Partridge Pea Information

Partridge Pea Seed Giveaway

Partridge Pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata) is an annual plant native to most of the eastern U.S. It grows to about 2 feet high, with an abundance of cheery yellow flowers in the latter half of the summer that are favorites of bees. Many native plant gardeners like it as a “bridge” plant, helping suppress weeds and fill in spaces between perennials until the latter become well established. Though it’s just an annual, Partridge Pea readily self-seeds, so it’ll come back year after year. (By the same token, don’t plant it where you don’t want it next year unless you’re prepared to weed it out.)

We're giving away Patridge Pea seeds this year (2022) at Earth Day in May on May 14 and at Discovery Day on May 28. Stop by and pick up a packet!

Planting Instructions

Partridge Pea is easy to grow. It does well in medium to dry soils, even poor ones, and prefers full sun but will tolerate light shade.

You'll notice there seems to be a bit of black powder coating the seeds. Partridge Pea is a legume and, like many legumes, shares a symbiotic relationship with Rhizobia bacteria in its root nodules. These bacteria take in atmospheric nitrogen and convert it into a form the plant can use (called "nitrogen fixation"), allowing the plant to grow well in low nitrogen soils. Often legume seed is sold with an inoculant of Rhizobia mixed in, in case there is little in the soil where the seed is planted. The black powder you see contains these bacteria. These bacteria are harmless to humans. Learn more here.

You can sow your seed directly in the ground or start them in pots for transplanting. Either way, cover the seed with a little soil or mulch (¼ to ½ inch) to help the seed stay moist. Watch for a pair of oval seed leaves, or cotyledons, to appear first. After this, your seedlings will start to produce the "true" leaves characteristic of the plant (see both types of leaves in this photo).

Finally, if you want to learn more about Partridge Pea’s fascinating biology, here’s a great resource. Other good sources are here and here.