This is my simple way to grow sweet peas from seed every year.
Sweet Pea Meanings
In the language of flowers, sweet peas symbolize bliss, pleasure, and leaving after a positive experience. Giving someone a bouquet of sweet peas is a lovely way to say thank you for the lovely time and adieu!
Always Sweet Peas
At the age of 18, I had one trunk and moved out of my parent’s small home in the country. I was in love and followed him all the way from Pennsylvania to California.
A country girl out of her element
I was naive and sometimes felt so alone, while the first few weeks in California were both exciting and scary, I remember being afraid to walk down the busy sidewalk by myself. Dino was living with his Zio Marcello in the back of a storefront, and a few days after I arrived in Santa Barbara, I moved into a rented room in Marcello’s girlfriend’s family home.
I didn’t know what to expect and had no idea of how lucky I would be
With my one big trunk in tow, we pulled up to a beautiful old stately home that was encircled by a stone wall covered in jasmine. Turning in the one opening onto a curved brick drive, there was a front garden that framed the house with tall pine trees, a persimmon, a few old palms, pachysandra, and other plants that I don’t know their names but had sure left an impression on me.
Just inside the house, a grand staircase encompassed an old grandfather clock, while curving its way up to the library above. To the left was a big comfortable, welcoming family kitchen that looked out to a greenhouse and lovely terraced half-acre garden with tangerine trees in the back, where I can still remember seeing one of the family cats happily roaming about.
Amy and her mom Sarah both lived in the house. Amy’s two brothers had moved out earlier that year. While missing my own family, Amy’s became like a second one to me. Her mom helped me to find a good job, showed me how to appreciate and cook good food (curry, artichokes, and avocados), and taught me the names of many different California plants. Sarah’s garden was filled with lovely cottage flowers, roses, herbs, and citrus trees, but my favorites were always her sweet peas.
When blooming, Sarah’s home was always filled with fresh-cut bouquets of sweet peas and is only something I can describe as heavenly because to try and explain their scent is almost impossible…old-fashioned roses, orange blossoms and hyacinths all mixed together maybe? How delightful it was to come home to a chattering, cozy house after working all day, and have their sweet aroma greet me at the door!
A fond adieu
Now it is years later and when I smell a bouquet of sweet peas, my senses are overcome with happy comforting memories that take me right back to that big old house.
While Sarah is gone now, Amy and I are family, we see each other often, and both have one daughter that share the same middle name, Sarah! That is why there are always sweet peas in my garden and in my heart.
Tips for growing Sweet Peas from Seed
Sweet Peas are vining and need support to grow up and flower. Some types of structures that can work are trellises, mesh or twine on supports, and fences. The plants will form tendrils as they grow and wrap around the support you provide. The structure must be well anchored in the ground to support the weight of the vines.
A few simple things you can do to help your sweet peas thrive
- Add a scoop of compost when planting sweet peas because they love nutrient-rich soil.
- Mulch around the base of the sweet peas, not touching the stems, to help them to retain moisture and keep their roots cool while growing.
- When sweet peas begin to flower, start cutting them right away to bring inside because the more you cut the more flowers will be produced and the more you will have for your vases!
Supplies to Grow Sweet Peas from Seed
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- Sweet Pea Seeds…my favorites are from Floret Flower Farm and Johnny’s
- Cups for soaking seeds
- Plastic Plant Tags
- Potting Soil – I use Espoma Organic Potting Mix
- Small Hand Trowel
- Large Bowl for soil
- Pots/Container – I use these strong, biodegradable and disposable coffee/teacups from BEELEEVE
- Espoma BioTone Starter
- Obelisk or Trellis Netting or other climbing structure
(I have used both of these and have been extremely satisified.)
How to Grow Sweet Peas from Seed
- Soak your Sweet Pea seeds overnight up to 24 hours. Don’t forget to label them.
2. The next day, gather all of your supplies
3. Using a pencil, poke drainage holes in your containers, if they don’t have them already.
4. Fill a large bowl with potting soil and a scoop of the bio-tone starter. Add a few cups of water to the soil mixture and stir it all together. Add just enough to form a ball that will fall apart if you squeeze too hard.
5. Fill the containers 3/4’s full with the mix. Tap the top of the soil line down lightly.
6. Sow your Sweet Pea seeds 3 per pot to produce 3 growing vines. Tagging the varieties as you go.
7. Move to a protected cool, and bright location, like your porch.
8. Spritz with water on top.
9. In about 10 days you will see some growth starting.
10. Once the plants have grown to 6” in height, it is best to pinch 1″ off of their tips to help them branch out to produce more flowering stems which will make the sweet peas bushier instead of spindly.
11. Harden sweet peas off by putting them out in the day and returning them to a frost-free place at night.
12. Once all risks of frost have passed, plant sweet peas in the ground or a container with supports.
They do best if planted in full sun if you live in the northern half of the US. In the South, give them some afternoon shade.
There are a lot of good tips out there for planting sweet peas, and one of my favorite places to find them is The Farmhouse Flower Farm’s Instagram page where she has a whole story about growing sweet peas that is easy to follow and enjoyable to watch.
OTHER GARDEN LINKS TO VISIT
- Favorite Gardening Books
- Late Winter, Planting from Seeds – Spring Garden Planning
- How to Plant Microgreen and Salad Green Seeds