Sweet Peas: The Sweetest of Winter Flowers

Of all the annuals, the Sweet pea flower is unique in its beauty and fragrance. Sweet Peas (Lathyrus odoratus) provide irresistible colours and fragrance to any garden or terrace. The delicate, ruffled flowers are available in shades of pastels, blue and bi-colours. Many varieties of this flower are fragrant and they scent the air with a grapelike perfume. You can  grow them in pots or in the ground, training them up a frame for a beautiful display. Plant sweet peas near a seating area so you can smell them as you sit and relax in the garden. Sweet pea is a vine that can grow up to 8 ft tall in good soil. Its height lends itself to provide a backdrop for a herbaceous border. If grown in pots, sweet peas should be allowed to grow on a trellis.

Where to plant sweet peas:

Plant sweet peas in an open, sunny position in a well-drained but moisture-retentive soil. Sweet peas are well suited to growing in pots. Make sure you use a fertile and porous soil mix.

Growing Sweet Peas:

  • Sweet peas need well-dug soil to a depth of 2 feet if planting in the ground.
  • The soil should be richly manured with plenty of leaf mould and cow manure.
  • Sweet peas need an open sunny position. Don’t grow the plant in shade or partial shade.
  • After the soil is well prepared, water the bed the night before planting.
  • Plant the seeds at a depth of 1 cm in a moist soil from October to November.
  • If planting in the ground the seeds should be at least 10 cm apart from each other.
  • Maintain watering so that the soil doesn’t dry too much.


When plants are 10cm tall, pinch out the tips to encourage bushy growth. Most varieties have tendrils that will ‘self-cling’ to supports, but some sweet peas will need tying in.

Sweet Pea Flowering Months:

The plants start flowering in February, when the seeds are sown in October-November, and continue blooming till March or early April.

Watering Sweet Peas:

Sweet peas require plenty of water, but be careful not to over water as this can result in shedding of flowers.


Sweet peas need heavy manuring. Liquid cow dung manure  or Jeevamrutha once a week is helpful after the plant is well established. Start feeding sweet peas with a  fertiliser containing bonemeal  when flower buds appear. Regular picking encourages more flowers to form, so keep picking  blooms for the vase.


It is essential to remove all the faded or dead flower and seed pods for prolonged continuous flowering.

Saving sweet pea seeds

Leave the seed pods on the plants until they have dried and turned brown. Remove the seeds  from the pods and store in paper bags in a dry place until you a ready to sow them.