Lathyrus Species, Sweet Pea

Lathyrus odoratus

Family: Fabaceae (fab-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Lathyrus (LAY-thy-russ) (Info)
Species: odoratus (oh-dor-AY-tus) (Info)
View this plant in a garden



Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)


6-9 in. (15-22 cm)


Not Applicable

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


Seed is poisonous if ingested

All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:




Dark Blue

White/Near White

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Flowers are fragrant

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer

Mid Summer

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

Scarify seed before sowing

Seed Collecting:

Collect seedhead/pod when flowers fade; allow to dry

Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Chula Vista, California

Elk Grove, California

Eureka, California

JACUMBA, California

Modesto, California

Novato, California

Oak View, California

Richmond, California

Evergreen, Colorado

Keystone Heights, Florida

Kissimmee, Florida

Stone Mountain, Georgia

Aurora, Illinois

Mackinaw, Illinois

Nabb, Indiana

Metairie, Louisiana

Marlborough, Massachusetts

North Billerica, Massachusetts

Revere, Massachusetts

Springfield, Massachusetts

Atlantic Mine, Michigan

Dearborn, Michigan

Howell, Michigan

Owosso, Michigan

Perryville, Missouri

West Lebanon, New Hampshire

La Grande, Oregon

Greensburg, Pennsylvania

Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Crossville, Tennessee

Conroe, Texas

Jacksonville, Texas

Ogden, Utah

Falls Church, Virginia

Kalama, Washington

Seattle, Washington

South Hill, Washington

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Jun 18, 2015, IlhadoPico from Sao Roque do Pico,
Portugal (Zone 11) wrote:

Beware! Not a single BEWARE! message?! What is wrong with you sheeple? You are not aware of chemtrails yet you call this average poisonous vegetable a Sweet Pea? Are you retarded?! I ate a bunch of these from my garden that looked so edible and since I was told it is a Sweet Pea. Just barely survived the poisoning it was that bad. Idiots! It's like calling a poisonous mushroom a Sweet Goodness! Fucking eugenicists!


On Aug 28, 2010, MMinLA from Shreveport, LA wrote:

Last fall I ordered seed from Renees Garden and had good success. However is gets hot so quickly in my area I did not to enjoy the flowers for very long. Can anyone recommend a heat tollerent variety? I have tried Painted Lady, Perfume Delight and Velvet Elegance.


On Aug 12, 2010, Marilea777 from La Grande, OR (Zone 4b) wrote:

This spring in NE Oregon was the wettest on record. I had started my Sweet Peas in the greenhouse. Because of muddy conditions I postpones planting outside. When I did finally have planting conditions, I decided to plant closer together to make up for the questionable outcome. Well, the plants survived and flourished after many cold nights and more rain. They survived so well that the flowers were smaller than I had hoped. Oh my, were there a lot of flowers! (even if they were small.) Next year I will adhere to the recommended spacing. The blossoms faithfully came through with their unique fragrance and I love every one of them.


On May 10, 2010, Yooper1 from Atlantic Mine, MI wrote:

Sweet peas grow like crazy in my yard. They're nice, because the bloom after everything else is done, and bloom for a long period of time.

The thing I don't like about them is they're non edible, however, I'm sure I've eaten some when I was a kid, and my dad said he remembers eating "wild" peas when he was younger too.
Also, they're a pain because they keep trying to climb my raspberry plants, and some of my other trees. Seems like every few days I have to go and try to pull the things out of the ground because they pop up like crazy.


On Jul 18, 2009, mjab17 from North Billerica, MA wrote:

For a few years I've been trying to grow this plant with little luck.... finally this year i started with better seed from a better dealer and started a small tripod and a row a long a little fence. Now the ones on the little fence i thought would do a lot better. It gets full sun but less water then the tripod, and i think the lack of water might have been the down fall... but still you can see little buds forming on it that may bloom. My tripod has had a better luck and has just began flowering today. I will take the time to collect seed for next year and I will post a pic when I start getting more blooms. My only advise is to get the best seed you can get.


On Dec 15, 2007, tropicsofohio from Hilliard, OH (Zone 6b) wrote:

grows wild here. self seeds. its tells me when summer is really here. i love it!


On Apr 1, 2007, radiatorfan from Metairie, LA wrote:

Planted seeds last oct. but was unable to find inoculant. Bought some earthworm castings and dug it in the trench...the vines are 8 feet tall and beautiful. Pick a couple of huge bunches a day. We had a very mild winter so they are doing well.


On Sep 13, 2006, IndoorGardner from Falls Church, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:

My sweet pea is indoors here in VA. I grow her in my apartment. She is doing ok, but I think I under watered her and she began to shrivel. I am still working with her and praying she makes it. Hopefully she will bloom as beautiful as the pictures I see here.


