Home Blog FLOWER FOCUS: Growing great sweet peas {part 2}
January 3rd 2014

FLOWER FOCUS: Growing great sweet peas {part 2}

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A bouquet of Spencer sweet peas

A bouquet of Spencer sweet peas

For the purpose of visually illustrating our growing process, and since I don’t have a complete sequence of shots from any one season (dang it!), I’ve woven together both hoophouse and field production photos in this post. Hopefully it isn’t too confusing!

*Be sure to leave any questions down below in the comments section and I’ll do my best to clarify.

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I’ve been growing sweet peas for what seems like a lifetime now and as you read earlier, they were what got me into this crazy flower farming adventure in the first place. Each spring as they climb their trellises it’s like seeing my dear old friends once again.

But in the early days I had really mixed results with my crops. Some years they’d be spectacular and others the vines would only grow to 3ft tall and produced inferior, short stemmed blooms.

As I learned to choose varieties that were better suited for commercial production (or exhibition) my odds improved dramatically but it was still a little hit and miss. As their popularity grew with our customer base, I really needed to find the magic secret for getting a consistently high quality crop outdoors.

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My hoop house (or unheated greenhouse) vines yielded the best crops of all, with long strong stems, enormous plant growth (many touching the 10 ft ceilings) and perfect flowers. But as I ran out of covered space, a new approach was needed.


I scoured every article, flower growing bulletin board, chat room and book I could get my hands on, in hopes of discovering the secret answer to growing top quality sweet peas in the field. But the more I searched, the less I found.

After days of digging through old library archives online I finally stumbled upon a small pamphlet written in the early 1900’s by George J. Ball called Better Sweet Peas.

You should have heard the whooping and hollering coming out of my office that day. That tiny book was loaded with so many useful, low input ideas on how to produce sweet peas for the local market. The operations of the early 1900’s are very similar to mine so it was truly like winning the lottery.


Immediately after devouring the booklet, I dug into improving the soil. Before that time I was doing very little to prepare the field beds prior to planting. Looking back, many crop failures corresponded with the plants being grown in poorer, unamended areas of the garden. Our original hoophouses were constructed atop richer plots of ground and when combined with the protection they gave the plants, this combo was likely the reason for the superior indoor crop.

So after having our soil tested (you can get this done for around $50 at your local Ag. extension), a large dose of lime flour was applied, which brought the soils ph into a more neutral range. Since our garden sits atop a pretty acidic sandbar, liming is essential. Then each bed was given a thick dusting of rock phosphate, bone meal and a balanced organic fertilizer (Nature’s Intent 7-2-4) to help promote strong root growth.

Mr. Ball declared that “getting the plants deeply rooted before warm weather drove up growth was the secret to long stemmed outdoor peas.”


Next we carved a trench down the center of each bed with our walk behind tiller. This trench was filled with rich compost and then covered over again with soil. The idea being once the sweet peas sent their roots down deep, there would be a feast awaiting them below.



Then we pounded in our t-posts roughly 8-10 feet apart down the rows, attached two layers of Tenax netting to them with zip ties and top dressed each bed with a little more compost. At the time all of this intensive soil prep seemed a bit overkill but we crossed our fingers and hoped Mr. Ball wouldn’t lead us astray.

While the little seedlings I had started a few months prior were filling out their pots in the propagation greenhouse, we let the soil mellow for a bit (5-7 days) and got the rest of the site ready. Each bed then received 3 lines of drip irrigation, one down the center and 2 about a foot apart on either side. For added weed suppression, we then covered the paths in landscape fabric.


In seasons past I had relied solely on spring rains and some hand watering but Mr. Ball stressed in his book that consistent, adequate water was a huge factor in the success of the crop. He wrote that” if your ground becomes too dry between watering, the plants harden and if hot weather follows no amount of water will revive them.”

burlap wind barrier

burlap wind barrier

The last thing we did before setting out the baby plants was erect a 6ft. high wind barrier. In order to produce long soft stems, the plants needed protection from strong spring winds. Our goal was to mimic the conditions of the hoophouse as closely as possible since we always got our longest flower stems in there.

For the barrier, we set a line of wooden posts about 6ft.apart to the south and west of our patch. Here in our valley, the wind most often comes from those directions.

hard drive photos#2 017

We then attached a double row of burlap to the posts, creating a wind filter. With the burlap wall wrapping around two sides of the patch and a hedge row bordering another, we essentially created a tiny micro climate that was nearly 10* warmer and almost wind free compared to unprotected spots in the field.

