Growing sweet peas – March

Regular visitors know that I am growing sweet peas ‘properly’ this year, training them up canes as single stems and not letting them ramble everywhere. This is to make sure I get long stems for cutting. It is also because, going against almost everything that is written, I am not sure that sweet peas look good clambering about over other plants or up netting. There are several reasons for this, it is not just me being awkward! Sweet peas can flower for a long time but only if you do not let them set seed pods. If you let a couple develop the plants stop flowering or at least they give up making decent stems. Also, if allowed to ramble you get short stems that are crooked and no good for cutting. And sweet peas need to be picked regularly. The buds will not open in water so you need to cut them when fully open and if you miss any the plants get lazy and stop flowering. If they get dry they get mildew too. So they really are not good enough for garden display in my opinion. I am not being hard on them – I love sweet peas but to get the best from them they need a fair bit of effort – and this year I will do just that.

So the soil has been well dug and has had a lot of manure added over the past year. A raised bed has been made and the soil was mulched with mushroom compost in autumn so I am hoping it is rich enough and has enough calcium in it to please the sweet peas. Canes were put in last month and the young plants were ready to plant out this weekend. The plants were sown last October and the tips were pinched out to encourage strong sideshoots. Each plant produced at least one strong shoot and once they were about 15cm long the plants were ready to go out, having rooted well in their individual pots.

sweet peas march 14

I prepared the plot by scattering a few slug pellets on the ground a week before planting to try to reduce the slug population. The plants were watered well – it helps to get the plants out of the pots – and then carefully planted, one at the base of each cane.

sweet peas march 14 3

They were then watered well to make sure the roots were in contact with the soil. In a week or so, when they start to grow, I will pinch off all but the one, strongest stem and tie this, with some wire rings (sweet pea rings) to the canes.

The sweet peas all planted - 52 plants in all, with daffodils for cutting planted between the two rows

The sweet peas all planted – 52 plants in all, with daffodils for cutting planted between the two rows


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3 Comments on “Growing sweet peas – March”

  1. Morag
    March 17, 2014 at 10:05 pm #

    I’m afraid I’m a sloppy sweet pea lover….who has in previous years allowed them to ramble. You are right about the need to keep cutting the blooms & that the stems get gradually shorter…. But I’m sure I’ve picked buds & had them open in the vase. In season there’s barely a room ungraced with jars of sweet peas, I’ve had to give bunches away. I can’t imagine what you’ll do with 52 plants worth…. I enjoy your blog thank you. Morag

    • thebikinggardener
      March 17, 2014 at 11:24 pm #

      Thanks Morag, I am glad you are enjoying the blog. It is possible that unopened buds that were in full colour would open in the vase but if they are small they will not. I was possibly being a bit harsh but I always think it is misleading when people are told that sweet peas will give a sheet of colour for months on end – and as for the dwarf ones for hanging baskets – well maybe I will get onto that one day! But I love to grow sweet peas for their colour and scent and I am sure i will have plenty of takers for bunches this summer šŸ™‚


  1. Amazing annuals: Lathyrus | The Biking Gardener - January 6, 2021

    […] about sweet peas in the past including a series that take you through the growing of them, starting here. I will not repeat myself since it a long and complicated process, riddled with options. Suffice to […]

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