Sowing sweet pea seeds

David Hurrion demonstrates his easy method of sowing sweet peas in cellular trays or Rootrainers, which can be done in autumn or spring.

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
To do
To do

Do not To do in January

Do not To do in February

Do To do in March

Do To do in April

Do not To do in May

Do not To do in June

Do not To do in July

Do not To do in August

Do To do in September

Do To do in October

Do not To do in November

Do not To do in December

Growing sweet peas is one of the best ways to provide your garden with quick colour and fragrance. Sown in autumn or early spring, you can expect beautiful blooms by summer. Not only is the process simple and speedy, but you can also use this method for sowing ordinary garden peas.

Sowing sweet peas: transcript

These are best sown individually into their own cellular trays and I like to use these deep Rootrainers because, once you’ve filled them with compost, you’ve got a greater depth of compost for the roots to go down. Because the sweet peas, if you sow them in autumn or in early spring, because they’re going to be in these containers for
a long time, you want them to make lots of good, penetrative root growth. So, sweet peas and ordinary garden peas can be sown in exactly the same way.

So, once you’ve made up the Rootrainers and put them into the frame, you can then fill with some peat-free compost. So, just make sure that you fill right to the top, and overfill at this stage. And then use your hand to saw through the centre of the Rootrainers, then scrape it off so that you’ve got it level, finished – and start in the
middle and move to the side so that you don’t compress the compost at either end. And once you’ve got them filled like that, one, two, three taps and you’ve consolidated the compost ready for sowing.

So, get your sweet peas, empty them into your hand. Take individual seeds from the palm of your hand and put one into each of the units of the cellular trays. Once the plants have rooted, they can be taken out of this outer tray and then simply split apart to minimise the amount of root disturbance that happens to the sweet peas. With minimal root disturbance, the sweet peas will then grow away really quickly, establish in the open ground a lot more quickly and grow away and you’ll get much better plants in the end.

So, one seed in each of these individual squares. Use the excess compost, just to rub between your hands, and fill over the sweet pea seedlings. Now, the beauty of doing it like this, putting these sweet pea seeds on the surface of that compost, rather than pushing them into the compost, is that the seedlings won’t push
themselves out of the compost. You’ll get a much better, stronger seedling and they’ll grow away really well. So, just make sure you’ve covered them all up like that and just strike off the excess. Make sure it’s nice and level, clean up around the edges. Water those and then put them in a cool greenhouse or on a cool windowsill in a conservatory and they’ll germinate. And then if you do that in the autumn, they’ll germinate and come through the winter and then you can plant them out in the spring. If you do it in the spring then simply put them out as soon as they’ve germinated. Plant them out in about April. So that’s sweet peas.