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Growing Sweetpeas

Sweetpeas are renowned for their delicate beauty, with a spectrum of rainbow colours ranging from soft pastels to vibrant hues. Their enchanting fragrance fills the air with a sweet, intoxicating aroma, and their dainty petals and graceful tendrils add a touch of elegance to any garden or floral arrangement, captivating the senses with their timeless charm and irresistible scent.

They can be sowed in Autumn or Springtime offering flexibility to gardeners depending on their preferences and climate. Sowing in autumn allows for earlier blooming in the following spring, while springtime sowing takes advantage of warmer temperatures and longer days for quicker germination and growth.  Both seasons provide ideal conditions for sweetpeas to establish strong roots and thrive, ultimately rewarding gardeners with a bountiful display of beautiful blooms and sweet fragrance.

​Planting Seeds:

Sweetpeas can be sowed direct into the garden where they are to flower, during springtime,  however many gardeners prefer to sow into deep pots. If sowing direct, sow seeds 1-2cm deep into the ground in early spring, once the soil has warmed up and the risk of frost has passed. Sow along or around a supporting structure like a trellis or fence.  Alternatively sow into deep pots which will help with their long roots. For Autumn sowed seeds overwinter in a greenhouse or cold frame. These seedlings will be frost tolerant and can be planted out earlier than spring sowed seeds. 

Pinching: 

Once seedling have developed their first two sets of leaves they can be pinched, this will send a signal to the plant to grow more stems and create a bushier plant  with more flowers.   For my over wintered sweepeas I usually do this in January as by then they are usually getting very tall and I struggle to fit them into may coldframe. 

Cuttings: 

Sweepeas can also be grown from cuttings. By keeping the pinchings and propagating them new plants can be made for free. Check out step by step instructions  on our page Sweetpeas from Cuttings.

Watering:

Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged, especially during dry spells. Water at the base of the plants to avoid wetting the foliage, which can lead to fungal diseases.

 

Location:

Sweetpeas thrive in well-drained soil and prefer full sun, although they can tolerate partial shade in hotter climates. Select a spot in your garden that receives at least 6-8 hours of sunlight per day.

Preparing the Soil:

Before planting, enrich the soil with organic matter such as compost to improve its fertility and drainage. Sweetpeas prefer slightly alkaline soil with a pH level around 7.0.

Providing Support:

As sweetpeas grow, they will need support to climb. Install a trellis, bamboo stakes, or a wire fence for the vines to cling to as they grow. This helps prevent the plants from becoming tangled and promotes better air circulation, reducing the risk of disease.

Fertilizing:

Sweetpeas are light feeders but will benefit from a balanced fertilizer applied during planting and once during the growing season. Avoid excessive nitrogen, as it can encourage foliage growth at the expense of flowers.

Pruning:

Pinch off the growing tips of the vines when they reach about 6 inches in height to encourage branching and more flower production. Deadhead spent blooms regularly to prolong the flowering period. 

 

Some growers believe that removing tendrils can redirect the plant's energy towards flowering rather than growth. By eliminating tendrils, the plant focuses more on producing flowers instead of investing energy in climbing and expanding its reach.  Removing tendrils can also help prevent  them tangling into flowers and ensure that the plants grow upward in a more organized manner. It is essential to note that removing tendrils from sweetpeas is not necessary for their overall health or growth. Tendrils play a natural role in the climbing behaviour of these plants, and they can contribute to the plant's stability and ability to reach sunlight. Additionally, some growers and florists may appreciate the aesthetic appeal of tendrils as part of the plant's natural form.

Pest and Disease Management:

Keep an eye out for common pests like aphids and spider mites, which can be rinsed off with a strong stream of water or controlled with insecticidal soap. Prevent fungal diseases by providing good air circulation, avoiding overhead watering, and promptly removing any diseased foliage.

Harvesting:

Regular harvesting and deadheading encourages more flowers to bloom and prevents them for setting seed too quickly. Autumn sowed sweetpeas will last through to midsummer before exhausting themselves, and late spring sowed seeds will bloom to Autumn. 

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