The sweet pea (Lathyrus Odoratus) is a bloom that can’t be missed from the garden in the British Summertime (all 12 hours of it).
There are over 110 variants of the sweet pea family and more are bred as hybrids all the time. Heck, by the time of reading, there are probably closer to 120 or 130 of the best sweet pea blooms.
They’re a stunning and bright addition to any British garden throughout the Spring and Summer blooming months as (mainly) annual flowers. Despite all this, there are a few favourite types of sweet peas we have here at The Hobby Kraze including the classic Fire and Ice sweet pea and the Mumsie. So, we thought we’d reel off our top 35 (yes, we know that’s still a lot!).
Mostly native to Southern Italy and the Aegean Islands, the sweet pea is a growing plant that reaches an average of 1-2 meters (as long as you give it a little structural support when you become a sweet pea specialist). However, they were brought over to our great British gardens in the 19th Century by Henry Eckford who cross-bred the native plant into today’s vast varieties of sweet peas in the UK that bloom stunningly sweet smells.
Before we move on to bringing you our top 35 types of sweet peas, you should definitely consider cultivating. And there’s a quick tip you should know. Despite the name, the sweet pea plant is not related to the edible garden pea. In fact, the toxic sweet pea is not edible at all. Eating any part of the varieties of sweet peas in the UK will cause some trouble and discomfort.
Now that’s cleared up, we can move on to the top 50 most beautiful types of sweet peas you should grow. We’ll cover what they look like, where you can find them and – of course – how to grow sweet peas in a way that makes each variation gleam.
Air Warden Sweet Peas
Rule one of how to grow sweet peas: they do not like getting their feet (A.K.A roots) wet. And the Air Warden is no exception to the rule. However, the rainy British weather hasn’t stopped these varieties of sweet peas in the UK from climbing the nation’s trellises since 1942. As one of the most recognised types of bright red sweet peas, the team here at The Hobby Kraze believe this is the perfect pea to start your journey to become a sweet pea specialist.
Almost Black Sweet Peas
Rarely seen out in the wild or even in your neighbour’s garden, you are in for a treat when you do come across these types of sweet peas! The Almost Black sweet pea is possibly one of the most unusual out there. Adorned with blackcurrant-coloured blooms and an intense scent, it is a striking addition to any garden be it a cottage garden, walled garden or courtyard. Plus, if you want to know how to grow sweet peas of this variation, a hint is that they sow in Early spring and bloom between May and September.
America Sweet Peas
Recognised as one of the great heritage varieties of sweet peas in the UK, it has held a place deep in the nation’s heart since being introduced to British soil in 1985! The America sweet pea delivers a posy with crisp white flowers with a crimson red flake. In fact, they are quite the hardy grower with fast stems, so they really are some of the best sweet pea blooms around for a beginner to become a sweet pea specialist.
Apricot Sprite Sweet Peas
Also known as the Apricot Queen, the Apricot Sprite has a lot of bang for your buck. It makes for great learning petals in regards for how to grow sweet peas. They’re easy to grow with a pot of well fertilised soil, a sunny south facing wall and plenty of water (although, this makes it a rather unusual plant for the types of sweet peas!). You can sow these seeds outdoors in the spring so that, in the Summer, the Apricot Sprite erupts into colour with masses of apricot-salmon and pink bi-coloured flowers.
Blue Spangle Sweet Peas
The brilliant Blue Spangle is one of the Spencer varieties of sweet peas in the UK. They also go by the name of the Blue Velvet sweet pea and benefits from spending its first stages of life indoors. After being kept warm inside until the frost of spring has passed, they can then be planted outdoors and trained to climb trellises, canes, string structures and more. The Blue Spangle types of sweet peas relish the spotlight of the sun by celebrating the Summer days with velvety blooms, making them perfect for introducing colour to your flower boarders.
Burnished Bronze Sweet Peas
Unlike many other types of sweet peas, the Burnished Bronze types of sweet peas are a breed you can really throw anything at (well, not anything but you know what we mean). Being hardier than most, the Burnished Bronze is less prone to sun and water damage making them ideal for those learning how to grow sweet peas. After a little trial and error, your hard work and effort will be rewarded with the best sweet pea blooms carrying magnificent maroon petals!
Cheshire Blue Sweet Peas
A classic tale of the good old times, the Cheshire Blue sweet pea is one of the old-fashioned varieties of sweet peas in the UK. In fact, this sweet pea was one of the nation’s darlings and a firm favourite right up until the introduction of the Spencer varieties (which were introduced at the turn of the 19th century). While not many may bloom into posies anymore, these types of sweet peas were known for producing an abundance of heavily scented flowers.
