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LATHYRUS odoratus

Image of Lathyrus odoratus

Gerald L. Klingaman

Family

Fabaceae

Botanical Name

LATHYRUS odoratus

Plant Common Name

Sweetpea

General Description

The sweet pea is an old favorite annual vine prized for the color and fragrance of its flowers. The blooms of this Mediterranean native have three distinctive parts: a large broad upper petal (banner), two smaller central petals (wings), and a large protruding central petal (keel). All sweet peas on the market are heavily bred and cultivated and come in all colors except true yellow. Doubles and those with ruffled petals are also available. The fruit is a flattened pea pod.

This easy to grow vine climbs by curled green tendrils. If left unsupported it will become a tangled shrubby mass of foliage, so it is best trained on a fence or trellis. This method will yield a wealth of flowers for cutting. Sweet pea bouquets are long-lasting, colorful and offer a delightful perfume that will fill a whole room.

Sweet peas grow best where climates are cool and mild. For best growth and prolonged flowering, they need full sun, rich soil amended with compost and steady moisture. In northern regions, they bloom in spring and early summer. Where summers are hot, start the seeds indoors in late winter and set the young plants in the garden as early in spring as possible. Where winters are mild, start the plants in fall.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    8 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    9 - 10

  • Sunset Zone

    A1, A2, A3, H1, H2, 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Annual

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun

  • Height

    6'-8' / 1.8m - 2.4m

  • Bloom Time

    Indeterminate

  • Native To

    Mediterranean

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Vining/Climbing

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    White, Red, Blue, Purple, Pink, Rose, Salmon, Coral, Lavender, Blue Violet

  • Flower Color Modifier

    Bicolor

  • Fruit Color

    Green, Tan

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Sea Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Sea Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Sea Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green, Sea Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    Yes

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Container, Cutflower, Mixed Border, Vine

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes