I have called this post ‘How to Grow Sweet Peas’ which may indicate that I have been successful at it. I know the theory of it, and this I will share, along with my pitiful efforts. Sweet peas are mostly annuals, they smell amazing and are a great cut flower. Who wouldn’t want them in the garden?
These were the seeds I chose:
Sarah Ravens Amethyst Sweet Peas
Seeds can be sown in Autumn or Spring. Autumn sowings will flower from May to October. Spring sowings will flower later, from July to October. They should be planted in small pots – 2 or 3 in each. Some say you should soak the seeds overnight but others say this is nonsense and causes undue stress (to the plant not the grower). Root trainers are useful for sweet peas’ long root system, particularly for Autumn sowings that will be in the pot a long time. Make a hole 1cm deep (I use a biro), drop the seed in and light cover with compost (multipurpose is fine). Keep moist and wait.
Growing and Pinching Out
Once germinated, seedlings should be kept cool. Keeping cool encourages root rather than shoot growth. I think this is where I went wrong this year as I kept them on the kitchen windowsill (and possibly forgot to water them for a few days then tried to compensate by overwatering them) – they got very leggy. Autumn sown seeds should be overwintered in a cold frame rather than inside for this reason.
Pinching out is the part that always confused me so I have included link to a video on how it should be done. Basically, once there are 4 pairs of leaves, pinch off the top leaving a plant approx 1-2 inches tall. This encourages side shoots and bushiness which means more flowers.
I haven’t managed to get mine to be big enough to be happy to do this yet! They did improve after pinching out but are still rather sorry looking things. I potted them on last week in case they were struggling for nutrition. We’ll see how they get on. When getting ready to plant out, plants need to be ‘hardened off’, so gradually adjusted to being outside.
My sweet peas – wish I was as leggy!
Choose a nice sunny place for your sweet peas (and somewhere you can smell them), dig in some compost and plant 15cm apart around whatever it is you want the to climb. Water well. Sweet peas climb with their tendrils which are quite small so if you have wide trellis you might need to add extra twine for the to latch onto. Tie them in if needed.
Now comes the fun bit! Wait for them to grow and enjoy them in the house. The more you pick, the more flowers you will get. Deadhead promptly and do not allow to set seed as this will inhibit flowering. Snip off seedpods if they appear.
Hope you have more success than me! Any suggestions on how to salvage my plants would be much appreciated!