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Planting out overwintered sweet peas

Hi all,
Something of a sweet pea beginner here - I grew them for the first time last season, when I started the seeds in early spring and planted out in April.
This season I started a batch in November, sowed in rootrainers and left in a cold frame. They've come on well, plants have been pinched at 4 inches and now look to be outgrowing their space (note - plants seem greener in real life than they do in the picture, they don't look yellow at all!):

I've been reading around for advice on when to plant out, and the advice online is conflicting to say the least! Quite a few places are recommending waiting until last frost, which for us is the end of April. I can't see these plants doing well in these pots until then, and want to avoid potting on if I can help it. I'd say that from the size of the plants, they are ready to go out (they went out smaller than this last year), but of course it is still January with the coldest weather (probably) still to come.
Any advice please? I am in West Sussex so fairly mild, but rural. We'll certainly be getting plenty of frosts before the season is out.

While I'm here - I also have some larkspur and ammi majus seedlings that have overwintered in the same cold frame. These are much smaller than the sweetpeas, so no real hurry I don't think. I assume these could just go out whenever? I did direct sow larkspur as well but not a single seed has come up..


  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 11,174
    I think you would normally plant out sweet peas around the middle of April as the other advice says. It's too risky to plant them earlier in my opinion. 
    For some reason l can't see the photo (but that could just be me), but l have grown sweet peas in root trainers in the past and not planted them out until then. If they've been pinched out and are bushy, they should be fine, you could pinch the tops again which would help.
    Can't advise re the larkspur and ammi major but l'm sure someone can  :)
  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 21,007
    I can't see the photos either. I would be inclined to leave them safely in the cold frames too. If there should be a cold spell they probably won't grow then anyway. I would leave the ammi and larkspur until spring as well. They are only babies.
    Dordogne and Norfolk. Clay in Dordogne, sandy in Norfolk.
  • Thanks for the replies. Weird that you can't see the pics, but I just and pasted into the post from Google pics, and I can see that it is linking back to my (private) Google account so that must explain it (I can still see them..) Anyway here are the sweetpeas again:

    As you can (hopefully!) see they are getting pretty big for the small root trainer cells, and I can't see them doing well for another 2-3 months in there. I did just find an article by Sarah Raven and she talks about potting on into 1 litre pots when they outgrow the root trainer, and planting out into final position in mid March, so I think I will go with this plan. Seems a little odd to me that there is so much advice around on sowing these before winter but so little concensus on what to do with them at this size.
  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 11,174
    I can see the photo  :)
    From that angle l can't make out the depth, the ones l used to use were around 6 inches deep (old school),  but a quick look around the web shows me that some are only 4 inches or so. I would suggest pinching them out again after you've repotted them, hopefully others can help when it comes to the pot size.
    My only other comment would be that mid March seems way too early to me, even in West Sussex. The Beast from the East springs to mind ☃️
    Good luck with them !
  • Thanks @AnniD. Yes, these are only about 4 inches deep so not huge. THe plants themselves are perhaps 8 inches if stretched upwards. I've ordered 1 litre pots and will pot on in the cold frame as Ms Raven advises. I guess I am confused with the whole "plant in autumn" thing, because the obvious consequence of that is that you have quite large plants by the end of winter. Still, they are somewhat hardy I guess and I think the advice that I have read online about waiting until the last frost is plain wrong - after all, my own plants have survived multiple frosts so far, albeit in a plastic cold frame. Whether they would survive another "Beast from the East" if they were planted out, however..
  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 21,007
    I think I would pinch them out a bit more.
    Dordogne and Norfolk. Clay in Dordogne, sandy in Norfolk.
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