How to Plant, Grow, and Care for ‘Beaujolais’ Sweet peas

For stunning, wine-colored blooms in the spring garden, Beaujolais sweet peas are simply divine. In this article, gardening expert Melissa Strauss shares what you need to know to grow and care for these richly-hued beauties in your garden.

Close-up of flowering Beaujolais sweet peas plants in a sunny garden against a blurred green background. The Beaujolais sweet peas boast an elegant appearance, showcasing clusters of exquisitely ruffled flowers in rich shades of burgundy and deep purple. Each bloom, with its velvety texture and intricate pattern of darker veins, adds a touch of sophistication to the vine. The delicate tendrils of the plant gracefully entwine as they climb, creating a charming display of cascading foliage adorned with these stunningly colored blossoms.

Contents

Like a fine wine, beautiful ‘Beaujolais’ sweet peas bring full-bodied fragrance and color to any garden party or dining room table arrangement. These striking members of the Fabaceae (legume) family are of the “Spencer” type. This means they are sturdy and long-blooming with large, fragrant flowers and long, strong stems, making them wonderful for a cut flower garden and dressing up any trellis or arbor.

Sweetpeas are known for their beautiful, fragrant blooms that come in a wide variety of colors. These plants differ from edible garden sugar snap peas. They are mostly grown for use in floristry, where, despite their shorter vase life, they add tons of sweet-smelling personality to bouquets and cut arrangements. Let’s look at Beaujolais sweet peas and discuss how to care for them in your own garden

Overview

Close-up of Beaujolais sweet pea flowers on a blurred green background. The flowers are small, with ruffled petals unfurling in rich shades of burgundy and deep purple. Each bloom, delicately veined and velvety to the touch, adorns the vine in clusters, creating a striking contrast against the backdrop of lush green foliage.
Plant Type Frost-tolerant annual
Family Fabaceae
Genus Lathyrus
Species Odoratus
Native Area Italy
Exposure Full sun to partial shade
Height 7′-8′
Watering Requirements Moderate to high
Pests & Diseases Root rot, powdery mildew, slugs and snails, aphids, thrips, spider mites, botrytis
Maintenance Moderate
Soil Type Rich, loamy, moist, well-draining
Soil pH 7.0-7.5 alkaline

History

Deep burgundy sweet pea flowers growing on climbing frame. The plant boasts a captivating appearance, showcasing clusters of velvety, deep burgundy flowers that exude timeless elegance. Each bloom is characterized by its rich coloration, with subtle variations and darker veins accentuating its delicate, ruffled petals. The flowers are arranged in abundance along the vine, creating a striking contrast against the lush green foliage.
Sweet peas were named by Francisco Cupani in the 1690s.

Sweet peas gained their name as a garden flower in the 1690s when they were shared by a Sicilian monastery gardener named Francisco Cupani. Historical records show that he began sending seeds of various varieties to friends with similar botanical interests.

From there, several new forms appeared in Britain in the ensuing two centuries, described in 1793 by seedsman John Mason. Henry Eckford of Scotland stepped onto the sweetpea scene in the late 1800s and was responsible for improving the plants that were available at the time. 

Eckford’s efforts led to a multitude of different colors, larger blooms, and more fragrant varieties. The next big thing in sweet pea breeding came as a result of a gardener working for the family of (Princess) Diana Spencer. Silas Cole bred his sweet peas for even larger flowers with ruffled petals.

Over the last century, breeding these pretty flowers has become a loved pastime for many gardeners, and over time, a great many colors, forms, and stronger fragrances have been achieved, including the iconic deep burgundy-colored ‘Beaujolais’ sweet peas.

Native Area

Close-up of a flowering burgundy sweet peas plant against a blurred background of green foliage. Each flower, adorned with ruffled petals and subtle darker veins, creates a lush cluster along the graceful vines. These tendrils elegantly intertwine, creating a charming backdrop for the profusion of blooms. The foliage consists of lush, lance-shaped leaves.
Sweet peas originate from Italy, especially Sicily, with early records from Francisco Cupani.

The sweet pea is native to Italy, specifically the southern part of the country, Sicily, and the Aegean Islands. There is some question as to their appearance in China and Sri Lanka, but the first recorded specimens were found in Sicily by Francisco Cupani in 1695.

