Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Australian Sarsparilla, False Sarsaparilla, Happy Wanderer, Coral Pea, Lilac Vine
Hardenbergia violacea

Family: Papilionaceae (pa-pil-ee-uh-NAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Hardenbergia (hard-en-BERG-ee-uh) (Info)
Species: violacea (vy-oh-LAH-see-uh) (Info)

One vendor has this plant for sale.

35 members have or want this plant for trade.

Tropicals and Tender Perennials
Vines and Climbers

6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Late Winter/Early Spring
Mid Spring
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer


Other details:
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings
This plant is suitable for growing indoors

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From softwood cuttings
From seed; sow indoors before last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

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6 positives
2 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive starfarmer On Jan 28, 2013, starfarmer from Ann Arbor, MI (Zone 6a) wrote:

(copied over from another location) Australian Lilac Vine (Hardenbergia violacea) and its cultivars are evergreen, with tough almost sandpapery leaves. It is a rampant grower both in sun and shade, and will tend to do the "honeysuckle thing", i.e. grow toward the top of whatever is supporting it, leaving naked stems below and layering on top of itself year after year; I've grown annual vines beneath it on a chainlink fence with reasonable results. It will bloom in both sun and shade (in the species, little miniature purple wisteria clusters, with a lime green spot on individual flowers), but blooms more heavily in the sun.

One of the best things about this vine is its ridiculously low water requirements, along with its lack of need for fertilization. It will grow with as little as 10" of rainfall in heavier soils, although for best flowering 15" (with the lion's share in the winter) or one monthly deep soak will produce a much better looking vine. As for fertilization, it seems to share the sensitivity to phosphate fertilizers found in many other Australian plants; see the article from Australian Plants Online at , where H. v. is listed in category 6 (don't confuse it with its sister H. comptonia, which is in category 1 and for which phosphorus is not at all toxic). Unless your soil is truly deficient in phosphorus, stick with once yearly fertilization with a low number general fertilizer (I favor a slow-release "evergreen" fertilizer with the formulation 10-3-6, which is suitable almost all desert, chaparral and Australian plants).

The Australian Lilac Vine is one of my favorite vines of all time, tied with another Australian, the Black Coral Pea Vine (Kennedia nigricans) which is similarly tough and which grew to thirty feel in an old Siberian Elm and dangled exotic black and yellow blooms like some kind of wisteria from hell!

There are at least four cultivated forms of H.v. in addition to the species. Most common, so common in fact that the species identity has been conflated with it, is the cv 'Happy Wanderer'. This is a consistently heavy blooming plant with rich lavender-purple flower clusters. It was originally propagated from root divisions and cuttings, but some growers now seem to use seed, which has diluted the benefits of the original selection.

Another named variety is H.v. 'Candy Wrapper', which has bright bubblegum pink flower clusters and slightly lighter green foliage than 'Happy Wanderer." Three other colorforms are reported: ‘Free-n-Easy' (white), ‘Pink Fizz' (pink) and ‘Purple Falls' (purple). In addition, a cluster of new shrub-form cultivars has appeared over the last two decades. The first was ‘Mini Haha', which is very compact and shrub-like with purple blooms resembling those of 'Happy Wanderer.' Two other shrubby varieties, which are a bit more open and less dwarf, are Blushing Princess', with pinky-mauve blooms, and ‘Bushy Blue', with bluey-mauve blooms.

In addition, there are two unnamed color forms, a white (sometimes, as on DG, listed as H.v. 'Alba') and a soft pink (usually labeled as H.v. 'Pink' or H.v. var. rosea). The white form seems variable in mass-market plants, showing various degrees of lilac or pink intrusion; the pink form is lovely, but is much softer than the shocking pink 'Candy Wrapper'.

One of the most stunning plantings I have ever seen of this vine was one where multiple color forms were either intentionally or unintentionally mixed. The purple forms predominated, but the winding stems carrying blossoms in white, mauve and pink made the whole display unforgettable.

