Sweet Peas

yarrow2yarrow2 Posts: 701

Summary:  New to gardening (3 years).  Small garden so space very limited. 1st year - grew up one line of canes in front of border fence - grew to about 7ft, good weather that year, lots of blooms. 2nd Year - used 8' canes in a line (no room for any other type of support).  Peas grew to top of canes and wouldn't stop growing so the tops were hanging down.  Rained for weeks and weeks, hardly any blooms and were so high up not easily accessible and looked a mess.

This year, I have sweet peas planted in original position with a line of canes supporting mesh,  but also some planted around a small obelisk (5ft) and a few in a tub with a thin tall trellis behind the tub.

My question is - I would love my sweet peas to do their own thing, look natural (rather than straight up to the top of the canes).  I've never managed to get them to look that lovely bushy way they look in photographs with lots of blooms at eye level or lower.  Is it possible, once they've reached the top of the canes or obelisk, to just chop the highest point of the  main stem and stop them growing taller - or will this cut-off the bloom potential completely?

Sorry this is such an ignorant question.  Most people seem to be so experienced with sweet peas or find them easy.  I'd love mine for once to look more bushy and not so tall and slim.

The ones I have growing just now are Cupani, a Spencer mix and and an Old Fashioned Mix and probably some leftovers from last year of a Help for Heroes Mix .

Would love advice on this.  Thanks.


  • figratfigrat Posts: 1,619
    It is often recommended to pinch out the growing tips of sweet pea seedlings when they have developed three pairs of true leaves - this encourages them to develop a bushier multi stemmed habit. I can't see that it would be detrimental to pinch them out now, but there are some sweet pea gurus on this site who I'm sure will give advice as well.
  • yarrow2yarrow2 Posts: 701

    Hi figrat.  Thanks for that.  Yes I pinch them out before I harden them off and put them in the ground.  But - after I've planted them out each year, they grow up up up and bend over and down when they reach the top of the canes.   The last 2 years I pulled off the tendrils and sideshoots - which I imagine is why they just continued up and up.  The stalks were about 12" with about 7 buds on each stem.  They were lovely, but they all seem to bloom so high up.   I'd settle for shorter stalks and less buds if I knew how to make them look lovely and natural with blooms lower down.  I was thinking I should maybe just leave them to do their own thing and stop tying them into the canes once they reach a certain height so that they just wander in a more bush-like fashion on the cane/plastic mesh support.  Not sure if that affects getting as many blooms as you should expect though.  Planted them out couple of weeks ago.  Here's what they look like at the canes just now.  I'd like the ones on the little obelisk just to look like a bush but as it's a small obelisk I wondered how to stop them growing higher and higher and just be more bushy and messy looking - a straggle of colour if you will.



  • donutsmrsdonutsmrs Posts: 448

    I always pinch my sweetpeas out before they go outside. If you keep them well watered and fed they should do fine. I feed mine with tomatoe food and seem to get lots of flowers. Here is what I am growing mine up this year, hoping for a wall of colour. Good luck with yours and keep us posted on how they get on.



  • figratfigrat Posts: 1,619
    Hmmm. I think by removing the side shoots, last season you might have reduced the amount of flowering stems lower down. I'm still of a mind to suggest pinching out the growing tip when they've got to their optimal height, but leave side shoots to carry on. Another option ( too late for this season) would be to try a smaller variety, like Snoopea. I think David K is the sweet pea guru, I'm sure he will give definitive and explicit advice...
  • Alina WAlina W Posts: 1,445

    Cupani is a small sweet pea, only about 4-5', so you should have no trouble with that. For the others, I don't see why you took out the side shoots? That will give you bigger flowers, but fewer of them. If you want more flowers, keep the multiple stems.

    Height - they grow naturally to about 8'. If you take out the growing tip, that will slow them down, but they will still keep growing. Why not train them horizontally?

  • The vegetation on my sweet peas from last year is still green and healthy looking. Should I leave them and will they bloom again this summer?

  • sotongeoffsotongeoff Posts: 9,806
    Carole Bradley wrote (see)

    The vegetation on my sweet peas from last year is still green and healthy looking. Should I leave them and will they bloom again this summer?


    Odd- most people's have disappeared without trace.

    There is a dedicated sweet pea thread here -where a helpful chap called David answers questions-you might like to ask there?


  • Gill24Gill24 Posts: 1

    hello. I've grown sweet peas for the first time this year and they've just started to bloom. I know I need to cut/pick them to make them continue flowering but not sure where/how to cut/pick them. Can anyone help?? Thank you in advance image


  • ElusiveElusive Posts: 992

    Cut them as far down to the end of the flower stalk from the main stem if you want to put them in a vase. image

  • It is 19th october 2015 today and I still have sweet peas growing up trellis. They were put in raised boxes about 1ft high quite late due to the coldish spring/summer we have had. I put about 11 plants in from seed in an area of 7ft by approx 1ft (raised bed/box) and they have grown up to nearly 12 ft high. the flowers smell soooo gorgeous and this is the first time I have ever grown them. they are so bushy and are still growing all over the place. I haven't fed them at all and just used compost for the boxes.  Someone said to me that they will stop flowering if you leave the pods on, is this right as I don't think I will be able to find all of them. it would be disapointing if they do stop flowering.


  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 42,868

    Hi Steve and welcome image

    I use sweet peas as a cut flower, picking all the blooms and bringing them indoors where we can enjoy the scent.  That way none set seed and they keep blooming.

    They will stop blooming once each plant has set seed.

    Hope that's helpful image

    Gardening is cheaper than therapy, and you get tomatoes. 
  • plant pauperplant pauper Posts: 4,874

    I'm hoping to plant some sweet pea soon and I'm thinking of having a go at training them round an obelisk. It might not work and I might get fed up half way through but I know uncle used to do a thing with cordons where you could layer them around cane. That might be worth checking out as it would deal with the height problem without having to chop bits off. See what David thinks. He is indeed the Guru.

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 19,692

    Yes - you can train them round a support ppauper, but once they get going, you might find it tricky to keep up with them! The stems become quite brittle too, so trying to force one back into a support, even gently, can cause breakages.

    Better to just have a taller obelisk image


  • plant pauperplant pauper Posts: 4,874

    The ones I've ordered only grow to 5-6' . We'll see!image

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