Clotted Cream Sweet Peas
While your mouth might be watering at the thought of some clotted cream spread over a warmed scone at afternoon tea, we have to remind you that none of the varieties of sweet peas in the UK are edible. And, while they’re not something you’ll be spreading on your breakfast, the Clotted Cream sweet pea is more beautiful than you could imaging. When you become a sweet pea specialist, you’ll spot them a mile away with blooms filled with smooth and silky ruffles. Plus, with their honey-sweet scent, they’re of if the types of sweet peas guaranteed to bring the all-important pollinators to your garden.
Crimson Ripple Sweet Peas
A true queen of the sweet pea world, the Crimson Ripple is a key element in specialist show gardens and exhibitions. Standing up to 2 meters tall, they grow distinctive wavy blooms that feature crimson ripples against a stark cream petal. They also have one of the most luxurious scents around, so we can see why this sweet pea is often the showstopper! However, don’t let its status as one of the best sweet pea blooms put you off. This variety can be just as beautiful in your dining room vase or your cosy garden beds.
Cupani Sweet Peas
More and more green-thumbed botanists have become a sweet pea specialist by simply cross-cultivating the varieties of sweet peas in the UK to bring out new smells and vibrant colours. However, while this brings new marvel, we mustn’t forget the originals in the collection. One of which was brought to the UK by a Monk Brother named Cupani. Of course, being the namesake, the Cupani types of sweet peas can be traced all the way back to the end of the 16th century.
Cupid Pink Sweet Peas
In a world where apartment living and renting in small spaces is becoming the feasible norm, we understand not everyone has the luxury of access to rich garden grass and healthy soil. So, the team here at The Hobby Kraze wanted to make sure you were covered (if, of course, this is you). We cut out the middleman and did the research for you on how to grow sweet peas in the apartment conditions. With that, we discovered that the Cupid Pink was bred to grow to a maximum height of just 30 centimetres. This makes them the best sweet pea blooms for cultivating in pots and hangings baskets, that decorate your windowsill or patio.
Erewhon Sweet Peas
Times are a changing and so are our sweet peas! The creation of the Erewhon has paved the way for a new chapter in the horticultural history books. All because of how the coloured petals are arranged into the posy. Typical bi-colour types of sweet peas are known to have lighter coloured upper petals than their lower petals. However, the Erewhon types of sweet peas break tradition by having darker upper petals than its lower, making it the first of its kind and a true reverse bi-colour variety.
Ethel Grace Sweet Peas
When it comes to fulfilling the brief of vintage for your wedding, the best sweet pea blooms have to be the Ethel Grace. With a delicate mix of lavender and lilac on each wavy petal, it features long stems and a great scent. The Ethel Grace sweet pea is a perfect contrast and compliment to the creams and whites of a traditional bouquet. Plus, if you know how to grow sweet peas, it becomes an opportunity to cultivate your very own bouquet and flower arrangement for the big day.
Fire and Ice Sweet Peas
These beautiful types of sweet peas were around long before the popular book series ever hit the shelves. The Fire and Ice sweet pea is quite unique; with deep pink and white markings alongside stark purple and blue lower petals, they have a miss-mash of colour that bring the namesake while boasting only the best blooms from Spring through to Autumn. As well as this, they grow extremely well in looks and cultivation with other multi-coloured flowerbed plants such as the pansy.
Fragrantissima Sweet Peas
This is another of the many varieties of sweet peas grown in the UK that can be grown without access to a garden. Perfect for a window box or raised flowerpot on patios and balconies, the Fragrantissima is a vigorous grower and performs spectacularly every time! With a unique combination of striped, bi-coloured and solid flowers that come in every colour possible from white and pink to red and blue. You may think you’d have to become a sweet pea specialist to get this bloom right, but it’s quite the opposite; the thrive under the full sun to 200 centimetres in height. Plus, they have such a balanced fragrance.
Harrogate Gem Sweet Peas
It may seem like almost all of varieties of sweet peas in the UK have been around for some time. But, as we mentioned earlier, there are many new types of sweet peas being introduced all the time! In fact, the Harrogate Gem is a family bred with a very special purpose in mind. These beautiful types of sweet peas grow brimming with scarlet blooms. And they were presented for the first time as a cross-cultivator in Harrogate’s 2015 Autumn Flower Show to commemorate their Ruby anniversary (P.S. that’s 35 years in show).
Henry Eckford Sweet Peas
You may recognise this name as Henry Eckford is probably the most famous of all the horticultural breeders knowing how to grow sweet peas. He discovered and named these particular types of sweet peas after himself in 1901. Bred to be smaller and more delicate, they really add something else to your green space. These sweet peas are, however, very light sensitive. So, the best way to preserve their orange petals is by keeping them in the slightly shadier areas of your garden.
