The Scent of Summer

I’ve grown sweet peas for many years, it’s one of the plants I’ve always made some time for. I’ve had different degrees of success and the main factor has been the amount of attention I’ve given them. Sweet peas are tough even though they look so delicate, and are easy to raise from seed, but not a ‘plant them and leave them’ crop, they do need a bit of care. To get the most flowers, here are my essential tips. It’s neither difficult or expensive to get a beautiful selection of cut flowers for your home that bring that gorgeous scent drifting through the rooms.

5 Top Tips for growing your own Sweet Peas.

  1. Toilet Roll Tubes! – No its not Blue Peter! Sweetpeas are hungry and thirsty plants – they grow up to 2m tall in a few weeks – so give them the space they need with deep pots, root trainers or in my case – toilet roll middles! Raise your seeds in loo-rolls and a good strong root system can develop giving your plants the best start when you plant them out in their final spot.
  2. Nourishment – feed the plants – dig in plenty of goodness – I use well rotted manure – before planting out to make sure there is plenty of energy for your seedlings as they grow.
  3. Supports and Spacing – (2 tips for the price of one!) I use standard 6ft bamboo canes and make a wigwam shape. You can use any kind of supports, hazel sticks are gorgeous if you have a supply. I usually put 2 plants per cane. I then use garden twine to make a web around the canes for the plants to cling to as they grow, and tie them in regularly.
  4. Water, Water, Water – I have grown sweet peas in many different gardens, aspects and locations. They need plenty of light, and decent soil, but the thing that makes the biggest difference to health of my sweet peas each year is water. In dry spells I water every other day, especially as they are getting established. When I have been busy with other things and not watered regularly my plants have been stringy and thin with weak flower stems.
  5. Keep cutting – once the flowers start to come, its really important to keep picking them. If they go to seed the plant will start to think its done its job and stop flowering. The more you pick, the more flowers you get. If you find any dead heads that are not good enough for your vase, also take them off.

    Most of all though, keep experimenting! I am always trying new ideas and techniques for my sweet peas. This year i got very greedy and put too many plants close together – my wigwam collapsed under the weight of the plants! Even worse, the flowers were over crowded so I had a lot of bent stems. Top tip 3- spacing! Next year I have a few things I want to try, one of which is to tie the plants in manually and remove their ‘tendrils’ the theory behind this is that they can put more energy into flower production if they are better supported – I’m going to try that next year and will report back!

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