Top Tips For Growing Stunning Sweet Peas

Sweet peas are one of the best annual flowers you can grow to produce long-stemmed fragrant blooms which are ideal for display in a vase. Sweet peas are grown from seed which germinate easily enough, but to get the best results you need to listen to an expert. Such a man is James Robbins whose article I came across on the Gardening Know How website.

Sweet peas are some of the most popular annual flowers to grow from seed. If you grow them well you will be blessed with armfuls of blooms all summer. I have grown trials of sweet peas for the RHS and National Sweet Pea society at RHS Harlow Carr in Harrogate and for Which? Gardening magazine at Capel Manor Gardens in Enfield. Here are a few top tips I learned from some of the countries top growers on how to get the best results from your sweet peas.

1. Choose the right variety
Sweet peas can be divided into two main groups ? ?Grandifloras? and ?Spencer? types. For the expert, flowers of grandiflora types have fused keel petals, Spencer?s do not. For everyone else, Grandifloras tend to have a stronger scent so are really useful if you want that quintessential sweet pea sent in the house. ??Hi scent? (pale pink) and ?Cupani? (purple and maroon) have some of the strongest scented flowers. If you want the really big, frilly flowers with long stems for exhibition, then you will be better off with a Spencer type. A couple of my favorites are ?Chastworth? (pale blue) or ?White Frills? (white). More recently, some sweet peas have been bred to combine the best of both of these types and are called ?Modern grandifloras?. One of the best all-rounders for both cut flower and scent ?is ?Albutt Blue? (pale blue). If your seeds have a solid color, they will produce a solid colored flower, if they are striped, the flower will be striped too.

2. Sow them in the Autumn
Sweet peas are very cold tolerant and only need a little bit of warmth to get them started. During October, sow them 1cm deep in a good quality compost. If they are kept at around 16? C for 7 to 14 days you will soon start to see shoots. Sweet peas are a delicacy for hungry mice so make sure they are covered with a propagation lid or sheet of glass, to exclude any rodents until you start to see shoots appearing. Sweet peas that have been sown in the autumn are much stronger so will start to flower several weeks earlier than plants sown in the spring. Seed production used to be done in the heat of California, meaning seed casings were very tough and needed to be chipped to help them shoot. It is no longer necessary, and you are more likely to damage the seed than help it.

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