Growing Tips: Sweet Pea, Tall

Quick Reference:

Annual, a plant that completes it’s life cycle in one season. Sweet Peas germinate in approximately 14 days at an optimum soil temperature of 55 degrees F. Soak seed in warm water 24 hours before planting, plant seed immediately. Cover seed with 1/4 inch soil spaced 2 to 3 inches apart. Ideal plant spacing in the garden is 4 to 6 inches. Plant height: 48 to 72 inches. Sweet Peas like to be planted so their roots are kept cool.

When and where to plant:

In Alaska, sweet peas will start blooming mid summer when the seed is planted directly in the garden and can be planted as soon as the soil can be prepared and has warmed in the spring, plants will with stand a light frost. For earlier bloom sweet peas may be started indoors in individual plastic pots, 4 to 5 weeks ahead but must be transplanted with care, sweet peas have tender roots that are easily damaged. When starting indoors fill pots that have drainage holes with sterilized potting soil, soak seeds in warm water for 24 hours, no longer, immediately before planting to improve germination, plant 2 or 3 seeds per pot, firm soil over seed, water well, cover pots with newspaper to conserve moisture and keep soil moist until seedlings emerge. When seedlings show the first green, remove cover, water with a liquid solution of plant food, repeat every two weeks, water regularily and place pots in full sun where it is cool at night, 50 to 55 degrees F until the garden is ready. Choose an area in the garden with full sun, a rich, fertile, well-drained soil, cultivate soil deeply and enrich with plant food and organic matter. After the last frost carefully transplant seedlings to the garden. To transplant make a hole in the soil twice the size the root ball, fill the hole with water, water transplants then carefully slide the moist root ball out of the plastic pot, place the root ball approximately one inch below the soil surface, sweet peas like their roots cool and press the wet soil around the root ball. Immediately water well with a one-half strength solution of plant food to help reduce transplant shock. If there is an indent in the soil around the plant after it has been transplanted, fill it with soil after the plant begins to grow.

Care:

The tall, 4 to 5 foot plants must be provided support for climbing and prefer cool, moist soil. In areas where the soil gets very warm apply a mulch to keep it cool. Water regularly and apply plant food every four to six weeks during the summer. Keep flowers picked to encourage more bloom.