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Growing Sweet Peas

Updated on June 27, 2017
A vintage vase hold a bouquet of beautiful hues.
A vintage vase hold a bouquet of beautiful hues.

My Favorite Vine Flower

Do you grow the delicate sweet pea flower? The many varieties are beautiful, fragrant and old fashioned.

This lovely plant, highly fragrant and heat resistant, is one of my favorite vine flowers. Found in many cottage gardens these beauties are an old-fashioned vine flower that are easy to grow.

Plant them anywhere where you would like the sweet timeless beauty and honey orange blossom fragrance. Sweet peas come in many varieties and just as many colors but if you want the fragrance in your garden this summer you'll have to plan ahead and plant the seeds early. Traditionally sown on March 17th, St. Patrick's Day, consider adding the sweet fragrant vine wrapped around a trellis or fence or as part of a hanging flower basket.

Once they bloom make sure you pick the flowers often so you'll have more flowers! Bees and butterflies love them too!

What do I need?

Sweet pea seeds*



Sunny spot

Trellis, fencing or supports

Inoculant (optional)

*see my favorite sweet pea seeds

Botanical Interests: A Colorado Company

Because I look for (Lathyrus Odoratus) that are highly fragrant I specifically choose seeds that say heirloom or high scent. I also like the bouquet blend because I want to bring the fragrance into my house. If you want flowers that are very fragrant, more heat resistant with bigger flowers and "longer heavier stems"; look for varieties with names like Perfume Delight, High Scent, Heirloom or Bouquet Blend.

Because these flowers are annuals you do need to plant the seeds every year, although sometimes a hardier plant will reseed.

When they bloom pick the flowers! The more you pick the more blooms you will have.

Mark the calendar for March 17th, St. Patrick's Day for planting your sweet pea seeds but also mark the calendar for March 16th for soaking your sweet pea seeds. Sweet peas have a hard outer layer so soaking the sweet pea seeds the night before planting will help ensure that the seeds will grow.

Sweet Pea Bud
Sweet Pea Bud
Perennial Sweet Peas
Perennial Sweet Peas

How to Plant

It's hard to describe the scent .. a light fragrance scent of sweet orange and honey. It's old fashioned but very appealing.

Make sure the garden soil, pots or hanging baskets are ready before you plant your seeds. Sweet pea seeds prefer a neutral soil. Pick out a sunny spot in the garden preferably against a fence or trellis as sweet pea vines need something to climb on.

In late fall the seed catalogs start arriving and it's easy to get carried away. By planning your summer garden early you can assure a fragrant garden. Look for seeds that are classified as old-fashioned, highly fragrant or highly scented. The ones that are close to the original Italian wildflower will give off the most fragrance. Choose a few varieties so you can decide which variety grows best in your part of the country. Pick complementary colors to the other flowers in your garden. Deep reds and purples make a striking statement in the garden.

Follow the directions on the packet and carefully plant. Many growers will also add an inoculate to the seeds for a larger harvest. I've done it both ways with success,

Most fragrant flowers are annuals which means you will have to replant every year. The perennial is just as beautiful but often doesn't have as strong of a fragrance.

Look for buds in about 12 weeks from March 17th. Pick often and fill vases with nature's gift.

Will Sweet Peas Grow in Acidic Soil?

Soil Testing Kit

Test your soil using a simple soil testing kit!

Perennial Sweet Pea will grow in all types of soil.

According to master gardeners:

The soil prefers the following PH / acid levels :

- pH of less than 6, Acidic soils

- pH between 6 and 8, Neutral soils

- pH greater than 8, Basic soils

© 2011 Writing Nag

Do you grow fragrant sweet peas?

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    • Maggie42 profile image


      6 years ago

      Yes I do grow sweet peas every year. I find it fascinating that we also plant our sweet peas on St Patrick's day in Australia. They will flower in about September. I've tried planting them later but they flower later and get cooked in summer.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Oh yes, they are one of my favorite climbers too! But Clematis are still #1 for me......

    • LauraHofman profile image

      Laura Hofman 

      6 years ago from Naperville, IL

      I haven't tried them yet...but now I want to! Thank you for this informative lens.

    • Gayle Dowell profile image

      Gayle Dowell 

      6 years ago from Kansas

      I love to grow flowers, but have not tried growing sweet peas.

    • ArtWebb profile image


      7 years ago

      Reminds me of the garden I had as a kid. Nice informative lens.

    • Rosanna Grace profile image

      Rosanna Grace 

      7 years ago

      I did when I was a child. Lots of wonderful memories. :)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      These sweet peas are so sweet looking. I love the delicate colors!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I love to pick the first sweet pea!

    • LynetteBell profile image


      7 years ago from Christchurch, New Zealand

      We have a native NZ garden so sweet peas don't fit...but I love them

    • GardenIdeasHub LM profile image

      GardenIdeasHub LM 

      7 years ago

      I was very interested in growing sweet peas. Thanks for your advice I think it will really help me.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I grew sweet peas for the first time this year and was pleased with the result. They were easy to grow and flowered for ages.

    • ItayaLightbourne profile image

      Itaya Lightbourne 

      8 years ago from Topeka, KS

      I love sweet peas! I even call my little grandson my little Sweet Pea. Sweet Peas grow wild all along the roadside where I live in the Pacific NW, USA. They're so pretty. Blessings!

    • bernie74 lm profile image

      bernie74 lm 

      8 years ago

      Love sweet peas, although I am not a green thumb, but going through this lens I could actually start growing them.

      Thanks for sharing

      Blessed by a Squid Angel!