Characteristics

Close-up of a flowering Sweet pea "Beaujolais" plant in a raised bed in a sunny garden. Its flowers are characterized by their intense burgundy-red color, with a velvety texture. The vines of this variety are slender yet sturdy, adept at climbing and clinging onto supporting structures with their delicate tendrils. The leaves are composed of pairs of narrow, lance-shaped leaflets, arranged alternately along the vine, providing a verdant backdrop to the striking blossoms.
This variety of sweet peas boasts deep burgundy flowers, a long blooming period, sturdy stems, and a strong fragrance.

‘Beaujolais’ sweet peas have a long blooming period and can even bloom into the summer and fall in milder climates. Their extra long, sturdy stems make them ideal for a cutting garden and floral arrangements.

This vining sweet pea likes to have a structure to climb. Plants reach about eight feet tall over their growing season and tolerate light frosts, so they can last into the colder months if the plants survive the summer. In very warm climates, most sweet peas will die back in the heat of summer. 

The flowers of this variety are a deep shade of wine red or burgundy. While most varieties of this shade are less fragrant, ‘Beaujolais’ has a rather strong scent. Their stems end in curling tendrils that cling to support, and pairs of green leaflets are an attractive medium green. 

Uses

Close-up of multi-colored Lathyrus odoratus in bloom in a sunny garden. Lathyrus odoratus, commonly known as Sweet Peas, are characterized by their delicate vines adorned with lush, dark green foliage and clusters of exquisitely fragrant flowers. These blooms come in a myriad of colors including soft pink, pink, deep purple, deep burgundy and white. Each flower consists of five petals, with a distinct "keel" petal that gives the blossom its signature butterfly-like appearance. The tendrils of the vines are slender and flexible, allowing them to climb and twine gracefully, while the leaves are composed of pairs of narrow, elongated leaflets.
These ornamental legumes are poisonous to eat. They are grown for decoration and soil fertility.

Unlike their edible relatives, ornamental sweet peas are not edible and, in fact, are poisonous. Sweet pea flowers are grown for ornamental purposes and the florist industry.

These plants are also nitrogen-fixing, which means that they work symbiotically with root-dwelling bacteria to draw nitrogen into the soil via their roots. This makes them a good cover crop to provide nitrogen for future plants in the same space. 

Where to Buy ‘Beaujolais’ Sweet Peas

Beaujolais Sweet Pea Seeds

Beaujolais Sweet Pea Seeds
  • Vibrant Color Palette
  • Spencer-Type Characteristics
  • Extended Blooming Period
  • Versatile Floral Applications
  • Toxic if Ingested
View at Botanicalinterests.com

Planting

Close-up of young sweet pea seedlings in peat pots in a garden under the sun. Sweet Pea leaves are comprised of multiple pairs of small, narrow leaflets that alternate along the length of the vine. The foliage is a rich, vibrant green color.
Plant sweet peas in cooler months. Sow seeds directly and thin seedlings for optimal growth.

These are cool-weather plants, so they should be planted during the cooler months of the year for best results. In warm climates, sow them in late fall for early spring blooms. In cooler climates, sow your sweet pea seeds about four to six weeks before your last expected frost date.

Direct sowing is the best method for planting sweet pea seeds. Sow them about one inch deep in groups of three seeds, with six inches between groups. When your seedlings are about three inches tall, you can thin them to one seedling every six inches. 

Your sweet pea seeds should take about 10-21 days to germinate under ideal conditions. A soil temperature of 55-65°F (13-18°C) will result in the most rapid germination. Soaking is typically not necessary and is unlikely to impact germination. However, nicking your seeds can be helpful. Use a clean blade to lightly score the coat of the seed before planting.

How to Grow

Adapting sweet peas to your climate is one of the most important factors in the success of your plants. Because they like cooler weather, planting earlier or later depends on the average temperatures in your region. They are frost tolerant, so in regions that experience very hot summers, it is better to err on the side of planting too early than too late. 

Light

Close-up of a flowering sweet pea plant with bright burgundy red flowers in a sunny garden against a blurred background of blooming bright blue cornflowers. The flowers have deep, velvety petals that boast a rich shade of crimson. Each blossom is characterized by its intricate pattern of darker veining, adding depth and texture to the flower's appearance. The petals are delicately ruffled.
In cool climates, plant sweet peas in full sun with 6-8 hours of light per day.

‘Beaujolais’ sweet peas need a fair amount of sunlight to grow and produce the greatest number of flowers. In cooler climates, plant your sweet pea seeds in an area that receives full sun exposure for at least six to eight hours per day. 

In warmer climates, it’s a good idea to choose a location that offers some shade in the afternoon. This will prolong the growing and blooming season because partial shade offers some protection from the summer heat. These plants like moisture around their roots, so it is important to keep the soil around their feet from drying out too quickly. 

