I always seem to be choosing plants for my Plant Lovin’ series that have I a bit of an emotional connection to. These plants provide great memories, or remind me of special people. The Sweet Pea is definitely one of those plants. My Nanna Bet had the most fantastic vegetable garden, and Sweet Peas always featured. She had a fabulous trellis that they snaked across and hung over. I remember going home with bunches of Sweet Peas on so many occasions. It was also one of the flowers used in the bouquets at our wedding, it was a perfect softener for the red roses that matched the Bridesmaids dresses.
It is a plant that I have been wanting to try out for a while, but didn’t think would work too well on our old balcony, and then I missed the season last year. So this year, the Drama Queen and I have some little baby Sweet Peas getting ready to hit the garden. Hopefully they like us and give us bunches of their sweet smelling flowers!
So here’s the Snow Pea low down…
Name: Lathyrus odoratus
Description: The Sweet Pea is a flowering annual that grows to 1.5-2m tall with the aid of a trellis or frame. The sweet smelling flowers are the main feature of the plant, but I’m also fond of the delicate looking tendrils that are used to grip. Flowers range from white through to pink, red and purple.
What you’ll love about them: The flowers, the flowers, the flowers! As they are a climber, and grow to about 2m high they are perfect for screening a fence or covering a lattice or garden screen. As they are winter growing, they will fill in the winter bare patches in your garden. They will grow easily from seed. Let’s face it, if we can germinate them, I think anybody can!
What they love: Sweet Peas love the sun, they need at least six hours a day to keep them happy. A well drained soil, and a lattice or trellis to grow on. As they are annuals you will need to rip them out and replace them each year. In Sydney they are a seed that is best sown in Autumn, so they don’t like it too hot. Check in your part of the world for what time of year would suit them best.
The not so great bits: Sweet Pea is an annual plant, so will not last past one season. It’s not a long term garden solution, but a fun splash of colour from year to year. It will need a bit of work to get them started and then to rip them out again at the end of the season, but if it fits in with your vegetable garden rotation there’s not problem!
If you prefer something a bit more home grown: There are no native Sweet Peas, and nothing that I can think of that is an Annual, so there isn’t anything that you can directly substitute, but if it’s the vine you are looking for you could try a Hardenbergia violacae, it is fairly hardy and vigorous and has purple pea shaped flowers.
Off to water our sweet pea babies and design them a trellis!