sweet peas are highly fragrant

Sweet Peas - an old heirloom

Sweet peas (Lathyrus odoratus) are an heirloom flowering annual dating back to 1699, and fortunately, they have stood the test of time, bringing an abundance of fragrant flowers to gardens 319 years later!

The original seed was gathered by a Sicilian Monk called Father Francisco Cupani and featured a purple flower with sky blue wings.  A cultivar called ‘Painted Lady’ appeared on the English market in 1731 featuring pink and white flowers, and from there, its popularity grew.
In the late 1800s Henry Eckford took centre stage with his Grandiflora Sweet Peas, and is still known as the Father of Sweet Peas today.  More recently, NZ breeder Keith Hammett has taken centre-stage, curating and carefully selecting the best varieties for the domestic and international market. 

Tips on growing Sweet Peas


Sweet Peas like a sunny open spot in the garden. Seasonal watering is recommended as their roots need access to some soil moisture in the warmer weather.


Sweet Peas perform best in well draining soil, a rich and friable loam is ideal. Heavy clay or structure-less sandy soil can be made suitable by the addition of ample organic matter. As with all peas, Sweet Peas don't like an acid soil, so if you have a pH under 7 it would be a good idea to add some hydrated lime before sowing.


Sweet Peas can be sown indoors in trays for transplanting out or direct-sown in the ground. Our experience is that direct sowing works very well for the spring and summer sowings (provided the seeds are kept constantly moist until germinated) and indoor sowing will get the May sowing up quickly and increase the success rate. With all sowings, but particularly the cool season sowings, protecting the young seedlings from snails is vital.


Sweet Peas attach readily to any open structure that they can get their tendrils around, from simple wire fencing, to cane tepees and elaborate arbours and lattice work. It is important to set up any support before sowing or transplanting so as to avoid damaging the young seedlings as they establish. 


In order to ensure repeat and extended flowering it is very important to pick the flowers as they open. Regular picking prolongs the flowering season.

Sweet Pea Varieties

Browse the range

Exciting and whimsical, sweet peas are heavenly fragrant and offer beautiful vibrant colours, these statement flowers are a must for any garden! Browse our range of beautiful sweet peas today.

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Learn more about sweet peas

Learn more about these vibrant & robust beauties. From history, cultivation, pests and diseases as well as the benefits of growing sweet peas.

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How to grow Sweet peas

Tim Sansom explains how to provide the heavenly scent of Sweet Peas for 9 months of the year.

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How to sow sweet peas

How to sow seeds

New to seed sowing? although it may seem like a daunting prospect, growing from seed can be an exciting and rewarding experience. Download and follow our easy step by step guide to sowing and growing from seed.

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