Now this kind of wind protections is probably not necessary in most gardens but here in our coastal valley, there is an awful lot of cold wind coming off of the ocean in the spring. With the goal of record-breaking stem length, we went the extra mile on protecting them.

Looking through the burlap wind barrier to the sweet pea patch

Looking through the burlap wind barrier to the sweet pea patch



Before seedlings were then set out in early April, I followed Mr. Ball’s direction and pinched out their central growing stem. This technique promotes low basal branching and will ultimately produce a much stronger, beefier plant.


Plants were spaced roughly 8″ apart, with two rows, one on either side of the netting down the bed. While closer spacing seems appropriate, research concluded that square foot production is actually decreased if plants are grown too tight.

We then committed to giving them a weekly foliar application of compost tea with fish emulsion and kelp.



As the vines exploded into lush growth, it was a full time job just to keep them securely tied to their trellises. We went through every 5 or 6 days with bailing twine and roped the plants snug up to their netting. Once the vines get going, you can expect over a foot of growth a week, so be sure to keep this in mind!

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That first properly grown crop was one for the record books! We harvested more sweet peas than I ever imagined I’d see in a lifetime. We’ve since followed the same formula both indoors and out and get consistently great results. With hoophouse space being in high demand around here, we grow the winter varieties undercover and then follow with a mid season and late crop outdoors. This rewards us with a solid 6+ weeks of top notch flowers.

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Over the years I’ve learned that you really do reap what you sow. The more you invest on the front end (thoughtful attention, love, care, time and lots and lots of compost) the more likely you will be rewarded in the end. It so funny how universal truths always play out no matter where we are, both in the garden and in life.


  1. Tammy on

    My sweet peas leaves always turn yellow from the bottom up around mid-summer (happening now in late July). I thought this was normal die-back, but online research makes me question that. Is this normal?
    I live in the Seattle area and water the beds with drip line for around 30-40 minutes every other day.

    Thanks for the help!

  2. Louise on

    I have had great success with sweet peas following your course material for the last 2 seasons.
    The vines have grown so tall about 10 feet that by August they fall over and create a mess
    I have thought of trying to grow them over a cattle fence arch or would cutting them back help?
    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you for all the knowledge and links you share. Mr Ball’s book is so interesting.
    Louise Class of 2020.

    • BriAnn, Team Floret on

      It helps to tie them to the trellis so they don’t fall over. They grow quickly so staying on top of it each week really helps.

  3. Lisa Braun on

    Hi. Thank you for all the information about growing sweet peas successfully! Always loved them and was always afraid to try rowing them, but this is the year!

    I have a few questions:

    1. How tall are the T posts that you use?

    2. When you mention that you use a double layer of the Tenax netting, do you mean you bot a layer on each side of the trellis, or is it tow layers one on top of the other, creating a taller trellis?

    3. Lastly, when you plant the two seeds per pot, if they both germinate, do you separate them, or leave them together, spacing the next set of two eight inches apart?

    Thank you SO much for sharing your expertise. 🌸🌺 Sincerely, Lisa Braun

  4. Laura Kvasnosky on

    (i also posted this to your sweet pea comments section, but wasn’t sure if that would get to you…)

    Hello Erin!
    Thank you for all this wonderful, generous information. We have been following your instructions for years and sweet peas are our favorite thing. On past Floret materials, you advised a specific seed starting soil — I used up the big bag and can’t find reference to the name on your site any more. It worked great. Can you remind me the name?

    Also – When you plant 2 seeds per pot, do you keep both together when you transplant out into the garden? I have been putting twos, but I wonder if ones would be better.

    We think so fondly of all the help you gave us with flowers for our daughter Noelle’s wedding in 2013. Now it is our yearly tradition to grow sweet peas with our grandsons, ages 3 and 6! Time flies.

    We had no idea we had to stand by to get Floret sweet pea seeds the moment you release them — so this year we gathered what we could from various source. Next year we will be ready!

    We are so glad for your well-deserved success.

  5. Leanne Sharp on

    I just found and read your article. What a plethora of knowledge. I’m in Australia, so our seasons are reversed, but I’m just about to start my seeds for next Spring/Summer. I haven’t grown sweat peas before but I’m excited to start. Thank you for sharing your knowledge, I look forward to having beautiful flowers through my garden come Christmas. Thanks again!

  6. Jennie on

    Hi there,
    This is beautiful and helpful. Could you tell me how you attacked the burlap to the fence? We’d like to use this set up in a windy area and I’m concerned about the burlap ripping in the wind from the holes made to secure it.
    Thank you!

