Sweet Peas are a garden classic producing beautiful blooms with a gorgeous scent throughout the summer. You can train them onto an Obelisk or plant support to create a really impressive column of fragrant, summer colour, and they make excellent cut flowers – in fact the more you cut, the more they flower!
While the Sweet Pea season may seem a long way off, to create really strong and healthy plants they are best sown now and overwintered in a coldframe or an unheated greenhouse – don’t be tempted to give them too much heat or they will grow leggy and soft.
Rootrainers are perfect for sowing Sweet Peas – the long deep design prevents the
sweet pea plants from becoming pot bound, and helps your plants to establish
quickly when you plant them out in the spring.
Before you sow them you can soak your sweet pea seeds in tepid water to rehydrate them. It helps them get off to a quicker start but it isn't essential as they will still germinate well in moist compost. Sow them about 1cm deep, cover the seed with compost and water them well.
As the seedlings grow they will start to become tall and leggy. You can encourage them to produce side shoots by pinching out the tips of the sweet peas - nip off the top of the stem just above a set of leaves. This will make each plant much bushier and more robust - the more shoots there are, the more flowers will be produced.
Once your sweet peas are growing well and the main risk of frost has passed, you can harden them off in a sheltered spot for a week or so before planting them out. Plant your sweet peas out in a bright sunny spot in the garden somewhere close enough to enjoy the scent – they work well in large containers as long as they have plenty of rich compost and water.
Sweet peas climb by twining their tendrils around the support frame, but it is helpful to guide them by carefully tying in or using jute netting to give extra support – you could grow them in the kitchen garden specifically for cutting in which case a Runner Bean Frame would be ideal for maximising your crop.
If you love having fresh cut flowers in your home, then sweet peas are the plants for you – you can even leave some to flower early in the greenhouse or conservatory for an early scent of Summer!