Growing Fragrant Sweet Pea Flowers In The Backyard Garden

Sweet pea flowers are indeed one of the delights of the summer garden.

There are several things you have to take note of when trying to grow this plant.

Early Planting

The first is that it will germinate and flower much better if planted early in the spring. In a USDA zone 4, we're talking the middle of April when the ground is still cool but not frozen. If you wait until May and warmer soils, you'll find the germination may be slightly higher but the flowering slightly lower.

sweet pea flowers

Sow seeds approximately one-half inch deep (not much deeper) and approximately 4-6 inches apart. You can space the plants a little further apart but this is not necessary.

Pick Variety

The second is that in order to get the delicious fragrance of this plant, you're going to have to pick your varieties carefully. Not all modern sweet pea flowers are fragrant! Look for the packaging, label, seed catalog description and if it doesn't say "fragrant"

Sweet pea flowers grow best when the nights are 45F and the days are 60F. So do not be afraid to plant them outdoors in early April as soon as you can reasonably work your soil. To get a headstart on the season, you can start them indoors in peat pots 3 weeks before you plant them outdoors. Plant two seeds to a peat pot or three seeds and thin out the weakest.

Planting Sweet Pea Flowers Outdoors

To plant outdoors, plant ½ to ¾ inch deep and approximately an inch apart. This plant does best in a rich soil but because of the uneven moisture does not grow well in sandier soils. It will grow acceptably well on clay soils.

The only major problem you're likely to see is a early infestation of aphids. Use a strong jet of water to knock them off the plants or spray with insecticidal soap – either will control aphids.


Sweet pea flowers really like full sunlight although they will grow in a part shade garden. The less sunlight you give them – the more spindly will be the vines and the flowers will come later in the season. So a little shade is fine but a few hours of shade will slow down the plant so it won't bloom at all.

Growing Care

Sweet pea flowers can be left to sprawl but I prefer to stake them upright. This way, the flowers are easier to find and harvest.

The absolute easiest way to stake them is to lay some old Christmas tree branches down on the ground right over top of the newly planted seeds.

The needles will have fallen off the branches so the seeds are not shaded. And the pile of branches provides a support for the vines to grow up.

In the fall, discard the branches and the dead vines.

Alternately, you can grow them as climbing vines up trellis or fencing.

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An Excellent Cut Flower

This plant makes an excellent cut flower and if the blooms are harvested in early morning as they are just opening, you'll get 5-7 days from each bloom.

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