Growing Hedysarum in Containers- Growing the Rare Sweetvetch

Hedysarum are beautiful and unusual shrubs
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In this article, we will discuss how to grow Hedysarum, a beautiful flowering shrub, in containers. Hedysarum is a large species of annual, perennials and shrubby herbs. It is native to Asia, Europe and North America, where over 200 species are known to exist. The genus is part of the Fabaceae (the pea) family and it is a rarity and not often seen growing in people’s gardens, which is a shame as it tends to be easy to grow and not fussy about which soil it is grown in.

Hedysarum are beautiful and unusual shrubs
Hedysarums are beautiful and unusual shrubs.

Hedysarum is divided into either herbaceous annuals/perennials or deciduous shrubs. The green leaves of the plant look and resemble sweet peas with odd-pinnate leaves that form leaflets. This is not why it is grown but the pea-like pink, purple-red, yellow or whitish flowers that appear in the summer months are. The stems in time will produce a lax, open bush. We are talking about the shrub Hedysarum in this article, instead of the annuals or perennials.

Find out how to grow Hedysarum in containers in this article.


Hedysarum is not fuzzy as to what kind of compost it is grown in; it could be normal multipurpose compost or ericaceous compost, it does not matter. First, choose a large enough container that will suit the plant in question and will be well balanced. You need to make sure that whatever you buy that it has plenty of drainage holes at the bottom. To the bottom of the container add a 2cm layer of gravel to allow any excess water to drain away. On top of this add a mixture of 70% by volume of multipurpose or ericaceous compost as it does not matter, with 30% by volume of building sand. Use whatever you have on hand.

Fill the container to within 5cm of the top rim. Dig a hole at the centre of the container slightly bigger than the root ball it came in the original container you bought it in. Place the plant in so that the top of the root ball is at the same level as the top surface of the compost in the container. Backfill with the growing media making sure that no vacant space exists, using more compost if you find it is necessary to do so. Firm the plant in and water it well. Be warned it may take several years for the shrub to establish well.


Hedysarum multijugum
Hedysarum multijugum

This is one plant that likes to be in full sun, so place your container where it gets the best amount of light. You will need to water regularly, especially in hot and dry conditions. Water when 5cm below the top surface of the compost feels dry to the touch. Water until it emerges from the drainage holes.

You will need to feed regularly during the growing season. In early spring, you can add a feed of general-purpose, slow-release fertilizer to give a boost. When it is about to flower in early summer, you can apply a high-potash, liquid fertilizer to get it to produce a better quality of flowers.

Pruning is not necessary but may improve the shrub’s look by cutting out the oldest branches.  These can be shortened in early spring and especially so if it has become leggy.

Propagation can be made by planting seeds in heat in a 9cm pot (one seed per pot) in seed and cutting compost. Allow to grow on and plant out when frosts have passed. Alternatively, you can take softwood cuttings in summer in a cold frame. Once established these can be planted in containers ready to flower to their heart’s content.


It is not reported that the plant suffers from any pests and diseases. This makes it an ideal plant to grow in containers.


Hedysarum coronarium
Hedysarum coronarium

There are two species that you are likely to find. This includes Hedysarum mulijugum (the Mongolian Sweetvetch) which grows up to 2m high. It produces rosy purple flowers that appear intermittently throughout summer to early autumn.

The other is Hedysarum coronarium (French Honeysuckle) which only grows up to 1.2m high and produces bright red flowers. Most experts will say that this is the species to grow.


In this article, we have discussed how to grow the shrub Hedysarum in containers. They are easy to grow, easy to care for pests and diseases free and produce elegant flowers. I admit they are not easy to find but if you search high and low, it is worth looking for.

If you have any questions or comments that you wish to make on growing Hedysarum in containers, please do so in the comment box below.

Happy Hedysarum growing.

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