Sweet Pea

Sweet peas are one of the most popular annual flowers grown by amateur gardeners in the UK. They are loved for their delicate pastel shades and pleasing shape and climbing habit.

Growing sweet peas:

Sweet peas are really easy to grow from seed. The seeds can be sown directly into the ground in March or April but usually results are much more satisfactory and reliable when seeds are sown a little earlier and kept in a cold frame, polytunnel or unheated greenhouse, then transplanted into the ground later. In milder areas of the UK, sweet peas can even be sown in October or November, where they can be overwintered in a cold frame or similar. Plant out after all risk of frost and remember to harden off your plants rather than giving them a shock when they first encounter life unprotected in the great outdoors.

Sweet peas like a position in full sun. They like the soil in which they sit to be well-drained and yet moisture retentive. The soil should be fertile and humus-rich and if you feel that your soil may be lacking somewhat then you should add lots of organic matter to increase nutrient levels at least four weeks before planting.

Plants should be given enough space – leave around 20-30cm between seedlings. Consider how you will support your plants. Most often, sweet peas are grown up cane wigwams, trellis or pea sticks, sometimes they are grown up netting support. They will do well in a container or in a garden bed, though they will not appreciate it if they are in a windy or exposed location.

Though it is not strictly necessary, you may find that it is useful to pinch out the growing tips of the sweet peas when they are around 10cm high to encourage them to branch out and to prevent them from getting too long and leggy.

The more flowers you cut, the more you will get before the plant sets seed. Some cultivars of sweet pea are not only very pretty but also have a very pleasing fragrance. This makes them a wonderful choice for cut flowers for use in the home. If you are serious about your flowers and want to get the most from your sweet peas, then the cordon method, where plants are individually trained up individual canes and all extraneous tendrils and side shoots removed to make sure all the plants energy goes into producing flowers, is said to be the most productive way of growing them.

Why grow sweet peas in the garden?

Aside from being a pretty flower that can give some height to the garden displays, sweet peas are also a legume and therefore have the same nitrogen fixing capabilities as do others of the same family. This means that they will help to add fertility to your soil.

Quick Facts

Latin Name
Lathyrus ororatus