Scarlet wisteria is a shrub or a small tree with pendant clusters of bright orange, pea-shaped flowers. It is grown as an ornamental shrub for its beautiful flowers. The flowers are in racemes and are produced abundantly on the plants. Leaves are feathery and pinnate with many light green, oblong leaflets. S. punicea has a long blooming season, from early spring to autumn. The fruits are long, four-angled, light green pods with four broad wings. The pods turn brown and persist on the plants in the winter. The seeds rattle in the dried pods, hence the common name rattlebox. The pods are an ornamental feature of this species. It is also known as the Chinese wisteria (even though it is not native to China) and the red sesbania. Scarlet wisteria is native to South America. It grows along ponds and waterways and in marshy areas and it forms dense thickets. It has a fast growth rate. It prefers moist or wet soil and slightly acidic soil. The plant and seeds are poisonous. Zones 8-11.
The seeds have a hard seed coat that has to be treated, or scarified, in order for water to enter the seeds so that they can sprout.
- Scarify the seeds by nicking or sanding the seed coat.
- Soak the seeds in water for several hours.
- Put some potting soil in a container.
- Sow the seeds on the soil.
- Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil.
- Water the seeds.
- Place the pots in an area with warm temperatures in full sun or part shade.
- When the seedlings are a few inches tall, they can be transplanted.