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Sweet peas pinching - help needed

celcius_kkwcelcius_kkw Posts: 752
edited March 2020 in Plants
Hi everyone 

I am growing sweet peas from seeds for the first time this year. The seeds I’ve sown two weeks ago in root trainers are growing well and most of them already have two sets of leaves.


I do have a couple of questions though:

1. the first pinch - some guide says do this when the plant is six inches tall, some say after it has two sets of leaves, some say three, or four... what’s the consensus here? 

2. I understand that pinching out the top of the shoot encourages bushier side growth.. if I would like to have LOTS of flowers, would it be advisable to pinch out the top of the side shoots that come out too? Would doing so encourage more side shoots from the side shoots? And if so would that cause the total amount of flowers to multiply? 

3. I am an obsessive gardener and I’m happy to spend as much time on my plants, apart from the pinching regime above is there anything else I should do to get as many flowers as possible in summer? I read about trimming the tendrils.. anything else?

4. lastly, I intend to grow most of my sweet peas as a trailing plant - instead of tying them up a support I intend to just let them flop and trail over my hanging planter and over the edge of my large pots that contain my climbing roses (the pot is 25x25 inches so plenty of space). It’s hard to find much information of growing sweet peas in a trailing form.. 



  • BenCottoBenCotto Posts: 4,678
    edited March 2020
    I am no expert but I would wait for another week before pinching them out. My concern is that the seedlings are already looking leggy. Can you move them to a brighter but cooler spot? Cooler temperatures should encourage more basal shots.

    I would not bother with a double pinching. They’re floriferous enough anyway and you would get an imbalance between the quantity of blooms and their quality. The bloom time would also be a little delayed.

    I have never been convinced that tendril removing makes for bigger blooms but it does stop the flower stalks from being pulled so you get better, straighter flower stalks.

    I think you’re not finding much information on trailing plants because it’s not a good idea. They want to grow upwards. Let them trail and it could end up with a bit of a tangled mess and not a tumbling display you might achieve with plants bred to trail.
    Rutland, England
  • celcius_kkwcelcius_kkw Posts: 752
    edited March 2020
    I @BenCotto Thanks for your advice. I left these sweet peas in the dark to germinate and perhaps a bit too long which may have resulted in the legginess.. but of the three varieties that I’d sown one of them seemed particularly slow in germinating so that’s the reason I left it in the dark a bit longer - perhaps to slight detriment to the other two that germinated significantly quicker.

    The window sill where I’ve placed them now gets the beautiful morning sun for about 6 hours right through noon.. I live in an apartment so my only other alternative is my main terrace that gets the afternoon/evening sun, but then I think it’s a bit too early to take them outside. 

     Regarding the trailing idea.. I think I will grow half of them up the trellis where I have my climbing rose and the other half to trail as an experiment. I did email Sarah Haven and about the feasibility of this and they seemed positive about it.. I guess time will try and a bit of experiment is rather fun too :)
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,762
    edited March 2020
    Yes - they've germinated too quickly, in the heat, so they've become etiolated. 
    You can plant them deeper when you get them planted outside. Pinching out means a bushier plant, so you can do that once they have a few more leaves, and then gradually get them outdoors. 

    I have done the trailing thing with standard sweet peas. As long as you give them enough sustenance, it does work. Someone else asked about it recently, and I posted a photo. I'll see if I can find it, or the photo  :)

    I've just realised it was yourself who asked. The container has to have enough sustenance to support them in terms of food and water. That's the most important thing.
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • celcius_kkwcelcius_kkw Posts: 752
    @Fairygirl Yes I do remember you replying to my previous thread about trailing sweet peas ;) I do not mind feeding and watering them regularly as I quite enjoy it really. 

    I left these to germinate in an unused (and unheated) bedroom - as I don’t have a greenhouse or garage.. 

    so now that they have germinated I take it I should leave them in the sun as much as possible right? 
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,762
    I'd put them outside a little bit if you can - weather permitting, but not in direct sun just now. Somewhere sheltered - against a wall or similar. Do it for an hour or two initially, and gradually increase it, but bringing them in at night. 

    They're very susceptible to weather damage and cold just now, so avoid extremes - ie very windy, wet and sunny, or very cold. They need a chance to get accustomed to that, and it's very early days for them.
    No need to rush things - it won't make them grow better, or quicker either!   :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • celcius_kkwcelcius_kkw Posts: 752
    I will do just that. Thank you :) 

    Also, given they’re all still in root trainers when would you say is a good time to transfer them to pots? I’m thinking of growing them in medium sized pots until they’re fully established and then finally transferring them to the large pot where I will eventually grow them..
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,762
    Keep them in the root trainers until they have roots showing out the bottom. You might then be able to  put them directly into your final pots.

    I don't sow until about now, or even in a couple of weeks time, and by the time they're a decent size, it's warm enough to put them straight into the big pots. I usually do about 3 in a 3 or 4 inch pot, and plant the whole pot.
    Everything is a bit later here, so doing them earlier is counter productive, as colder conditions mean they simply don't grow away. I did some in autumn, and although they're good, sturdy little plants, they'll just wait for a little while too. It's why I don't normally bother doing it  :)

    Because yours are further on, you might get away with just putting them straight into those final positions, but it will  largely depend on the weather and temperatures where you are. It's another one of those 'have to wait and see' situations. I doubt that it will be worth potting on again, but you could always do a wee experiment and try doing half a dozen or something, and see what happens  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • celcius_kkwcelcius_kkw Posts: 752
    Thank you for your advice. I may well just experiment a little like you said, and I do actually still have half of the seeds I bought from Sarah Haven.. I was thinking of saving them for next year but maybe I will just sow them as soon as I’ve transferred the current batch to their pots. 
  • REMF33REMF33 Posts: 728
    I hope it's ok to jump on this thread. My sweet peas were sown on the 17th March and mostly germinated by the 19th. They are getting a bit floppy. I have started pinching them out (will finish doing this tomorrow.) Some of the leaves are a bit curly. Is this normal? For the last few days until today, they have gone outside during day light hours. Might they have got too hot? I've not grown them from seed before.

    (Sorry about the horrid close ups of my hand....!)

    They are in biodegradable root trainers.
  • celcius_kkwcelcius_kkw Posts: 752
    @REMF33 mine are doing exactly the same too.. I have been tying them in actually.. I don’t think they’re meant to stand upright without a bit of help? 
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