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How To Grow Sweetpeas...
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Growing Flowers Growing Sweetpeas

Growing The Right Flowers

Sweetpeas are a hardy annual flower that have a life span of 12 months or less. When grown correctly, these wonderful scented flowers grow rapidly both above and below ground, and one plant alone can offer nearly 500 flower spikes.

Disease Free Flowers
Single white sweetpea
Growing The Right Flowers

Did you know..... The first sweet pea was introduced to England from Sicily in 1699

Step by step guide to growing sweet peas

Prepare your site

Sweetpeas like to be planted in a sunny, open position, in good deep, well drained top-soil. To get the most out of your sweet peas, it is best to dig over the chosen site during the autumn and add some well rotted farmyard manure or well rotted compost, along with bone-meal.

When to plant sweet peas

Sweet pea seeds can be sown from late September to mid-April, but it is advisable to sow them under glass if you are going to grow them through the winter months.

Sweet pea seeds

How to plant sweet peas

Two or three sweet peas should be planted in a 3 inch pot, about ½ inch deep Plant sweet pea seeds into a good seed compost. If you are sowing the seeds in a tray, try to leave at least 2 inches (5cm) between each seed. Keep the compost moist.

When the sweetpea seedlings have grown two or three sets of leaves, it is best to pinch out the centre growing tip, as this encourages the growth of extra basal side shoots, which makes for a better show of flowers.

Autumn or winter grown seeds are usually ready to plant out in their pernament position as early as March, Spring sown seeds should be ready to be planted out by late April or early May.

Sweet peas can be grown in a couple of ways, either by the bush method or the cordon method. The latter involves much more time and care than the bush method.

The Bush method

Plant sweet pea seedlings in groups of two or three, allowing 8-10 inches between each group, alternatively, plant singularly, leaving 6 inches between each plant. Make sure that the plants are transplanted firmly, ensuring that the roots are planted well down into the soil. Support the plants with pea sticks or wire/cord netting.

The Cordon method

The cordon method of growing sweetpeas is a little more complicated than the bush method. To grow the cordon way, you have to sacrifice quantity for quality. You may get fewer blooms, but the ones you will get will be larger and stronger. The ground needs to be liberally manured beforehand, and the growth above ground has to be restricted to ensure that most of the energy is used to form a large root system. Plant your seedlings 6 inches apart in double rows, allowing 15 inches between each row. Space the pairs of double rows at least 3ft apart. Support the leading growth on a frame made from 8ft tall bambo and string, or against wire netting. When the plants are between 12 and 15 inches tall, take off all the side growths on the plant with a sharp knife, leaving only the strongest basal side growth. Pinch off the tendrils and any tiny side shoots as they appear. Do not allow the plants to flower until they are 2½ to 3ft high, or until the first flower stems start to bear 4 or more buds.

Sweetpea spray

Routine care of sweet peas

If the ground was properly prepared beforehand, feeding and watering may not be necessary. If a mulch of loose decayed manure or sedge peat is placed around the plants, it should conserve the moisture in the soil over the summer months. If they do look as if they need a drink, give them a heavy soaking once every 10 days. If they need feeding, then a mixture of diluted liquid manure or a good compound fertilizer can be given to the plants.

Recommended varieties of sweet peas

Lathyrus odoratus 'Matucana' : An old fashioned sweetpea that has strongly scented maroon and purple flowers. Best grown in fertile, well drained soil in full sun.

Lathyrus latifolius 'White Pearl' : Not as scented as the old fashioned sweetpea, but is widely grown for it's profusion of pure white flowers, which bloom for a long period over the summer months. Also known as the everlasting sweetpea.

Lathyrus odoratus 'Mixed Spencer Hybrids' : A dwarf species of sweetpea that smell wonderful. Can be grown by the cordon method, or left to scramble against a wall or supporting frame of their own free will. Comes in a mixed variety of colours.

Old fashioned sweet pea

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