The secret to growing beautiful sweet peas

No garden is complete with the fragrant, nostalgic smell of sweet peas, they can be trained up a trellis, a wigwam of willow or hazel sticks, obelisk, or support them with canes in large pots. They bring colour and height to borders and make excellent cut flowers. Sweet peas dislike root disturbance so sow them in root trainers or fibre pots. This will enable you to plant them out in their containers without damaging the roots.

Step 1

Fill your pots with good quality potting compost. Sweet peas produce abundant roots, so use the deepest pots you can find. Root trainers and 8cm fibre pots are ideal.

Sow 2 or 3 seeds per pot, pushing them half inch into the soil with your finger. Place the pots in a tray with a plastic lid to increase humidity and speed up germination and keep in a cool greenhouse, or in a bright window in the house. 

Step 2

Once plants are 4-6 inches tall, pinch out the central growing tip, just above a leaf joint, leaving just two or three leaf nodes. This will encourage the plant to branch vigorously from the base. 


Step 3

Harden off all plants before planting out. Sweet peas are heavy feeders and require a little extra pampering to produce abundantly. Prepare the planting area by applying bone meal, a thick layer of compost or well rotted manure and a generous amount of natural fertilizer, mixing these deeply into the soil.

Step 4

Sweet peas grow rapidly and require a strong structure to climb as they grow, it is important to keep them tied to their trellises. 

Plant the whole pot at each cane, there’s no need to separate the plants. Keep watered and feed plants weekly with diluted high potash feed such as tomato fertiliser. 

To prolong blooming, it's important that plants don't set seed, so be sure to harvest and deadhead the flowers frequently. 

For the longest vase life, pick when there are at least two unopened flowers at the tip of a stem. 

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