How to Grow Sweet Peas
of the Sweet Pea Flower
The first Sweet Pea (Latin name Lathyrus
odoratus) flower variety appeared in Britain in 1730, sent by an Italian
monk Fransiscus Cupani. It was a small-flowered wild variety which bore little resemblance
to the Sweet Peas of today.
In the very early 1900s, Henry Eckford selected and crossed many Sweet
Peas, laying down the foundation of the popularity enjoyed by the Sweet
Pea today. From his work came varieties such as 'Dorothy Eckford'
(pink), 'Lady Grisel Hamilton' (lavender) and 'King Edward' (scarlet) - the grandifloras.
Sweet Pea 'Dawn'
The first frilled or waved varieties were raised by Mr. Silas Cole, gardener
to Countess Spencer. These were known as the Spencer varieties.
'Countess Spencer', a pink variety, was the first of this type to
be exhibited in 1901.
At the same time, Mr. W. J. Unwin produced 'Gladys Unwin' (pink). It is
from these two types that the modern Sweet Pea has been derived.
Varieties now run into the hundreds - scented, a wonderful range of
colour (more recently multi-coloured), trailing and climbing, miniature and full size.
To Start Sowing Sweet Peas
Sweet Peas were traditionally sown during mid autumn / fall, for flowering the
next summer. In recent years the custom of Spring sowing Sweet Peas has
become more common. Whilst spring sowing may be a little less
time-consuming, there is no doubt that a
October sowing produces
earlier and stronger plants and flowers. Our advice is to sow in autumn
in milder areas and sow in spring in cooler areas
This article will lead you through the sowing process
for both methods and will show you how to care for your sweet peas. We
also have a section on different varieties of sweet pea with pictures
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