Sweet Pea Guide: How to Grow & Care for “Lathyrus Odoratus”

Read our guide to Sweet Pea Flowers for everything you’ll ever need to know! Tips for planting & caring for "Lathyrus Odoratus"

Are you looking for a beautiful fragrant flower to grow in your garden? Look no further than Sweet Pea! Lathyrus Odoratus, commonly known as Sweet Pea, can be a lovely addition to any garden. It is one of the few annual flowers that have a long-lasting beauty and appeal. Besides that, it also has a beautiful and seductive fragrance that you’ll simply love to have in your outdoor space.

Sweet Pea is also perfect for picking and using in your floral arrangements and bouquets. You can grow it in pots or on the ground. You place your Sweet Peas near your sitting area so that you can smell them when relaxing in your outdoor space, and you’ll be very happy to have them around.

The best part of it all is that this fast-growing flower is very easy to care for and will reward your attention with season-long colour and a fascinating smell in your outdoor space.

Ready to learn more about how to grow and care for Sweet Pea? Keep reading below!

About Sweet Pea

  • Lathyrus Odoratus is an annual plant that belongs to the genus Lathyrus in the family Fabaceae. This flower is native to Sicily, southern Italy, and the Aegean Islands.
  • The botanical name of Sweet Pea is Lathyrus Odoratus.
  • These flowers are perfect for cottage gardens or gardens with an informal style. In fact, Sweet Peas are like a nostalgic reminder of the gardens our grandparents used to grow that didn’t have a particular style, but that made our childhoods so beautiful.
  • Sweet Peas work great in vegetable gardens as well, especially since they attract bees and other pollinators that help your other plants thrive.
  • Sweet Peas are sun-loving, and they prefer to grow in full sun. However, they can also adapt to partial shade. So, make sure that you choose a place in your garden where they get enough sunlight to thrive.
  • Lathyrus Odoratus prefer soil that is slightly alkaline with an ideal pH of 7.5. However, it is essential for the soil to allow good drainage to prevent root rot.
  • When it comes to its watering needs, Sweet Pea thrives if watered weekly. However, keep in mind that during the growing season, it prefers to be held in moist soil, so adjust the watering schedule to the growing conditions.
  • Due to their provenience from the Mediterranean area, they like moderately warm temperatures. They can handle a little bit of chill, but Sweet Peas are best planted after the risk of frost has passed entirely and the weather is warmer.
  • For optimal growth, these flowers require temperatures that are no warmer than 80 °F (26 °C) during the day and no colder than 45-50 °F (7-10°C) during the night.
  • There are only a few problems and pests associated with Sweet Peas. More specifically, Aphids, Thrips, and Leaf Miners can attack these flowers. Groundhogs and rabbits are also bad news for Sweet Peas because they might eat the seedlings.
  • Sweet Peas flowers are toxic to humans, pets, and livestock, unlike other types of plants from this genus. Poisoning with Sweet Peas can be recognized through symptoms like weakness, lethargy, breathing difficulty, and paralysis. If you suspect poisoning with Sweet Peas, call a medical specialist or your veterinarian immediately.
  • Pay attention to sweet pea seeds because they resemble edible sweet peas. However, they are toxic if ingested. So, make sure that if your kids are helping in the garden, they don’t put these seeds in their mouths.
Sweet pea flowers
Sweet pea flowers

Sweet Pea Features: An Overview

  • Sweet Pea flowers come in both bush and climbing types. Both of them are vines, but the bush types don’t grow as tall as the climbing types and can support themselves without the help of a trellis.
  • These annual flowers feature highly fragrant flowers on their winged stems clad with medium to dark green leaflets in pairs. The foliage of the plants is lanced-shaped and gives them a winged appearance.
  • The stems end in tendrils that help the climbing types to climb.
  • Sweet Peas can grow up to 6-8 feet tall.
  • In late winter to early summer, Sweet Peas go through their blooming phase producing flowers in various colours, including red, pink, blue, white, and lavender. The blooms of Sweet Pea flowers resemble fringed butterflies.

Growing Sweet Pea

Growing and caring for Sweet Peas is really easy. They can be grown by both novice and experienced gardeners. As long as you provide your Sweet Pea flowers with their ideal growing conditions, they will thrive and fill your outdoor space with vibrant colours and a seductive fragrance.

