Lathyrus odoratus. Grow some history! These most unusual Italian heirloom sweet peas are bi-coloured violet and deep maroon. Matucana sweet pea seeds are thought to be one of the first sweet peas to be introduced to Britain in 1700 by a Sicilian Monk, Franciscus Cupani. Matucana sweet peas have an intoxicating scent and smaller flowers than many modern varieties that bloom over a long period in summer. Provide some support for this rampant climber and it will reward you with stunning beauty and fragrance. And be sure to pick off spent flowers before they form seed pods. This will keep the plants blooming longer. Matucana is one of our staff favourites.
How to Grow Sweet Peas
Sweet peas (Lathyrus odoratus) are an annual climbing plant which can grow to heights of 1–2 meters (six feet). Try to plant in areas with support available. The leaves twine around supporting plants and structures helping the sweet pea to climb. The flowers range with a variety of colours, in the many cultivars. They are are a flowering plant in the genus Lathyrus in the family Fabaceae (legumes), native to Sicily, southern Italy and the Aegean Islands. Annual flowers that are an unmistakable sign of early summer. It is easy to Grow sweet peas.
Lathyrus odoratus and others
Season & Zone
Exposure: Full sun
Sow indoors 6-8 weeks before the last average frost date for your area. On the coast this would mean sowing in the first half of February. Or direct sow outdoors in early spring, while the soil is still cool and light frost is still possible. Plants are strongest from an early, indoor sowing. Sweet peas can also be direct sown in the fall wherever winters are mild.
Sow seeds 1cm (½”) deep. If starting indoors, chip seeds or soak them in warm water for 24 hours. Use a seed inoculant for the best results. Maintain a soil temperature of 12-18°C (55-65°F). Seeds should germinate in 10-20 days.
For best results, prepare the sweet pea bed the previous fall. Cultivate the soil to 45cm (18″) deep, incorporating a generous amount of finished compost. Also dig in bone meal. At transplant time, dig ¼ cup complete organic fertilizer into the soil beneath each plant. Space vines at 15cm (6″) and provide trellis support. Mulch around plants to keep the soil as cool as possible, and water during dry weather. Keep plants picked to prolong the blooming period.
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