Sweet peas (Lathryrus odoratus) are beautiful, highly fragrant old fashioned beauties! Timeless and elegant they are at home in cottage gardens and urban gardens alike, happy to grow in pots or in the ground these beautiful flowers adapt to most environments. It is also incredibly easy to harvest their seeds! Here is how I save money and Replicate last seasons blooms…
Sweet Pea Characteristics
Sweet Pea is an annual climbing plant that reaches heights of 1-2 metres, it is advisable to provide the plant with some form of support and structure to climb. Sweet Pea flowers come in many wonderful colours from vibrant pinks and purples to pastel tones. Strongly scented these flowers have long been a Staple in English Gardens. I certainly wouldn’t be without them in mine!
Best In Show!
Long before you harvest Sweet Pea seeds, decide on your favourite Sweet Pea plant with the blooms you admire the most. When the chosen plant is in full bloom, tie a ribbon to the stems you wish to save seeds from. This is just a marker of sorts to guide you to the right sweet pea pods.
Let them go to seed
Sweet Pea seed Pods don’t begin to form until the flower attached dies. The faded flower has to remain on the plant to trigger the pod formation…so don’t deadhead your chosen Plant, allow nature to take over. With the rest of your Sweet Pea Plants DO keep on top of the deadheading for repeat flowering.
It’s Important to note that only Seeds saved from Sweet Pea heirloom varieties will reproduce true to type. With Modern hybrid cultivars you may find the flowers produced, revert to one of the Original plants used in the production of the Hybrid…I wouldn’t necessarily consider that a bad thing! I quite like the idea of a Lucky Dip Sweetpea!
When To Harvest Sweet Pea seeds
The first good sign of healthy seed pods are when they begin to get lovely and fat! The fatter the pod the better- a good indication of healthy seeds within. I harvest Sweet Pea Seeds in two ways…
- The first way is to allow the Seed pods to mature and turn brown on the plant, once they have a brittle crisp texture, pull them from the plant, lay them out on Newspaper and allow the pods to dry out for a few days. When you harvest the seeds, they should be round, dark in colour and hard. If they are green they are not ready to be harvested, see below
- The Second Way and my preferred method is to harvest the fattest Sweet Pea seed pods when they are partly brown. Cut the pods from the plant, leaving some stem attached, then place the Harvested pods in a pot and place in a dry environment so the pods can dry out and brown completely. To remove the seeds, open the pods and collect the seeds within. Why do I do it this way? Mainly because I tend to forget to harvest! I leave the pods on the plant and more often than not, they split and disperse their seeds. This way I can Harvest the seeds at my leisure and not when the plant dictates.
Sweet Pea Seed Harvest Video
Need a visual? Here you go…
Saved Sweet Pea seeds Germination
Below are this years Sweet Pea sowings from last years saved seeds. You can see, I have had no problems with germination. A healthy batch of Sweet Peas to look forward to! I would actually say my germination rates are much higher with saved Sweet Pea seeds than with Shop Bought.
How To Store Sweet Pea Seeds
Store Sweet Pea seeds In a cool Dark Environment. Pop them in a labelled envelope or Jar and Use within 2-3 years for best germination rates.
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*Sweet peas are not edible, both flowers and seeds are toxic and should not be eaten! Sweet peas are mildly poisonous and contain lathyrogens, if ingested in very large quantities it can cause a condition called Lathyrus. Symptoms of Lathyrus are paralysis, labored breathing, and convulsions. Please bear this in mind when growing Sweet Pea in your garden.