October 24, 2014
One of our most popular annual flowers summer just wouldn’t be complete without sweet peas growing happily somewhere in the garden. The wonderful range of colours and heady scent makes them a firm favourite of many.
Originating in the eastern Mediterranean sweet peas were first cultivated in England in the 17th century by Henry Eckford, a member of the RHS. We now have about 160 different species with plants available in every colour bar yellow. For some reason yellow has remained elusive but breeders are working hard to put this right.
Sweet peas are very easy to grow from seed and choosing this method will give you a wider range of choice in both colour and scent than buying plants from a garden centre.
In March or April the seeds can be sown direct in their final position and will reward you by flowering in July. However, if you want earlier flowers and possibly stronger plants then starting them off in the autumn is the answer.
First you need to decide which sweet peas you want to grow. Easier said than done when there are so many and they are all so lovely. You can browse our range via the following link but first it may be helpful to decide where and how you wish to grown them. What colours do you prefer? Do you want tall or dwarf varieties or maybe even trailing ones for a hanging basket? Is scent important to you? Whatever your preference there will be at least 1 variety to perfectly fit the bill on Dobies.
If you’ve decided to have a go at autumn sowing then October and November are ideal months. Sow the seeds individually in root trainers (the cardboard centre of toilet rolls work almost as well) using good quality seed compost and covering the seeds with 1 cm of compost. Give them a drink and keep them at about 15C until they have germinated. Then place them in a coldframe or unheated greenhouse – you are aiming for strong compact plants so they don’t want to be pampered! Keep the coldframe open as much as possible although close it during really bad weather.
It depends on weather conditions but your plants should be ready for planting out in March or April. They will reward you with lovely early blooms in May or June. Just remember to keep cutting them as this will encourage repeat flowering. As if you’ll need reminding!