Grow Sweet Peas

Sweet peas are at the very heart of cottage-garden flowers. They're just the things for scrambling up a wigwam of canes, and have the added bonus of transforming from seed to a beautiful flowering plant in just a few weeks.

But that's not all. Sweet peas make brilliant cut flowers. They’re easy to sow too, with big seeds that are easy to handle and quick to sprout – there are few flowers that are more rewarding to grow.  

You'll need: 

  • Plant label
  • Watering can
  • Bamboo canes
  • Garden string
  • Scissors

How to grow Sweet Peas: 

  1. Soak your seeds in a little water overnight. This softens their shells and helps them sprout into life.
  2. Fill your seed trays, pots or loo rolls with multi-purpose compost and water it well. Go gently so it doesn’t spill over the edge.
  3. Sow one or two seeds per module/pot, simply pushing them into the compost with your finger. Make sure they’re fully covered.
  4. Keep your seeds on a greenhouse shelf or a windowsill indoors. They should sprout within a few days.
  5. Grow the seedlings on, putting them outdoors during the day if the weather is fine. Nip off the top of the seedlings when a few pairs of leaves have formed.
  6. Continue watering your sweet peas, planting them outside where you want them to flower in April or May, after the risk of severe frosts.
  7. Make sure the sweet peas have something to scramble up – a wigwam made from bamboo canes or a metal obelisk is ideal.
  8. Watch your sweet peas as they cling to their support, begin to climb and then flower. Water them regularly if we don’t have much rain.   

How to get the best display:

  • Pick flowers every day, stripping plants of their blooms. This will make new flowers open and keep plants vigorous and prolific.
  • Grow mixed colours for a cottagey look or varieties in complementary shades for a more unified feel.
  • If you sow seeds in loo rolls bury the whole cardboard tube when planting – it will simply rot away making planting a cinch.
  • Display cut sweet peas in jam jars – they’re just the right size for the blooms and create a shabby-chic look for next to nothing.

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Cut sweet peas flowers as soon as they open, never letting blooms form seed pods – this will keep the display coming all summer.