The best time to plant out sweet peas – gardening guide

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While sweet peas are annuals, which mean they germinate, grow, flower, set seed and die all in one year meaning they have to be re-grown each year, they are long-flowering and provide plenty of colour, scent and flowers in your garden to pick for months on end.

When should I plant sweet peas?

You can plant sweet peas in the autumn or in the spring.

Do not plant sweet peas out too late or they will not have much time to flower.

It’s recommended you plant your sweet peas before the end of May.

How do I sow sweet peas?

Sweet pea seeds germinate pretty easily, but you can help to process along by nicking the seed coat with a knife – just be sure to avoid the eye area.

You should sow your sweet peas in 9cm pots in root trainers or trays.

They cultivate best in peat-free compost away from any risk of frost – which is key if you are sowing in the autumn months.

How do I plant out sweet peas?

Before planting out your sweet peas, harden them to the elements by placing them out in the day and bringing them back in for the night time.

To encourage bushy growth, pinch out the tips of young sweet pea plants when they reach about 10cm tall.

Plant your sweet peas in fertile soil beneath a support, such as a wigwam made of bamboo canes.

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Space your sweet peas about 20cm apart, but don’t worry about separating individual plants.

Start feeding with a high potash fertiliser, such as tomato food, whenever flowers appear.

Regular picking will encourage more flowers and prevent plants from setting seed.

You should water sweet peas growing in pots, and during very dry weather.

What are common problems with sweet peas?

Young sweet pea plants are vulnerable to slug and snail damage.

To fend them off, use beer traps or copper bands.

Allow your sweet peas to produce four sets of leaves before pinching out the dominant tip to stop your sweet peas from becoming leggy.

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