I’ve wanted to share tips and photos from my sweet pea files for a long time. When I recently noticed that these red and white sweet peas (shown here with ‘Duet’ roses) are named ‘America’, I thought good timing – I’ll post this picture on President Barack Obama’s inauguration day – my little gardener’s salute to a new America.
Sweet peas are great companions to roses, both in the garden and in bouquets, and they’re easy to grow. Once they’ve reached climbing stage, I buy sweet pea netting and attach it to poles. The poles here are the green plastic variety found in garden stores. But I’m getting ahead of myself—the seeds come first!
Since I haven’t grown sweet peas for a few years, I had fun buying different varieties this past fall. How about ‘Orange Streamer’? I always soak the seeds over-night before planting to loosen the hard coating. It doesn’t look like many seeds in each packet, but they go a long way. (The ‘Royal White’ seed counter must have slipped in a few extras.)
If you want hundreds of seeds, save your own.
My soaking process was more earthy when it came to my private seed collection. I usually plant the seeds in the ground in October. This year I planted in November and they came up as quick as ever. Recent frosty mornings don’t faze the new plants.
One year, I planted the seeds in six-packs first. They tend to get leggy, if not planted soon enough.
Once they’ve really started growing, I pinch them back to encourage bushiness.
‘Lilac Ripple’ is one of my favorites. I once took a bouquet like this on the plane to Washington DC.
LR looks yummy here with ‘Iceberg’ roses.
LR in my husband Leroy Parker’s wisteria vase.
The sweet pea cycle ends in our compost heap.