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Clianthus - Growing Guide
Caring for Clianthus puniceus
Commonly known as 'Glory Pea' or 'Lobster Claw'.
The largest plant of Clianthus puniceus we have seen grows at Lamorran Gardens in St Mawes, Cornwall. Although it may have started life as a climbing plant against a wall it has become a 12ft tall plant with a similar spread.
The local name for this New Zealand plant is ‘parrot’s bill’ which refers to the shape of its curved keel petals. ‘Lobster claw’ may be a more appropriate common name in the UK.
C. puniceus is an evergreen shrub with climbing shoots and 6in pinnate leaves split into 13 to 25 leaflets. Its flowers appear from spring to early summer and are pea shaped. They are a brilliant red all over with large canoe shaped keels. A quite extraordinary shape for any flower.
C. puniceus can withstand a little frost in a sheltered location and can partially defoliate with no long term ill effect. However, in more frost prone areas, it is best grown indoors in the greenhouse.
Outdoors it likes to be in full sun in a well drained soil with shelter from cold drying winds. It is however tolerant of salt laden gales. Under glass it needs a loam based potting compost and full light with plenty of water in the growing season and relatively little thereafter.
Some pruning may be necessary to keep it in shape and to cut back the flowered shoots by about a third of their length. This will encourage new shoots with flowers for the next season.
Red spider mite can be a problem in the greenhouse but, otherwise, the plant is trouble free.
Semi ripe summer cuttings are easily rooted. Seed needs to be sown into a warm seed bed in spring.
We also grow forms of this plant which have pure white and deep rose pink flowers. They are equally attractive and unusual (C. puniceus ‘Albus’, C. puniceus ‘Flamingo’).