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A Beginner's Guide to Growing Sweet Peas: A Fragrant Old-Fashioned Flower

Today, I'm thrilled to dive into the world of sweet peas, a charming and fragrant flower that more gardeners should be growing. Whether you're a seasoned gardener or a budding green thumb, sweet peas are a fantastic choice for adding a border of flowers with beautiful color choices and the sweetest fragrance to your garden. Let's get started!


A mix of sweet peas from our farm


1. Understanding Sweet Peas Sweet peas, with their enchanting fragrance and vibrant colors, have been grown by gardeners for generations. Originating from the Mediterranean region, these climbing plants are scientifically known as Lathyrus odoratus. They are annuals, meaning they complete their life cycle in one growing season.

2. Choosing Your Seeds There's a vast array of sweet pea varieties to choose from. Whether you prefer the pastel shades or the bold and bright ones, there's a sweet pea for every palette. Look for seeds at your local garden center or online. We like to source from small farms for our seeds, and we offer a selection in our online store as well.


Pre-sprouted sweet peas seeds, ready for planting


3. Sowing Seeds Sweet peas thrive in cooler temperatures, so it's best to start them early in the season. You can sow them directly in the ground or start them indoors if your area experiences late frosts. Here's a quick how-to:

  • Soak the seeds overnight to soften their hard outer coating or use the pre-sprouting method like we do, pictured above.
  • Plant them about an inch deep in well-draining soil.
  • Space the seeds about 2-3 inches apart.

4. Location, Location, Location Choose a sunny spot for your sweet peas. They love at least 6 hours of sunlight a day. However, their roots prefer cool, moist soil, so consider mulching around the base to retain moisture and regulate soil temperature.

5. Support System Sweet peas are climbers, so they'll need something to cling to. Install trellises, netting, or even some sturdy strings for them to twine around. This support should be in place at planting to avoid disturbing the roots later.

6. Watering and Feeding Keep the soil consistently moist, especially during dry spells. Avoid overhead watering to keep the foliage dry and reduce the risk of disease. 

7. Pinching for Bushier Plants When your sweet pea plants are about 6 inches tall, pinch out the tips. This encourages bushier growth and more blooms.

8. Pests and Problems Watch out for pests like aphids and mildew. Regular inspections and good air circulation around your plants will help keep these issues at bay. We find the best way to avoid these problems is excellent soil health and planting shrubs and trees on our farms that attract birds.

9. Harvesting the Blooms Sweet peas are excellent cut flowers. The more you cut, the more they bloom! Regular harvesting also prevents them from going to seed, prolonging the flowering period. Cut flowers weekly and fill your house with these beautiful fragrant flowers and give bouquets to family and friends to keep your plants producing.


A bouquet featuring lavender sweet peas


10. Enjoy the Fragrance and Colors! Sweet peas will fill your garden with a sweet scent and a burst of color that's sure to become a haven to escape to throughout the spring and early summer, at the end of the season you can allow the sweet peas to go to seed and collect the full and dry pods to save seed for next year.

Growing sweet peas is not just about beautifying your garden; it's about creating a space of joy and tranquility you can escape to every day. So, grab those seeds and let the magic of sweet peas transform your garden space this season.

If you want a more in-depth guide to growing sweet peas that takes all the lessons we've learned on our flower farm, download our Fundamentals of Sweet Peas Course, for a printable guide to help you succeed with sweet peas. We also have a selection of seed grown from sweet peas on our flower farm available in our online shop. Happy Gardening!

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