  7. Courtney Hildebrand on

    I’m trying sweet peas for the first time and have several varieties but don’t know if they are winter, spring or summer flowering. I didn’t reread that chapter until after I purchased.
    Here are the varieties, could you let me know which season they are. thanks!
    Old spice
    Mrs. R. Bolton
    Apricot sprite
    Noel Sutton
    Lord Nelson
    Turquoise Lagoon
    Swan lake
    Oxford and Cambridge
    Miss Wilmott
    Kings high scent
    Henry Eckford
    I’m in zone 8 south east Arkansas. Fingers crossed! Thanks a million for sharing your passion!

  8. Ashley on

    Your articles are amazing!! I love reading them! I am new to a picked flower gardening and am so inspired and motivated by your pics. How far apart do you plant the Sweet Peas? I want to grow a few rows. This next year. My extension says that I can plant sweet peas in August/September. And then again in January. I guessing the spencer varieties should be planted in January. What variety should I plant in August/ September? I am in zone 8. I know this is A Lot of questions. Thank you so much!! I just love your book by the way! Can’t wait on the next one!

  9. Trisha on

    Hi sweet pea,
    Could you tell me where to purchase t max netting?

  10. Gina on

    That was super helpful. Amazing that you found Mr. Ball’s pamphlet. It makes us feel kindred to those people way back when who
    had a love for flowers too. Will definitely be using some of those techniques. Thank you Erin for sharing!

  11. Lynne Freeman on

    Can someone help me! I’ve grown sweet peas for 15 plus years. They have NO scent. No one knows what a sweet smell they have. My grandmother name is Sweet Pea!? I hope I don’t have to change my name.

    • Beth Miller on

      Your sweet peas might be the everlasting or perennial variety. The annual sweet peas are the ones with the lovely scent.

  12. Natalie on


    When you plant 2 seeds per pot, do you thin one out after? Or do you keep both when you transplant it out into the garden?


  13. Bobbie Stryffeler on

    This is just perfect! I’m wondering though… I have sprouts (Carlotta, purchased from your farm) that I stated indoors. Presently there is a single stem (basil) do I wait for more stems before pinching this back?

  14. Joan stevens on

    How do you get the stakes to remain upright? Do they have any sort of anchor? How deep in the ground are they?

  15. Pat on

    Very helpful. One of only two sources I’ve seen with info from start to finish. I was particularly interested in the trellis and training sweet peas to stick to the trellis. The wind block was also very interesting. I’ve long wondered how others battled the wind. Other parts of the post confirm my experiences, especially the part about well rooted plants producing long stems and the need to irrigate. I don’t have hoop houses but I’ve suspected their value, especially after creating small structures for gerberas and seedlings. Finally, it is good to know that even for a professional, it is all about trial and error.

  16. Scott on

    I’m curious how you are marketing the sweet peas? Are they combined with other flowers in boquets, or are you selling bundles of only sweet peas?

  17. Marj Niebauer on

    They look lovely and probably have the most wonderful fragrance! I would like to get on your list to purchase some of those pea seeds when they are ready. My friend in Washington would love to have them. I live in an apt. with no outdoor space. :( Will you respond to let me know what I need to do. Thank you.

  18. karen on

    My sweet peas are about 6 inches high- should I pinch them back again or just let them go? Thank you.

  19. Bela on

    silly question…. can these sweet peas grow on a regular trellis? (bamboo, plastic) or does it need to be a string trellis?
    I have a lot of seedlings! (yay me, first time growing sweet peas!) and I need to put them in the dirt, but I want to make sure that they can climb properly… should I just make one out of string to be safe??

    • Team Floret on

      They will grow on just about anything they can wrap their little tendrils onto. If you already have a regular trellis, no need to buy netting. Enjoy your sweet peas!

  20. Tammy Chinn on

    I am having the weirdest problem with my sweet peas and it’s super distressing: the stems (nice long sraight stems) suddenly are bent about 2/3 of the way up then are dry up to the flower. The flower is relatively intact but that part of the stem is flat and dry. I have never seen this before. The stems are not being caught up by tendrils, or any other thing. They are just totally bent as if someone came through and folded them. I can’t find anything describing this. I was so stoked to have what seemed like a good crop for mother’s day…

    • Team Floret on

      Hi Tammy,
      We have had this happen to our sweet peas too, in the hoop house. Don’t worry, they seem to grow out of it!

  21. Justine on

    I know this post is old but I have a question. Can you pinch out your sweet peas more than once. I thought we would have a much nicer spring but we just got another 6+ inches of snow. I pinched them out a while back when I sowed them it but not they are getting tall and the leaves are beginning to curl. Their roots are also starting to grow out of the pot! I’m trying to save these bad boys. Any suggestions?!

