Growing Sweet Peas what is the English Secret?

Ladysmith, BC(Zone 8a)

I just love Sweet Peas, and every English garden I have seen has masses of them.

I do not seem to have much luck with my sweet peas. If they even germinate, they are straggly and spindly specimins, and never have the abundance of flowers I have seen in England?

What am I doing wrong? Anyone have seeds that are prolific flowers, I will be happy to pay postage or send you USA stamps for a SASE trade?

Norwich, Norfolk, United Kingdom

Have you tried soaking them overnight before planting?
This year I'm being really ruthless with mine. Last year they were tall and lanky, so now I keep pinching them out after the first pair of leaves apear. Hoping this might make the stems a bit thicker, may not mind you but worth a try.

Troy, VA(Zone 7a)

Manure, manure and more manure. Deeply dug bed, amended soil and well rotted manure and plant as you would clematis, feet in the shade, heads in the sun :-)

Lewes, Sussex, United Kingdom

You don't neccessarily need a "super strain" of seed (but it helps). The pro's over here generally start off in September in a cold frame.When the peas are about 4" high (January) the growing shoot is pinched out so that a strong side shoot is selected. A good root run is needed as well so individual pots such as the inside of a loo roll are used.In Autumn a trench is dug and filled with as much good stuff as you can get your hands on and the poles put in in the spring. Sweet peas need a lot of water so most people add lots of newspaper to their trench. Plant out your peas individually about 8" apart in the row (complete with loo roll pot) and tie them to their string or stake. Snip off any tendrils that appear and continue to tie in until they are 4' high and then you untie the plant and lay it over at 45 degrees along the canes and tie it in again. This encourages more side shoots to grow . these then get tied in and laid over and more come along. All this time ,you are watering every day and feeding once per week with a tomato fertilizer. Dead head any blooms otherwise they will set seed and watch for slugs. If you are growing on a wigwam ,just wind the plants sideways like a helter skelter to achieve the same effect.- Easy ain't it? Rob.

Wigan, Landcashire, United Kingdom

Yes Rob that is how i grow my sweet-peas, i saw it in a gardening magazine 2 years ago,and as you say plenty of well rotted manure.I have so many bunches of sweetpeas in the summer that i can give to my work collegues and friends.

Ladysmith, BC(Zone 8a)

RaggedRobin, Thank you so much. I will try your method next year of planting them in September and using the 'loo roll' for protection against the dammed slugs. Here in BC we have weather almost like yours in Sussex.

Where is Lewes? I had two maiden aunts (dead now) who lived in Finden, Surrey near Worthing. Lovely area around there and I spent many happy years visiting them.

PS the best slug control I have found is crushed up egg shells scattered around my Hosta bed, that is the one bed those slimy creatures just love. Well I foiled them as now they get scratched to death. I do not find beer any good and is a waste of good beer!

This message was edited Tuesday, Apr 3rd 12:10 PM

Lewes, Sussex, United Kingdom

Worthing is about 35 miles due West of us.If you follow the South Coast eastwards along to Brighton we are about 8 miles due East and inland a bit .We are on the 0 degrees Greenwich meridian and 50 miles due South of London -and it's raining yet again. One of Lewes's most famous sons was Tom Paine who formulated his thoughts into "The Rights of Man" which was the basis for the Constitution . Rob.

Mount Prospect, IL(Zone 5a)

HI, Someone sent me a packet of English Sugar Sweet peas in a trade. I thought they were a veggie, but after reading this post, I'm now wondering if they are a flower? Any way to tell? Doris

Doris, the seeds will brownish colour, and round, and up to 1/4 inch in diameter, suger sweet garden peas are green, and a little bigger.

Mount Prospect, IL(Zone 5a)

Alan, thanks for your advice. I looked at the peas and they are greenish and crinkly so then they must be a veggie. I'd feel like a cannibal if I ate the wrong thing. Doris

Panama, NY(Zone 5a)

When the first edible box gets to me, I'll stick in some of my home grown sweet peas - DON'T EAT THEM! LOL Ihave incredible luck with these - they are large, floriferous and smell wonderfully. Here, we plant them on Good Friday - if the snow is off (hoping, hoping). They grow so well that even the milk haulers, not noted for their delicacy, comment on them.

