Sweet Pea

Lathyrus latifolius 'Pink Pearl' sweetpea

Sweet Pea Overview

Description Sweet peas are one of the garden flowers you can smell before you see them. These easy-to-grow annual vines unfurl delicate blossoms in spring or early summer, perfuming the garden with a pleasing sweet, spicy fragrance. They love cool weather and will wither as soon as the heat of summer sets in. Even with their short growing season in most regions, sweet peas are a prized member of the flower garden and a coveted cutting flower for bouquets. Popular—to the point of obsession—with gardeners at the turn of the 20th century, sweet peas were the highlight of elaborate plant expositions and the sole focus of some plant societies. Gardeners collected and grew all colors and shapes of the boldly fragrant blossoms. Although they are not as commonly grown today, once you experience the intoxicating fragrance of sweet peas in a twilight garden, you'll likely plant your own crop year after year.
Genus Name Lathyrus
Common Name Sweet Pea
Plant Type Annual, Vine
Light Sun
Height 3 to 8 feet
Width null to 8 feet
Flower Color Blue, Pink, Red, White
Foliage Color Blue/Green
Season Features Spring Bloom
Special Features Cut Flowers, Fragrance
Zones 6, 7, 8, 9
Propagation Division, Seed

Garden Plans For Sweet Pea


Sweet Pea Care Must-Knows

In mild winter climates where the ground does not freeze, plant sweet peas in fall for spring blooming. Seeded directly in the garden in October or November, sweet peas will emerge and bloom in March in most areas. In areas with a mild climate, sweet peas can be planted in January or February for a crop before the heat of summer sets in.

In colder areas, plant sweet peas as soon as the soil can be worked in spring. Sweet peas handle light frosts. Plant in full sun and well-drained soil. Soil enriched with aged manure or compost is perfect for sweet peas.

Sweet pea seedlings are a favorite snack for birds, slugs, and snails, especially if planted in fall. Protect seedlings from pests with netting, if necessary. Spread a 2-inch-thick layer of mulch around plants and water them regularly for best flower production.

Here's how to get rid of slugs in your garden.

Staking Sweet Pea

Most sweet pea varieties produce long tendrils and do best when provided with a trellis or fence for climbing. Set up a well-anchored trellis, fence, or vertical support at planting time for easy plant care throughout the season. A simple fence panel is a great climbing option for a cutting garden.

Grow a Bouquet

Sweet pea blossoms make wonderful bouquets. Mix sweet peas with other seasonal cut flowers, or simply create a bouquet of fragrant sweet pea flowers. Pick stems in early morning and plunge them in water right away. A 15- to 20-foot-long row of sweet peas will provide blossoms for many large bouquets. Continue harvesting flowers every other day or so to encourage the plant to continue producing flowers.

Use these tips to create the best flower bouquet.

More Varieties of Sweet Pea

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