It’s hard to imagine flowers more lovely than sweet peas. The glorious pastel colors are reason enough to grow them. But the fragrance — the wonderful, sweet fragrance — is like no other, sweeping through the garden in spring. And indoors, nothing says spring like a fresh, intoxicating bouquet of sweet peas.
These bloomers come in more forms than ever before. Heirloom varieties, such as the Old Spice Mix, produce less showy flower clusters but have the most intense, heady fragrance. Early-flowering varieties, such as Early Multiflora, bloom over a long season, especially in mild winter climates. Summer-flowering types, like Galaxy, are heat-resistant and bloom longer into summer. Compact types like Knee-Hi and Bijou can be grown without the support of a trellis.
In mild winter areas where the ground doesn’t freeze, sweet peas are best planted in the fall. In colder areas, wait until spring to plant. Sweet peas are easy to grow from seeds planted about 1 inch deep and 3 to 4 inches apart. To speed germination, soak the seeds overnight in water before planting. Plant in full sun. Most varieties will need a sturdy support to climb, such as string trellis or wire fence. Protect young seedlings from slugs and snails.