  22. Ashley on

    Hi:) might seem like a silly question. But I’m new at all this flower growing! I was wondering if you pinch the sweet pea seedlings more than once. I started mine and I pinched them. But some still seem to be growing up on the one center vine as oppose to branching out. Should I pinch it again? They’re getting pretty leggy

  23. Jean on

    Hi! I sowed my sweet peas seeds from you and they are sprouting! My question is: if you have more than one seedling growing in a cell (2″x 4″ deep), do you thin them out? Looking at the pictures in post above, it appears as though there is more than one seedling in each cell/root mass at planting. I planted 3 per cell. Thanks for all the wonderful information, pictures and resources you so freely share!!

  24. jasmine on

    Your sweet peas are amazing! I had a success growing them last year here in mid Georgia! Can you believe it?! And that was my first time growing it, with lots of help from google (did lots of research). Now I’m back to doing research again because I forgot when to plant them. LOL! I really need to take notes. But thanks for all your tips. I am so jealous of your sweet pea garden.

  25. Heather Dziedzic on

    I swear I read somewhere on your site the recommendation for planting at the base of the sweet peas. But, I can’t seem to find it!
    Do you have any recommendations on low growers that play well with them?

  26. eliza soeth on

    Very nice article, i have been growing sweet peas for 42 years, and an old woman taught me these same things, soil amendment , 8 in or so planting, plenty water, I have found Roger Parson sweet peas seeds from England to be he best and price is good, enjoy,
    what have you found to be best conditioning

  27. April on

    Hi! I bought 2 packs of sweet pea seeds from you (different varieties) and followed all your instructions but unfortunately only one package germinated. The other never did. I did them both at the same time using the same steps. The ones that were successful I planted and they have been growing for a few months but they still aren’t flowering. I started them indoors in late February and moved them outside in April I live in SoCal. Does it normally take this long to flower? Thanks so much!

  28. Elo on

    My sweetpeas were soaked overnight & planted about an inch deep in outdoor trays. About 5 days after planting they started bursting out of the potting mix & are lying on top, dried out. They’ve germinated but won’t stay in the ground. Did I not plant them deep enough?

  29. Sandi Bargen on

    Which do you prefer? The polypropylene netting or the wire fencing for the sweet peas?

    • Floret on

      Hi Sandi,
      Wire is much more sturdy than the plastic for growing sweet peas. Good luck!

  30. Sybil Groulx on

    I live in western North Carolina – Asheville – and cannot grow sweet peas although I have tried for 3 years. Thank you for your information, perhaps this will help; in the meantime is there anyone living in the Asheville area who has been successful growing sweet peas???
    Thanks, Sybil

  31. Meghann on

    I’m so bummed I missed out on your classes for 2016! I stumbled across your site while researching flower stands on Pinterest. Low and behold your right down river from me, we live out in Day Creek (Sedro Woolley) I’m hoping to start a little roadside flower stand this summer and Sweat Peas are on my list. I have two questions though. The first is it says on my packages to direct sow, but can I start them in our (unheated) greenhouse now? The second is that on ONE of the packages it warns that sweet peas are poisonous? I tried to research it on the internet but didn’t find much. With three kids ranging from 4 to 11 months should I hold back on planting them until the little one stops putting EVERYTHING in her mouth?

  32. Tia Stockton on

    Hi! I am in Missoula mt, in zone 4a; I have my sweet peas started, and they are about 6 inches (and I just picked them down as recommended to encourage bottom growth). My question is about planting outside; if I have a unheated greenhouse/cover thing that I can cover them to keep frost off, but do I need to wait till the temperature is more consistently warm? We currently can get up to 60+ degrees on nice days, but also got a sprinkling of snow a couple days ago so it’s still iffy. Any recommendations for when I should/can plant outside?

    • Floret on

      Hi Tia,
      Sweet Peas can handle some cold, but when it drops below freezing into the 20’s, you’ll want to protect them. First cloth is what we use.
      Since you’re a zone 4 I’d wait until a few weeks until your last spring frost date, since it shouldn’t get too, too cold by then.
      Hope that helps.

  33. Elise Stubbs on

    Thanks again Erin, just the information I need keep it coming! Elise

  34. Tobey Nelson on

    Gonna go soak my peas. And, I LOVE Nature’s Intent fertilizers!!

