Sweet peas

The origins and varieties of sweet peas

Sweet peas are called in botany with the name of Lathyrus odoratus, and belong to the Fabaceae family, or that of legumes. In fact, their name derives from the fact that they are a variety of peas, of the same kind as those eaten at the table. Only sweet peas are not eaten, but they are climbing flowering plants that serve purely ornamental purposes. They grow wild in southern Europe, and the earliest wild variety was developed into the many variants existing today by Henry Eckford, a Scottish nurseryman. Today, in the region where he lived and worked, an annual sweet pea fair is still held, and there is even a company under his name, the Sweet Pea Society of Wem. The varieties of sweet peas existing today are many: for example, the Barry Dare, the Painted Lady, or the Pink Panther.

The characteristics of sweet peas

Sweet peas are climbing plants, which, if left to grow freely, can reach up to two meters in height. They have light green leaves, with a terminal cirrus, which is what allows the plant to attach itself to the supports, and therefore to climb close to other plants, or to supports, such as railings or pergolas. The most characteristic part of the sweet pea, however, are the flowers, which in nature have a purple color and are not very large. Instead, in the varieties that have been created in greenhouses, there are many different colors, ranging from pale pink to bright pink, to fuchsia, and the size of the flowers are much larger. The corollas have the shape of butterflies, and come together in clusters. Plus, they smell great. The fruits are absolutely not edible, on the contrary, they are harmful to human health if ingested.

The cultivation of sweet peas

Given the enormous beauty of sweet pea flowers, having a plant in the garden or on the terrace is a real joy. The cultivation of these plants itself is not too complex, but they require constant care. To plant the sweet pea, you can buy the seeds, which must be soaked in water before being placed in the ground. Sowing must take place in autumn, so that the first flowers bloom in summer. You can put them first in a seedbed, using soil that is well fertilized and fertilized with phosphorus and potassium. When the first seedlings appear, they can be transplanted into the pot, or into the chosen corner of the garden, taking care to immediately provide them with a support on which to climb. The soil must be clayey or sandy, therefore draining, to avoid water stagnation.

Sweet peas: How to cure sweet peas

Sweet peas should be placed in a sunny and sheltered corner, although in reality they tolerate cold better than heat. So the ideal would be a place in partial shade. Watering must be constant, in summer at least once a day, while you can refrain from giving water to the plant during the vegetative period. There is no need to prune the plant, but only to trim it, or to remove the tips of the new leaves with your hands, and above all you must always take care to remove the withered flowers. Regarding the possible diseases that it could contract, attention must be paid to powdery mildew, which is a fungus that creates a white patina on the leaves. Also, the sweet pea it can be attacked by parasites such as aphids or ants, but also by beetles and butterfly caterpillars.

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