Gardening, flowers, vegitable and herb growing guide.


Vegitables and Herbs

Garden Design




Sweet Peas - The Queen of the Annuals

Name: Latin Name: Lathyrus odoratus

Common Name(s): Sweet Pea

Overview/Description: Annual climbers bearing clusters of flowers in a wide variety of colors including red, pink, blue, white and lavender. The stems appear folded and the flowers resemble fringed butterflies. The old-fashioned varieties were selected for their vibrant colors and intense fragrance. Many modern cultivars are on the market offering sweet peas in almost every color except yellow. Not all Sweet pea varieties are fragrant. They have a long season of bloom and make excellent cut flowers.

Zone: Annual

Exposure: Full Sun

Mature Size: 6' - 8' vine

Bloom Period: Blooms late spring into summer. Blooming is curtailed by heat. In cooler climates, they can bloom through fall. Southern regions can sow ‘short day’ varieties in the fall.

Design Suggestions: Sweet peas lend a cottage feel to gardens. They are often grown on bamboo tripods, but they will gladly grow through shrubby plants, much like clematis. They also work well in a vegetable garden, attracting bees and other pollinators needed in the vegetable garden. They can be grown along the fence or mixed in with the pole beans.

Suggested Varieties: ‘Old fashioned’ - Although not really a variety, Sweet peas labeled old fashioned should be very fragrant
Spencer cultivars - especially hardy vines with striking coloring, but not all of them are particularly fragrant
Bijou Group - Sweetly scented dwarf variety suitable for containers.

Cultural Requirements & Maintenance: Sweet peas are usually direct seeded. To assist germination, seeds should be nicked or soaked in water for several hours, to soften the seed coating. Seed can be started outdoors, as soon as the ground has warmed to about 50 degrees F. and is not too wet. At about 3-6", pinch the seedlings to encourage strong side shoots. Seed can be started earlier indoors, in pots. Pinch off all flowers and buds when transplanting seedlings, to encourage root development.

Sweet pea vines have tendrils and will attach themselves to most any type of support with meshing or lines. Regular deadheading or cutting for display, will keep them blooming longer. Sweet peas require regular watering, especially as the temperature increases. They prefer a somewhat rich soil and can be fed monthly with a fertilizer high in potassium, as used for tomatoes. Adding a bit of blood meal to the soil is thought to help keep the stems long and suitable for cutting.

There are few pests or problems associated with sweet peas. They are usually done in by the heat.

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