  35. Gwen on

    I have grown sweet peas on and off for years and do love them! I am once again planning on growing more this year as we have a newly added events venue to our nursery and will be doing flowers for some of the brides. One problem I’ve had with sweet peas is aphids! Growing on a small scale, it is possible to ‘wash’ them off as needed when I harvest. But seeing the large amounts that you harvest and sell, how do you make sure you aren’t having beautiful flowers go to market with aphids here and there???

    Love your blog and pictures! Thank you for sharing!
    Monroe Wa.

  36. Hadley on

    Hey Erin, thank you SO much for all your endless information. Starting a small cut flower garden at a farm in Kentucky, and your words are so helpful.

    I have a question about the windbreak…. it looks like you drove T posts into the ground and then attached wood stakes to the T post for additional height…. how did you attach the wood stake to the T post? and what is that black ribbon I see at every post in your pictures?

    Thank you so much!!

  37. Terri Harris on

    Wow!! What excellent, detailed information. After reading your blog I now have a pretty darn good idea why my sweet peas aren’t doing so well!!

    Many thanks, Terri

  38. Mark on


    I am from the island of Malta and I am thinking that next year for the first time I take part in out horticultural show competition with sweet peas and I am going to grow my sweet peas outside in the pots. The show are going to be on the 3rd weekend of May 2016. As you know the weather in Malta are more warm then UK. Please which is the best time to sow my sweet peas seeds for our exhibition?
    Thank you very much in advance.
    Kind regards.
    Mark (Malta).

  39. Carolyn on

    This is brilliant and just what I have been searching high and low for this information! Thank you

  40. louis desena on

    a very good article!!—informative and “clear”-thank you-

  41. Susan on

    Just found this on Pinterest. I have grown sweet peas in my flower beds in the past, but have trouble controlling them. Are there certain ones that aren’t invasive?

  42. NATE on

    Hello from Anacortes! I grew sweet peas for the first time this year. I enjoyed the results so much (with such little effort) that I wondered what more I could do for next year. I came across this blog in my search. Beautiful flowers, great article, thanks for all the info.

  43. Lillian on

    I have grown sweet peas 2 years now. I have them grow on a wire home made trellis. I love them but they don’t start blooming unto they get to 4 feet or so, is there way to get them to bloom earlier. They grew to over 6 feet this year and were beautiful but wondered if they could bloom lower if you know what I mean.
    They also don’t have much smell to them and wondered how to order the ones that are fragrant.
    Thanks for any help you can give me.

  44. Carolyn on

    Hi Erin,

    We’ve been growing sweet peas for ages with very mixed results. This year I followed your advice with pinching, spacing, and laying down additional nutrients, and we have the best crop ever! Thank you so much! They are a dream come true. Next year I’m going to get my hands on some of those fancy varieties…
    Warm wishes from Maine!

    • Floret on

      That’s sooooo great to hear Carolyn!

  45. Jonathan Leiss on


    Thank you for this wonderful series of posts on flowers. We find we keep coming back to them to answer questions.

    Our sweet peas have finally started flowering (in the field — no hoop house yet), but the stems are far too short to use. I noticed in one of your photos it looked like you cut some of the pea fine as well as the flower stalk. Is that a good way to harvest sweet peas? Are there any guidelines for how much to cut or where to cut to?

    Thank you.

    • Floret on

      I cut the foliage all of the time and use it both with my flower bunches and in arrangements. You’ll notice, where ever you cut, new growth starts forming so snip away!

  46. Caitlyn on

    Hi Erin! I’m a fellow flower farmer, and after a very inspiring compost tea workshop am excited to give brewing a try. Can I ask what brewer you use?

    Thanks for all your blog work, I know how much extra work it must be on top of the farm work. What a huge treat it is to have access to your knowledge and observations.

  47. Heidi on

    Wondering if you have tips for post harvest and packaging for retail? If we get a bumper crop I want to wow our local grocery store but have had trouble with vase longevity.

    Thank-you for sharing you are such an inspiration!

  48. Liz Sytsma on

    This is such a lovely and helpful tutorial, especially for a first time sweet pea grower. Can you describe in a bit more detail the process of trimming the tops of the seedlings? How far down do you trim and at what point in the growing process? Many thanks!

  49. Jen on

    I wish I had seen these posts before I planted 4 packs of seeds! I’ve usually just thrown caution to the wind when it came to seeds, mostly due to laziness and having luck most of the time. But I have 3 more packs to plant so I will look to amending the soil first. Thanks!

