There aren't many annual flowers that can compare to sweet peas enduring charm and picturesque allure. They appear to be the antithesis of the hectic life we lead as they gently wind themselves over a rustic trellis.
With their alluring aroma, sweet peas are beautiful flowers for both gardens and bouquets because of their versatility. You may get information on how to plant sweet peas and how to care for them by reading our Sweet Pea Growing Guide.
The sweet pea, scientifically known as Lathyrus odoratus, is an annual flower that thrives in various settings, including cutting gardens, border gardens, forest settings, and even twining on trellises and arches. Pearly white, ice cream pastels, ritzy magentas, and inky purples are just some of the colors that can now be found in the beautiful flowers, which are available in a vast array of hues.
Their honey and orange blossom fragrance is the only thing that can compete with their delicate winged flowers. A combination of factors, including their enticing aroma and capacity to produce many blooms suitable for indoor usage over an extended period, has contributed to their widespread acceptance. One of the keys to cultivating sweet peas is to start sowing them early. Despite their fragile appearance, sweet peas are pretty resilient. If you live in a USDA Hardiness Zone 7 or colder, you should plant them very late in the winter or early in the spring as soon as the soil is dry enough to deal with. (You should not wait until the very last frost to start sowing!)
A priest from Sicily named Francis Cupani delivered the seeds of this exceedingly fragrant annual plant to a British educator named Dr. Robert Uvedale in 1699. Uvedale was from Enfield, Middlesex, and was the first person in Britain to grow sweet peas. They quickly gained widespread popularity over the continent of North America, where they were used both as garden plant and as cut flowers. By the late 1800s, producers in California, especially W. Atlee Burpee, were developing many additional kinds of sweet peas and shipping trainloads of them across the country. They also exported sweet peas by trainload.
The cultivation of sweet peas, according to the beliefs of some individuals, is comparable to the process of making a pie crust. While some people do have it in them, others don't have it in them. This plant originates from seeds that resemble peas and are large and straightforward to work with. Because it takes so much time for them to germinate, working with them may be rather challenging. It is advantageous to experiment with a wide range of seed types during each growing season.
In most parts of the country that experience frosts regularly (Zone 7 and colder), planting sweet peas should take place in the very late winter or very early spring, as soon as the soil is dry enough to be worked. (You should never wait until the end of the frost season to begin sowing! It is most possible that it is now too late to do something about it.)
If you reside in a region with relatively mild winters, you should wait until the late fall (November) to plant sweet peas in your garden (Zones 8, 9, or 10). Because of this, they will be able to reach their full maturity and blossom between the months of late winter and early spring. About six weeks before you want to start spreading the seeds, dig a trench and fill it with manure or compost that has had plenty of time to decompose. Because of this, you can enjoy the most impressive show. For sweet peas to thrive, they need a significant quantity of materials rich in nutrients. This is because sweet peas are such hungry plants.
picture of seeds for sweet peas being soaked in water copy 3Jpeg a shot of sweet pea seeds that aren't difficult to work with
If you live in an area of the nation that experiences particularly harsh winters, you may be able to jumpstart the growing season by starting sweet pea seeds inside in a seed tray. This will allow you to avoid having to wait until spring to start your garden. Plant sweet peas in the ground outdoors as soon as the soil can be worked after they have been created inside in seed starting pots in the early spring. This should be done roughly 6 to 7 weeks before the last day when frost protection is necessary. Peas de mie are able to withstand frosts of moderate severity.
Before commencing the process of germination, it is advised to immerse the seeds in water for at least 12 hours. It's also possible that making a few shallow incisions on the surface of the outer shell with a nail file will prove to be helpful. Plant one seed into each of the separate wells of a seed tray at a depth of about one centimeter (about half an inch). It is not a problem to plant two seeds in each module; however, you should bear in mind that the lengthy plant roots have a predisposition to tangle with one another, which might make it difficult to separate the plants at a later time.
Once you see that they have developed their first set of leaves, which resemble pea pods, carefully remove them and replant them in a larger container so that they may become more robust. The following piece of advice was given to me by one of the most well-respected growers of sweet peas: "Treat the seedlings in the same manner that you would treat your husband: put them in a greenhouse that is not heated, neglect them, and they will thrive." Plant them in the soil outside as soon as the ground can be worked after they have been purchased.
When growing sweet peas, the optimum environment is one in which the plant's leaves are exposed to intense light, but the soil surrounding its roots is maintained cool and moist. Sweet peas can be grown inside or outdoors. It is advised, wherever it is possible to do so, to plant low-growing annuals in front of them in order to provide shade for their roots.
Choose a spot that doesn't flood quickly and has enough drainage. The best medium for plant growth is alkaline soil; if the pH of the earth in your garden tends to be on the acidic side, consider mixing some powdered lime into the top layer.
Mixing together large quantities of compost and manure that has decomposed to a depth of two feet is the best way to develop healthy soil. This process should be repeated several times. (You need to educate yourself on the issue of preparing the ground for planting by adding nutrients to the soil and working with it.)
Before you start planting, you are going to want to dig a "compost" trench that is about as deep as four inches and as wide as it is long. This should be done before you start planting.
After you have dug the trench, use the pencil to make holes in the soil, lay the seeds in the gaps, and then press down on the ground to compress it and block off any light that could otherwise reach the roots.
