How to Grow Fragrant Sweet Peas


SweetPeaSweet Peas are one of the most popular plants for UK gardeners. They are annuals so only last the one summer but the display they give is always amazing; lots and lots of colourful, usually fragrant, flowers growing on bright green stems up to 6-7ft in height. Wonderful!

As an added bonus they are very easy to grow; you can sow the seed directly into the ground or bring them on in the greenhouse or you can buy small plants from your local garden centre.

Before sowing, either indoors or outdoors, soak the seed overnight in warm water.

Sowing where they are to Flower

  • Choose a sunny, sheltered site and incorporate some well-rotted manure to enrich the soil, particularly if you have sandy soil. If you have heavy soil add some grit to help with drainage.
  • Wait until all risk of frost has passed, usually March or April, then just pop the seed in the ground about 2.5cm deep.
  • Give them some support and a good watering and you should have flowers by July.

Bringing on in Pots

  • Seed can be sown either from late September to November or during January or February.
  • Choose deep pots, root trainers or toilet roll tubes to give a long root run.
  • For best results use named varieties or cultivars and a good quality, free draining, potting compost.
  • Sow three seeds to a 7.5cm (3ins) pot, 1cm deep.
  • Place the pots in a cold frame or greenhouse at around 20-25C (68-77F) until after germination which should take 10-20 days.
  • Pinch out the growing tip when about 8cm tall to produce bushier plants.
  • Harden off gradually before planting in their final position.
  • Plant in a rich, free draining soil in a sunny position.

Looking after the Plants

  • Keep them well watered during dry spells.
  • Apply well-rotted manure occasionally throughout the season.
  • Slugs, snails and mice love sweet pea seedlings so take the necessary precautions.
  • Pick the flowers or deadhead regularly throughout the summer to ensure plenty of flowers.

If you are interested in growing Sweet Peas and would like to know more why not join the National Sweet Pea Society. Their six-monthly Bulletins often contain articles relating to Sweet Pea plant diseases.

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