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Lathyrus odoratus

Sweet pea

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Key information

Plant type

Hardy annual

Flower colour



Scented flowers



Skill level


photo by Jo Whitworth, copyright GAP Photos (176266)

Plant details

Sweet peas make up the backbone of the English cottage garden. There are dwarf sweet peas which grow into miniature hedges, and old-fashioned intensely fragrant kinds that fill the room with perfume. Lathyrus odoratus is thought to be the orginal sweet pea, and from this many of todays cultivars have developed. It is intensley perfumed with two-tone maroon and purple blooms. It can be trained as cordons on canes for high-quality blooms, or allowed to scramble freely to make a colourful screen. Plants need a cool moist root run, helped by mulching after planting, and regular watering in dry weather.

Family: Papilionaceae

Genus: Lathyrus

Species: odoratus

Plant type: Hardy annual

Flower colour: Purple

Foliage colour: Blue-green

Feature: Scented flowers

Sun exposure: Full sun, Partial shade

Soil: Well-drained/light, Clay/heavy, Acidic, Chalky/alkaline, Dry

Hardiness: Hardy

Skill level: Experienced

Height: 200cm

Spread: 50cm

Time to plant seeds: September to May

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