Growing sweet pea flowers inject an essential ingredient into any cottage garden planting scheme. They can also add interest when planted around obelisks to attract bees into your vegetable garden. Not all sweet peas have a scent. Choose varieties like King’s High Scent to plant where you can enjoy their wonderful fragrance.
And don’t let their edible-sounding name confuse you. All parts of the sweet pea plant are poisonous.
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Sweet pea seeds have a hard outer shell. Germination will be quicker if you scarify (make small cuts) into the seeds before planting.
Plant into a 10 inch (25 cm) trench that has been half filled with organic manure. Top up with sieved garden compost. Keep moist but not water logged.
If you live in an area with soil that’s slow to warm up in spring, start your sweet peas off in pots. Fill three inch (7.5 cm) pots with an organic seed starting mix and push in 2 or 3 seeds per pot. Keep moist, but don’t waterlog.
If you’re transplanting pre-grown plants in your garden it’s still worth preparing a trench and adding organic manure. Position your plants in the space and top up with sieved compost so the plant's base is just covered.
Once plants are about four inches tall (10 cm), pinch out the growing stem to encourage a bushier plant. This will give you better flower coverage of your supporting structure.
Add organic poultry manure to the ground at the time of planting to add the nutrients necessary for full growth.
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Sweet peas suit many different kind of supporting structures, and even dwarf varieties of sweet peas benefit from some support. You can grow them along a trellis or around decorative obelisks.
You can also grow along wires in your fencing or attached to supporting stakes. They will twist and tumble across structures naturally, but it’s worth tying stems in as they can become heavy over the season.
Deadhead flowers regularly to encourage blooms. Remove any seedpods to extend the season. Collect the final flowering seedpods to provide you with next year’s flowers. Seeds will keep for two or three years.
Use an organic bonemeal fertilizer once during the flowering season which should be watered into the soil.
Sweet peas have strong stems and will stand tall if packed into a vase or bowl. Choose flowers that are just about to open to get the longest displays. Put them into cold or slightly chilled water.
Overcrowded plants and a lack of airflow will encourage botrytis or grey mold. Cut out affected sections that have a grey, fluffy mold on them. Destroy, don’t compost, this debris.
The following pests and diseases have been known to affect the success of growing Sweet Pea Flowers (see Organic Garden Pest Control for information about how to prevent and address pests and diseases)...
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