Appearance
Perennial sweetpea is a lovely, old-fashioned flower—one that grandmother might have grown. The keeled pea blossoms, ranging from a blushed white to a deep rose pink, form a clump atop long stems. Lanky vines sport sparse foliage, but plenty of coiling tendrils with which they cling to any support. Bloom will continue from now until early fall if spent flowers are removed. If left to mature, the round, spiral pods will suddenly twist open, flinging their seeds several feet into the air, and sowing plenty of new vines in your garden.

Cultivation
While the more familiar annual sweet peas don’t do well with Colorado’s wild weather gyrations, this perennial form thrives here. The plants are long-lived, growing six feet long by the end of summer and then dying back to the roots in winter. They cling with tendrils, so some supportive netting is helpful.

Difficult to find as plants in nurseries, perennial pea is easily started from seed. Soak the seeds overnight to hasten germination and then plant in average garden soil in full sun to part shade. Go light on the watering.

Landscape Use
With their cottage garden appeal, the vines combine well with clematis and roses, or you can grow them on a fence. They are also suitable as cut flowers. The only drawback is that the blossoms lack the wonderful fragrance of the annual sweet peas.

Article and photos by Leslie Holzmann, Certified Colorado Gardener.

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