  50. community garden 2/26/14 « A Growing Obsession on

    […] Sweet peas don’t reseed true to their stunning varieties, so new seed must be bought fresh every season. Some of the best growing instructions for florist-grade sweet peas can be found at Floret. […]

  51. Sandra Sarlinga on

    Dear Erin! How wonderful and generous all the information you share about growing sweet peas, we have a small farm-home business and my husband make cheeses, this year we are opening a small farm stand and I wanted to try sweet peas just to have some vases adorning the stand and to “market test” the likes of my customers. I haven’t done much research and thank you so much for the valuable info you posted as it save me a lot of time! I am in zone 7 in North Carolina were everybody plants peas (the edible sugar snap) by Valentine’s day or by the end of February. Do you think this is good timing for sweet peas too? Thank you for any advice you can give me, love your work and your flowers, looks like I can smell them through the screen! Hugs, Sandra

  52. Catherine on

    Thanks for this wonderful article! Sweet Peas are my favorite flower. I find no other scent as beautiful. Will try some of your tips, especially amending the soil and pruning. I live in Michigan, and have had better luck planting seeds directly in soil rather than in starter pots.

  53. Liz on

    Thank you for the link & the excellent firsthand information. Have you created any new varieties? I’m about to start a breeding program here in the North of England in my spare time. If you had any thoughts to share about this topic I’d greatly appreciate them.

  54. Doreen Elizabeth on

    Kudos to you Erin. Not only are you a wealth of knowledge and experience, but a blessing for your willingness to share it with all of us who are inspired and eager to learn!!!
    Cheers, Doreen

  55. Steve Adams on

    That was great, thanks for all the info. You grow the best sweet peas I have ever seen. I love what you are doing with the blog, really cool. Thanks

    • Floret on

      Thanks Steve,
      Coming from you, that’s a HUGE compliment!

  56. laura on

    Wonderful wonderful wonderful! I wish I’d had this last year when I planted tons of sweetpeas for Noelle’s wedding… they fully bloomed about two weeks after the June 15 event. (But luckily you came along and provided us such lovely flowers as well as help arranging). This is such great information, Erin, and so well illustrated, too — I am going to get busy!

  57. Becky on

    Hello, thanks for sharing… any tips on when best to cut and condition for the best vase life? Or did I miss that bit somewhere?! I grew lots last year which all seemed to come into flower at the same time during a bit of a heat wave, they only lasted a couple of days after being cut. I know their vase life is not supposed to be that long but surely a bit longer than that could be achieved?

    Many Thanks, Becky

  58. Elaine Cowan on

    I love reading about every thing you do on your farm, you are such an inspiration to me!
    What stage of flower do you cut your Sweet Peas, and do you cut the tendrils off the plants as they grow, like Sarah Raven suggests?
    Thank you.

  59. Janice on

    Thank you so much for sharing! I live on an Island in the Pacific Northwest and try as I might, my sweet peas disappointment me every year. I remember my father throwing a few spade’s full of compost on top of the ground, and tilling it in. Mother then scattered pea seeds, and in a while we had beautiful sweet peas. Seemed so simple, Obviously there was more to my parents “planting” than met my childs eye. Thanks for all the tips, and Thank you Mr. Ball as well. Janice

  60. kristin burrello on

    oh, what would we do without you!?!
    curious, where do you sell most of your sweet peas? grocery? florists?
    rock star posts. thank you, thank you!

  61. Angela Humphrey on

    Hi Erin! As usual thanks for sharing your knowledge, experience and amazing talent! I really loved this post.

    Any tips on harvest and post harvest of sweet-peas?

    Many thanks!

  62. Becca Blue on

    Hi Erin!
    I LOVE the sweet pea posts! My mom worked for George Ball (the III though, my mom isn’t that old…) Ball Seed is here, just outside of Chicago. Their trial gardens are amazing. (Sold to Burpee a few years ago.) I think it’s so great you found the best information from so long ago-and it’s the most relevant for the way we want to garden today.
    Thank you so much for sharing!

  63. Rachel on

    Thank you for putting together such a wonderfully informative, helpful and beautiful series of posts about my favourite flower. I loved the foreword in the book you linked to, where the author talks about sharing knowledge (which reminds me of the best BBC series on Victorian Flower Garden/Victorian Kitchen Garden).

  64. carol on

    I am learning to improve my soil…need help with clematis…they tend to linger and disappear after about 4 years…any clues? Nice Sweet Pea article…will work to improve mine in Kentucky…Where is your garden?

    • Floret on

      My garden in in western WA state.

      The clematis may be getting nailed with disease. The large flowered types are most prone. I grow mainly viticellas since they are more hardy and tollerant.

  65. Ferriss Donham on


    Agreed thanks so much for all the free share of info. I love that its a business for you but that the world is even more important and the health of the planet and the sharing of the beauty.

