Sweet Peas, whose Latin name is Lathyrus odoratus, look fantastic as shown in the images, and smell even better. They are one of the most sweetly scented of garden plants. Sweet peas are annuals, which mean they germinate, grow, flower, set seed and die all in one year and so have to be re-grown each year. Sweet peas are long flowering and provide colour, scent and flowers to pick for months. Sweet peas are not difficult to grow, but they need regular attention throughout the summer. I grow them every year and when in full bloom they need at least 30mins+ a week to dead head, take off the tendrils, train and tie them in. For this reason they are a red wheelbarrow plant.
It is not just a case of dead heading Sweet Peas, the more you pick the more you get. You can remove every bloom from a set of Sweet peas and within days they will be back, so do keep picking.
To keep Sweet Peas flowering all season it is important to dead head them regularly. Removing the spent flowers prevents the plant from making seed, which keeps it producing more flowers and prolongs the flowering season. Sweet peas require extra attention if you want straight stems, it is necessary to remove the tendrils regularly, and they require watering during dry spells. The reward for all this attention is their lovely scented flowers. If Sweet Peas are not regularly dead headed, the blooms will get fewer and fewer, and eventually stop flowering. With regular dead heading, Sweet Peas can flower through to November.
Plant Sweet Peas in a sunny spot bearing in mind Sweet Peas have a strong preference for moisture retentive soil, enriched with compost or other organic matter. If you encounter any problems growing Sweet Peas, the most common problem is powdery mildew, a fungus which leaves white powder on the leaves. This fungus is much more likely to attack the plant if it is dry, which is why it is important to water sweet peas, especially during dry periods and to have plenty of organic matter in the soil to retain water. There is a Sunday gardener Video How to plant and grow sweet peas.
Sweet Peas are a popular choice for planting in containers. All plants grown in containers dry out more quickly, which makes Sweet Peas prone to attack by mildew. If you are growing Sweet peas in containers, consider adding water retaining gel and a good mulch to retain moisture. It also follows they will require regular watering, especially during dry spells.
If growing annual Sweet Peas is too much trouble, check out the Everlasting Sweet Pea which has the same lovely delicate flowers, albeit not scented, but as a perennial will return reliably and flower year after year.