Known for their sweet fragrance and vibrant shades of pink and purple, sweet peas are a longstanding favorite with gardeners. Sweet peas are perfectly at home in border gardens, trellises, and even bouquets and are available in both annual and perennial varieties. Here are a few tips on how to keep sweet peas thriving in your garden no matter the time of year.
You should sow your sweet peas in autumn or early spring. If sowing in autumn, be sure that you have somewhere to keep them safe from frost over the winter.
Sweet peas like an open, sunny position so you ideally want to choose a spot that gets full sun. Sow two to three seeds together in a pot or tray, placing them around 1 inch deep in compost-enriched, well-draining, moist, slightly alkaline soil.
You can then plant your sweet peas out once the risk of frost has passed. This varies from region to region but is typically from May onwards. Alternatively, if you’re worried about a late frost, you can always put your sweet peas out during the day and return them indoors overnight, which will encourage them to harden before planting out.
Sweet peas can be planted in pots or borders and most will need some sort of support, whether from a trellis or bamboo canes, that they can climb.
To help your sweet peas thrive, you want to keep the soil moist but not soggy. Water your sweet peas when the soil feels dry to the touch, once a week is usually enough. Sweet peas thrive in full sun but in very hot weather, a touch of afternoon shade can also be beneficial.
Keep an eye out for common pests that feast on sweet peas, such as slugs, snails, and aphids. Check your sweet peas in the evening and remove slugs and snails by hand and wipe away aphids with a damp cloth. Preventative measures such as crushed eggshells or pesticides can also help protect your sweet peas from predators.
Sweet peas will benefit from a more phosphorus- or potassium-heavy fertilizer rather than a nitrogen-based fertilizer to encourage more blooms. You can also use tomato fertilizer or try adding bone or blood meal to the soil.
The more you pick your sweet peas, the more they’ll bloom so don’t be afraid to cut flowers at regular intervals. Not only will this encourage your sweet peas to flower but it will also mean you have a plentiful supply of sweet-smelling bouquets for your home!
Pinch the growing tips back 1 inch when the plant reaches 4 inches tall to encourage the growth of more flowering stems and deadhead flowers regularly to keep your sweet peas blooming well into autumn.