Sowing and Saving Sweet Pea Seed

Whoah! I just realised there’s a lot of ‘S’s in that title – but anyway…

Today, I sowed my Sweet Peas. I planted them at the same time last year and they seemed to do very well. I’m planting three varieties, Blue Ripple, High Scent and Rose Pearl, with a fourth pot of mixed saved seed from last year.

Some people will swear by RootTrainers for Sweet Peas, but, although I think RootTrainers are a good idea, I’ve never used them for Sweet Peas and mine have always germinated and flowered fine. I also don’t soak the seed. Again, I’ve had no problem with germination in the past – of course that’s not to say I won’t be smited by the seed Gods this year.

I thought I would plant my saved seed in a separate pot as a sort of mini germination experiment to see if the saved seed was as viable as the bought seed. I’ll let you know how that goes.

I’m hoping the saved seed does do well because it was so easy to collect that it could save me a small fortune in seed costs during these crunchy times.

Here’s how I did it. Once your Sweet Peas are nearing the end of their flowering life, all you need to do is to let some of them run to seed. Don’t do this at the beginning of the season because, just like edible Peas, once they have set seed the plants will stop flowering.

The seed pods will start to swell. Leave them on the plant for as long as possible, or until the weather turns rainy. Then cut the pod, leaving a bit of stem, and hang them in a cool, dry place. A month or so later, pop the seeds, label and store them in a cool place in an airtight container.

My Sweet Peas normally live life alongside my Runner Beans. I have a teepee that I grow my Beans on and the Sweet Peas make a lovely sight, just twining themselves around the beanpoles, attracting bees, smelling gorgeous and just begging to be picked.

Whoohoo! summer is coming, guys. Get ready!

Oh and by the way, here are some other Jobs for March, that I’ll be getting on with quite soon.

17 Comments on “Sowing and Saving Sweet Pea Seed

  1. I’m SO ready for spring:)

    Do you leave the sweet peas in those pots or transplant them?
    … thanks for the inspiration

  2. Hi Dinny,

    I will transplant them to their final growing position once they are about three or four inches high. With Sweet Peas you can nip the centre leaves out to make them more bushy.

  3. I’m confused (I’m always confused!) I was wondering how you stop your sweet peas going to seed? You say only let them go to seed at the end of the season. With a runner bean for instance you keep picking pods, what do you do for sweet peas?

    Hope you can help!


    (PS, I got my 1st allotment plot 2 weeks ago, after 2.5years waiting – yay!)

  4. I sure love that blue ripple variety- where did you find the seeds? I think I will try saving mine this year too. I sow mine in either vermiculite or perlite in a big pot, say 10″. I’ve heard wonderful things about the root trainers too, but you have to cut cost somewhere :). This year I decided to pot them up instead of putting them directly in the ground. I’ll leave them in the greenhouse at night for a while and take them outside during the day for a week or so before planting them. Funny, I’ve never had much luck with direct sowing these- don’t know why. Probably all the rain we get in spring.

  5. Gemma.. you must keep picking the flowers to stop them going to seed.
    If you notice you have an outstanding flower towards the end of the season ( or in theory anytime) then you can let it go to seed. It is worth tying various colored string or something to the ones you let seed to enable you to identify the specimen once the flower has gone (and just the seed pod is left) so you know what specimen you are planting next time. You will surely not pick every flower and so sometimes as you do with your beans pick and discard green pods to encourage more flowers. Basically the more you pick the more nature tries to beat you by gifting you with more flowers. Good luck with the plot.

  6. Hi

    I am after some general advice please

    How do you sow your seeds, I have done my sweet peas on a windowsill but as always they have gone leggy.

    I have an unheated greenhouse and also some shelves on my garage windowsill, unheted but between 2 houses so not too cold

    Am i best to sow seeds on my windowsills and then move them to the greenhouse as soon as they are a couple of centimetres high
    Can i put the sweet peas I have into an unheated greenhouse now or is it too cold

    I am trying to grow everything from seed this year and it is my first year with my greenhouse, so I could do with some help

    I prefer to grow in pots and then plant out as our soil is heavy clay so not that easy to work for seed sowing, also if the birds don,t get them the mice or the cats will dig them up

    Would it be worth me heating the greenhouse and if so how much do you think this would cost me to run, credit crunch times and all that

    I think I might be being a bit ambitious looking at the amount of seed packets I have purchased over the last few months, its all those wonderful seed catalogues they keep sending me I can’t resist

    I am also planning to sow some flowers for a cutting garden and grow some perrenials, all this and looking after 2 children,3 cats,3 chickens,one husband and trying to do the admin for our company mmmmmmm me thinks I may be being a bit ambitious

    I could do with someone to say ok sharon today you need to do this and this is how you do it you know like a sort of gardening pa

    Any applicants??

    Regards Sharon

  7. I just thought of something else……..what should my purple sprouting broccoli look like t this point, I planted mine out with cloches in october/november.

