Our packets contain a minimum of ten seeds. They may be sown using a good quality seed compost during October or in March or April.
As detailed below, Autumn sowing produces bigger plants. Spring sowing avoids the need for overwintering and often extends the flowering season into early Autumn.
If sowing in October, the seeds will germinate quite quickly without additional heat. They can be potted individually using rootrainers or similar; or six seedlings fill a one litre pot nicely. Either use a multi purpose compost or John Innes no.1. It is important that the seedlings are exposed to plenty of cold weather through the Winter as "coddling" produces weak plants of little value. Remove the tips at the end of January and plant out in early March if at all possible.
Similarly, Spring sown plants, once germinated perhaps with a little heat, should also be grown "hard". Pinch the tips out after two pairs of leaves have formed. Transplant to their final position once the plants are well rooted.
By sowing our home grown seeds in October, we are able to produce really strong, fully hardened off plants that will produce earlier blooms (probably during May in the South); and more flowers from larger plants that are ideal for a colourful display both in the garden as well as a gloriously scented show indoors.
Our extra large, deep rootrainer plugs hold 175 centilitres of peat reduced compost, whereas many other Sweet Pea seedlings are sold in plugs containing around 65 centilitres of compost and six seedlings. Ours contain just one large, established plant!
Growing along these lines means we offer superior plants that have been hand pinched to encourage a bushy plant and therefore more flowers.
Given reasonably mild conditions the seedlings should be planted as soon as you can after receipt. Don't forget to unpack them immediately and leave them in a sheltered spot outside or in a cold greenhouse if you cannot plant immediately.
Sweet Peas prefer a sunny, open site. If possible, improve the condition of your chosen area by digging in a good sized bag of rotted farmyard manure or compost for each six seedlings that you intend to plant. I would also add a small handful of Growmore at planting time.
Plant them about 20cm apart and water in. Use some slug and snail protection straight away. Once they start to grow, loosely attach them to your chosen support. From then on they will probably attach themselves using their tendrils.
Sweet Peas are annual climbers and may be grown in rows in the cutting / vegetable garden or on free standing supports in the flower garden. There are many different types of support available including; decorative obelisks from the garden centre; pea sticks; willow poles; bamboo canes; pea and bean netting; string etc. Twiggy sticks often look the best in a mixed border, but there are many different options.
As the plants grow, just encourage the plants to stay attached to your support. You may want to remove some of the tendrils if they distort the straight flower stems.
Sweet Peas enjoy plenty of water in warm conditions and you can feed them again in June / July with a soluble fertiliser such as Miraclegro or another handful of Growmore.
Once in flower, make sure that you cut the flowers before they start to form seed pods, otherwise they will stop producing flowers. Don't forget the old adage, "the more you cut, the more you get!".
If you would like to learn more about Sweet Peas, why not join the National Sweet Pea Society?