Sweet Peas: Should You Choose Annual Or Perennial Sweet Peas?

Sweet peas are fantastic plants which have been popular with gardeners across the world for so many years, and it’s not difficult to see why.

These gorgeous blooms are climbers. Loved by cut flower gardeners everywhere, sweet peas repeat flower during the season, often needing you to cut more flowers every single day to prolong the blooming period.

There are over 40 species to choose from which have received the AGM from the Royal Horticultural Society, which will give you some idea of how admired these plants are.

Sweet peas are fantastically fragrant plants, which will adorn any vertical surface with a treasure trove of colorful blooms, and there’s a wide variety to pick from.

But there’s only one question when it comes to growing sweet peas: annual or perennial?

Why You Should Grow Sweet Peas In Your Garden

Sweet peas look perfect in any garden, bringing lots of height and color, the plants themselves climbing quickly up vertical surfaces without becoming invasive.

Thanks to the tendrils that these plants form, you won’t need to tie them in as they’ll handle that.

You can grow other plants between them with no problems. One thing that is advisable, however, is that you leave some room to be able to cut the flowers.

Cutting sweet pea flowers stops them from going to seed, vastly prolonging the flowering season, and encouraging more flowers to form, which these plants will do in abundance.

And besides the occasional watering, this is the only maintenance you need to do for them. That’s not a hard ask for such a fantastic display.

But what’s the difference between the plants, besides longevity?

Should You Grow Annual Or Perennial Sweet Peas?

As you might guess, annual sweet peas only last for a single season, and in this time they can reach an impressive 6 feet tall if you give them enough support to clamber on.

Their scientific name is Lathyrus odoratus, which hints to one of the best traits of the annual species. Odoratus refers to scent, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a plant as sweetly perfumed as the sweet pea.

Unfortunately, the perennial version of the sweet pea is completely unscented. Its scientific name is Lathyrus latifolius, also known as the perennial pea, or the everlasting sweet pea.

What it lacks in perfume it makes up for in its vigorous growth habit, able to spread gradually through its tap root as well as self-seeding every year.

It can handle frost without a problem, making it a good choice for places that get freezing temperatures over winter, and for those who don’t want to re-sow seeds every year.

So, essentially, you’ll have to weigh up the options of having gorgeous blooms that come back every year, but are unscented, or, dramatic displays of color and fragrance, which you need to replant every spring.

Final Thoughts

If you find you’re struggling to pick what variety, or even whether you should go for an annual or perennial type, it’s worth growing both.

Gardening, after all, is an experiment. It’s not just about finding new ways to make plants thrive, but it’s also a discovery into you and your garden, what grows well in your area, and what you like the most.

This is something that you’ll only find out if you try.

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