Flowering Sweet Peas plants are fragrant, and have an old-fashioned charm! They were brought to the New World from Europe. There are annual and perennial varieties in a range of colors. They can be grown in your flower garden, a cottage garden, or scattered as a wildflower. However, growing sweet pea flowers requires a fence, trellis, or other support, for them to climb. Smaller growing sweet pea flower varieties do not need support. These varieties make the best wildflowers.
Sweet Peas plants thrive in cool weather. Perennial varieties survive frosts, freezes, and a snow cover. That’s how their cousin the vegetable “Snow peas” got their name. Vining and non-vining varieties exist, producing an early bloom in cool weather.
Did you know? There are over 1,000 varieties of Sweet Pea flowers. That means you get your choice of flower color and growth habit.
Flowers Bloom: Spring through Summer
Flower Colors: Colors include blue, cream, lavender, pink, purple, red, and white.
Plant Height: Smaller varieties: 12″ – 18″; larger varieties: 4 to 6 feet
Plant Hardiness Zones: 3 – 8
Other Names: Everlasting Peas
Annuals and perennials, Lathyrus
Sweet Peas are grown from seed. Directly plant Sweet Pea seeds into your flower garden in the early spring. Sow seeds 6 inches apart and 1 to 1/12 inches deep.
You can also start seeds indoors, to transplant later. For an indoor start, plant seeds 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost in your area.
Garden Tip: Nick seeds and soak in water overnight, to speed germination.
Once your plants have been established, they usually reseed themselves.
Final Plant Spacing: Space plants 2 to 3 inches apart for smaller varieties, and 6 inches apart for the taller, vining varieties.
Days to Germination: Seeds sprout in 19 – 21 days.
Sweet Pea plants are very easy to grow. They grow best in full sun and cool weather. They will do well in a variety of soils but prefer rich soil. Being an early, cool weather plant, they do not mind cool or cold weather or wet soils.
Water them during dry periods, once or twice per week. Also, add a general-purpose fertilizer once or twice a season. They require little maintenance.
For vining types, provide something for them to climb and they will rapidly ascend skyward.
Sweet Peas are also considered wildflowers. Once established, they will thrive and spread easily. If grown in a flower garden, they can get out of hand easily and overcrowd other flowers.
Tip: To keep the flowers blooming, pick spent blooms before the seed begins to form.
Harvesting seeds for next year? It’s a cinch. First, allow the seed pod to dry and turn brown. Next, pick the seeds. They are large and easy to handle. Then take the seeds out of the pods and continue to dry them on a screen for several more days. Finally, put them in a paper envelope or plastic baggie and store them in a cool, dry place.
Ideal Soil pH: 6.0 – 8.0.
Plant Problems – Identify the causes and find the cures, too.
Sweet Peas are popular among a variety of insects, birds, and butterflies. The most common insect problems include aphids and root borers. Insecticides and repellents are usually effective. Slugs can also be a problem. More on Slug control.
In very wet and cold weather, mildew and fungus can invade your plants. Use fungicides early, before any disease gets a foothold.