On Oct 31, 2005, RalphV2 from Chula Vista, CA (Zone 8a) wrote:

I've had very good luck with this plant, both with commercial seed packets and with seeds harvested from the plants. I have grown them in trays, then transplanted the seedlings, and I've direct sown into the ground. In any grouping, I always get several that form very thick vines and climb up to 6-8 ft, and many that that form much thinner, more delicate, vines that climb up to 5-6 feet. All produce large amounts of flowers, very fragrant. I give them a weak solution of general plant food about once a month.


On Jun 25, 2005, Kameha from Kissimmee, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

We grow sweet peas here in Florida when the weather is cooler, from late fall through early spring. The scent of the flowers is probably my favorite scent of all time! Very frost hardy!

If only there was some way we could hybridize the sugar snap or English pea with the sweet pea, to produce a plant with sweet smelling blossoms and edible non-toxic pods.


On May 16, 2005, nevadagdn from Sparks, NV (Zone 7a) wrote:

I haven't had much luck with sweet peas...yet. I haven't had the conditions they prefer. My rich, cool soil is in a shady part of the garden, and the sunny part of the garden has heavy clay soil and rocks.


On May 16, 2005, maggiemoo from Conroe, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

In TX this is considered a cool-season annual, which means we have to plant it in the fall to enjoy it just as winter breaks. I tried it for the first time this past season, in two locations - a sunny to part shade area, and a full sun area. It grew in both locations, but was overwhelmingly better in the full sun, almost over-taking the two trellises I had it trained on. The blooms were beautiful, and the fragrance incredible! What a joy it was while I worked in the garden, getting it set for the summer, amid constant waves of the fragrance. We had a much extended spring this year, so they looked good through the end of April (longer than I'm told is usual, as they don't like hot days.) I will plant these again next year. (They are nice to cover the trellises while the summer vines have di... read more


On May 16, 2005, darylmitchell from Saskatoon, SK (Zone 3a) wrote:

These vines do not like hot and windy sites. I had them in a container on my south-facing patio. They grew for a while but then dried out at the bottom and broke off from their roots... they died within days. My parents have grown them successfully, but they had the benefit of a yard sheltered by tall trees.


On Jan 17, 2005, LilyLover_UT from Ogden, UT (Zone 5b) wrote:

Here in zone 5, I sow sweet peas in late fall (early November). This allows the seeds to begin the germination process, but they don't put on any top growth until the following spring. So they get a jump start on the growing season, resulting in larger, earlier plants with more flowers (before the hot summer weather arrives).

Seeds can also be sown in early spring, after soaking for 24 hours. By sowing in both spring and fall, I can extend the sweet pea season into late summer.


On Jan 13, 2004, Kachinagirl from Modesto, CA (Zone 8b) wrote: favorite flower! Hopflower, you are a BOUNTY of information for this plant! Butterflydust, I believe your problem may lay in where you are located. As with any plant, we gardners have to adjust how we care for a given plant based on soil type, humidity, temperature,...etc. Hopflower spoke of fertilizing in the sweetpeas are long gone by then! Where I live (central CA)I plant my sweet peas in the fall against a south-facing wall or fence...they grow slowly through the winter to burst like mad in early spring (tons of flowers for Easter!) but as soon as it gets hot they are done (May-June). My Grandfather had an amazing 'secret' for growing his sweet peas that works wonderfully here.....dig a 24" deep x 8" wide (x as long as your space or trellis or support) tr... read more


On Jan 12, 2004, ButterflyDust from Riverside, CA wrote:

I have problems with growing them anywhere in my yard. I had them lightly tied to a trelis in full sun, partial shade, full shade. They did much better in full sun, but still developed a powdery grey fungus all over no matter how much care I took to not get them wet. I love the plant and flowers so much, but I'm just not doing something right. Would like some much needed suggestions so I can give this plant another try.


On Dec 6, 2002, hopflower from Santa Rosa, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

I raise sweet peas almost exclusively. The seeds are indeed toxic, as is the whole plant if eaten in any quantity. The word lathyrus in part comes from the Greek for "excite", and there is a condition known as lathyrism, which causes nervous system excitement if they are ingested. This is helpful to know if you have small children around, who may confuse them with edible peas.

They are a wonderful flower. They come in all sorts of colours ranging from white and cream to deepest purple; with pink, rose, orange, scarlet, blue, lavender and picotees in between. There are also some striped and variegated varieties. The only colours that are not available are yellow and a true, gentian type blue. Like a lot of flowers, their blues are somewhat tinged with violet or lavender. ... read more


On Aug 7, 2002, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

From the Successful Gardening book...."The sweet pea likes coolness, but needs some direct sunlight. Wind can damage the fragile tendrils. These plants do well in rich, loamy soils. They prefer a moist, but not wet environment. Do not over fertilize. It may need some pampering until it gets established."