Sweet peas are great as cut flowers.
image by chatirygirl/Flickr.com
Sweet peas have long been a garden favorite. This annual flower with its wonderful fragrance and pale spring colors is great for cutting and adding to your flower arrangements. Sweet peas grow from seed and in most cases can be seeded directly into your garden. There are many varieties of sweet pea, including climbing vines and dwarf bush types. They are very cold hardy and easy to grow. You really can't go wrong planting sweet pea.
Prepare the soil by digging 3 to 4 inches deep and 4 to 6 inches wide for each plant you want to come up. Add a handful of compost and a handful of manure for each plant and mix into the soil. This will make your soil drain better and give the plants nutrition when they start to root. Pick a location where there is a fence or trellis for them to climb if you are planting vines. You can also make something for them to climb with netting or bamboo stakes.
Plant in the Southwest from August until right before the first freeze. In the South, plant in November or December and in colder northern areas, plant the seed in very early spring, up to six weeks before your last frost date. Sweet peas prefer full sun but will tolerate a little heat of the day shade in the south.
Plant three or four seeds in a hole about 2 inches deep. Then make another hole 4 to 6 inches away for the next few seeds. Cover with soil and water so the soil is damp down to the seeds. If you are planting dwarf-bush type sweet peas, plant the seeds at least 12 inches apart.
Keep the soil moist until the seeds start to sprout in two to three weeks. Do not let them sit in puddles of water or you might cause the seeds to rot. After the seedlings have sprouted, water when the top of the soil starts to dry out.
Thin the seedlings out to the strongest looking plant when they reach 4 inches high. Once the seedlings grow into established plants you can cut the watering back to twice a week.
Cut the flowers off for indoor vases or pinch off spent flowers to encourage new blooms. The more you take off, the more the plant will produce. Remove the seed pods if you do not want the plant to self seed and produce more plants.