Ask a Question forum: Cold tolerance of sweet peas (Lathyrus odoratus)

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Name: Helen
State College Pennsylvania (Zone 6b)
habusaru
Mar 16, 2018 11:16 AM CST
Hi,

I have a new gardener question. I'm growing sweet peas in the USA for the first time and was wondering about the cold tolerance of seedlings. I'm in State College, PA zone 6b.

My sweet peas have germinated well and they now have about 2 sets of full leaves each (see attached). However, the light in my house isn't great and they're a little leggy. The forecast for the next week is about 35F/5C during the day and about 23-28F/-7to-3C at night and there's a little snow on the ground (Last frost date is ~April 20th). I also have a mini 2x1x6ft unheated greenhouse.

I would love your advice on when to plant them out. I know that in the UK sweet-peas overwinter well and can deal with the odd frost, but as this is the first year I have good germination, I don't want to kill my seedlings by accident. Do I plant them now? Put them outside in the greenhouse now? Wait a few more weeks? Am I caring too much? ;)

Separately, many of my other seeds say to plant "as soon as the ground can be worked". Does that mean now, or is it closer to last frost date? [We haven't had much rain or snow this year so everything is reasonably dry, but pretty cold. I can fork the soil, but the daffodils have only just started to sprout]

Many thanks
Helen


Thumb of 2018-03-16/habusaru/b3f018
Thumb of 2018-03-16/habusaru/2e8852

Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
Image
Philipwonel
Mar 16, 2018 7:09 PM CST
Yikes !!! Helen 😮 !!! Very, leggy !!!
I'm not sure if they'll make it ?
Give em as much lite as possible, outside in greenhouse, but !!! , introduce them slowly to direct sunlite.

You can winter sow everything. By, planting seeds now ! The seeds have there own built in clock ! They will sprout, when the time is right for them, to sprout !👍😀 You just, 😟 ! have to remember !!! ERR ?🤔??? Where you planted them.?🤔???😮😮😮 That's, the Scarry part.

Best, to ya 👍.
😎😎😎


Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.
Name: Helen
State College Pennsylvania (Zone 6b)
habusaru
Aug 13, 2018 11:34 AM CST
Hello,

Many months later - I want to post a happy update - the seedlings made it!

I gave them as much sunlight as possible (including a grow lamp for when it was frosty outside) and I've had a 7ft wall covered in sweet-pea flowers since June. They've just opened another wave of flowers, so hopefully I might keep them until September.

Thumb of 2018-08-13/habusaru/4fefcf
Thumb of 2018-08-13/habusaru/24bfef

So - many thanks for the advice and I'll definitely give winter sowing a go next year.
(As well as saying thanks, I wanted to post this result in case other new sweetpea gardeners who were discouraged about their own seedlings saw it. The seed varieties were "captain of the blues" from kitchen garden seeds, plus a few hardy varieties from Ace hardware)

[Last edited by habusaru - Aug 13, 2018 11:45 AM (+)]
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