Lathyrus odoratus 'Painted Lady'

Best sweet peas for scent

Discover five of the most intensely fragrant sweet pea varieties, in our feature.

Many sweet peas are fragrant, but certain cultivars have a particularly intense, rich perfume.


Traditionally, it’s the heirloom Grandiflora-type sweet peas that have been grown for fragrance, but don’t discount the Spencer and modern Grandiflora-types. Modern Grandifloras combine the scent of old Grandifloras with the large flowers and long stems of the Spencer-types.

To ensure a continual supply of blooms throughout summer, it’s important that you keep deadheading them and ensure the soil stays moist. Adding plenty of well-rotted manure or garden compost to the soil when planting will the soil retain moisture.

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Fill your garden with some of these fabulously fragrant sweet peas.

‘King Edward VII’

Lathyrus odoratus 'King Edward VII'
Lathyrus odoratus ‘King Edward VII’

This raspberry-coloured sweet pea is an old Grandiflora-type with relatively small but numerous flowers held on short stems, with a rich perfume. ‘King Edward VII’ is a robust variety in comparison with many other grandifloras.

Height x spread: 1.8m x 30cm.

‘Almost Black’

Lathyrus odoratus 'Almost Black'
Lathyrus odoratus ‘Almost Black’

A modern Grandiflora, ‘Almost Black’ has large, velvety purple flowers held on long stems – perfect for cutting. Intensely scented.

H x S: 2m x 30cm.

‘Painted Lady’

Lathyrus odoratus 'Painted Lady'
Lathyrus odoratus ‘Painted Lady’

‘Painted Lady’ is an heirloom Grandiflora sweet pea with beautifully fragrant, bi-coloured flowers. It’s one of the earliest varieties in flower, kicking off the display in May.

H x S: 2.5m x 30cm.

‘Noel Sutton’

Lathyrus odoratus 'Noel Sutton'
Lathyrus odoratus ‘Noel Sutton’

A gorgeous, cool-toned variety with watery purple flowers. As a Spencer-type sweet pea, ‘Noel Sutton’ has large, frilly blooms held on long, straight stems. Vigorous, producing lots of scented flowers.

H x S: 1.8m x 30cm.


Lathyrus odoratus 'Matucana'
Lathyrus odoratus ‘Matucana’

Said to be the most powerfully scented sweet pea available, ‘Matucana’ has small, but powerfully scented bi-coloured flowers. Not to be confused with the very similar (and equally fragrant) variety ‘Cupani’.


H x S: 2.5m x 30cm.

Fancy a change?

Much underrated, perennial sweet peas like Lathyrus latifolius and Lathyrus rotundifolius are tough, easy-to-grow plants. Though they lack the scent of the annual types, they’re brilliant for pollinating insects and have colourful flowers that will return year after year. Try growing them through shrubs and trees.