What are perennial peanuts (Arachis glabrata) and what are they used for? Well, they’re not your average peanut with which most of us are familiar with – they’re actually more ornamental. Read on to learn more about growing perennial peanut plants (also known as ornamental peanuts).
What are Ornamental Peanuts?
Due to the high nutritive value, perennial peanuts are grown primarily for hay and are often used as a grazing crop for livestock. Perennial peanuts are suitable for growing in the warm, non-freezing climates of USDA plant hardiness zones 8b through 11.
In the garden, perennial peanut plants are highly effective as a ground cover and soil stabilizer in sunny areas. They are often grown for their ornamental value and can be used as a lawn substitute. Although they don’t produce peanuts, you can eat the yellow blooms, which add a nutty flavor to stir fries and salads.
Using Perennial Peanut for Ground Cover
Plant perennial peanuts in early spring, and by summer, the plants are thick enough to choke out most weeds and other unwanted plants. The bright yellow flowers are an added bonus.
The plants are nipped by winter frost, but if the cold isn’t too severe, they regrow from rhizomes the following spring. In cooler climates, perennial peanuts can be grown as annuals.
Perennial peanuts prefer heat, sunlight and sandy, well-drained soil. The plants, which need at least 30 inches (76 cm.) of rain per year, aren’t suitable for dry climates unless you can irrigate frequently.
Ornamental Peanut Care
As noted above, perennial peanut plants require a considerable amount of water and, although the plants are disease resistant, they may be afflicted by certain viruses when stressed by lack of moisture. As long as you keep the plants well irrigated, very little care is required.
Managing Ornamental Peanuts Grown as Lawn Substitutes
Although perennial peanut plants aren’t seriously invasive, they spread by underground rhizomes and can find their way into areas where they aren’t welcome. If you’re growing ornamental peanuts as a lawn substitute, a plastic, fiberglass or metal edging will help keep the plant where you want it and out of your flower beds.
Mow every three to four weeks to maintain a turf-like height. Frequent mowing will also stimulate the plant to produce more flowers.
Place stepping stones strategically along well-trod areas; perennial peanut plants don’t tolerate much foot traffic.