Sowing Sweet peas in Autumn

These are perhaps my favourite flowers of all: delicate, abundant and beautifully scented and not easily bought from a high street florist. The strongest scented sweet peas are always part of the planning for the still developing plot.

Last year, reading that sweetpeas come true from seed, I collected my own plot-gathered sweetpea seeds to sow. Below is some advice about how to start them off with links to advice from expert growers.

Close up on a jar of Homesown sweetpeas

What I know so far about growing sweetpeas has been gathered over the years from books and blogs and listening to friends and experts. What I have learned from experience is that growing sweetpeas takes time and more regular attention than most other flowers. But they are worth it. A vigorous climbing plant, they need solid supports and then tying in and feeding/watering and very regular cutting. Neglect them in their prime and they will soon go over.

Sweepea plants last Spring at the plot
Sweepea plants clambering up supports last Summer at the plot

It is November and now is a fine time to start sowing seed which you can continue to do until March. Below is a link to a detailed and informative blog which painstakingly records the progress of sweetpeas sown at different times. The hard work put into this is generously helpful. Take a look at:  http://www.pumpkinbeth.com/2015/10/sowing-sweet-peas/

My first sowings last year were of Sarah Raven seeds using her method of poking two seeds around an inch down into root trainer cells. Click link above for her detailed advice.  This method encourages long and healthy roots. With a little bottom heat from the heated propagator in the shed,  most of these seeds soon germinated and were given stern treatment by being moved outside. They were then tested in the wind and rain without any protection. As soon as the really cold weather came, they were put in an unheated cold frame and on rare occasions covered in fleece. Sweet peas are tougher than you think and can tolerate down to -5.

This month, I am going to try another method described by Matthewman’s Sweetpeas . (Again, click link to read advice in detail). This involves planting around 20 seeds into a small pot, again one inch deep and then pricking them out and potting them – two into a separate corner each small pot before their first leaves unfurl. This is appealing in terms of time saved initially and is also a new approach to me and it will be interesting to see how it works. Helpful advice and healthy seeds are also supplied by Roger Parsons, a true expert.

Young sweetpea plant

On an Autumn day with a bit of a chill, it is cheering to think about the loveliness, scent and colour being set in motion for early next Summer.