How to Grow Sweet Peas: 5 Tips for Growing Sweet Peas

Learn how to grow sweet peas with these 5 tips, and add beautiful and sweet smelling blooms to your garden.

I first saw sweet peas at The Butchart Gardens in British Columbia, and I was blown away by their beauty. But, it wasn’t until I grew my own that I was blown away by something else . . . the smell! Close your eyes and imagine heaven. That is what sweet peas smell like. Heaven on earth. It’s not just good looks with them.

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5 Tips for How to Grow Sweet Peas

How to Grow Sweet Peas: 5 Tips for Growing Sweet Peas

1. Plant sweet peas early in the season

How to Grow Sweet Peas: 5 Tips for Growing Sweet Peas

Sweet peas prefer cool soil, and bloom best before the weather gets hot. In zones 7 and colder, start seeds indoors and transplant sweet peas as soon as the soil is dry enough to work in. Don’t wait until after the last frost.

In mild winter areas (zone 8-10) like the low desert of Arizona, plant in the fall from October through February.

2. Choose the best type of sweet peas for your area and preferences

How to Grow Sweet Peas: 5 Tips for Growing Sweet Peas

Many sweet pea varieties are day-length sensitive, meaning they grow best in certain areas of the country. Choose a type that will grow well in your area. Fragrance differs between types as well. 

Mild Summer Areas: *Saltwater Taffy SwirlsSpencer Mix 

Hot Summer Areas: *Perfume Delight, *Jewels of Albion

Grows Well in Most ClimatesChiffon EleganceVelvet Elegance

Non-Climbing and Best for Containers: KneeHi Mix, *Explorer

*Highly scented

3. Choose and prepare the best location for planting

How to Grow Sweet Peas: 5 Tips for Growing Sweet Peas

Sweet peas need well-draining soil amended with plenty of compost and organic matter. Work compost and aged manure into a depth of at least 1 foot. Sweet peas prefer soil a bit on the alkaline side; amend with lime if soil is acidic.  

In most areas, choose a location in full sun. If your summers are very hot such as in Arizona, choose a location that gets morning sun and some afternoon shade. 

Plant seeds 1 inch deep, 2-3 inches apart. Thin to about 5 inches apart when seedlings are 2-3 inches tall.

4. Give sweet peas support as they grow

How to Grow Sweet Peas: 5 Tips for Growing Sweet Peas
How to Grow Sweet Peas: 5 Tips for Growing Sweet Peas
How to Grow Sweet Peas: 5 Tips for Growing Sweet Peas
How to Grow Sweet Peas: 5 Tips for Growing Sweet Peas

Most sweet peas can grow to heights of 8-10 feet. Put trellises in place before you plant so as not to disturb the roots. Guide young plants to the trellis and then tendrils will find supports and climb.

How to Grow Sweet Peas: 5 Tips for Growing Sweet Peas

5. Harvest sweet peas often for more blooms

  • Once blooms begin, harvest at least every other day to encourage blooming.
  • Blossoms will not open more once cut; harvest when all but top few blossoms are open.
  • Harvest blooms in the morning. 
  • Remove all leaves below the water line and put stems in water right away.
  • Blooms last 5-7 days; adding sugar or preservative will increase vase life by a few days.
  • Unharvested blooms will develop seed pods and blooms will stop. Save seeds to plant the following season. Be aware that hybrid varieties may not be true to type when saved. 
How to Grow Sweet Peas: 5 Tips for Growing Sweet Peas

Comment below if you have questions about how to grow sweet peas, or share varieties of sweet peas you’ve tried and loved. 

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