it healthy and happy.  


Pests Control

Spider mites or aphids are the most severe pest types you will see affecting butterfly pea plants. Aphids are small brown, green, or yellow insects hanging out on the underside of the plant leaves. These insects dine on the sap of the plant, slowly sucking the life from it. The plant leaves turn yellow and twisted, and the plant may stop growing. Neem oil doesn’t actually kill the aphids instantly but stops them from feeding until they die.

Spider mites are minuscule, thus making them hard to see. Shake a leaf or the flowers over a piece of white paper to look for small dots moving around. Other signs are webbing on the plant and white stippling on the plant leaves. The mites suck on the Butterfly Pea plant, removing the contents from the plant cell and leaving behind silvery plant cells.  

Thus, the plant leaves and sometimes flowers look mottled with a yellowish or grayish cast. You can actually blast them off with water for small infestations and introduce or attract predatory mites to your garden. Prevention is really the best line of defense and also keep your butterfly pea healthy and stress-free. Mites prefer drought-stressed plants and dry soil.


Diseases control

Fungal diseases such as root rot or leaf spot are the most commonly seen in butterfly pea plant. High amounts of water cause fungal issues, usually by over-watering or water remaining on the plant leaves.

Leaf spot begins at the lower leaves and works its way up the plant. The leaves develop circular spots with a spore in the center and eventually fall off. To control this, place the butterfly pea plant where it receives plenty of air flow, water at the base of the plant to prevent splashing on the plant leaves and flowers, reduce humidity, and prune the plant to increase air circulation. Also, fungicides should be used as a last resort.  

Root rot is actually caused by too much water (and sometimes fungi that thrive in the wet environment), usually from over-watering, the soil not draining, or not having adequate drain holes in the pot. Too much water causes the roots to die from lack of oxygen. They will appear mushy and begin to rot away.  

Prevention is actually the key, and if you catch it early enough, you can implement other measures such as repotting in a better-draining pot with well-draining soil and adjusting your watering schedule. When you repot, clip off any mushy and dead roots and all affected leaves and flowers, then rinse the root ball thoroughly. For serious fungal infections you can spray the roots with a fungicide before planting in the new container with fresh soil.

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