    What I marvel at as well as all your knowledge, is all your energy. I thought I had a lot but you go go go! Must be all those juices in the blender!

  66. Flori on

    Wow, wow, WOW! Awsome pictures and congrats from all our heart for your doing an amazing job. We love flowers too, we do the same thing on spring which is about to come and the results are almost the same. We do not have so much space! Congrats again and an excelent year! Flori.

    • Floret on

      Thank you so much!

  67. send flowers to italy on

    Awesome !,its a very helpful information with nice pics,thanx for sharing,Really i have never seen these type of information in free of cost,now i am waiting for ur next futher informative blog

  68. Michelle on

    Awesome! Erin, your posts are fantastic. My sweet pea list is getting longer each day. Thank you!

  69. Martha Farner on

    Erin, I have trouble with vase life. What do you do?

  70. martin and the magpie on

    Hi Erin,
    My Owls sweet peas arrived this morning and am beyond excited to give everything you say a go…i’ve said it before but you are a total inspiration, and like someone else said good karma to you for sharing your experience…Kay x

    • Floret on

      Aww Kay, thanks!

  71. Jen on

    Thank you for all of the great advice! Do you do any soaking/scoring of the seeds? I have had trouble getting sweet peas to germinate and I read conflicting info about how to start the seeds.

    • Floret on

      I soak my seeds for 12-24hrs. before sowing. I’m terrible at nicking, they seem to fling out of my fingers onto the floor more often than not.

  72. sarah on

    you killed it this week girl! over the top good

    • Floret on

      Thanks dude!

  73. The Flower Mill Cornwall on

    Sat here in Cornwall after a storm filled New Year reading your beautiful blogs by the fireside – heavenly! Sooooooo true – it’s all in the soil preparation. You mention compost tea – do you make your own? Or is it a secret…………………??!!
    May just have to sneak one or two more varieties in – for research purposes of course!!
    Happy growing Erin x

    • Floret on

      So happy to hear it!

      For tea, we have one of those big 25 gal brewers and order in special magic compost (biodynamic and worm casting based) and brew our own. I’ll totally do post on that process soon so you can see.

  74. Kahtleen Barber on

    Hi Erin,
    I noticed orlaya and maybe calendula planted next to the sweet peas is that to attract beneficial insects? When you use the vines do you cut all the stems off first and use them separately?

    • Kathleen Barber on

      I should also add how much I appreciate you giving us this
      information. Happy New Year to you and your family

    • Floret on

      That was one of my many failed experiments. I hadn’t anticipated the intense growth from the sweet peas which completely swallowed the companion crops just a week after that photo was taken.

  75. Rondi Anderson on

    Your posts are so inspirational! I love Google Books and use it often for researching for re-enacting the 18oo’s and so thought I’d share a few free Sweet Pea finds from there. Lots of good info on growing, showing and names that may still be around.

    Search for:
    Sweet Peas for Profit
    Sweet Peas
    The Book of the Sweet Pea
    Sweet Peas and How to Grow Them
    Sweet Pea Studies
    Sweet Peas Up To Date
    A Second Account of Sweet Peas
    All About Sweet Peas
    Australian Sweet Pea Annual

    I wonder how they’ll handle the Kansas heat and wind… Gotta try!

    Thank you for sharing Erin!

    • Floret on

      Rondi, thanks so much for this!!!

  76. Christine on

    Absolutely fascinating. Now maybe I’ll be successful on my next try. Love your passion for what you do!

  77. Victoria von Berg on

    Hi Erin, what do you do with the vines once they start to grow above your supports, do you snip them to that level or just leave them to flop over.

    • Floret on

      Usually once they top the fence, we can’t reach them well enough for efficient harvest and either move on to the next, later planted plot or take them out.

  78. CheyAnne Sexton on

    I bet those rows and even the surrounding areas smell like heaven. Thanks for sharing

  79. Erin Mc on

    This is a great series! I am impatiently waiting each morning for you to post. Thank you so much for sharing all of your tips and knowledge.
    Sorry if i missed it in the post, but how far apart you plant your rows? I have a tendency to plant everything way too close and I’m trying to be better about that :)
    Thanks again!

    • Floret on

      I think we space rows 6 feet apart. If you have room, 8 feet would be nicer but I’m always trying to squeeze as much possible into my tiny plot.

  80. Maggie on

    I am not a farmer or florist, but I have to just say how much I have enjoyed reading these sweet pea posts! It is a fascinating look at the processes of growing flowers commercially, and I am amazed by all that goes into getting such lovely crops. Absolutely inspiring. :)

  81. Michelle on

    Just amazing. You have no idea how helpful this is! Erin, this is why you are my favorite person in the world.

