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Sweet peas are one of the country’s favourite flowers and it’s not surprising, with its amazing colour range and perfume. They are hardy annuals, with varieties suitable for climbing up trellises and nets, growing to 180cm/6ft or dwarfs like Patio Mixed for edging, pots and ground cover. There’s a large selection of mixes with bicolours, flakes, picotee edging and marbles, as well as single coloured flowers. If you’d like a more permanent plant, choose the perennial Lathyrus, Everlasting Mixture, although they have no scent. Read more
How to grow Sweet Peas
Before sowing, soak seeds in tepid water overnight before sowing or gently file one side of the tough seed coat. Sow sweet peas indoors either from January-March or September-October, singly, in 7.5cm/3in pots of seed compost at a temperature of 15-20°C/60-68°F. Cover seeds to a depth of 1.5cm/½in. Keep in a bright but cooler environment once germinated. Harden off and plant out in April/May, spacing plants 30cm/12in.
Sow outdoors from April-May, in the flowering position, to flower from June-September. For perennial sweet peas, sow indoors from March to May. Maintain a gentle warmth. Pinch out seedlings at 7.5-10cm/3-4in. Transplant to flowering position in June after hardening off, spacing 23cm/9in apart.
Prepare the soil before planting by digging in well-rotted garden compost or manure and adding some general purpose fertiliser such as Growmore. Support tall climbers with canes or netting and tie new shoots in. Tendrils will naturally begin to grip on as plants get bigger. Apply a high potassium liquid fertiliser once or twice a week in pots.
Deadhead flower as often as possible, as plants will stop flowering if seed pods are allowed to develop.
Did You Know?
Although seen as an English cottage garden plant, sweet peas most probably came from Sicily or Malta. Francisco Cupani recorded it as being a new plant on Sicily in 1695. He was in charge of the botanical garden in Misilmeri, near Palermo. Show less
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