One species ( Lablab purpureus ) makes up this genus. It is an herbaceous, perennial climber (grown as an annual where not hardy) from tropical Africa, where it is widely grown for its edible young fruit. In the garden, hyacinth bean is valued for its fragrant, pea-like flowers that can be purple, pink, or white, and its flat, purplish seed pods that can reach 6 inches long. It is a fast grower and blooms continuously in a sunny location. Use on a large trellis, fence, pergola, or as a groundcover. It can reach 6 to 20 feet tall.
Noteworthy CharacteristicsFragrant, pea-like flowers and edible (when young), glossy fruit. Short-lived. Dried, mature seeds are toxic.
CareIn the garden, grow in most any well-drained soil in full sun. Provide support and prune in spring. Indoors, grow in full light and provide ample water during the growing season.
PropagationSow seed indoors in spring at 66-75°F. In warm areas, sow seed in the garden when soil temperatures are 66-75°F.
ProblemsLeaf spot can occasionally be problematic. Japanese beetles can be a major pest.