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Oh, Sweet Pea: The Guide to Sowing Sweet Peas in January

It’s the middle of winter, Christmas and New Year’s celebrations are over and spring feels like an eternity away. It can be a struggle to successfully sow a lot of flowers in January, but there is a robust climbing flower that can take away the winter blues: Sweet Peas!

These sturdy, fragrant and beautiful climbers are a great choice for January sowing (they can be sown from January and as late as May if you prefer) as long as they have the correct growing conditions. When sowing Sweet Peas, you will need:

  1. Biodegradable Growing Tubes
  2. Seed Sowing Compost
  3. Sweet Pea Seeds

Biodegradable Growing Tubes:

Sweet Peas dislike root disturbance so growing them in biodegradable growing tubes, cardboard tubes or coir pots are the best options. This will enable you to plant them out in their containers without damaging the roots. You can grow Sweet Peas in containers and then remove them to plant, but this will cause root disturbance and you may see less successful results.

We sell Vitax Biodegradable Growing Tubes at Greenfingers for this exact purpose.

We also sell Visiroot root cell modules made out of recycled bottles by Westland that are great for Sweet Peas and Beans.

Seed Sowing Compost:

Particularly for Winter Sowing, it is a good idea to use a seed sowing compost over a multi-purpose when possible. Greenfingers sell Westland Seed Sowing compost in small bags of 10, 20 and 30 litres. However; if you have left over good quality, peat-free multi-purpose compost that is also an option as Sweet Pea seeds usually germinate relatively easily.

Sweet Pea Seeds:

At Greenfingers, we sell both Sutton Seeds and Country Value Seeds, both of which have some fantastic choices of Sweet Peas. Below are our top picks for fragrance, old favourites and interesting shapes and colours:

Fragrant Varieties:

  • High Scent
  • Fragrant Tumbler
  • Sublime Scent Mix
  • True Fragrance Mix
  • Fragrant Skies
  • Showbench Mix

Old Favourites:

  • Old Fashioned Mixed
  • Royal Mixed
  • Spencer Mixed

Showy Shapes and Colours:

  • Amethyst and Orchids
  • Jet Set Mix
  • Prince of Orange

How to Sow Sweet Peas

Follow these few simple steps to successfully sow your Sweet Peas.

  1. Sow seeds individually into growing tubes or the like as mentioned above, push them down into the seed compost about a finger tips depth, and then cover with compost.
  2. Water well and place in a greenhouse or heated propagator. For later sowings, a regular propagator or even a sunny windowsill may be suffice, but with regular temperatures in January being so cold; a heated location would be best for January sowings.
  3. Germination usually takes 10-20 days and you should expect to see small shoots emerge within this time. When they begin to grow, you’ll probably see roots start to break through the sides of the growing tubes.

It’s as easy as that! Moving forward, when the plants are around 10cm tall, pinch out the growing point when seedlings have two-three pairs of leaves, this encourages bushy growth.

For these early sowings, it’s a good idea to grow them on in a cold frame or Greenhouse to protect them from frosts but to also toughen them up a bit, this is called Hardening off.

Sweet Peas are climbing plants and need structures to grow up. When planting out, use wires, netting or twine to tie in stems to their supports – they should use their tendrils to cling onto their supports later on.

You could plant your Sweet Peas near a seating area so you can smell their sweet fragrance while enjoying your garden. Or you could keep them in containers and pick some for an indoor vase; even a handful of freshly cut Sweet Peas can fill a room with fragrance! Picking your Sweet Peas regularly is key to prolonging the flowering period. As well as this, it is good to feed your Sweet Peas with a high potash fertiliser (such as tomato food like Tomorite that we sell at Greenfingers) when flower buds appear.

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