The Q&A Archives: Sweetpeas

Question: I asked the nursery man for suggestions as I was not having luck in growing sweetpeas. They suggusted 3 seeds in an ice tray, fill with water and make ice, then plant in October. It is now February and we don't see anything. Please tell me when and how to plant sweetpeas. I wish to have my Kindergarten students plant them to climb on our chain link fence.

Answer: I've never heard of placing the seeds in the freezer prior to planting, so I'm not sure whether or not that was good advice. There are two types of sweetpeas; annual and perennial. Both kinds can be sown outdoors in late winter in your area, when the soil is still cool. Annual kinds can be sown two weeks before the last (predicted) frost. Perennial kinds can be sown outdoors in autumn, or in late winter. Both kinds of seeds will need to be chipped or soaked for 24 hours prior to sowing. Either of these treatments permits water to penetrate the outer seedcoat and begin the germination process.

I think I'd start with a new batch of seeds and chip the seedcoats or soak the seeds overnight. Plant 1/2" deep and water often enough to keep the soil moist but not soggy wet. Seeds germinate best in temperatures of 55F-65F. Seedlings should appear in 10-20 days for annuals and 20-30 days for perennials.

Hope your second try is successful!

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