Sow Sweet Peas

Get planting now to fill the garden with fragrant flowers on long stems for a showstopping spring display

Sweet peas have long stems making them ideal for vase displays

Sweet pea seeds are large, easy to handle and can be sown directly into garden beds or containers, with most flowering from 12 weeks. 

If they get too wet after planting, the seeds may fail to germinate so water the soil the day before sowing. 

Get the seeds in the ground while the soil is still damp then don’t water until leaves appear in about 10 days. 

SOW sweet pea seeds 10mm deep or according to the packet instructions. Choose a sunny position with well-drained soil, adding well-rotted manure or compost before planting. They like slightly alkaline soil with a pH level of 6 to 7.5 but if it is too low, about 5, add dolomite. 

WATER well during the growing season and keep an eye on moisture levels in dry weather, using a soaker hose so flowering is not restricted. 

WATCH FOR fungal diseases, as they like water but not humidity and are prone to powdery mildew. 

SUPPORT plants with a teepee made of three bamboo canes. Plant three seeds at the base of each cane, using soft ties to attach the clinging tendrils.

CUT sweet peas as they flower for vases, or snip them as they fade to promote further flowering, but leave some to set seeds for next year. 

Starting seeds 

In very cold climates, start seeds indoors. Sweet peas don’t like being transplanted, so grow from seed in tubes and plant them out in spring. 

Roll newspaper sheets around toilet rolls to make 100mm long tubes, secure with tape and slide off. 

TIP The newspaper will break down in the soil.

Step 1. Pack the tubes 

 Pack the tubes upright in a seed tray. Use a funnel to fill with potting mix and sow two seeds in each tube to 10mm deep. Stand the tray in a little water until the top of the mix is moist.

how to start seeds, step 1, handyman magazine,

 Step 2. Position the Tray

 Position the tray indoors or in a greenhouse and keep the soil moist. When the seedlings have four pairs of leaves, pinch out the tips so that strong sideshoots develop. 

step 2, position the tray, handyman magazine,

Choose a variety 

Wiltshire Ripple 

  • HEIRLOOM sweet pea variety
  • BEARS frilly white flowers splashed with maroon or claret 
  • FLOWER fragrance is rich


  • ORIGINAL sweet pea from Italy
  • BEARS two small purple and claret blossoms on each stem
  • FLOWER fragrance is intense

Painted lady 

  • OLD variety bred in the early 1700s
  • BEARS pink and white bicoloured blooms over many months
  • FLOWER fragrance is strong


  • DWARF variety bred for baskets and use as a groundcover
  • BEARS bicoloured pink blooms
  • FLOWER  fragrance is delicate

Hi Scent 

  • MODERN  grandiflora type
  • BEARS large, silky, ruffled white blooms with mauve edges 
  • FLOWER fragrance is rich

Singing the blues 

  • DESIGNER blend of sweet peas
  • BEARS large blooms in pastel to deep shades of blue and violet
  • FLOWER fragrance is sweet
Vote It Up: 
Sow Sweet Peas

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