How Long do Peas Take to Germinate

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Everyone loves homegrown peas fresh from the garden or allotment. They just taste soo much sweeter than anything you can buy from the shops. Because of this you obviously plan on growing some of your own this year, good on you, but are wondering how long your peas will take to germinate? Maybe you have already planted some but no sprouts have popped up yet and you are starting to get worried. Well, let’s have a look and find out just how long you should be waiting for your pea seeds to germinate

How Long Does It Take Peas to Germinate?

The answer to this is the classic, it depends. What it depends on mainly is whether you sow them outdoors or get them started indoors.

Sown indoors, pea seeds germinate very quickly, often within 5 days I will have some shoots starting to appear. Outdoor seeds can germinate a lot slower, more often taking 10-20 days.

Why You Should Germinate Peas Indoors

I may be biased here as this is how I germinate all of my peas, but sowing them indoors really is best.

Germinating your peas indoors allows them to get off to a really strong start, and reliably so. Sure sometimes your peas sown outside will romp away, but then the next year they could really struggle. It is this uncertainty that sowing your peas indoors helps to reduce.

Grow on a windowsill
Grow on a windowsill

You can keep growing your peas indoors for a couple of months, meaning you can get some varieties going in January and February. Pot them on into a larger pot once they have outgrown the seed tray, just make sure to harden them off gradually for a week or two before moving them outdoors.

when sown indoors the germination rate (the number of seeds that successfully sprout) is also a lot higher than when you sow outside. So you get more bang for your buck with your seed purchases. Younger seeds tend to germinate quicker and at a higher rate than older seeds, but you can still keep a pea packet for years and get good plants out of it.

Soil Temperature

This is one of the major factors which will affect the germination time of seeds and is also the major difference between indoor and outdoor sowing.

Lower Than 4 Degrees

If your soil temperature is below 4 degrees, lets which face it, it could be here in the UK until well into spring then pea seeds may not germinate at all.

Between 4 – 8 Degrees

Peas will germinate at this temperature but it will take a lot longer than it needs to. This is probably what soil temperatures are going to be in the UK throughout spring. You are probably looking at around 3-4 weeks until pea seeds will germinate in this temperature range.

Between 8-12 Degrees

At these soil temperatures, probably around late spring-early summer until we hit these temps in the UK, pea seeds will germinate in around 2-3 weeks.

12 Degrees and Above

Above this soil temperature and you are getting to the sweet spot for peas. This is where you will get quick germination and that is why I sow my seeds indoors. Peas can germinate in as little as 5-7 days at this soil temperature.

How to sow seeds indoors

When sowing my peas indoors I always start them off in a seed tray on a sunny windowsill above a radiator. Peas are really easy to germinate and will also appear quickly.

When growing peas I like to grow them in succession at around a week to 10 days gap. This will mean I have peas all summer and autumn long, and with a little pea monster about it needs to be done!

Step 1 – Fill a tray with compost

Start by filling a seed tray with compost, I normally use whatever is lying around but if you are particular then you can go ahead and use seed compost.

fill with compost
fill with compost

Step 2 – Wet the compost

I like to wet the compost now before I do any planting of seeds. This isn’t as important with peas as the seeds are large and so won’t get moved around as much. If you water small seeds straight after planting though you risk washing them right up to the edges of the tray.

Step 3 – Place peas on surface

Now I place the pea seeds down on the surface of the compost. I don’t immediately cover them, this way I can have a nice visual check to make sure there is a seed in every cell.

Pop them on the surface
Pop them on the surface

Step 4 – Push peas down

Now push the pea seeds down into the compost, just a couple of cm will do here.

Push down
Push down

Step 5 – Cover

Now brush some soil over the top of the pea to make sure they are fully covered.


Step 6 – Label

Now an important step that many growers, particularly those just starting out, overlook is labelling. I like to label my seeds with the variety growing as well as the date sowed.

This label will stay with the peas right up until harvest. This way I can see what varieties produced good crops and also how they tasted. If you don’t thoroughly label you will so forget what varieties you are growing where and it may take you a while to work out what varieties work best for you.


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