Showing posts with label Sweet peas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sweet peas. Show all posts

Monday, August 9, 2021

Reviewing Growing Annual Sweet Pea Plants And Flowers

sweet pea flowering plant growing on wrought iron

Of all the annual flowers I think sweet peas are my favourite. I love the beautiful flowers and the delicious scent. They are climbers and so great to have flowers that take up very little space. They are also so beautiful in a vase in the house.

They are annuals which means that they set seeds, grow and produce flowers and seed pods, then die all in one year. You cannot usually keep them from year to year, but you can buy new seeds each year quite inexpensively. 

Sweet peas are so easy to grow and care for and are worth anyone having a go. This article is about growing and enjoying sweet peas, not growing them for showing or breeding which is more specialised. 

sweet pea flowering plant

 Buying Sweet Peas Seeds

 You can buy sweet pea seeds from many places. Here are a couple of things to look out for.

I love my sweet peas to be scented so if you do want scent make sure it says scented on the packet.

Some scents are stronger than others and that is a personal choice. Check carefully if you prefer a floral, fruity, musky, fresh or heavy scent. 

If you are wanting a particular colour then you will need to look specifically for that colour. I often buy a packet of just white or cream. If you are planning to pick them for a wedding these colours are particularly beautiful. 

Many seed packets are mixed colours but you may choose from pinks and purples to burgundy and reds. 

Some Sweet Peas are the older or even heritage varieties, others are more modern so again it is a choice of what you enjoy. There really is something for everyone! 

sweet pea plant against wood fence

 Sowing Your Sweet Pea Seeds

 There are a huge variety of sweet pea seeds for sale. You can buy them in multi-colored packs or packs of for example cream or white only. Check the packet carefully for if they are fragrant or not as well.

Some will have longer stems than others so if you really want to grow them mainly for the house it is better to choose long-stemmed varieties for vases. Otherwise, it does not matter. There are heritage and new varieties and really we are spoiled for choice! 

 Once you have made your choice or like me decided you cannot choose so buy several different packets, you can sow seeds in Spring or in Autumn. 

The autumn sowing will mean earlier flowers but you will need to look after them over autumn/winter. This means you will need a frost-free place for them to be all autumn and winter and will need to keep an eye on them.

 The Spring sowing will result in later flowers but the whole process is during spring and summer and you will not need a special place for them.

 I generally sow in Spring but if I had space in a greenhouse or cold frame I would do an autumn sowing as well to prolong the flowering season. 

 Sweet peas are not too fussy about soil. For the seeds, I use a mix of any ordinary compost with some grit added for extra drainage.

 Sweet peas generally germinate well. I sow mine in either small pots or plug trays or even in toilet roll holders. They do develop long roots so a taller container is better.  Any container that is not too large but is long enough for nice deep roots to form is good.

pink sweet pea flowers

 Planting Out Sweet Pea Plants

Once you can see the roots have formed well and the plants have several proper leaves we can think about planting out. However, it is very important that we only plant out after the frosts have finished for the year. This can be tricky to predict but know your local weather conditions from year to year.

Where I live we are usually safe from late May/early June. Then it is simply a matter of digging a hole slightly larger than the plants' rootball and you can plant the whole plug out into the garden. Carefully fill in around the planting hole and gently firm in. 

 It is worth noting that If you have kept your plants in warm sheltered conditions then I would advise that you take them out in the daytime and back in at night for a period of one to two weeks to acclimatize them to outdoor conditions gradually before planting out for good.

a variety of sweet pea flowers

Do only plant out strong healthy plants. If they are too thin and weak or struggling they will quickly become prey to slugs and will not grow well or at all. So plant out only the strong growing healthy ones. The weaker ones can either be discarded or I like to give them a chance by continuing to grow on in a small pot. Give them all a really good soaking with water after you have planted them. 

I would advise planting out on a day that is not too hot and sunny just so that they do not get too stressed. A warm but not too hot day is about right. They do like moisture-retentive soil which is fine on our clay mix soil. However, if you have sandy or chalky soil it is best to dig a large hole much bigger than the area you are going to plant in and fill it with good compost, manure or similar to enrich the soil. Then put your supports in and plant the sweet peas. 

 Sweet peas can also be planted out into large pots and grown up a tripod in the pot. I think they look rather lovely this way and you can see all the way around the pot which makes for better viewing and easier picking. The soil can be ordinary compost with a little grit or perlite mixed in for better drainage.

Sweet peas do like a sunny spot if possible. In a large pot they will require much more watering than in the ground, so never let them dry out, the soil must be kept moist. 

deep red sweet pea flowers

 Tieing in Sweet Peas

Most sweet peas are self-climbers so they produce curly tendrils that latch on to any support and grow upwards. Some do need tieing in regularly as they have no tendrils. I usually buy the self-clinging ones and provide support for them to grow up.

Support can be anything from canes with string, a tripod with additional string, or another tall plant they can scramble up. I have grown mine this year up Bamboo canes and also alongside our Metal Garden Swing Seat tied in with ordinary string. 

I tie in a few stems to begin with to give them a good start, then every so often if they are growing too far out from the support. I just use soft string and tie loosely so as not to damage the stems. 

sweet pea flowering plant against wood fence

 Picking Sweet Pea Flowers. 

This is the beauty of sweet peas, you must regularly pick the flowers! For many plants, you have to make the decision to either pick the flowers for a display in the home or to have the flowers in the garden. With sweet peas, you get the best of both worlds!! You must pick the flowers in order to get more flowers! 

So usually once a week I go over all our sweet peas in the back garden. Then once a week on another day I pick all those in the front garden. That way I always have sweet peas in the garden and a vase or two of sweet peas in the house.

an arrangement of sweet pea flowers in a variety of colors

When you pick them use a sharp pair of scissors and cut right at the base of the stem so that you get as long a stem as possible. Put them in water immediately. I carry a jar of water with me and they go in straightaway. Then I can transfer to a prettier jar, glass, or vase in the house. 

 If you don't pick the flowers regularly they will quickly go to seed and you will see these seed pods like in the photo.
I left these without picking to show you and now there will be no more flowers on that specific plant for the rest of the year. So the motto is to keep picking the flowers!!  

sweet pea plant seed pods

 Watering And Feeding Sweet Pea Plants.

 If it rains regularly you may not need to water at all. However, we have been having a heatwave here and so I do water the ground thoroughly soaking it about once or twice a week. Do not water the plant's leaves only the soil.

Once the flowers start to appear I give them a fertiliser feed about once a week with a high potash feed, something like a tomato feed is good, but if I forget they are always just fine.

Sweet Pea Flowers In The Home

The flowers are so pretty and the scent is so gorgeous that it would not be summer without sweet peas in our home. They can scent a room beautifully and look so pretty. I just pick them with longest stems possible and pop them in a vase or as here in a wine glass. I like them to look natural and so I just pop them in the vase as they fall.

 Some people may want to do more flower arranging or make a gorgeous arrangement with other flowers which would be stunning.  I just pop them in a vase by themselves which I think looks pretty.  They last around a week in the vase then by then there are more from the garden. 

 Flowers are always fleeting though and so for a more permanent record of the flowers and plants in our garden and countryside, I do take a lot of photos each year and make some into greetings cards and gifts, you can see some of them on my Blog Raintree Earth Design. 

However you grow them in the garden or in a container, to enjoy in the garden or pick for the home, Sweet peas are such easy beautiful annuals to grow and enjoy. Adults and children can grow them and they are a lovely introduction to growing annuals.

 Their scent is so beautiful and there are many different scents, the colours are many and varied and you will never tire of them.

sweet pea flowers in a glass vase

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