High Scent Sweet Peas
By name and by nature, the High Scent sweet pea variety is known to be one of the most fragrant types of sweet peas to be found on UK garden centre shelves. High Scent like most of us here on this small British island, loves the sunniest spot in the garden. Here, it will happily climb a trellis or cane to its full height of 180 centimetres while sharing a bounty of pretty blooms of cream petals edged with a subtle violet picotee and a heavenly perfume.
King's High Scent Sweet Peas
The King’s High Scent, which is also available by the name of the Kind Edward VII, is likely the sweetest-scented sweet pea available in garden centres up and down the country. With just one posy, their fantastic fragrance can fill your entire home with pleasant smells meaning there’s no longer the need for candles, sprays and anything else. Also, the Kings High Scent has large petals featuring creamy-white touches and delicate edges trimmed with violet. This plant is perfect for porches, large windowsills and pretty much any outdoor sitting area.
Lipstick Sweet Peas
These varieties of sweet peas in the UK make a beautiful red jewel and an eye-catching addition to your collection. The Lipstick bloom is just one example of many sub-types of sweet peas part of the avid Spencer variety. Not all that are mentioned on this list are from the Spencer variety, but many are. And just like the Lipstick, these cousins or horticulture are recognised by their larger, frillier and blousy blooms.
Mammoth Mix Sweet Peas
Forget that roses are red and that violets are blue; Mammoth Mix sweet peas come in those colours too! Unlike other types of sweet peas Mammoth Mix petals can be grown in such a variety of colours it’s difficult to list them all. Snippets of cream, rose, lavender and many more start to arrive in the Spring months as the Mammoth Mix is an early bloomer. It brings explosions of colour to make these sweet peas perfect for both commercial and personal cut flower displays of only the best sweet pea blooms.
Marion Sweet Peas
One of the rarest and most beautiful varieties of sweet peas in the UK is the Marion sweet pea. It is an intensely fragrant sweet pea donning elegant lavender-blue blooms. Many have searched high and low in the last years for these to give as the perfect Mother’s Day bouquet and you can see why. If you’ve managed to get your mitts on one of these unique sweet peas, you would be one of the lucky few as they occasionally bloom as a biannual (meaning they flower two years on the run) and a gift that keeps on giving. One thing to note when discovering how to grow sweet peas is that this small family needs pruning more often than most!
Miss Willmott Sweet Peas
Pretty in pink, the Miss Willmott may have smaller flowers than any of the other blooms in the family of Grandiflora sweet peas. But that doesn’t prevent them from bringing a big impact to your flowerbed. A combination of salmon and cerise coloured flowers, these are some of the best sweet pea blooms for heirloom varieties of sweet pea in the UK. With this, the Miss Willmott has actually become the most shown sweet pea at the NSPS (National Sweet Pea Show)!
Modern Grandiflora Sweet Peas
Also known to the botanist’s community as the Spanish Dancer and the Night Sky, these types of sweet peas bring a rainbow of colour to your garden among the varieties of sweet peas in the UK. They can be as bright as the Mumsie and as subtle as the Ethel Grace with cream petals. Given their stem cultivation being near the top of the flower, they make for the best sweet pea blooms to gift as a cut plant. They typically bloom from mid-Spring to early-Autumn, making them a pretty hardy annual to appear at the back of the garden.
Mumsie Sweet Peas
Mumsie sweet peas are a classic bright pink and red ruffle bloom. If you know how to grow sweet peas in their optimum conditions, you might be able to test the waters with the Mumsie. With the perfect cultivation periods from June to September in dry sand-soil and loam, there’s the chance to see these types of sweet peas show hints of burgundy flake on each posy. Then, it flourished to become one of the sought-after Windsor varieties of sweet peas in the UK. One thing to note is that these are the best sweet pea blooms for strong and fragrant perfumes. So, they’re good for attracting bees and other wildlife while having cut stems fill your home with naturally sweet aromas.
Old Spice Sweet Pea
Suited to a warmer climate, these types of sweet peas are more tolerant than many. With this, the sturdy cultivator makes for a great addition within the heat of a greenhouse. Or, at least, a large open window with plenty of sun can become the for growing some Old Spice sweet pea passion. There’s not much that could be better after a busy day than being greeted by a happy explosion of white, violet, pink and deep purple flowers in your window.
