Sweet Peas Hints and Tips

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Jan

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Jun

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Sep

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Nov

Dec

May

Remove weeds, water thoroughly and apply a mulch of compost to help conserve moisture and restrict the growth of weeds. Feed with a high-potash liquid fertiliser. Sweet peas are deep rooted, so if grown in pots, ensure these are large enough. If growing cordons, restrict to one strong stem and tie them into their canes as they grow. Pinch out side shoots and tendrils and the first flowers leaving the stems which will soon show buds. When the stems are approx. 4ft, untie and lay them along the ground, tying in the tip of the plant. The plants then have lots of room to grow and you can repeat this process as they reach the top of the canes.

Buy seeds and plants from Thompson and Morgan.

June

Everlasting sweet peas grown from seed last year, should now be in their final flowering positions. Pot on sweet peas sown this year. Harden off annual sweet peas which can now be planted out. Tie in new growth as necessary. Keep pinching out sideshoots and tendrils on cordon-grown plants. Picking off flowers as they die off will encourage the plants to produce more flowers.

July

If the beds were prepared properly the previous autumn then feeding and watering of sweet peas should not be necessary. Keep up with the tying in of plants to the support structure and harvest flowers for displays or dead head the plants as blooms fade.

August

Mulching to retain moisture will help to encourage flowering over an extended period. Cutting the flowers regularly is the best way to encourage prolonged flowering. If you let the blooms fade and die on the plant or even worse let seed pods form then the flowering period will be severely shortened. Spray for aphids regularly.

Buy seeds and plants from Thompson and Morgan.

September

Choose your sweet pea seeds now, so you are ready to sow them next month. It is best to select several varieties as not all sweet peas provide fragrance.

October

It is still possible to sow sweet peas into open soil in mild areas providing the soil is not waterlogged. Otherwise sow into seed trays and place them in the cold frame. As the seedlings appear leave the cold frame open as much as possible, it should only be necessary to close it down if there is particularly heavy rain or a sharp frost is forecast. Mice and birds will be the main threat to your seedlings rather than the weather.

November

Sweet pea beds should be prepared. Choose a well-drained, sunny site and dig to two spade depths (spits), inserting well-rotted manure into the bottom of the second spit. Apply bonemeal to the top and leave the ground rough, for the frost to do its work. Seedlings do not need to be pricked out but if you have time, these can be pricked out into 3 inch pots which will give them an advantage in Spring, keeping the root ball intact as you plant them out.

Buy seeds and plants from Thompson and Morgan.

December

To encourage side shoots in young plants, pinch out the tips once three pairs of leaves have formed. If a severe frost is expected, place some straw or horticultural fleece over the plants.

January

Apply fertiliser to sweet pea beds, helping to prepare the ground for planting later. Check any young plants for sign of slug damage. Sow two seeds to a small pot and place in the greenhouse, keeping them at a temperature of about 4 degrees centigrade. Elevate them to keep the slugs and snails away.

February

Prepare the area where you intend to grow your sweet peas by forking it over and breaking up any clods - if the soil is dry or just moist then treading down the bed lightly will provide a good firm soil structure. You can now build the framework for supporting the growing plants and seeds can be sown towards the end of the month in their final growing position, weather and soil conditions permitting.

Buy seeds and plants from Thompson and Morgan.

March

If the bad weather appears to be over, plant out autumn-sown seedlings. To grow as cordons, plant in double rows 12 in. apart, with 8 in. between plants. Sweet peas grown as cordons provide long-stemmed cut flowers. Place twigs around each plant to provide early support. Alternatively plant sweet peas in circles, in pairs, with 6 in. between each pair. Support with bamboo canes or wire netting. You will need to use slug pellets or pubs as soon as you have finished planting. Spring-sown seed should be sown as early as possible and kept in a cold frame.

April

Seedlings sown in Spring should be planted out as soon as they have developed into strong plants. Cordon plants should be restricted once they are 9-12 in. tall. Select the leader on each plant and cut off the rest of the leaves. Tie the leader loosely to its cane. Continue to remove any tendrils or side shoots which will form at the leaf axils. Naturally-grown plants should be hoed and cloches removed from any plants sown in the Autumn.

Gardening information, hints and tips on how to grow sweet peas in your garden including bed preparation, training, extending the flowering period and general care advice.