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What is eating my sweet peas?

Sweet peas are glorious flowers, but also attract many pests and are a favourite snack for many. If you notice some bite marks on your sweet peas leaves you will obviously want to know what is eating on them. So let’s have a look at some of the more common pests that could be eating your sweet peas.

Slugs and Snails

Probably the most common pests that will be eating your sweet peas are slugs and snails. They love sweet peas, particularly when they are young.

Look for slime trails and unevenly eaten edges of leaves. These are textbook signs that your sweet pea plants are being eaten by slugs and or snails. If not dealt with they can completely eat and kill younger sweet pea plants, older ones should be able to shrug them off without much issue.

to deal with slugs and snails you could buy pellets if you aren’t worried about gardening organically. If you do want to be organic then you still have a few options. You could set beer traps, use distraction plants or use some nematodes if you want an easier way of killing off slugs.

Sweet Peas Growing Up Bamboo Canes
Sweet Peas Growing Up Bamboo Canes

Leaf Miner

Leaf miner is the common name given to the larvae of several Beatles and flys. These larvae create winding random trails over the leaves of plants as they eat them.

These larvae are actually inside the leaf so you won’t spot anything other than the damage on the surface.

Leaf miners aren’t much of an issue for larger plants and usually only affect a few plants which you can remove by hand. On younger plants, they can be more of a pain and I believe there are commercial sprays available to deal with them.


The easiest way to check for caterpillars is to look at the underside of the leaf. If caterpillars are your problem you will usually spot them fairly quickly. There will also be uneven bite marks from the edge of the leaves.

More on Sweetpeas

sweet peas, (Lathyrus odoratus) are a flowering plant belonging to the legume family. They are an annual flower that loves to climb and spread, in the right conditions and with the correct support they can grow to 2 and a half meters tall!

Unlike many other legumes which are grown to be eaten, sweet peas are grown for purely aesthetic reasons. There is evidence to suggest that the pea seeds from a sweet pea plant are actually toxic to humans and not fit for consumption even if this was desired.

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.

Anthony Michael Pascall

Monday 16th of May 2022

Neither slugs nor snails are the problem. The actual unopened buds are being eaten off 'cleanly' leaving a bare stem. Any advise ?


Monday 16th of May 2022

Birds can sometimes sit on your sweet pea trellis and nip at buds and leaves. The only way to confirm this would be to catch them in the act. You could try to net the sweet peas and see if this stops the flowers from disappearing, if so then your culprits are confirmed.

Pea weevil could also be a possibility but, to be honest, they are more of an issue with the bottom few rows of leaves and rarely affect the flowers and I don't know how much they go after sweet peas either!