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  • Chrissy Thornton

Tips for Growing Sweet Peas for your own Bouquet

Updated: Sep 21


In this blog I'm going to talk about the wonderful Sweet Peas. I will give you tips and tricks to grow your own beautiful scented Sweet Peas that can be incorporated into your own bridal arrangements. A lot of our brides want to get involved in their floral arrangements but feel its a little out of their comfort zone, hence why they call me. However growing some of your own blooms that could be included in your bridal bouquets and arrangements give such a personal touch. They could be grown by your granny, mother, or the bride and groom to be. It will give you a greater sense of connection between your bouquet and yourself and knowing that all your hard work has paid off. Flowers are such a short lived luxury in life: There is not really a trial run at bridal florals but growing a few blooms yourself will ensure your wedding flowers are with you that little bit longer. 


Why choose Sweet Peas?

When brides ask me about summer flowers one of the first blooms that spring to mind are Sweet Peas. The perfume they give is exquisite, one of the most highly scented blooms available. 

Sweet Peas have a wonderful form: Their shape and scale fit perfectly into bridal arrangements due to their Frilly and ruffled edges. When we think of the English country gardens most of the time there will be a Wigwam towering over a garden border. 

They are a classic English country garden flower and for a very good reason.

Most childhood memories are made by either smell, touch or sight and Sweet Peas touch every one of these senses in some way shape or form making them a childhood favourite for most brides.

What is the colour range of Sweet Peas? Sweet Peas come in a wide range of colours, white, cream, pink, lilac, purple, and dark red.  They are available in a solid colour or they can be two toned or flecked.  My personal favourites are the pastel shades of pink, white, cream, and lilac. The Powder puff pastel shades are so dreamy and floaty.  Where to buy Sweet Pea seeds? There are many different suppliers of Sweet Pea seeds in the UK but I would strongly recommend using a reputable supplier. Roger Pearson is an amazing supplier of Sweet Pea seeds in the UK. They hold the national collection including heritage varieties. The quality of their seeds are amazing with germination rates the best I have witnessed.  www.rpsweetpeas.com Obviously the germination rate strongly depends on the care that is taken in the sowing process but following some simple tips below should put you on the right path to success.  When to sow Sweet Pea seed The best time to sow your Sweet Pea seeds is in the autumn, late September early October.  This may sound a little early but by sowing the seed the previous year it will ensure a good root system come spring. In autumn the weather in the UK is still warm enough to germinate the seed but cold enough to slow down the growth.  Of course it is possible to sow the seed in spring but by doing so the plants root system will be weaker at planting time.

How to sow Sweet Pea seeds Sow the seed in a root trainer. Root trainers are individual sections that allow seeds to be planted individually into the cells, giving the optimum root space for each plant. The grooves in the cells allow the roots to grow straight down instead of round in circles which can happen if sown straight into garden pots. 

Fill the root trainers with good quality compost and water well. 

Pop a hole in the top of the soil roughly 1cm deep. 

Place the seed in the hole and cover with more compost. 

There are lots of methods about what to do with Sweet Peas before sowing: Some say soak the seed in water for 24 hours, or chit the seed with a file some even soak the seed in petrol to deter hungry mice in the winter months. 

My view on this is that it's totally not needed, why interfere with nature: Seeds want to grow, that's their purpose, leave them alone and let nature take its course. 

Store the seeds in a cold greenhouse until germinated then harden off in a cold frame early March. 

It's a good idea to raise the trays off the ground using a bucket allowing the tray to overhang. As previously mentioned mice love a Sweet Pea shoot and the bucket trick stops them from climbing up to have a nibble.

How to grow on Sweet Peas 

There are two methods of growing Sweet Peas; the traditional wigwam method, and the Cordon method. Plant out 15-20 cm apart and when they are approx' 6-10 cm tall pinch out the growing tips: This will help the plants to bush out and be stronger producing more flowers. Both options produce good quality Sweet Peas and will still produce the same frilly and ruffled petals giving the most beautiful scent. Remember to remove the tendrils so not to take the goodness out the flowers.


Tri pod Method

A teepee frame is constructed and the peas are left to naturally twist and support themselves around the frame. The stems will be curved and shorter than the Cordon method.

Cordon Method

My preferred method of growing Sweet Peas. The stems can be as long as 30cm which are perfectly straight with blooms a little larger too.  The Sweet Peas are grown up single bamboo canes or rope. The tendrils are removed and the stems are secured with string to support the plant. This method is very time consuming but for bridal flowers its a must for me personally. 

Sweet Pea pests and diseases  Sweet Peas are prone to mildew latter on in the season but very simply to treat. A homemade solution is a good idea: Combine one tablespoon of baking soda and one half teaspoon of liquid (non-detergent soap). Add to one gallon of water and spray the mixture liberally on the plants. Mouthwash.

The mouthwash you may use on a daily basis for killing the germs in your mouth can also be effective at killing powdery mildew spores.

Pollen Lilly Beatles are a common pest in my area of the UK. They are harmless to the plants but do look unsightly in floral arrangements. They are little tiny black Beatles that live on the flower. They are prone to visit in late July. One tip to remove the Beatles is to store the cut blooms in a dark corner of a garage or shed and open the window at the other end of the space. They will be attracted to the natural light and fly away.


I hope this has given you some inspiration to grow your own Sweet Peas at home for your own wedding flowers. Please do contact me if I can help you in anyway with the growing process.

















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Bud & Flower

Floral Design

By Chrissy Thornton

Sussex

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