How to grow sweet peas with Rosebie of The Real Flower company
Like to grow perfect sweet peas this summer? I have expert tips on how to do just that from queen of the scented flower growers, Rosebie Morton.
This is Rosebie, founder of The Real Flower Company, photographed at her flower farm in Hampshire where she grows the most beautiful scented roses as well as sweet peas and other flowers. So she knows a thing or two about the subject, so I’m really happy she has generously shared her top 5 tips for growing perfect sweet peas with us. Those sweet peas she’s holding certainly do look pretty perfect, don’t they? You’ll find them making their way into Real Flower Company bouquets and arrangements during sweet pea season. Keep an eye on this page of the RFC website if you’d like to snap some up when the time comes: https://www.realflowers.co.uk/shop/scented-flowers/sweet-pea-flowers
Grow your own sweet peas
If you haven’t grown sweet peas before and could do with some expert tips and ideas, look no further. Rosebie shares her 5 essential tips for growing perfect sweet peas this summer. It’s not too late, but the sooner you get cracking, the better.
I’ve had limited success with growing sweet peas in previous years, so I’m going to take note and follow the advice. I did start off some seeds in tubes of kitchen roll back in the Autumn. Not sure what I did wrong, but most of them didn’t make it. I have three strong looking seedlings and a tiny tiddler from a whole packet of seeds. Four is better than nothing, but still…
How to grow sweet peas – Rosebie’s top 5 tips
1 Choose the right variety
If you are growing outdoors in the UK or somewhere with a similar climate I’d always recommend a summer-flowering variety. I think Roger Parsons, who holds the National Collection of Sweet Peas, has a wonderful selection – my favourites are Cathy, Romeo, Zorija Rose, Alisa and Emily.
Tip: Day length is more important than warmth when growing most cut flowers including sweet peas, so choosing a summer-flowering variety is likely to give the best results.
2 How to sew
I’d always suggest sowing inside on a windowsill or in a greenhouse rather than directly into the soil. February to March is the best time to get started but I’ve sown seeds at the end of April and still been successful – I just had a later crop.
- Sweet peas need a good amount of depth for their roots (known as a good root run) and don’t like their roots to be disturbed once they’ve been planted. So I’d suggest sowing your seeds in loo-rolls, kept upright in groups in pots. Or invest in Root Trainers, which cleverly hinge open.
- Always use a good-quality compost.
- Cover the seeds with about 2–3cm of compost and water them in well.
- Water regularly to keep the soil moist but never wet. Don’t let the soil dry out.
- Expect your seedlings to start to appear after about two weeks.
- There’s no need to chit or soak sweet pea seeds
- Tip: If your greenhouse attracts mice, place holly over your pots to act as a natural deterrent. Mice tend to be very keen on sweet pea seeds
3 Pinch out for stronger flowers
If you are growing your sweet peas for cutting, then when the shoots first appear you will get better results if you establish which is the dominant shoot and pinch out the other, subordinate shoots. Continue to do this as your seedling grows. If you are growing for cutting then also pinch out any tendrils.
If you want a fuller plant for your garden, there’s no need to pinch out.
4 How to plant out
Plant out your sweet peas when the risk of the last frost has passed, usually in May.
- sweet peas are very hungry, so make sure you prepare the soil well with good compost and muck, digging in at least 30cm down.
- While planting be careful not to disturb the roots. If you’ve used loo-roll tubes, these can go straight into the ground along with the seed.
- Water in well.
Tip: Sweet peas can do well in containers but make sure you choose one that’s 20 litres or bigger.
5 Provide the right support
- Your sweet peas will need some kind of support. If you are growing sweet peas for the garden, they can look wonderful grown through a tall rose. They also work well growing up a trellis.
- I make teepee shapes using hazel sticks but bamboo from a garden centre works well too.
- Tie your sweet peas on to the support as they grow
- When your sweet peas first start to bloom, make sure you cut the flowers regularly (or just deadhead regularly if you’ve planted them to enjoy in the garden). Don’t let them go to seed.
- Feed your sweet peas again half way through the summer.
Tip: For longer stems, continue to pinch out the tendrils throughout the growing season.
Rosebie’s tips have already helped me to work out where I’ve probably been going wrong. Last year’s container was too small I now realise. And I planted the seeds straight outside. I let them do their own thing and didn’t pinch out at all. Not surprising I didn’t get the best results. And I am so excited to discover her favourite seed supplier. A great find and it’s not too late to order some seeds for this year! Hope you find Rosebie’s tips help you too!
Find The Real Flower Company in the Directory.
To discover more about Rosebie’s inspirational story, read our blog post: Meet Rosebie Morton of The Real Flower Company.
Join me on a visit to Rosebie’s beautiful Hampshire flower farm here: Discover The Real Flower Company flower farm Hampshire.
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