Good Chicken Gardens, LLC

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Growing Blue Butterfly Peas: A Magical Vertical Crop

If you’re looking for a unique and versatile addition to your urban garden, Clitoria Ternatea, commonly known as The Blue Butterfly Pea, might just be the perfect plant for you. This subtropical plant not only adds a splash of vibrant blue to your garden but also offers a fascinating twist of novelty to your crops because its flowers can be used to make tea that changes from pink to purple based on the pH level. This characteristic, combined with its suitability for vertical gardening, makes the blue butterfly pea an excellent choice for urban farmers, especially in regions with a climate similar to where we are located in the Southeastern United States.

Growing Blue Butterfly Peas

Clitoria Ternatea thrives in tropical and subtropical climates, making it well-suited for Georgia’s warm and humid environment.  The factors we considered before planting were simple:

  1. Sunlight: This plant loves full sun but can tolerate partial shade. In most areas, 6-8 hours of sunlight daily is required for optimal growth.
  2. Soil: Well-draining soil is crucial. The blue butterfly pea can adapt to a variety of soil types but prefers sandy or loamy soil with a neutral to slightly acidic pH.
  3. Watering: Regular watering is essential, especially during dry spells. However, be careful not to overwater, as this can lead to root rot.
  4. Temperature: Being a tropical plant, Clitoria Ternatea flourishes in temperatures between 68°F to 95°F. It can tolerate slight dips in temperature but is not frost-hardy.

Our Blue Butterfly Peas are planted in pots full of natural soil that was collected from around a rotting stump on our farm. This soil was mixed with well-draining potting soil leftover from pots we used last year. This combination created a clay heavy, well- draining soil that the peas are thriving in despite having had no fertilizer added during the past 10 weeks.

The seeds were soaked overnight before planting but it still took 10-14 days for seedlings to begin germinating.

The Blue Butterfly Peas are watered every few days and get between 4-6 hours of full sun daily and filtered sun for an additional 3-4 hours daily. They definitely prefer the sun but the one located closer to the shade has put out a lot more plant growth. Hopefully that means an even larger flower production from that plant later but the other plants have produced less foliage and more blooms.

Blue Butterfly Peas are an Ideal Urban Farm Crop

Urban farming often comes with the challenge of limited space. This is where the Blue Butterfly Pea truly shines since its vining and twinning nature allows it to climb trellises, fences, and other vertical supports, making the most out of limited space space.

In addition to being a space saver, the blooms color-changing effect makes them an abundant novelty item. We have over 30 blooms on the plants 8 weeks after germination and they will continue blooming throughout the summer. This gives Urban Farmers the opportunity to maximize profits with specialty items rather than attempting to compete with the vegetable prices of large scale farms.

Benefits Beyond Beauty

In addition to its aesthetic and functional benefits, the blue butterfly pea offers several other advantages as a crop:

  1. Soil Improvement: As a legume, Clitoria Ternatea can fix nitrogen in the soil, improving soil fertility and benefiting neighboring plants.
  2. Attracts Pollinators: The bright blue flowers attract bees and other pollinators, which can enhance the overall health and productivity of your garden.
  3. Versatile Utility: Beyond the special flowers, the pods and roots of the plant are also edible and the leaves can be used to make natural dyes.

The Blue Butterfly Pea is a remarkable plant that deserves a spot in your urban garden. Its space-saving vertical growth habit, and the specialty crop it produces, makes Clitoria Ternatea a standout choice for urban farmers located in environments that are maybe too hot for the standard pea. Whether you’re looking to maximize your garden’s production of specialty crops or simply add a touch of magic to your gardening experience, the Blue Butterfly Pea is a plant that won’t disappoint.