Sweet Peas Planting St Patrick’s Day

April 5, 2016 in Flowers and Bulbs by Christine

Sweet Peas Grow Care and Plant Sweet Peas

Planting Sweet Peas from Seed to Grow and Flower in Your GardenSweet pea (Lathyrus Odoratus) is an annual climbing flowering plant belonging to the family Fabaceae or legumes. It is native to Sicily and southern Italy. The ancestry of the plant dates back to the 17th century. At that time the plant produced small flowers that are richly coloured and had an attractive fragrance. The Sicilian monk Franciscus Cupani sent the seeds of this plant to various plant collectors and institutions. The Scottish nurseryman Henry Eckford developed the new varieties of sweet peas with increased flower size and wide range of colours. Now they are widely grown by gardeners for exhibition or for floristry trade.

The Tradition

In Australia, traditionally the pea plants are planted on St. Patrick’s Day on March 17th because of the Irish ancestry of the people. According to the tradition, the seeds are planted in lamplight on the eve of St. Patrick’s Day or before the sunrise on the day. So, it is the time to plant the sweet pea. You need to prepare the garden bed at least one week before, to plant the seeds. This will ensure that you will have a colourful display of pea flowers till spring. Sweet peas need full sun and nutrient rich soil for proper flowering. You can use plenty of organic fertiliser in the soil. You can also add dolomite or lime to the soil to make it alkaline as the pea plant grows well in slightly alkaline soil. Growing sweet peas produce long flowering stems which makes them perfect vase flowers for an outside table setting on a porch or balcony.

Sowing Sweet Peas – When do Sweet Peas Flower? 

In Australia, the sweet pea seeds are sown during autumn. The plants grow and flower during winter and you can pick the flowers in spring. It is common knowledge if you keep picking the flowers this will help stop the plants from going to seed. Sweet peas self seed prolifically and you will always have plenty of seed to give away to friends if you collect the seeds rather than letting them fall to the ground.

Use Trellis 

As sweet pea plants are climbers it is necessary to provide trellis support. You need to create and install the support before planting the seeds so that you can avoid damaging the roots of the plants when they are growing. The trellis support can be made simple, using a bamboo framework of 3 to 30 bamboo sticks inserted into the ground, at an angle so they can be all tied up at the top together with wire or string. This will give the sweet pea seedlings support and the perfect object to climb up on to. You can train your sweet peas up a fence, using horizontal string, wire netting as well.

 Sweet Peas Care – How to Grow and Plant Sweet Peas from Seed to Grow and Flower in Your Garden

It is easy to take care of sweet peas, sweet peas grow from seeds readily. You can plant them in garden bed or pots in full sun. Make holes in the soil or potting mixture using a pencil and drop the seeds into the holes. Sow seed twice the depth of the seed. Cover the seeds with soil to prevent sunlight exposure. You need to soak the seeds in slightly warm water for about 24 hours this will make the seeds swell up before planting and does benefit in quicker germination. Because they are a round hard seed it is best to nick the seeds with a pin or nail file to make sprouting faster. Plant the seeds up to 5cm apart for a thick bumper crop of flowers. Lightly water the seeds. Germination can be a bit slow but should occur within 7-15 days depending on the temperature. If you think the germination of seeds is too thick once the seeds have burst forth from the planting area, you can always remove them by pulling some out. At this time you may want to net the seedlings from the black birds and sparrows to stop them from scattering the mulch and ripping out the seedlings. If you live in the remote bushland parts of Australia’s country this will also help keep the early morning visitor away, the rabbits from nibbling the young tender fresh shoots to the ground. Although is best to nip of the top part of the plant once the seedlings develop four sets of leaves. This will encourage the formation of more side shoots and more flowers.

FertilisingGrowing sweet peas in Autumn

There is no need to provide extra nitrogen for sweet peas as the bacteria in their roots produce nitrogen. You can provide liquid potash every 2 weeks after the seedlings emerge and till the plant starts flowering. It is better to avoid adding too much fertiliser as the plants will start producing more lush green leaves and reduced number of flowers.

Growing Sweet Peas in Pots and Hanging Baskets

When growing sweat peas in hanging baskets or in pots containing a fertile potting mix or compost. Choose to sow the hardy trailing varieties, trailing varieties produce outpouring vines with 7 inch stems that spread in a cascading habit. The dwarf fantasia mix and fragrant trails are good examples for planting in hanging baskets, producing a ravishing hot mixture of colours accompanied by lovely strong scents. Just pop in a few seeds 2-3cm apart shallowly planted into an 8 inch pot. Water the seeds and keep them covered with a polythene cover, till the seeds germinate, you may want to start the seeds indoors. The trick of show quality blooms is to make your plants grow into one single stem, this means by pruning off all the side shoots or laterals, the flowers will exhibit longer stems and the flowers will be a great deal larger in size.

If you get the heirloom mixed varieties in sweet peas, quiet possibly the mix could just contain the near black variety “black knight” a handsome coloured rich maroon/purple with an exceptionally rich perfume. After flowering you will be able to save different varieties of seed. Providing you keep your saved seed fresh, you will be able to plant them year after year.

 

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