    They still look very small so just wondered if that was ok or if they should be bigger by now

    This is my 2nd year of trying these no sucess last year at all, they grew they just never had any sprouts on them

    Any ideas


  8. Hi Sharon,
    You might find this link useful
    I usually sow my sweet peas much sooner than this (although this year I have been disorganised) and leave them outside in a sheltered position. I should think an unheated greenhouse would be ideal. They don’t mind the cold so much as the wet.

    Re: the purple sprouting…if the weather you’ve had is anything like ours I’d hang on in there and see what happens. The plants take a year to mature from sowing to harvesting. When they do, make sure you pick the purple bobbles off the florets.. If you leave them on the plant they will open into tiny flowers and the plant will not produce any more florets.
    Hope this helps.

  9. Hi Sharon,

    How do I sow my seeds?
    I sow them in potting compost and place them in the coldframe. Sweet Peas will germinate in early Spring so long as you keep them frost free. Giving plants maximum light will stop them going leggy.

    I would say don’t heat your greenhouse. Unless you’re growing some serious out of season crops (tomatoes in winter) then there’s no need.

    Cutting Garden?
    If you have limited time then use annuals like Cornflower, Calendula, Nigella, and Cosmos. All you do is sow them and forget them – no faffing needed. You could also plant some perennials like Tulips, Gladioli, Iris, Peonies and Dahlia. You can leave these in the ground year on year.

    I think you planted it out a little too late. It should have flowered and be cropping by now. You may get some florets, just a little later on in the year. Watch for it going to seed in the warmer weather though. This year, sow the seed mid to late Spring then plant out in final growing position once the plant is about 4 or 5 inches high. Protect from cabbage white butterfly and slugs and you should be harvesting tasty Broccoli in Jan/Feb next year.

    Hope that helps –

  10. Hi Gillian, Last year I sowed some saved sweet peas, and they were rubbish, until really late in the season, and then my dads went beserk with lots of foliage. Mine were still spindly with 2 flowers!!!

    After the FoGroBlo meet, I am on another seed saving year, and I will try again this year, and hope they are okay!

    p.s B&Q (boo hiss) have got 100 seedlings of sweetpeas for £3!! Nice and healthy too, and SUCH a bargain! I refuse though, and have sowed some seeds in toilet rolls! Cat x

  11. I am glad you said that about sprouting broccoli my mother in law keeps saying it is a summer crop but everything I have read says it is one of the first crops of the year (not in my garden unless they mean next year)

    I have some cornflower cosmos and calendula would you sow them straight in the garden or in pots inside

    I am also waiting for some gladioli (free ones from gardeners world)

    One question though, when you refer to keep things frost free, does a greenhouse or cold frame do that I have never ventured out there when it is frosty to take the temp inside

    Btw I love your garden and your website and basically your whole philopsophy on life keep it up (or I won’t have a clue what to do and when)

    Thanks for the help


  12. ooh I love sweatpea, this has made me think I must get some too. Although I put them in pots outside and the blackbirds went wild and stole a lot of them!

  13. I have just planted some saved sweet pea seeds – cuprani – which I love but these may have been from year before last so fingers crossed – have been successful with saved seed before usually things like nasturtiums although they don’t of course always come ‘true’ and this year am trying cerinthe spelling may have gone AWOL there. Have also had some luck with hardy geranium especially sanguiniums. My purple sprouting is just coming into its own and is delicious I grew it from nursery bought seedlings though not seed.

  14. Read with interest I have sown saved sweet pea seeds for a number of years and have always been successful as bought but last year my sweet peas never died back( the runners ) and I left them to see what would happen. Well what a wonderful and strong scented summer I have had, but curiously the only colour was a gorgeous pink, they are just beginning to finish

  15. I have started lots of veg seeds indoors also sweet peas and sunflowers and nasturtiums. Some carrot and spring onion seed sown several weeks ago in our heavy clay soil has only just started to come through. I bought some broad bean seedlings many weeks ago and planted them too early I guess but they survived the frosts here on the English South Coast
    and seem OK.
    I put the young seedlings of everything outside on fine days and bring into cold conservatory at night. I bought a few tiny tomato plants which I am fussing over and plan to grow runner beans as well later on. also small squash. The broccoli seedlings I planted outside dont look that happy so shall put the rest in peat pots or toilet roll tubes. Latter was a good tip. I have bought organic chicken pellets and liquid seaweed. Very helpful site.

  16. PLEASE HELP!!!!!

    My 7yr old son brought home a seed in a pot to grow as a school project. It turned out to be a sweetpea, but none of my family are green fingered. It is now about 20cm with two tiny leaves at the very top! After Googling them, it seems that it is considered “leggy”. Is there anything we can do to help it, as he has to take it back to school in 4 weeks to sell at the school fair. I really don’t want him to get told off for killing it!!!!!!