Plants - Annuals

These easy-to-grow annuals are known for their sweet scent and rainbow coloured blooms.

There are hundreds of sweet pea cultivars capable of satisfying every taste, from dwarf plants for containers to the tall flamboyant Spencers; all are easy to grow from seed, and all are lovely.

Most "blue" sweet peas are actually various shades of violet and purple, Getty Images.

Care checklist
  • Site plants in a full sun to part-shade location in well-drained garden loam that has been enriched with organic matter; mulch well.
  • Provide support for climbing types (stakes and netting, wigwams or pea sticks); keep plants well watered during dry spells.
  • Never allow plants to set seed or they’ll stop flowering; cut blooms for vases every few days and deadhead assiduously.
  • Aphids or mildew may be a problem in some seasons; treat with organic control methods.

Flecked and bicolored flowers are always popular with gardeners, Getty Images.

Savour their scent

It wasn’t until 2001 that researchers at the University of Stirling (Scotland) discovered that six major chemical constituents give sweet peas their unique scent. Individually these chemicals are present in other flowers, but sweet peas are the only plants that pack them all into one intoxicating bloom.

Also present in: Damask rose

Chemical: Geraniol
Also present in: Rose, pelargonium

Chemical: Linalool
Also present in: Jasmine, lavender

Chemical: Nerol
Also present in: Magnolia, orange

Chemical: Ocimene
Also present in: Basil, marigold

Chemical: Phenylacetaldehyde
Also present in: Canola, buckwheat

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