The genus Matucana belongs to the family of Cactaceae and is a native of Peru, particularly of the Andean city of Matucana, from which it takes its name. The genus includes about 20 species currently spread throughout South America. The plants grow in the highlands of the Andes at above 2500 m of altitude. Sturdy, robust, the Matucana are quite popular among collectors for its ease of cultivation.
Matucana is characterized by bright green plants, sized small and medium, both globular and cylindrical, with numerous ribs segmented into dense spines and tubercles. The bloom is apical and flowers, usually appearing in late spring or summer, are elongated and tubular. They hatch at night and lasts from 2 to 4 days, offering a wide variety of colors, from white to red, yellow and bright orange.
All species are sensitive to moisture. Watering should therefore be limited to the growing season and should be made only when the substrate is completely dry. It must be suspended during the winter. Since they tend to lose their roots in cold and wet, these plants must be kept warm even in winter. A temperature not under 50°F (10°C) is suitable. Some species, for natural adaptation, can resist at temperatures below 32°F (0°C).
If the plants are in the vegetative stage and optimal environmental conditions (a low moisture content with substantial temperature swing between day and night is appreciated), the growth is quite fast and you can get blooms already after 2-3 years after birth.
Matucana must be grown in a very porous and draining soil. To encourage the development of a dense network of spine, the quality of the nutrients in the substrate is very important. The soil must be rich in potassium, poor in nitrogen. Since the roots are very delicate and subject to rot, the soil should be kept as dry as possible: do not forget that in their natural environment these plants grow in steep and inaccessible places.
Matucana like dry, fresh and light air. A direct exposure to sunlight is appropriated, but too high temperatures (above 90°F/32°C), very different from those of their original environment, may damage them. In these cases it is best to filter the sun's rays or prefer a bright area anyway, but at least partially shaded.
Propagation is easy by seed, sowing should preferably be done in the spring.
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There is an abundance of varieties to choose from. If you are interested in growing cut flowers, I’d strongly recommend the Spencer collections for their long stems and larger flowers. For scent, Matucana, King Edward VII, and Painted Lady are exceptional. I have a soft spot for Blue Velvet which is a terrific dark blue purple colour coupled with a beautiful scent, and I’ll try growing Earl Grey this year, a purple and white stippled variety with a beautiful antique feel.
Sweet pea or common sweet pea is an attractive ornamental plant native to southwest Italy and Sicily. It grows wells in a wide range of habitats, including roadsides, forests, and disturbed areas. It is considered invasive or possibly invasive in some areas because of its fast growth rate and climbing habit (1).
The fragrant plant comes from the Lathyrus genus in the legumes family (Fabaceae) (2). The Lathyrus genus has over 160 known species distributed in many parts of the globe, but mostly in the eastern Mediterranean region (1).
Aside from the common sweet pea, other recognized Lathyrus species include the following:
The genus name Lathyrus originates from the Greek word Lathyros, which means “very passionate.” The species name odoratus, on the other hand, comes from a Latin word that translates to “fragrant” (3).
The common sweet pea is an annual climbing herb that grows up to 2.4 m in height. It features a vine-like stem that usually measures up to 1.8 m in length. The plant uses the tendrils at the leaf apex to climb into nearby vegetation (4).
The flowers come in various colors, including pink, white, red, purple, and violet. They are large, measuring up to 5 cm across, and borne singly or in clusters. The leaves are compound and arranged alternately. The leaflets are green and ovate-oblong to elliptic.
Sweet peas are popular ornamental plants in the home and commercial gardens. They are widely cultivated worldwide for flowers and fragrance. Their essential oil is used in perfume blends and cosmetic preparations (4).
The fruits and seeds of sweet peas are not edible. In fact, they are poisonous to humans if ingested (1). In particular, the seeds contain lathyrogens that can cause convulsions, paralysis, slow and weak pulse, and difficulty in breathing if consumed in large amounts for prolonged periods.