Planting and caring for sweet peas

Plant yourself a rainbow

Sweet peas are one of my absolute favourite flowers and it was time to write a separate article about them. They are a little different to other annual summer flowers and I would like to explain their special features in detail here.

For me, they look best in the colours of a rainbow. I usually choose 4-6 different varieties (cream, rose, violet and light blue). Their fragrance is unique and their growth habit (they climb!) brings the necessary amount of wildness to the garden.

And of course they remind me of England. Sweet peas are much more popular in England than here and are also available as young plants in almost all nurseries. In Germany, unfortunately, you have to search for them. But fortunately seeds are available.

Sowing sweet peas

The seeds of sweet peas are large and for a quicker germination you should place them in lukewarm water overnight. Then they will germinate much faster. Another special feature is that sweet peas actually like it cool. They can still be kept indoors for germination, but after that at the latest, sweet peas like the fresh temperatures of late winter and spring: 10-15 degrees are ideal! Perhaps you have a greenhouse. Or another cool, bright place where the seedlings can grow.

The soaked seeds are placed about 1 cm deep in the soil and the second speciality is to use large pots with a certain depth (at least 9 cm) as sowing containers right from the start. Sweet peas are climbing plants and want to root deeply, so they would have to be transplanted very soon if they are in pots that are too small and that would be unnecessary work. The quickpot tray, for example, is ideal. I fill half of it with normal, fertilised potting soil, topped with a broad layer of seed soil. The young plants grow better in a lean substrate at first, but later their roots will be happy about the nutrients.

Planting out sweet peas

When they have reached a height of about 15-20 cm, the main stem should be cut off by approx. 10 cm to allow for greater branching and more flowers, and at 20-30 cm I will put them in my garden. And if the temperatures outside get very frosty again in March or April, I protect them with a thick layer of compost and leaves.

The third special feature is that they need a trellis as they are climbing plants and can usually grow up to 2 metres high. I insert bamboo sticks into a bamboo stick holder and wrap jute twine around the resulting framework. This gives the sweet peas enough support to grow upwards! Ideally, you won’t see much of your trellis in the summer.

Caring for and cutting sweet peas

The flowers can and should be cut throughout the summer so that the plant keeps producing new ones.

It is also worth pampering sweet peas regularly with a portion of organic liquid fertiliser and making sure they get enough water. It is better to plant them in a semi-shady spot, they won’t do so well in full sun with dry soil unless you water them like crazy.

Sweet peas are not really classic cut flowers with long stems, but they make wonderful little bouquets. I rarely combine them with other flowers, but I love to put small bouquets of sweet peas in the bathroom or on the bedside table. This is where their fragrance really comes into its own! They are also a wonderful gift for invitations. The flowers always look beautiful and enchanted. Give them a try! I’m sure you’ll become very addicted to these wonderful flowers.

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