Republished from my blog gardeningbytes.com.
I love the look of a cottage garden and grow many of these type of plants in my garden. Sweet peas are a frost-tolerant annual climber, they are fragrant with profuse blooms and are beautiful winding up structures, fences, bamboo tripods, trellis, or growing up through branches of tall shrubs much like clematis. Sweet peas can also be grown in the vegetable garden to attract bees and other pollinators. Dwarf variety sweet peas are ideal for planting in hanging containers. There is a perennial version of sweet peas that is not fragrant but will continue growing in your garden. Plant sweet pea seeds six weeks before the last frost date in your area early in the year. For hot summer climates plant seeds in the fall. For moderate climates planting seeds from October through April works well. Give sweet peas a longer growing time by pre-starting the seeds in areas with cold winters and hot summers.
Sweet peas like rich soil and a sunny location. You can help the sweet pea seeds sprout quicker by scraping the seeds with a metal nail file. Scrape a small section of the side of the seed, then soak the seeds for at least 4 hours or overnight. Plant in the ground directly or in a pot. I usually plant my sweet peas in a pot and let them grow six inches or more before planting into the ground under my metal obelisk structure. Snails love young sweet pea shoots, growing them a little taller gives the plants a better chance of surviving in the garden. When sweet peas have reached a height of 3 to 6 inches, pinch the seedlings at top to encourage strong side shoots. Plant sweet peas in rich garden soil and feed with liquid fertilizer, manure, or a time-released fertilizer. Keep the vines blooming by picking flowers often, towards the end of blooming season leave some flowers in place to harvest the sweet pea pods containing seeds. Allow the pea pods to dry completely and pick before they split to drop their seed. Sweet pea blooms can be limited by hot weather. Sweet peas bloom late spring into summer, in cooler climates sweet peas can bloom through fall.