Oxford and Cambridge Sweet Peas
If there is a competition to be had, it will almost certainly be between Oxford and Cambridge. However, with the Oxford and Cambridge sweet pea, the two work together to bring us the very best sweet pea blooms made of two extremely fragrant heirloom flowers. These delightful types of sweet peas don’t much care for where you chose to grow it. But give it a chance, and it will climb to seven feet tall to deliver elegance and luxury to your garden. By combining velvety flourishes of deep blue and mauve, the Oxford and Cambridge sweet peas will produce a display you won’t be able to get enough of.
Percy Thrower Sweet Peas
The Percy Thrower is one of the more robust annual types of sweet peas to have in your garden (perfect if you’re green thumb is still learning on the road to become a sweet pea specialist). Despite this strong life, it has such a subtlety to its looks and aroma. With soft lilac and while petals, it will pretty much scale any obelisk or garden structure you place next to it while thriving in more sandy and dry soil types.
Perennial Sweet Peas
The Perennial sweet pea is also fondly known as the Everlasting sweet pea and is different from its relatives in two very specific ways. Firstly, unlike the many varieties of sweet peas in the UK on this list, this particular sweet pea is a perennial (hence the name). This translates to “through the years”, meaning they will thrive in your garden for a number of years with little-to-no assistance, in comparison annuals that bloom for one year and wilt. Secondly, even though they look the part, the Everlasting sweet pea does not have that recognisable sweet pea aroma, which is a very bizarre and unique feature within the sweet pea family!
Prima Ballerina Sweet Peas
Truth be told, the Prima Ballerina sweet pea is very much the opposite of the prima donna you may expect. Hardy enough to withstand being sown straight into the ground (although we would suggest using a pot) in the frosty month of March, you will have green shoots proudly appearing in May. During this time, a hint for how to grow sweet peas of this variety is to provide continued watering little but often. Then, it’s a case of repeating the process from June onwards so your garden lives with lovely long stems embellished with large lightly scented tri-coloured flowers.
Southbourne Sweet Peas
The team here at The Hobby Kraze feel like these are some of the most romantic-looking sweet peas we have spoken about so far. Decorated with delicate pink-shell flowers, the Southbourne sweet pea is actually as fragile as it would at first seem. Along with many of the previously mentioned sweet peas, Southbourne variations grow best when kept in a cool environment and in well-drained soil. So, treat your Southbourne right as you become a sweet pea specialist and it will gift you some of the best sweet pea blooms from Spring to Autumn.
St. George Sweet Peas
The St. George sweet pea is unmistakeable with its red and white colour combination; in fact, this sweet pea resembles the St. Georges flag. The blooms from these types of sweet peas are excellent for cutting and gifting as they last well in water, making for vibrant displays. But, interestingly, the act of cutting and dead heading these varieties of sweet peas in the UK can actually extend the flowering time right through to Summer.
Strawberry Sundae Sweet Peas
Sweet like strawberries on a Summer evening, the Strawberry Sundae is exactly that! An exceptionally fragrant sweet pea which, in the height of Summer, bares bicoloured petals in pastel colours such as pink, white, and a rose. It’s a perfect variety to learn how to grow as it is both heat-resistant, sturdy and easy to train. With this, there’s no doubt it will sit as pretty as a pea in your green garden space.
Turquoise Lagoon Sweet Peas
These are ones to show off on your windowsill, in the hanging baskets and even on your desk, for sure! The Turquoise Lagoon types of sweet peas are a cross-bred hybrid plant delivering a sight easy to imagine when you think of its name. The flowers fade from beautiful rose pink and lavender to a vibrant aqua blue as they age. They are the most exquisite sight on the eyes when you know how to grow sweet peas. However, one thing to note is that they are especially susceptible to pests such as snails and actually prefer the shade to the sun rays.
Wiltshire Ripple Sweet Peas
While they may sound like a traditional farm shop ice cream blend, these are actually old cultivators within the types of sweet peas. They feature distinct burgundy flaked petals contrasting with white alongside a flourished scent that knocks your senses as you pass by. In fact, they are actually considered an heirloom variety among botanists and can be quite hard to get your paws on. However, if you do manage to grasp a clipping of these best sweet pea blooms, your garden and its ecosystem will thank you for it.
And that brings a sweet pea close to this botanist’s guide. We do much love a nature-themed article here at The Hobby Kraze. So, we’re all for hearing your thoughts on which petals you like, where you find the wild blooms and how you’ve grown your own garden using new tips and tricks learned right here!
If you enjoyed this article, you’ve probably got quite the green thumb about you already. With that, there’s a world of articles right here that the team think you may also enjoy (but you’ll have to let us know!):
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- The Ultimate Guide to the Types of Jade Plant- From Colour to Elegance