    • Floret on

      So happy it’s helpful. I can’t wait to see what you do this year girl!!!

  82. Kelly Sullivan (Botanique) on

    This series you wrote on Sweet Peas is SO WONDERFUL!!!!! Thank you for sharing your knowledge so generously. I can’t wait to see what happens in the garden this year when I try some of your methods!! Happy New Year!

    • Floret on

      Yeah, so happy to hear it and can’t wait to come for a garden/studio tour : )

  83. Jennifer on

    wow, thanks for all this amazing information. How appropriate that the most useful thing you found to help you grow the peas was from the early 1900’s. Of course! i really want to thank you for putting so much time into these posts. And I would love to hear more like this about many of the flowers you grow! You are such a productive woman…i am amazed. thank you for your inspiration

    • Floret on

      Jennifer, that’s my biggest 2014 resolution, to fill the blog with loads and loads of flowery information. So you’re in luck!

  84. Nancy Cameron on

    Thank you Erin! I am so proud of you!
    I have never seen sweet peas like yours! I guess that is why I never put my heart into growing them. You are encouraging me to become a sweet pea lover and a better flower farmer.
    I tried once to buy Owl’s Acre Sweet Peas with no success but I will try again.

  85. Corina on

    Phew, I am sweating just reading this! You are putting an incredible amount of sweat, love, and skill into growing and spreading beauty, and sharing your knowledge with others to boot! The world is a more beautiful place because of you!!!

    • Floret on

      Ha, ha, yeah it’s sooooo much work to do it right! But totally pays off in the end.

      I really love how beauty is contagious. The more you openly share, the more there is : )

  86. Sara on

    Thank you so much for this post Erin! I will be starting out this year with just a field, no poly tunnel (what we call hoop houses in England) and was worried I would struggle to grow sweet peas in the open. You have given me the confidence to try :))

    • Floret on


      I didn’t get my tunnels until a few years in and had so many amazing crops. They are a luxury but definitely not a necessity.

  87. Adam Lemieux on

    Great series. Very informative, well written, and definitely inspiring. Thanks for sharing.

    Based on his foreword, I think Mr. Ball would be very proud. :)

    • Floret on

      Thanks Adam!

  88. Laurie on

    You should be receiving some serious good karma for generously sharing your growing tips! I am just starting out my own small flower farm, and I feel like I hit the Sweet Pea lottery!

    thank you!

  89. Amanda on

    I love these posts. I just grow flowers and vegetables in the backyard for myself and family. I’m excited to give sweet peas a go this year.

  90. Kelly on

    Hi Erin! I noticed you prepped beds with both rock phosphate and bone meal. Are you using soft rock or hard and do you use this combo on most of your beds? I assumed you needed one or the other.


    • Floret on

      I use soft rock phosphate.
      The bone meal was a little bonus for the sweet peas since we were really after major root growth to support their massive vines. Normally it’s not in my standard mix.

  91. Shari on

    I am just a back-yard grower for myself and my family & friends, but these kinds of posts are wonderful. I have wonderful plans to grow amazing sweet peas this year. Thank you!

  92. Ariana on

    Great post Erin! I cannot wait to try my hand at growing some sweet peas once I have a little land! I wonder if the more regular summer rains up here would be consistent enough moisture. Maybe not, based on what your booklet says about consistency of moisture in the early stages of development.

    • Floret on


      It would be worth a shot indeed. They really do love moisture but maybe you get enough early on to sustain them?

  93. Margrit Schweighofer on

    You Save my dark winter days…. I have just ordernd my seeds and i am very very thankful for all your Info !

  94. Amy S. on

    Thanks for the great series. Glad to know all your research has paid off and grateful that you are sharing the knowledge with us now!

  95. Alexandra Jusino on

    Wow, I can’t even thank you enough for explaining all of this. I got some serious work ahead of me but you explained all my questions. I will let you know how it goes. The tulips never made it into the ground in October (and with a foot of snow on the ground… its not happening), so I guess it’s sweet peas time for me.

    You mention in the post to get your soil checked with your local Agricultural extension…. do you have any idea were would I find mine in the middle of suburban Chicago?!

    Last question…. do you get new seeds every year or do you get seeds from the plants you just harvested?

  96. Sarah on

    Just want to say Thank You! for sharing all this awesome info. and years of trial/error and success. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your generosity. Happy New Year!

    • Floret on

      I’m thrilled that it’s helpful. Happy New Year to you!

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