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Hovea is a genus of prickly perennial shrubs in the Fabaceae family. This genus is native to Australia. Some species have been introduced into Europe and the U.S., but species are found only in temperate and hot climates, regardless of which continent they are on. Plants in this genus have intensely colored blooms and extremely sharp leaves. Hovea species are generally healthy and require only minimal care.
Hovea, also known as devil's pins and purple pea, grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture Hardiness Zones nine through 11, which means that the lowest temperature they can tolerate is 20° Fahrenheit (-6.7° Celsius). All species in this genus prefer hot, direct sunlight with partial shade in the afternoon. They can be grown in regular or sandy soil that has a mildly acidic to mildly alkaline pH level. For most species, the soil should be allowed to dry out in between waterings; however, some species prefer a constantly moist, but not muddy, soil.
Plants in this genus range from under 6 inches (>15 cm) tall up to 36 inches (90 cm) tall, depending on the species and environmental conditions. From late winter to the end of summer, Hovea produces flowers in shades ranging from a delicate pale purple to deep violet and royal blue. Flowers are 1/2 to 4 inches (1.27-10.16 cm) in diameter. Foliage length varies, but all leaves are rigidly-curved and have a yellowish-green to dark green color. They are so sharp that they will easily draw blood on contact.
Gardeners find that Hovea makes good ground cover in rock gardens because it tends grow easily in the crevices of rocky slopes. When planting, the shrubs should be spaced at least 24-36 inches (60-90 cm) apart. Plants used in landscaping are generally maintenance free. The plants can also be kept in containers, but must be fertilized regularly. In cold climates, Hovea will tolerate a light frost. Even so, plants in containers must be brought indoors or kept in a greenhouse during the winter months.
With the exception of parasites, these plants are resistant to most pests and diseases. Gardeners keeping Hovea in containers may want to check for parasites more frequently than they check their bedding plants. If found, parasites can be eradicated with an insecticidal soap made for use with this type of plant. Overall, gardeners will find that adding Hovea to a garden generally creates very little trouble or extra work.
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