First of all, make sure that you grow them in full sun. However, if you live in a warmer climate where the full sun could cause sunburns to the plants, it’s best to keep them in a spot of your garden where they receive partial sun only. It’s particularly important to protect your Sweet Peas from sunlight in the heat of the afternoon. So, depending on the climate in your area, you should choose a place in your outdoor space where the plants get enough sunlight to thrive, but not too much.

In spring and early summer, during the growing season of Sweet Peas, it is best to help your flowers grow happy and healthy with some feeding. We recommend feeding your Sweet Peas monthly with a fertilizer that is high in potassium. For example, you can use a tomato fertilizer. Adding a little bit of blood meal to the soil is also a way to help the stems of the plant grow long and be sustainable enough for cutting.

Pruning is a joy rather than a responsibility when it comes to Sweet Peas. That’s because cutting flowers benefits both you and your plants. As your Sweet Peas start blooming, the more you cut the flowers to use them in your floral arrangements, the more blooms you will get. So, you can always bring some bouquets indoors without worrying that there will be some unattractive gaps in your garden. Also, keep in mind to deadhead the spent flowers because this will encourage continued blooming.

Sweet Pea Seeds Royal Mix, From Amazon

Planting Sweet Pea

When it comes to planting Sweet Peas, there are also a few essential things that you should consider, including the right time to plant seedlings, the best spot in your garden, and the preferred type of soil for these flowers to thrive.

First things first, you should plant your Sweet Pea seedlings outside after the last spring frost. It is essential for the ground to be warm to about 50°F (10°C), and it should also be dry. Prior to planting, it will help if you soak the seeds in warm water for 24 hours to soften the seed coat. Another way to help the seeds germinate prior to planting is to nick them with a file or a sharp knife. This will make it easier for the water to penetrate the seed, which is essential for germination.

Next, make sure that you choose the right spot to plant your future Sweet Peas. More precisely, be sure to select a location in your outdoor space where the plants will get enough sunlight to thrive.

In terms of soil preparation, you should work in a 2 inch (5 cm) layer of compost to ensure that the soil is fertile enough and provides good drainage.

If the temperatures and weather conditions in your area aren’t ideal for growing Sweet Peas outdoors, the good news is that you can also grow these flowers in pots. Just keep in mind the same light, soil, and water needs.

Watering Sweet Pea

Sweet Pea won’t need much of your attention when it comes to water needs. This flower rarely needs to be watered more than once a week. However, how often you need to water it will also depend on the climate in your area.

Sweep Peas don’t fancy hot weather, and when they do have to survive scorching temperatures, they prefer to have moist soil to help them out. So, during the summer months, make sure to water them regularly so that the soil is always slightly moist.

Avoid overwatering because it may lead to root rot. Root rot is a common problem among pea plants. A sign of root rot can be the colour yellow at the base of the plants and wither stems.

Another thing you should avoid is watering your flowers late in the day because this will make the plants prone to scorching.

Lathyrus Odoratus
Lathyrus Odoratus

Propagating Sweet Pea

There are two options to have more Sweet Peas in your outdoor space: propagating them via seeds or cuttings. Propagating these plants via seeds is explained in the planting section, so we’ll focus on propagating via cuttings.

To propagate your Sweet Peas via cuttings use a sharp pair of clean scissors to cut a 5-inch piece of the stem just above a pair of leaves. Next, place the cutting into liquid rooting hormone solution for just a few seconds, and then place it in water. Wait for the rooting system to make its appearance, and then you can plant your newest Sweet Pea in the ground.

In Conclusion

Sweet Peas are lovely plants to have around, both in your home and garden. These flowers make your garden pollinator-friendly, they smell absolutely amazing, and they fill your outdoor space with stunning colours. Plus, above all, they are incredibly easy to care for.

Miruna is an experienced content writer with a passion for gardening. She is the proud owner of an outdoor rose garden and an indoor collection of tiny succulents. She bought her first succulent 10 years ago - an adorable Echeveria Setosa. Now she owns more than 100 succulents and cacti of different colors, shapes, and sizes. Miruna is a versatile writer and, as you might have guessed, her favorite topic is gardening. Contact

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