Picking the sweetest sweet peas

The sweet peas are looking fantastic right now on the Trials Field at RHS Wisley - their scent is intoxicating

RHS Wisley's Ian Tocher attending his sweet peasWe are currently making sure they look good for our Sweet Pea Open Day on Friday 20 June. As they grow, we tie them into the wire cages and regularly deadhead them so they keep producing new flowers.

The open day is a unique opportunity to observe experts from the Sweet Pea Advisory Group assessing the sweet peas trials for the RHS Award of Garden Merit. You will also be able to get their sweet pea growing tips and advice and view cut flower displays in the Hillside Events Centre, including some from the National Collection.

In our trial this year, there are 54 varieties of bush sweet peas (made up of six plants per bush), which grow up wire cages, four intermediate (half-size) bushes that we have supported with traditional birch ‘pea sticks’, and nine dwarf varieties, including some in containers and hanging baskets. The experts will assess the plants for impact, colour, vigour and flowering (this includes not just the quality of flower, but also coverage of blooms over the plant and the duration of flowering).

Wisley sweet peasThe trial includes two rows of cordon sweet peas, which are grown to show this horticultural practice. Our cordons are double-stemmed plants, with each stem grown up an eight foot cane. We tie the stems in as they grow and remove the tendrils and side-shoots to concentrate the energy into producing larger, high quality blooms that are particularly good for exhibiting.

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.