Sweet Peas Planting St Patrick’s Day
Sweet Peas Grow Care and Plant Sweet Peas
Sweet 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 have 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 of Sweet Peas
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 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 until spring.
Sweet peas thrive in cool conditions and need nutrient rich soil that is slightly alkaline for proper flowering. Their long flowering stems makes them perfect vase flowers for an outside table setting on a porch or balcony.
When to Sow Sweet Peas to 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 from the vines this will help stop the plants from going to seed.
Common Questions and Answers for Sweet Peas
- Will sweet peas self 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.
- Will sweet peas grow back next year? Yes, they will reshoot in autumn and flower in spring.
- Will sweet peas grow in part shade? Sweet peas grow best in the morning sun and part shade in the afternoon in hot climates
- Do sweet peas survive frosts? Sweet peas have no problems growing in cold frosty climates, they are cold hardy annuals.
- Will sweet peas bloom in summer? Sweet peas will bloom in summer if you live in a cold climate.
- Which sweet peas grow in pots? All sweet peas will grow in pots. Plant trailing varieties in hanging pots. Add a trellis or stakes for the sweet peas to climb on
- Are sweet peas edible? Sweet peas are not edible they are toxic.
- Why sweet peas are not flowering? Sweet peas will not flower in the shade. They need to grow in sunny sunlight.
As sweet pea plants are climbers they have curly tendrils that support them to climb on a trellis and a wire but not a wall. 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.
How to Plant Sweet Peas Like Me
As Sweet pea seeds are hard seeds they need to be soaked in lukewarm water for 24 hours before planting. Plant sweet peas in the garden bed or pots in full morning 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.
- 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.
- 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 off 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.
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 until the plant starts flowering. It is better to avoid adding too much fertiliser as the plants will start producing more lush green leaves and a reduced number of flowers. Use plenty of organic fertiliser in the soil.
Growing Sweet Peas in Pots and Hanging Baskets
When growing sweet 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. They produce a ravishing hot show a mixture of colours accompanied by lovely strong scents. Just pop in a few seeds 2-3cm apart shallowly planted into an 8 inch hanging pot, keep the seeds damp and watch them grow.