5 Simple Steps for Sweet Pea Success

5 Simple Steps for Sweet Pea success

5 Simple Steps for Sweet Pea Success

With autumn on its way, my fingers are itching to get seed starting! And what better to get growing than fragrant sweet peas. Autumn is the BEST time to start these enchanting hardy annuals in temperate climates like mine. Starting them early gives them plenty of time to go get growing underground, building a robust network of roots all Winter long. It may seem like not much is happening on the surface, but those leaves and stems are just waiting for their turn when Spring comes along.

Visitors to Sweet Pea Gardens are always amazed by the massive 'wall of flowers' they encounter when our 8' tall sweet pea vines are in full, glorious bloom in May and June. If you've been a little disappointed before with the results you got from your sweet peas, then I've got a checklist for success, starting with the easiest and best thing you can do – plant early!

5 Simple Steps for Sweet Pea Success

1. PLANT EARLY - Temperate areas (USDA zones 8, 9 and 10) should start sweet peas in the autumn for biggest and best Spring bloom. Sweet peas are hardy annuals and can handle frost just fine. Gardening friends in colder, snowy areas should get their sweet pea plants in the ground just as soon as the soil can be worked in early Spring (but they can still be started early and kept in a cold frame). Sign up to receive a 'Planting Reminder' to make sure you get your seeds started early.

2. Grow them in NUTRIENT RICH SOIL or they will sulk! Don't skimp - give them what they need: compost, compost, compost - I use well rotted chicken manure either work it in or lay it on the surface.  Either way, it gets to the roots and helps them get established.

3. Bait for SLUGS & SNAILS! You will hate yourself if you come out one morning and see your young sweet pea plants have been munched down to nubs - it's a heart-breaking sight!  I use Sluggo Plus and apply it once a week(ish) during the rainy season. Once your plants reach about 12 inches tall, they should be able to fend off the slimy enemy themselves.

4. Provide SUPPORT– sweet peas climb by tendrils and need something to hold on to – a fence, bamboo stake teepee, trellis or obelisk.  Anything it can get its tendrils on will work just fine, but you will also need to 'tie-in' any loose stems - use garden twine.

5. CUT OFTEN! Once your sweet peas start flowering you will need to cut the blooms to encourage yet more flowers! The more you cut, the longer the flowering season will continue. You can either cut the flowers and bring them inside or enjoy them on the vine and then 'dead-head' before they start going to seed.  Toward the end of the season, you can leave some seed pods on the plant and you may get some volunteer plants for next year!

Sweet Pea Bouquet

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