Sweet pea has been around since 1699 after its discovery by an Italian monk. The cultivation started in the 17th century and it is believed to be a native of Sicily. It belongs to the genus Lathyrus and the Fabaceae family. Its height can reach a maximum of two meters, which requires the right support or trellis. The color of the flower may vary, but in most instances, it is purple. Many of them may also have bi-colored flowers, most of which will be a combination of purple, white, pink, or blue. More than the color, the flowers are also popular because of their intense fragrance.
As you plant sweet peas, it is important to know the different varieties that are available. If you want a strong scent, King’s High Scent is best as it is probably the most fragrant variety that is available. Other varieties that are available include Mrs. Collier, Mrs. R. Bolton, Queen Alexandra, America, Air Warden, Apricot Sprite, Incense Mix, and Strawberry Sundae, among others.
While it is best to grow sweet peas outdoors, you can also propagate it indoors. Because it is a vine, however, you need to have a large space at home to accommodate its growth.
Planting and Growing Conditions
You can propagate sweet peas from seeds. With this, the first thing that you have to do is to head out to a reputable nursery and purchase seeds to plant, making sure that it is free from pathogens and infections. Do not plant the seeds straight. For the best outcome, soften the outer coating of the seed first. One of the best ways to do this is through soaking the seeds overnight or using a nail clipper to nick the brown coating of the seed.
When the seeds are ready, prepare your soil and your container. You can use almost any type of pot, but see to it that there are holes so that there will be proper drainage. A pot with diameter of three to four inches will suffice. Potting mix is recommended and not garden soil. Garden soil is compact and will not provide aeration.
Using your finger or a pencil, poke the surface of the soil at a depth of around an inch. Drop the seed on the hole. It is best to plant at least two seeds in a single pot. Cover the top part with a soil mix and gently water it from the top. At this point, the waiting game begins. Pay attention to the ideal growing conditions so that the seeds will germinate.
While there are many external factors that will be vital for the growth of sweet peas, water and temperature are two of the most important. It is important to water the plant every now and then., making sure that the soil is moist but never soggy. If it is soggy, there is a higher likelihood that it will experience root rot. For the temperature, on the other hand, it should be ideally 55 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Once the seeds begin to sprout, you need to position it somewhere it will receive good amount of light. Placing it by the window is the best thing to do, but make sure that it does not receive direct and extreme heat from the sun. Once it grows, you can transplant it in an outdoor garden. If you would like to keep it indoors, on the other hand, see to it that there is enough opening for the sun to reach the plant. Also, establish support as sweet pea is a vine.
Pests and Diseases
Some of the most common diseases that sweet peas may experience include powdery mildew, gray mold, and rust. It is also not safe from infestation of common garden pests, which include snails and slugs. Young plants are specifically more vulnerable to attacks.
Care and Maintenance
Here are some useful tips that every beginner must know when growing sweet peas indoor:
- Provide appropriate support for the plant since it is a vine. Ideally, when the height reaches four inches, this is an indication that you need to provide support.
- Like in the case of most indoor pants, pinching is also necessary to control the growth of the plant. Pinch it from the tip when the height reaches about six inches. This will create horizontal shoots, and in turn, they will cling on the support.
- Once the plant has achieved full growth, mulch the soil so that it will retain moisture and air. Mulching is also good because it lessens the need for watering the soil.
- While the plant is young, you can add organic amendments to improve the quality of the soil. Compost and manure are some of the best examples. When you do this, there is a lesser need to use fertilizers later on.
- Do not hesitate to pick the flowers often. In fact, it is best to pick them at least once every two to three days. By picking more often, you will encourage more growth of flowers. When picking flowers, do this early in the morning or at night. If you do this when it is too hot, it is likely that the plant will suffer from dehydration.
In sum, although sweet pea is a vine, you can still grow it indoors. Growing it by seeds is fairly easy, as long as you have the right potting mix and the optimal growing conditions. You can transplant it outdoors or keep it indoors, as long as it will receive full sun.