Nine reasons to plant sweet peas in the fall

I know, I know, I don’t usually blog about gardening. But here’s a chance to get great results with almost no effort, and you’ve gotta like that!

This is why you want to plant sweet peas:

  1. Sweet peas are gorgeous, and very fragrant. They come in lots of different colours, too. (One might pause here to view sweet pea photos on flickr.)
  2. They’re perfect for bouquets: long-lasting, pretty, fragrant.
  3. Sweet pea seeds are cheap. For $3.00 you can get about 60 seeds, which is enough to provide a stunning display of flowers.
  4. Growing sweet peas is dead easy. Shove seeds into ground, ignore for winter. Done! Plants pop up in spring. (Mine even sprout in late fall and overwinter, though we don’t usually get harsh winters here on the west coast of Canada.)
  5. Sweet peas forgive procrastinators. Plant now. Or in November. Or in spring. Whatever!
  6. If you cut sweet pea flowers before they go to seed, you’ll get more flowers. I still have sweet peas in bloom in my garden, and this in the middle of a cool and rainy October.
  7. If your sweet peas do go to seed, the seeds will plant themselves and you’ll get more sweet peas next year.
  8. You can be conscientious about your sweet peas, or not. You’re likely to get flowers either way.

For best results: loosen the soil a bit before you plant. If it’s barren wasteland, mix in some topsoil or something. Or do what I did this year: dump a few bags of potting soil on the earth, put some stones around the pile to keep soil from drifting away when it rains, and plant your seeds in that — it takes all of fifteen minutes. When warm spring weather comes, add water now and again. Provide netting for the flower vines to climb: just tie some garden net to a fence or to a few bamboo supports and you’re done. Help vines grasp netting by using twine or something tie vines to netting here and there. That’s it! Mostly you just admire your flowers, and pick them regularly if you want more flowers.

For those of you who wonder what I did last year with sweat peas, it was: shove seeds into ground along fence. I then forgot all about them until I noticed flowers amongst the weeds this spring. Amazing flowers! I gently lifted the vines and tied them to the fence, where they’ve been blooming and looking great through spring, summer, and early fall ever since.

There’s just one warning: birds will eat sweet pea seedlings if they can see them and get to them in the spring. So either plant your sweet peas where they will be hidden amongst grass, weeds, etc, until they are several inches tall, or protect them with a netting until they get big enough that they don’t look like little green worms to birds.

If winters are long and cold in your area, you might choose to do the traditional thing and plant your sweet peas in February instead. But if you’re in an area with climate like ours (southwest coast of Canada, coast of the US pacific northwest) then planting in fall works really well.


Sweet pea seed sources

Your local garden shop probably has sweet pea seeds about now. No? Then find some seed vendor online, and order away. I’m fond of Veseys, which sells to Canadian and American customers. They offer several different varieties of sweet pea seeds.