If you sowed sweet peas in pots for overwintering last autumn then by now you should have some nice, sturdy seedlings.
However, there’s still loads of time to sow sweet peas if you haven’t already done so, so don’t panic! You’ve got at least until the end of March, even early April, to sow them. Check out our friend’s at Mr Fothergill’s for an extensive seed range of the nation’s favourite flower. If you need some advice on how to sow sweet peas indoors then check out our previous blog on how to do just that.
But, if you have some seedlings ready to pot on this spring, then here’s Martin’s masterclass on how to do it. You can watch the Pots & Trowels video below, or keep reading for all the tips, tricks and equipment you need to pot perfect sweet peas.
How to pot on sweet pea seedlings
What you’ll need:
- Your sweet pea seedlings
- Multi-purpose compost
- Small sticks or shrub cuttings
Now that you’ve got your strong little sweet pea seedlings, you need to pot them on into individual pots. If you leave them growing altogether in their original pots, they’ll to be too tall and leggy once they’re ready to be planted out in the garden later down the line.
Knock the seedlings out of their original pot, where hopefully you should already be able to see a healthy root system – well established roots should be nice and white, and long with newer roots developing. The seedlings need breaking up into individual plants, so you’ve got to break them up.
Give them a couple of taps on a bench, and then it’s a case of getting your fingers in and just teasing them out. You will break the odd root but that’s okay as they recover quickly. Don’t worry too much if the odd seedling is smaller than the other ones, too.
You should have ideally pinched out the growing tip of your sweet peas back in the autumn, so you should already be able to see some side shoots, meaning that when you get your seedlings in a bit of fresh compost they’re going to make really strong plants.
Get your pot, take one of your now separated seedlings and hold it in the centre of the pot roughly in the position you want, deeper rather than shallow. Fill the pot with your multi-purpose compost, give the pot a bit of a shake to filter some of the compost around, and then use your fingers to give it a very light firming just to hold seedling in the centre. Repeat the process with each of your seedlings, give each pot a water to settle the roots, and remember to label your new pots so that you don’t lose track of which variety is which.
Another good idea is to take some loose sticks from the garden or some prunings from a shrub and pop them in to provide your growing seedlings with some support that will stop them flopping about and help them grow upright as they get taller.
Continue to keep your seedlings indoors – whether that’s on a windowsill or in an unheated greenhouse – for about a month or so or until late April/early May time, before moving the pots outside to help them acclimatise to the outdoor conditions. This process is called hardening off. By then you should have really strong bushy plants, each one with a pot filled with roots. The bigger the root system, the stronger the plant will be, and the more flowers you will get – at the end of the day that’s what it’s all about!
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