French name: Pois de Senteur
Sweet Peas have got to be one of my favourite flowers to grow. They are easy and reward you in abundance with their array of colours and sweet scent.
There are many conflicting opinions on how to sow Sweet Pea seeds; soak the seeds to soften the seed coat, don’t soak the seeds as it will cause the seeds to rot, chip the seed coat to help water to penetrate, don’t chip the seed coat as you could damage the seed.
I have to admit that in the past I have soaked my Sweet Pea seeds overnight in warm water. Given the conflicting views I decided this year to carry out my own experiment, so does soaking Sweet Pea seeds make any difference to germination?
Back on 26th February I planted 30 Sweet Pea seeds, 15 of which had been soaked overnight and the other 15 had not. The seeds were planted 3 to a pot at a depth of about 1.5cm. Ideally you should plant one per pot so as to avoid disturbing the roots later on, but lets be honest none of us have an endless supply of pots and I have never had problems with planting the seedlings on in the past – just be gentle. Sweet Peas like to germinate at a temperature of about 150C so cover the pots if you can.
About a week and a half later and the first seedling popped its head through the soil and to my surprise it was one of the seeds which had not been soaked. Other ‘unsoaked’ seedlings followed in the next few days, and the first of the ‘soaked’ seedlings popped through 4 days later. Next year I’ll save my hot water for a cup of tea!
Now, a month and a half later, and all of the Sweet Pea seedlings are doing well. I have potted them on into individual pots and as I did this I also pinched out the growing tip to encourage further shoots to grow and produce a bushier plant.
I’m looking forward to planting the seedlings out in early May – I just need to dig the border where I want to plant them! I have sown Sweet Peas called ‘A Little Bit of Magic’ – a mixture of white, purple and burgundy flowers and I am going to use them to cover a rather ugly fence!
Sweet Peas love rich soil, so feeding them a potassium rich fertilizer such as that used for tomatoes will give them a helping hand and don’t forget to regularly pick the flowers to encourage more to grow. If you allow them to set seed they’ll stop flowering – it’s the best excuse I’ve ever heard for filling a vase full of flowers!
Sweet peas also feature in my top 10 companion plants for the vegetable garden, you can read my blog about companion planting here.
A bientôt x