Sowing sweet pea from seed

The easiest seeds to grow are the annuals because they are programmed to germinate, flower and set seed within one year - therefore they pop up easily because there’s no time to waste. Sweet peas must be one of our favourites. They can be sown from October to late February in (Lathyrus odoratus) into root trainers or deep pots. This will allow them to develop long roots before being transplanted into enriched soil in March or early April. Don't worry if you are running late and only just start to think about sowing the seeds in February, you can still sow the seeds up until the end of the month.

Fill the pots to within an inch from the top with a good quality compost and spread the seeds out with at least 2cm between each seed. Cover with compost and give the seeds a good watering, using tap water, and place them somewhere cool and mice-free.

Cold frames (such as the Large Overlap Cold Frame) are ideal because they provide cool growing conditions, producing sturdier young plants than a greenhouse bench.

Pinch out the tips early on, to produce bushier plants, and put your supports in as you transplant outside. Water in dry springs to encourage good growth early on. Don’t worry if you miss the boat with these seeds though as our autumn sown seedlings (which tend to start flowering earlier than spring-sown ones) will get you out of trouble.

By midsummer you should have a crop of fragrant flowers that can be cut every other day. Pick them in early morning (if you can) and allow them a couple of hours up to their necks in water. This will also allow the pollen beetles to escape. Good, strong Spencer varieties, which are the best for cutting, include the wavy pink ‘Gwendoline’, the deep-blue ‘Oxford Blue’, the pale picotee-edged ‘High Scent’, the pale-blue ‘Charlie’s Angel’ and the deep-lavender ‘Leamington’. The rose-pink ‘Mrs Benard Jones’ is another fabulous addition.

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