Sweet Pea Problems: Reasons For Sweet Pea Flowers Falling Off

Pink Flowered Sweet Pea Plant
sweet pea buds
(Image credit: Nadezhda_Nesterova)

It’s a common problem with sweet peas. One day the plants are loaded with buds that should open at any time, and the next day the buds are dropping off. Find out what causes bud drop and what to do about it in this article.

What Causes Sweet Pea Bud Drop?

We all hate to see the sweet pea flowers falling off, but it’s even more distressing when the buds drop off before the flowers begin to bloom. Insect invasions and plant diseases don't cause sweet pea bud drop. It’s simply the result of the weather and environment. You can expect to see sweet peas dropping buds when night temperatures below 30 degrees Fahrenheit (-1 C.) follow a warm day. The next morning, buds fall off in a gentle breeze or at the slightest touch. The good news is that the plants can be saved, and the buds will regrow. To prevent a reoccurrence of bud drop next year, try delaying the planting date by about two weeks. When the buds begin to drop, clip them off at the base of the stems to give the plant a fresh start. You don’t need to do any additional cutting back, and it’s best not to fertilize at this time. Spraying the plants with icy cold water from a water hose might also cause bud drop. If you must water your sweet peas after a cold snap, lay the hose out in the sun to warm before spraying. Alternatively, use a watering can to apply moderately cool water. In most cases, you can simply wait until temperatures rise. You might be able to prevent some buds from dropping by holding off on the fertilizer until after the flowers are in full bloom. Although fertilizer is good for plants, it gives them added stress by pushing them to grow and form buds and flowers. By withholding fertilizer, you can prevent your plants from stressing out when they encounter adverse conditions.

Curbing Sweet Pea Problems

Here are some tips that might help to prevent further sweet pea problems:

  • Water seedlings and young plants regularly until they are fully established. A layer of mulch will help keep the soil evenly moist. Even moisture helps prevent many problems with sweet peas.
  • High nitrogen fertilizer results in lush foliage growth at the expense of the buds and flowers. Avoid nitrogen problems with sweet peas by using a tomato fertilizer instead. Lawn fertilizer has a high nitrogen content, so protect your sweet peas when you spread fertilizer over the lawn.
  • Sweet peas don’t produce new buds when there are old flowers or seedpods on the vines. Remove the faded flowers and seedpods.
  • Are you planning a short vacation? Pick off mature flowers and seedpods before you go. When you return, you can jump start you plants with tomato fertilizer and a good watering.
Jackie Carroll

Jackie Carroll has written over 500 articles for Gardening Know How on a wide range of topics.