By E. VinjeTweet
Growing Sweet Peas
A great climber that’s perfect for fences and trellises! Home flower gardeners are growing sweet peas for their fragrant scent and interesting blossoms. Easy to plant from seed, they add a splash of color to any garden, especially in cooler, wet climates.
Sweet peas like a rich, well-drained soil but will tolerate various conditions. Soak seeds in water for 2-6 hours before planting to improve germination. Sow directly into the soil, about 4-6 inches apart and cover with 1/2 inch of soil.
How to Plant:
Sow sweet pea seeds as soon as the soil can be worked for summer bloom. The seed casings are hard, so soak overnight for best germination. Sweet peas like full sun and cool weather, so they can tolerate wet soil and wet climates well. Water regularly during dry conditions to keep them blooming. Fertilize a couple times during the season with an all-purpose fertilizer.
Vining sweet peas (the majority) need a support to climb – provide them some sort of terrace. Once the vines begin blooming, cut the flowers and bring them inside to enjoy. The more you cut, the more flowers will grow. As the weather begins to warm in the spring, flower production will slow. When flower production stops and the vines begin to dry, chop the foliage and turn it into the existing soil as a free source of nitrogen. Keep in mind that sweet peas, though an annual, will reseed and appear again the following spring. They are also considered a wildflower.
Insects and Disease:
Sweet peas are vulnerable to a number of pests, including aphids, root borers, and slugs. They are also popular to beneficial insects, however, such as ladybugs, lacewing, and butterflies, as well as birds. In wet, cool weather, mildew and fungus abound. Treat early with an organic fungicide to prevent problems.
Seed Saving Instructions:
Sweet peas should be separated by 25 feet to ensure absolute purity. Wait for the pods to dry before picking. Seed pods will burst, so picking in a timely manner is critical.