Positive gophersnake On Dec 27, 2009, gophersnake from Oakland, CA wrote:

First plant: planted 1993 by a fence under a large Eucalyptus. Grew vigorously. By 2004 had taken over the fence and was climbing 10 feet up the Eucalyptus trunk. Didn't seem to mind the shade or the Eucalyptus debris although a Solanum laxum planted nearby at the same time had perished. Got removed (along with the fence) in 2007 when the Eucalyptus was cut down.

Second plant: planted July 2008 in same spot, this time with much more sun. Bloomed in February 2009, seemed to do well until September, then turned brown and died.

Third plant: just planted in the same spot. If it dies off like the second, I'll suspect the remains of the Eucalyptus -- or perhaps something applied to them to keep them from resprouting. Whatever it is, I'm hoping it'll diminish in time so I can keep a Hardenbergia there.

Positive Opoetree On Aug 10, 2007, Opoetree from Oak View, CA wrote:

We bought one of these years ago and loved its enchanting blossoms year to year. Unfortunately, we had to remove it when we moved the fence it was clinging to...I hope we can replace the lost lovely one in the future...I miss it!

Neutral StarGazey26 On Jul 23, 2005, StarGazey26 from (Zone 10a) wrote:

I have had this in the ground for about three years--bought it in a one gallon. It isn't that bushy, and seems to grow slow, but when in bloom, it's just amazing! I fertilize often with a acid fertilizer, and it seems to be healthy--just slow growing to me, and not many leaves to the vine. So, if you are looking for a fast growing privacy vine, this isn't the #1 choice. But, I do like the flowers. Just giving it a neutral because it doesn't seem to grow fast.

Positive hanna1 On Dec 15, 2004, hanna1 from Castro Valley, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

A very hardy bloomer in our region. Fertilize after flowering, great against a trellis or fence. Prune as needed anytime. Mine is just starting to bloom in December!

Positive pokerboy On Jul 14, 2004, pokerboy from Canberra
Australia (Zone 8b) wrote:

Long pointed leaves are Evergreen while mauve-purple flowers flower from Winter to Spring. Some in my area even flower in Summer!!! Very fast-growing habit. Ground cover or Climber. Loves long, deep waterings in hot, dry weather and hard prunings. Another hardy Australian native. pokerboy.

Positive pamelaaz On Aug 16, 2002, pamelaaz wrote:

Maybe my plants are a fluke, but I live in Phoenix, and I planted these on an East facing wall.

Potted plants bought in 1 gallon containers; about 8 months before they were 8 feet tall, dense, and COVERED in blooms (and bees) Even in summer I water them at MOST once a month, I never add amendments or fertilizer, and they continue to grow like crazy. My lacewings (which just showed up one day) make their home there and keep away all the bad bugs.

Neutral Baa On Oct 20, 2001, Baa wrote:

Evergreen climber from Southern Australia.

Has lance shaped, mid green leaves upto 5 inches long. Bears racemes of small, purple, white, pink or lilac, pea like flowers with a little yellow or green spot on the standards.

Flowers come at any time between February through to June but mine is budding now in October.

Likes a moist, well drained, fertile, neutral to acid soil in full sun or light shade.

Is only hardy down to 25F so bring indoors in frost prone areas.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Cave Creek, Arizona
Chandler, Arizona
Goodyear, Arizona
Tempe, Arizona
Castro Valley, California
Citrus Heights, California
Crockett, California
Elk Grove, California
Eureka, California
Fallbrook, California
Long Beach, California
Martinez, California
Mission Viejo, California
Morgan Hill, California
Oak View, California
Oakland, California
Rosedale, California
San Anselmo, California
San Francisco, California
San Jose, California
San Leandro, California
Santa Barbara, California
Santa Cruz, California
Santa Rosa, California
Santee, California
Solvang, California
West Sacramento, California
Fort Myers, Florida
Polk City, Florida
Riverview, Florida
Imperial, Missouri
Boulder City, Nevada
Las Vegas, Nevada
San Antonio, Texas
Sour Lake, Texas

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