Before you start planting the seeds, you should first let them soak in water for a whole day. Then, before you plant them, nick the roots a few times with a nail file to speed up the rate at which they sprout. It is not required to soak the seeds if they are stored in an area that maintains a consistent temperature.
The time it takes for seeds to germinate after being planted can range anywhere from seven to fifteen days, depending on the temperature of the soil in which they are placed.
It is essential to fill gradually in the trench as the seedlings emerge and continue to develop. To the space all around them, add some additional dirt.
Keep soil hydrated. It's possible that we'll get quite a bit of precipitation this summer. If you notice that the earth is dry when you put your finger into the soil bed to its first joint, you should water the sweet peas at the soil level first thing in the morning. If you don't, the buds on the sweet peas may fall off.
If you utilize an ample quantity of compost in conjunction with aged manure during the planting process, there will be no need to apply any more fertilizer. If you do decide to add nutrition, choose feeds that are high in potash rather than feeds that are high in nitrogen since nitrogen-rich feeds cause plants to develop an excessive amount of top growth.
After the plants have become well-established, put a sufficient amount of mulch into the soil so that it continues to be relaxed and moist even after the mulch has been removed. If you mulch the area surrounding your sweet peas, you probably won't have to water them again until the soil gets too dry to support its current moisture level. When the plants are about 6 inches tall, you should pinch off the tops of the plants to encourage bushy growth. If you do this any early than necessary, you will end up stimulating the formation of premature side-shoots instead.
Sweet peas are most successful when grown in locations that have fantastic daytime and evening temperatures. When the temperature climbs beyond 65 degrees Fahrenheit, the plant begins to wilt and die.
Sweet peas are typically thought of as climbers; however, there is one type that grows in bushes. Give them sturdy support that extends for at least 6 feet in all directions. There are certain varieties that have the potential to grow to heights of 9 or 10 feet. A braided willow obelisk, a trellis, and bamboo poles set in a teepee form are some examples of other sorts of supports that are pleasing to the sight. You should provide something for them to grip on if you do not have a fence or trellis, such as chicken wire, brush, or bushy, stubbly limbs.
Simply securing the first few stems to the support will get the plants off to a strong start and ensure that the rest of the branches will continue in the same direction as the initial few. When they reach a height of between 10 and 20 centimeters (four to eight inches), use your thumb and fingers to pinch out the growing tip in the middle of the plant. This will result in plants having a greater capacity to withstand stress.
If you frequently pick the flowers for bouquets, the plant will use its energies to create more blooms rather than developing seeds if you continue to do so. Regardless of how much fruit you take off their branches, they will keep bearing fruit right up to the first frost, even if you do it.
When the leaves begin to take on a paler hue, you should let a few of the lingering flowers mature into seedpods. This should be done as soon as possible. They should be spread out to dry on a windowsill, after which they should be placed in an envelope and stored in a dry position until the following planting season.
There are varieties of sweet peas that are suited to every environment, from tall scramblers that can grow up to 8 feet tall to dwarf bedding types that are ideal for growing in pots and along borders without the need for support. Sweet peas come in a wide variety of colors, including white, pink, red, purple, and yellow.
These ornamental peas got their start in Sicily, and the island is where they are known for their delicate stems and strong scent, which is a mix of honey and orange jasmine. Modern hybrids are stronger-stalked and have more prominent blooms.
However, some of these newer forms of sweet peas, although having larger flowers and more contemporary coloration, do not have the perfume of the sweet peas that were produced in the past. This is particularly true of some of the newer types of sweet peas. The sweet pea variety known as "Cupani," which blooms with upper petals that are maroon and lower petals that are violet, continues to enjoy the popularity that it justly deserves and is easy to maintain. Cupani blossoms have maroon upper petals and violet "wings."
The decadently scented cologne known as "America" is a family heirloom that was first created in the year 1896. When its petals are wholly opened, they display a stunning pattern of white and red stripes that undulate in a wavelike fashion.
Keep a look out for Sicilian artifacts like the "Old Spice" series, for example. Flowers of this kind can be white, cream, pink, lavender, or even purple, and their colors can range anywhere from white to purple.
The modern cultivar that is known as 'April in Paris' has large blooms that are buttery yellow in color and have a lilac tint to them. It also has a strong aroma.
Lathyrus latiflolius is a perennial everlasting pea that does not have a fragrant appearance and broad leaves. Although the common sweet pea is a plant that lives for only one year, there is a type of pea that is known as the everlasting pea, and it lives for many years. These are known as clambering plants, and they may grow up to a height of six or seven feet. They are hardy up to zone 5, and in addition to that, they are plants that continue to bloom from year to year while requiring very little care and attention.
In the late Victorian era, a garden would not have been considered complete without the addition of sweet peas. Because sweet peas came in such a wide range of colors and fragrances, the Victorians developed a particular fondness for these flowers.
The morning is the ideal time to collect the flowers because the dew will still be on them at that point. At this precise moment in time, the scent that they give out is at its most alluring.
The sweet pea is commonly thought of as being a flower that best represents the month of April.
According to the physician, "the perfume of the sweet pea is so offensive to flies that it will drive them out of a sick room," yet the patient is not bothered by it in the least. A piece of advice from The Old Farmer's Almanac dated 1899 was published in that year.
The following is a collection of sweet peas that are poised and ready to take flight:
With wings of a gentle blush over delicate white and slender fingers clutching at everything to tie small rings all the way around, An excerpt from John Keats's poem "I Stood Tip-Toe Upon a Little Hill."