Peanuts, famous for being grown in the south, can be a star of your garden even if you live in a cool climate. For those in zone 8B to 11, there is a perennial variety.
Native to South America, the leguminous genus Arachis hyprogaea, the peanut or groundnut, which is one of the world’s most important crops, is a novelty item you can grow in your home vegetable garden. What you may not know about the species of Arachis is that they are a mat-forming perennial rhizome hardy from zone 8B to 11. They are also very productive under heavy grazing making them the perfect crop for well-grazed legume pastures in the tropics and subtropics.
Keeping Your Plant Healthy
Arachis is prone to whitefly so be sure to carefully inspect your plant before purchasing it and keep an eye on it once you have it. Whitefly is easy to identify because you will see a puff of white coming off the plant when the leaves are brushed up against. Many times a white wax will also be noticed on the leaves of the plant. This is pretty clear evidence of whitefly infestation. Although whitefly can be controlled, it is best not to introduce a new plant into your home or yard that is already infested. However, if a plant that you already have should get infested you can treat it with various chemical or organic methods, one of which includes giving the plant a hard spray with a hose. Once these plants are established, they require little or no care and they are drought resistant.
Providing Optimal Growing Conditions
Arachis prefer full sunlight preferably from the west or south. They are a good choice for a container grown plant as well as a good groundcover. A good general purpose potting soil that retains a little water but still has good drainage is the best choice for them. Sandy soil works as well. Do not allow the soil to pack too tightly around them. A good homemade soil would consist of one part garden soil, one part sand or perlite and one part peat or humus with a light dusting of lime. When you water, try to use warm water and keep the soil barely moist. Arachis do not like acidic conditions although they will survive under these conditions, so do be aware of this fact. Although the foliage will die back in the event of frost, the plant will come back as long as the rhizomes don’t freeze. They generally grow several feet deep and thus are pretty well protected.
Arachis can be propagated by seed. A good choice for a seed starting soil would be moist peat and perlite. Be sure to cover the pot with a clear plastic bag or other similar device to help keep the moisture in. Place this in either indirect sunlight or under a fluorescent light until germination begins. Once the seed has started to germinate, remove the baggie and allow the plant to grow to a fair size before potting it up into the preferred soil mixture or planting it out into your garden.
Whether you choose to grow Arachis hypogaea for the purpose of producing your own crop of peanuts or Arachis glabrata for the ornamental or landscape potential, Arachis is an interesting crop that you should consider. Even if you grow all your plants in containers you can grow this one. Arachis will make an interesting conversation piece, after all how many plants bury their seed pods in the ground? Arachis does. This is how the peanuts are formed.