Skip to Content

Pinching Out Sweet Peas

If you are new to growing sweet peas then you have probably been bombarded with information on how to grow them, no doubt you have been told countless times that you need to pinch them out. But how do you pinch out sweet peas? And, just as importantly, when do you pinch out sweet peas?

How to pinch out sweet peas
How to pinch out sweet peas

How to pinch out sweet peas

Pinching out sweet peas is a straightforward task, one that you don’t even need any extra equipment for. You can simply use your hands to pinch out the growing tips of your plants.

Grab the tip of the plant between your thumb and finger
Grab the tip of the plant between your thumb and finger

You want to remove the centre of the growing tip just above a set of leaves. I like to leave two pairs of leaves but you can just leave one.

Grab the tip of the sweet pea between your finger and thumb and pinch it out. You can use the nail on your thumb as a blade to slice the tip off, it should come away fairly easily. And that is it, you are done, well for this sweet pea at least, plenty more where that came from!

A successfully pinched out sweet pea
A successfully pinched out sweet pea

Above you can see the sweet pea with its main centre stem pinched out, this would encourage the growth of new side shoots.

Why pinch out sweet peas?

We pinch out sweet peas to encourage them to grow bushier rather than taller. Sweet peas, if left untended, will grow tall but not particularly wide.

When forced to grow bushier by pinching out the tip they actually produce a lot more flowers, which at the end of the day is what we are after!

Each of the side shoots that the plant goes onto develop, because we pinched out the main stem, will be a flowering stem. So it is easy to see how we can end up with many more blooms by doing this.

You can actually do this with regular peas, this will lead to an increased harvest over letting them grow naturally.


Do you pinch out dwarf sweet peas?

Yes, dwarf sweet peas should still be pinched out just like regular sweet peas. Even though dwarf sweet peas are bushier by nature pinching them out to encourage even more side growth is still beneficial.

Sweetpea FAQ’s

Are sweet peas perennial?

No sweet peas are an annual plant, they will not come back year after year.

Can you eat sweetpeas?

No, sweet peas are grown purely for their looks. Unlike many other legumes, they are actually toxic to humans if consumed.

Are sweet peas poisonous to pets?

Yes, as they are poisonous to humans they are also poisonous to pets, so make sure you keep an eye on your pets when they are hovering around sweet peas.

How high can sweet peas grow?

With the proper support, sweet peas can grow to 2m or even slightly above!

When do you grow sweet peas?

The traditional season for sweet peas is June and July but with the right care and attention, they can be both started earlier and grown later into the season. Regular deadheading of sweetpeas can massively prolong their flowering period.

How to germinate sweet peas?

I like to soak my sweet pea seeds in water for 24 hours before planting them in a seed tray. This soaking helps to break down the tough shell around the seed allowing them to germinate better.