Sweet peas are one of my, if not my absolute favourite flowers, I look forward to getting the sweet peas seed packets out every year. They provide a real kalediscope of colours to the garden as well as delicately scented cut flowers to bring into the house. The sticks or wigwam type structure that they grow up also helps provide some height and a feature in the cutting garden. But how to go about growing them?
Sweet peas are easy to grow and can be planted anytime from October -March. You can sow them in pots to put in the greenhouse or cold frame over winter from October onwards. Planting them early will help the plant establish a good, robust root system for a more vigorous plant but you can still plant them in March. If planting them in March plant them somewhere cool if you don't have a greenhouse or cold frame but out of the way of frosts.
Plant the sweet pea seed about 1cm deep in multi purpose compost and water well. Choose tall pots to plant your sweet pea seeds in as the they perform best if the roots are forced to grow downwards. You can plant a few seeds in one pot.
As the seedlings start to grow, pinch off the top of the stem just above the top of the first leaves, this encourages side shoots. The more shoots the more flowers there will be.
Sweet peas seedlings as ready to transplant outside in April once the risk of the main frosts have gone. Acclimatise them first to outside for a week or so first by leaving them outside during the day before finally planting them out.
Before planting out have your supports ready and in position for the sweet pea plants to grow up. Also ensure the soil is well composted and moist. Sweet peas are hungry plants so need lots of nutrients and like to be well watered.
As the sweet pea plants grow secure them to the supports by tying them loosely with some twine to the support structure, this encourages growth up the supports. Transplant 2-3 plants per stick on the support structure.
Then let them grow. Once they start flowering just keep picking and picking, the more you pick the more the flowers come. Ensure to dead head and also feed the plants every now and again with tomato food. They are hungry little chaps. If you see any seed pods coming pick these off as well as they stop will producing flowers otherwise. And enjoy!
Sweet peas seeds are available on the Pod & Pip website in beautiful seed packets, perfect for a pressie! www.podandpip.co.uk