The Scientific name of sweet pea is Lathyrus odoratus, and it belongs to the Leguminosae family.
Sweet peas is a vine that can grow up to 8 ft tall in good soil. Its height lends itself to provide a backdrop for a herbaceous border. It produces one of the best cut flowers and can be grown as a temporary hedge or a screen of a small garden. If grown in pots, sweet peas should be allowed to grow on a trellis.
Different varieties of sweet peas
- The Giant Frilled or Spencer
- The early flowering (Winter) frilled.
- The cuthbertson (Spring flowering) frilled.
- The multiflora
- The dwarf cupid.
- The dwarf cupid giant frilled (Little Sweetheart)
All the varieties of Sweet peas grow wonderfully well in hill stations of India. In the plains of India, only the early flowering strains do well. Sweet peas do not perform well in the places near a coastline, where the climate is warm and humid.
Growing Sweet Peas:
- Sweet peas need well-dug soil to a depth of 2 feet.
- The soil should be richly manured with plenty of leaf mould and cow manure.
- Sweet peas is particular about an open sunny position. Don't grow the plant in shade or partial shade.
- Sweet peas is most susceptible to water logging, make sure that soil has good drainage capacity.
- After the soil is well prepared, water the bed on previous night.
- Plant the seeds at a depth of 1 cm when the soil is moist.
- The distance between two seeds should be at least 10 cm from each other, in a triangular pattern, in two rows.
- The distance of 25 cm can be maintained between two rows. Two such sets of rows will suffice in a bed of 2 feet width.
- Cover the seeds with straw or small meshed chicken wire to prevent the birds eating the seeds.
- In hill stations, avoid watering till seeds germinate, but in rest of India, the soil is apt to become too dry and may need light watering, just enough to moisten it.
Pinching:Pinch off the top 1 cm of the plant when it is 10-15 cm or has about three pairs of leaves for best results.
Sweet Pea Flowering Months:The plants start flowering in February, when the seeds are sown in September-October, and continue blooming till March or mid-April.
Watering Peas:Sweet peas requires plenty of water. Heavy irrigation once a week is better than frequent light watering. However, over watering and water logging often results in shedding of flowers. Read about 20 essential tips on watering houseplants.
Manuring:Sweet peas need heavy manuring. Liquid cow dung manure once a week is helpful after the plant is well established.
Deadheading:It is essential to remove all the faded or dead flower and seed pods for prolonged continuous flowering.
Plant protection:Sweet peas are remarkably free of diseases. The plants may be prone to pests like green flies, birds, slugs and snails. Sometimes flower buds drop due to excessive moisture in atmosphere or soil. This stops as these conditions change.
Interesting observations:In sweet peas, the wrinkled seeds give rise to bluish, lavender and mauve colored flowering plants; whereas the scarlet, pink and rose colored types are obtained from smooth and plump seeds.
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