Plant Sweet Peas In Fall For Spring Flowers

Thomas J. Koske, Claesgens, Mark A.  |  10/26/2006 8:35:51 PM

News You Can Use Distributed 10/26/06

Fall is the time to plant sweat peas to enjoy colorful and delightfully scented cut flowers in spring, according to LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dr. Allen Owings.

"Sweet peas are a wonderful addition to any landscape or vegetable garden," the horticulturist says. They bloom in early spring and provide color when winter annuals are fading and warm-season annuals are just getting started.

"Although sweet peas grow three to four months before blooming, the resulting flowers are well worth the wait," Owings adds.

If you planted sweet pea seeds in your garden in October, apply a slow-release fertilizer when three to four true leaves are visible. If you have container plants, November is the time for transplanting. Space them at least 6 inches apart. Apply a slow-release fertilizer. Too much fertilizer will delay or reduce flowering.

Sweet peas are vines, so the plants need support or a structure to grow on. "The possibilities are endless," Owing says, "but time-tested structures include a chain link fence, trellis netting strung vertically between posts or just a regular trellis." The structure should be installed before or directly after planting.

Depending on the variety, sweet pea plants can range from 1 foot to 8 feet tall, but most rang from 4 feet to 6 feet tall.

Plants should begin flowering in late winter or early spring, depending on the variety. Flowers should be cut regularly or spent flowers should be deadheaded to maximize the number of flowers and to lengthen the flowering period. You should be able to enjoy sweet pea flowers for at least two months, possibly longer, depending on cultural practices and the weather.

Occasionally, insects can become a problem in sweet pea plantings. Heavy infestations of aphids can occur in early spring, and spider mites can be a problem if weather is dry in late winter and early spring. To prevent insect problems, Owings recommends inspecting the plants once a week and spraying with an insecticide labeled for ornamentals if a problem develops.

For related gardening and landscape information, click on the Lawn and Garden link at the LSU AgCenter Web site, www.lsuagcenter.com. Also, contact the county agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.

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On the Internet: LSU AgCenter: www.lsuagcenter.com
On the Internet: www.louisianalawnandgarden.org
Contact: Allen D. Owings (225) 578-2222 or aowings@agcenter.lsu.edu
Editor: Mark Claesgens (225) 578-2939 or mclaesgens@agcenter.lsu.edu

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