Water

Close-up of a sweet pea flower with water drops on the petals, on a blurred background of a green garden. The flower captivates with its luxurious burgundy-red petals that exude a velvety sheen and are delicately edged with a darker hue. Each bloom showcases a graceful, ruffled texture and is held aloft on a slender stem amidst lush foliage.
Water regularly, adjusting frequency based on age and weather.

Sweet peas like a lot of water, but they don’t like wet feet. As long as they have proper drainage, you can expect to water your plants every one to two days while they are young and then once or twice a week once your plants are established. During times of drought, be sure to keep a closer watch on your plants, as they will likely need extra water during these periods. 

Soil

Close-up of young Sweet Pea seedlings in a garden near Hazel Wigwam. Young Sweet Pea seedlings emerge as slender, delicate shoots adorned with pairs of small, oval-shaped leaves that boast a tender green hue.
These plants thrive in well-drained soil amended with compost for fertility and a neutral pH.

Sweet peas are not picky about soil composition, but they do need proper drainage because of their high moisture needs. If you have heavier clay soil that compacts easily, amend your soil with plenty of organic compost or manure to create a fertile and looser soil that is more conducive to root development. 

Your plants will appreciate fertile soil, so if your soil is sandy or otherwise poor, amending it with compost will increase the nutrition of your soil. A neutral to slightly alkaline pH is ideal for these plants.

Temperature and Humidity

Close-up of blooming 'Beaujolais' Sweet pea flowers on a blue background. The 'Beaujolais' Sweet pea flowers are a striking fusion of deep burgundy and velvety crimson, each blossom bearing intricately ruffled petals that exude elegance and depth. Delicately edged in a darker hue, these luxuriant blooms are held aloft on slender stems, their rich color contrasting beautifully against the lush green foliage.
Grow sweet peas in cool weather. Fall planting is ideal for mild climates.

Sweet peas need cool weather to grow and bloom their best. The ideal temperature for these plants is between 32-60°F (0-16°C). They are relatively frost tolerant, although a hard freeze may wipe them out. For this reason, in mild climates, fall planting is best as it gives them a longer period of cool weather before the summer heat sets in. 

Because they prefer moisture, higher humidity is not a problem and will actually aid in germination. ‘Beaujolais’ sweet peas do not grow well in hot, arid climates.

Fertilizing

Close-up of burgundy sweet pea flowers on a blurred dark green background. The burgundy sweet pea flowers are a stunning display of deep, rich color, with velvety petals that range from dark crimson to luxurious burgundy. Each blossom boasts a delicate ruffled texture, adding depth and dimension to its elegant form.
Provide seedlings with organic fertilizer at planting, then switch to high-potassium fertilizer near blooming.

Sweet peas like plenty of nutrients, but an excess of nitrogen can lead to a lot of green growth and a scarcity of flowers. Mixing a good quality balanced organic fertilizer into the soil at the time of planting will give your seedlings a healthy start. When the plants get close to blooming, giving them a fertilizer that is higher in potassium will help them produce more robust flowers.

Maintenance

‘Beaujolais’ Sweet peas grown up an Hazel Wigwam in a garden. The plant creates a mesmerizing sight with their lush vines twining around the rustic hazel structure. The deep burgundy-red flowers of 'Beaujolais' cascade elegantly from the top of the wigwam, their velvety petals catching the light amidst the verdant foliage.
Support vines with bamboo tipis or T-posts with netting.

Vining sweet peas need some type of support to grow. There are different methods of offering your plants support in the garden.

If you are growing these flowers for cutting purposes, use T-posts strung with floral netting. These plants will send out tendrils to cling to most types of support, but they can grow rapidly, which may necessitate tying them to your supports with twine. 

The plants benefit from pinching when the plant is young. This helps the plant to produce more branches and, as a result, more flowers. When the shoots reach about six inches tall, pinch off the top directly above a set of leaves. 

If you are planting in the fall, don’t pinch your young plants, as this can prevent dieback from the cold. A light frost will serve the same purpose and help create branching without causing damage to the plant. 

Deadheading or cutting flower stems is integral to a long blooming period. If flowers are left on the plant, they will go to seed, signaling to the plant that dormancy is imminent. This is the most high-maintenance part of growing sweet peas: you must harvest them regularly! Once you are nearing the end of the growing season, allow your plants to go to seed so that you have seeds to collect for next year. 

