How to grow sweet peas

These heady scented plants are easy to grow

It’s wonderful that one of our most loved flowers, the sweet pea, is so easy to grow, hardy and flexible – simply sow them between around October and March in the greenhouse for beautiful spring and summer heady-scented flowers.

If you sowed early, you can overwinter the young plants in a cold greenhouse and, in many places, sowing over winter can produce really robust, healthy plants.

Your other option is to sow them where they’re to grow in March or April, though this usually has less satisfactory results. 

As sweet peas need plenty of room for their roots to grow, use toilet rolls, long modules or rootrainers filled with compost, and sow two round seeds per module, covered with 1cm (½in) more of compost.

Water in so the compost is damp. You may need to chit your sweet pea seeds, using a pocket knife to remove a little bit of the outer layer to aid germination, though it’s not often necessary.

A general rule is that the darker the colour of the flower variety you’ve sown, the harder the seed coating, which will need chitting.

Keep seedlings cool in a greenhouse once you notice they’ve appeared, and be really careful that mice don’t nibble them all up!

Put down traps, if necessary. If plants are getting leggy, pinch out the growing tip if you need to when about three of four pairs of leaves are present, which promotes bushier plants.