How To Pinch Sweet Peas For Fuller Plants

Multicolored Blooming Sweet Pea Plants
blooming sweet peas
(Image credit: Ian Murdoch)

Sweet peas have been cultivated since the early 1700s. By the 1880s, Henry Eckford began hybridizing the sweet scented blooms for more color variety. A natural mutation found in the gardens of the English Earl of Spencer, gave us the large flowering varieties of today.

Should I Pinch Sweet Peas?

When it comes to pinching out sweet peas, there are two schools of gardeners: those who claim pinching sweet peas back ruins the natural form of the plant and sacrifices the size of the bloom, and those who believe that to pinch sweet pea plants early in their growth adds beauty and fullness and the additional blooms make up for diminished size. It's all a matter of opinion. 

If you're a beginning gardener or just new to growing this lovely vine, you might want to experiment by pinching sweet peas in half your bed and allowing the rest to grow naturally.

How to Pinch Sweet Peas for Fuller Plants

Sweet pea seeds can be planted directly into deeply loosened soil as soon as the ground can be worked. Once the peas have sprouted to 3 to 4 inches (7.5 to 10 cm.) high, the seedlings should be thinned to 5 or 6 inches (12.5 to 15 cm.) apart. To pinch sweet pea plants, wait until they are 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20.5 cm.) high. 

Take the growing tip between your forefinger and thumbnail and snip the growing tip off using your nail as your blade. Pinching out sweet peas will force the plant hormones called auxins to move to the side or auxiliary tips. The auxins will produce growth and for new and stronger growing tips. 

Pinching out sweet peas will provide you with more blooms for cutting. It's one of the wonders of growing these delightful vines. The more blooms you cut, the more will grow, so don't be afraid of pinching out your sweet peas to enjoy the bouquets.

Jackie Rhoades

Jackie Rhoades began writing for Gardening Know How in 2010.