Growing in Containers

Close-up of young sweet pea (lathyrus) seedlings in a large iron container with bamboo supports in a sunny garden. Sweet pea seedlings emerge as slender, delicate stems adorned with pairs of small, oval-shaped leaves that exhibit a tender, vibrant green color. These young shoots showcase their early vigor with sturdy yet flexible stems, allowing them to gracefully arch as they reach for support.
Grow them in spacious containers with a sturdy trellis.

Sweet peas grow quite well in containers as long as they have enough space and their roots are disturbed as little as possible. Choose a pot that is deep and provides the plant with enough room to develop its roots so that you won’t have to disrupt the roots in re-potting. 

Provide potted plants with something to climb on, such as a small trellis. Give your containers plenty of sunshine and water them regularly. Use potting soil enhanced with compost or manure, and wait for a profusion of sweet-scented blossoms.

Propagation

Close-up of a woman's hand planting seeds of sweet peas into the soil in the garden. Sweet pea seeds are small, smooth, and rounded in shape, with a firm texture.
Propagate plants by allowing the flowers to go to seed, collecting the pods, and storing them.

Due to their annual nature, these fragrant flowering plants are most successfully propagated from seed. Near the end of the blooming season, as the weather begins to warm, allow your sweet pea flowers to go to seed. Then simply collect the seeds and store them in a cool, dry space until the next planting season. 

Common Problems

These flowers are appealing to some insects, and there are more than a few diseases that can be an issue for these plants. Watering properly and providing adequate air circulation are good preventive measures, but even the best gardeners still grapple with these issues from time to time. 

Pests

Close-up of Aphid colony on a green leaf. Aphids are tiny insects with soft, pear-shaped bodies that come in various colors such as green, yellow, and pink. They have long, slender legs and two prominent antennae at the front of their heads.
Aphids damage leaves by draining sap.

Aphids, thrips, and spider mites are all fond of sweet peas and can wreak havoc on your plants if the infestation gets out of hand. All of these insects suck the sweet sap from your plants, draining nutrients and leaving behind a mess of excrement and black sooty mold. 

Keeping your plants strong and healthy will help them withstand some pest damage, but getting rid of those insects is vital to maintaining a healthy garden. Encouraging predatory insects like ladybugs can be a very effective natural way to deal with insect infestation. Plant their host plants to bring them in and keep them in your garden. Neem oil is less damaging to pollinators if applied in the evening and allowed to dry. A light mist is all you need.  

Diseases

Close-up of Sweet peas affected by viral disease in the garden on a blurred green background. The leaves of the plant are yellowish-green in color with an irregular mosaic pattern.
Plants may face root rot when grown in poorly drained soil.

Root and crown rot can be a problem if the soil doesn’t have proper drainage. Since they need to be watered regularly, soil that has poor drainage can stay overly wet, allowing fungus to grow and damage your plants. The leaves may turn yellow and the roots will emit a foul smell. You may need to restart your crop and amend with drainage-promoting materials like perlite, compost, or peat moss.

Powdery mildew is another fungal disease that is common in growing sweet peas. This type of fungus grows on the leaves of your plant, depriving them of light and ultimately causing them to turn yellow and drop off. Maintaining good air circulation around your plants is the best way to combat this disease. Botrytis can also occur in these conditions.

These plants are susceptible to a few viral diseases, which creates a unique problem for the grower, as they are not curable. Mosaic viruses, tomato spotted wilt virus, and a virus transmitted by aphids can all affect this species. When a virus hits, it is important to remove the affected plant or plants, to preserve the integrity of nearby plants. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Sweet Peas Toxic to Pets?

Yes, they are toxic. These plants do not produce edible peas, and their seeds are especially poisonous to humans and animals. Other parts of the plant can cause issues as well, although not as serious. Keep these plants out of the vegetable garden to avoid any confusion.

Will Sweet Peas Reseed Themselves?

In warmer climates, sweet peas will self-seed in many cases. Leaving the seed pods on the plant and allowing them to dry out and open is the easiest way to propagate your sweet peas in mild climates.

Will Sweet Peas Re-Bloom in the Fall?

Most often, they will not. However, if the plants are grown in a cooler climate and protected from heat during the summer months, you may see a smaller second bloom when the weather cools off in the fall.

Final Thoughts

For stunning spring flowers that look great outside and inside, ‘Beaujolais’ sweet peas are just the thing! These gorgeous wine-colored blooms dress up a trellis or arbor beautifully and look just as stunning in a cut floral arrangement. 

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