Ah, well, not English, but enthusiastic!!

Laguna Niguel, CA

Hi Gardendragon,I live in Southern California,and what I do is I buy my Seeds and bulbs around Thanksgiving (NOV) and I put them in my Garage Refrigerator for about 6 weeks to give them a pretend winter, it seems to work, and if I can get South African Bulbs they are much better for this climate, then I plant them outside,We don't usually have frost here so its safe,I plant my Tomatoes in March and I harvest from end of June thru oct...I pick the snails at nite with a Flashlite and a big bucket, when we lived in Texas we burned logs in the fireplace and the ash I put around my Tomatoes and Kept the snails and slugs away They couln't cross the ash......Hopes this Helps..Kind Thoughts Always Gerry....

Ladysmith, BC(Zone 8a)

Kathleen, Thanks for the offer, did email you, the Edible Round Robin is going around safely, but will be a while till it gets to you, as you are last on the list (before returning to me.)

It has been as much fun as the Pink Round Robin. We have now proved twice, that a Round Robin is possible between our two countries!

Joondanna, WA, Australia(Zone 10a)

Sweet Peas are grown throughout Britain,not just England.

Ladysmith, BC(Zone 8a)

Lee, OOPS sorry about that. I know I am guilty of saying England when I also mean Scotland & Wales, and let's not forget Ireland (both N & S) Soooo sorrrrry!!

gardendragon, lee is from cornwall, they get a bit upset about being English, well some of them, lol.

Ladysmith, BC(Zone 8a)

AJC, I thought Cornwall was in England? Or is that Great Britian?

Troy, VA(Zone 7a)

Or United Kingdom???? Ha-Ha! More confusion?

Cornwall is the south west of England, but a few cornys want to be independant, and are upset about being English.

Ladysmith, BC(Zone 8a)

All I know about Cornwall, is:
Cornish Pasties, Tin Mines, and Poldark books, which I love.

I was there once, I think, a friend, who lived in Oxford, drove me around, and remember faintly that the houses in Cornwall were a built out of lovely golden hued bricks.
Am I right? She also took me to Bath, which I consider the most beautiful town, absoletely breathtaking as you come into Bath to see the city set out in a circle, all stark white. I just loved Bath, unfortunately we were there on a Sunday, when nothing but pubs were open!

Yep, that about sums up cornwall, lol, dont think there are any tin mines working now though, they have progressd a bit down there lol, the cornish pastie, yep they do still make the best of them, and as for poldark, they can keep him, lol.

Never actualy been into bath, but its supposed to nice, and its still full of pubs open on sundays.

Caistor, United Kingdom(Zone 8b)

I went there once.................... nothing special.................. nice buildings though!!

Fort Lauderdale, FL(Zone 10b)

Ah, now I understand why, after many efforts to have Sweet Peas growing in my garden, not one flower has every appeared, not to mention the sorry sight of the poor stunted plants! Thank goodness I didn't plant all the seeds as I'll now soak the ones I have left for this season and follow your advice of plenty of compost, shredded paper (certainly have a lot of that) and attending to the position of the vining, ensuring it goes sideways! If anyone has had experience growing sweetpeas in rather tropical conditions, I'd love to hear what you did. I'm in zone 10, hot, hot, hot but I've created shade and dappled sun in the garden as an absolute requirement! Maybe a sheltered, dappled north might be better than the full blazing sun in the south of the house? Right now not one poor vine is longer higher than 12" and they've been in the hanging pot for at least 2 months! The seeds are from T&M so they should be of a good stock, I should imagine. Any help would be most appreciated. Thanks.
A pic of an Hedychium (ginger) since I have no photos of any sweet peas, alas!.

This message was edited May 1, 2009 12:41 AM

This message was edited May 1, 2009 12:42 AM

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