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Easy Guide to Planting Sweet Peas in Spring

Written by Sarah Talbot

Sweet peas are gorgeous fragrant climbing plants that can brighten up any garden or balcony space. Known for their beauty as cut flowers and their appeal to pollinators, sweet peas are a delightful addition to any garden or allotment. they can be planted in winter for early blooms, but they can also be successfully planted in spring for a stunning display throughout the summer months.... 

How to Choose your Sweet Pea Varieties

When selecting sweet pea varieties, there are a few considerations to keep in mind. Annual sweet peas are known for their exquisite scent and vibrant colors, while perennial varieties offer the advantage of coming back year after year. However, it's important to note that most scented varieties are annuals.

Consider the color scheme of your garden, as sweet peas are available in a wide range of mixed or single colors. Additionally, decide whether you prefer climbing varieties that require support or dwarf varieties suitable for containers and hanging baskets.

When to Sow Sweet Peas

For spring planting, sow sweet pea seeds from mid-January to April for summer blooms.

Germinating Sweet Peas

Sweet pea seeds have a hard seed coat so germination rate is sometimes low.  There are ways to aid germination though so try them and see what works for you. Options include

- you can just trust them to germinate and plant them straight out of the packet (see how below)

 - place your seeds on a layer of moist vermiculite or kitchen tissue in an airtight container in a warm room.  Sow them as soon as they swell or begin to sprout.

- soak the seeds overnight - they then need to be sowed immediately or they can rot. 

- nick the seed with a sharp knife avoiding the 'eye' (small, round mark) then plant

The Secret to Growing Sweet Peas

Sweet peas in Haxnicks RootrainersTo ensure successful growth, it's crucial to provide sweet peas with adequate root space and support. Deep Rootrainers are the best planting cells for growing sweet peas, as they prevent root disturbance and promote healthy root development. While planting sweet peas in toilet roll middles may seem feasible, it often results in inferior root structures and delayed growth.

Sowing Sweet Peas

Fill your Rootrainers with quality, peat-free compost and plant one or two seed per cell. Cover with compost or vermiculite, water well, and place in a cold frame or greenhouse. Harden off seedlings before planting them outdoors once the risk of frost has passed.

How to Prepare the Bed for Sweet Peas

Start to prepare your bed when you plant your seeds. Make sure the soil is good by adding some compost or well rotten manure and digging it in before planting.  Then plant your sweet pea seedlings 5-8cm (2-3") from your supports and water them very well.  They will need tying in for the first 5 or 6 weeks.  After that most varieties will have grabbed your support and be away.  

Continue to water well to get them fully established.  

Supporting Sweet Pea Plants

Unless you have selected a dwarf variety, most sweet peas grow to a height of about 2 meters and require support to grow.

Bamboo Canes

You can create a wigwam of bamboo canes using Soft Tie or Cane Rings to hold them

Decorative Supports

To add some more height and flair to your garden Garden Maypole or a Parasol Plant support are both great for sweet peas. 

For a statement piece, consider an architectural frame to support sweet peas alongside other vegetables like beans and pumpkins.

Or choose a Steel Pea And Bean Frame - use your sweet peas on one side to attract pollinators and peas or beans on the other side.  

Caring for Sweet Peas

Once sweet peas start flowering, feed them with a high potash fertilizer and pick flowers regularly to encourage continuous blooming. Ensure adequate watering, especially during dry weather, and mulch with organic matter to retain moisture.

Managing Pests and Diseases

Watch out for slugs and snails, particularly on young plants. Ensure warm soil conditions during planting to promote rapid growth and reduce susceptibility to pests. Additionally, consider companion planting with pest-repellent flowers like marigolds or herbs to deter common garden pests.

Gardening Inspiration

For additional gardening inspiration, if you love a garden full of colour then consider growing Jerusalem artichokes or Climbing beans alongside your sweet peas. Jerusalem artichokes provide both beautiful flowers and edible tubers, while climbing beans have gorgeous flowers and thrive alongside sweet peas.

By focusing on planting sweet peas in spring and providing them with proper care and support, you can enjoy a bountiful display of fragrant blooms throughout the summer months, enhancing your garden's beauty and attracting pollinators



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