    • Craftypicks profile image

      Lori Green 

      8 years ago from Las Vegas

      Got to just love them

    • lesliesinclair profile image


      8 years ago

      Don't you just love sweet peas! So humble, vibrant, and countrylike. Thanks.

    • vegetablegardenh profile image


      8 years ago

      I do! I love them, they are so pretty.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Actually I haven't grown any sweet peas. I am not sure why I haven't I have grown most everything else lol. When I get to my own place, where I will have room to grow something, this will be first on my list of flowers to plant.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Totally doing this -- my screen porch will smell AMAZING! Thanks for the tips :)

    • LynetteBell profile image


      8 years ago from Christchurch, New Zealand

      I've never grown sweet peas but I love the flowers and the beautiful colors you can get

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 

      8 years ago from Land of Aloha

      I've never, but they are truly pretty.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I absolutely love vines. I'm planning on growing some Picotee Blue Morning Glory and the colorful Sweet Peas pictured here would make a great addition.

    • GypsyOwl profile image

      Deb Bryan 

      8 years ago from Chico California

      I haven't yet, but, growing fragrant sweet peas sounds like a great idea!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Yes, I planted my seedlings out about 8 days ago. They are doing really well. I love them - and the more you pick them for indoor arrangements, the more the flowers keep coming.

    • Elyn MacInnis profile image

      Elyn MacInnis 

      8 years ago from Shanghai, China

      I have often stopped to sniff when I was in the US. We don't have them in China.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I sure would love to try to grow some fragrant sweet peas. They are, well ... sweet!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I'm currently growing the seedlings in pots, although they're climbing quite high already! What should I place them in/transfer them to so as they can grow well indoors before they're strong enough to be planted outside?

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      @TheWritingnag: Ah perfect, cheers!

    • TheWritingnag profile imageAUTHOR

      Writing Nag 

      8 years ago from Colorado Springs, Colorado

      @LaceLungs: I've never sown the seeds except for outdoors, you can carefully transplant them into another pot and then move the pot outdoors when it's warm enough.

    • Country-Sunshine profile image

      Country Sunshine 

      8 years ago from Texas

      I love these flowers, but seldom grow them. I'd love to have them growing along my fence!

    • Rosaquid profile image


      8 years ago

      No, but I'd love to.

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 

      8 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      I didn't realize soaking the seeds would help them grow. Makes sense! I think sweet peas are lovely flowers.

    • HealthfulMD profile image

      Kirsti A. Dyer 

      8 years ago from Northern California

      Love Sweet peas as a kid. Good idea to try in this year's garden.

    • HealthfulMD profile image

      Kirsti A. Dyer 

      8 years ago from Northern California

      Love Sweet peas as a kid. Good idea to try in this year's garden.

    • junecampbell profile image

      June Campbell 

      8 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      I can't get them to grow on my balcony, but they grow in the park across the street. I love them and I love the wonderful odour.

    • captainj88 profile image

      Leah J. Hileman 

      8 years ago from East Berlin, PA, USA

      Never did this. They are my birth-month flower, so I grew up being given "Sweet Pea"-scented things for birthdays. I think I'll try to grow some this year!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Great lens. The pictures look so attractive.

    • TheWritingnag profile imageAUTHOR

      Writing Nag 

      8 years ago from Colorado Springs, Colorado

      @TheFalconPress: Thanks not all sweet peas have fragrance. Look for seeds that say highly fragrant or old-fashioned.

    • TheFalconPress profile image

      The Falcon Press 

      8 years ago from Los Angeles, California

      Great lens. I never knew sweet peas had a fragrance until I read this lens. Thanks. I'll definitely try growing some in the future.

    • profile image

      goo2eyes lm 

      8 years ago

      i can't plant sweet peas because i got a snail plague in my garden. my garden is close to the creek.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I don't .. but my mother always had sweet peas in her garden.. I'm not sure they would grow in Kuwait!!!! Blessed!

    • snazzify lm profile image

      Katie Harp 

      8 years ago

      blessed by a squid angel :) <3

    • Grasmere Sue profile image

      Sue Dixon 

      8 years ago from Grasmere, Cumbria, UK

      I love sweet peas, but the mice tend to get at them before they can make a real start!

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 

      8 years ago from New Zealand

      Nice lens. I love sweet peas. Great tip about soaking the seeds, I did not know that. Thanks for sharing.

    • PNWtravels profile image

      Vicki Green 

      9 years ago from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA

      I love sweet peas! Easy to grow and smell so great! I enjoyed all of the planting and growing tips.

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 

      9 years ago from Southampton, UK

      Sweet peas are a great addition to any garden, very pretty. Nice lens to feature this great traditional English plant.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 

      9 years ago from Colorado

      I would love to grow my own sweet peas (perhaps in the greenhouse I'm building since I missed the regular growing season). Thanks for all of the tips. Appreciated!

    • LisaAuch1 profile image

      Lisa Auch 

      9 years ago from Scotland

      I never managed to start my sweet peas this year, and I do miss them!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Wish I'd read this earlier in the year. Although we had so much rain in May (we set records!) that they probably would have drowned. I'm still hoping that the ones I planted June 1 will grow. Sigh. We'll see. If they don't I'll have to revisit your lense.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I planted sweet peas this year. They are currently working on climbing up the supports I set up for them. Can't wait for them to bloom!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Love sweet peas! Thanks for planting date. I'd never heard that before.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      A favourite flower. What a pity that Squidoo doesn't have a "scratch and sniff" module :)

      Blessed by the neighbourhood angel.


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