Pea also called garden pea, herbaceous annual plant in the family Fabaceae, grown virtually worldwide for its edible seeds. The pea plant can be bushy or climbing, with slender stems which attach to a substrate using tendrils. The plant produces white, red or purple flowers and swollen or compressed green seedpods which can be straight or curved. The botanical name of pea is Pisum sativum.

While the origins of domesticated peas have not been definitely determined, the pea is one of the oldest cultivated crops. The wild plant is native to the Mediterranean region, and ancient remains dating to the late Neolithic Period have been found in the Middle East.

Table of Contents


1 - 8 feet

Width-Circumference (Avg)

6 - 18 inches

Approximate pH

between 6 and 7.5

Types of Peas

Three varieties of peas suit most garden and culinary needs:

  • Sweet peas, aka garden peas or English peas (Pisum sativum ssp. sativum), have inedible pods from which the seeds (peas) are taken.

  • Snow peas (P. sativum var. macrocarpon) produce edible, flat, stringless pods containing small peas.

  • Snap peas (P. sativum var. macrocarpon ser. cv.) produce thick, edible pods containing large/full-size peas.

Shelling Peas: Also known as garden or sweet peas, these are the most common type of peas available. Some good varieties to try include:

  • ‘Green Arrow’: 2- to 3-foot vines; no support required; high yields; tolerant of mildew and Fusarium wilt

  • ‘Lincoln’: 2- to 3-foot vines; no support required; tolerant of mildew and Fusarium wilt

  • The classic ‘Wando’ (good for freezing)

  • ‘Thomas Laxton’ (high sugar content)

  • ‘Progress No. 9’ (good disease resistance)

  • ‘Little Marvel’ (grows only 15 inches tall)

Snap Peas: You eat the entire tender pod of snap peas. Some good varieties to try are:

  • ‘Sugar Ann’: vines grow only 2 feet tall, no support required.

  • ‘Sugar Snap’: The original (Calvin’s) just brought back. Carried only by Johnny’s Selected Seeds.

  • ‘Early Snap’: An early-maturing version produces peas 10 to 14 days earlier than ‘Sugar Snap’

  • ‘Super Sugar Mel’: produces 4-inch-long, very sweet pods

Snow Peas: Common in Chinese cooking, these flat-podded peas have edible pods. Some good varieties to try include:

  • ‘Mammoth Melting Sugar’ (wilt tolerant): 4- to 5-foot vines; stringless pods

  • ‘Oregon Sugar Pod II’: grows only 2-1/2 feet tall

  • ‘Snowbird’: resistant to fusarium wilt

Planting Peas

When to Plant

You can plant seeds directly in the garden roughly four to six weeks prior to your area’s last projected spring frost date. Pea plants do have some frost tolerance, though prolonged periods of temperatures well below freezing might kill your earliest plantings. You can try using a cold frame to shelter your plants if you live in a cold climate. Many areas also can accommodate a late summer or fall planting at around six to eight weeks prior to your projected first fall frost date.

Selecting a Planting Site

Pick a sunny spot that has sharp soil drainage. Avoid a garden site where peas have been previously grown. A crop rotation of several years is best since pests and diseases that target peas can linger in the soil. Container growth is also an option. If you don’t have good soil drainage or get lots of rainfall in the spring that results in wet soil, consider raised garden beds.

Spacing, Depth, and Support

Plant seeds about 1 inch deep and 2 inches apart. Rows should be at least 7 inches apart. If you have a vining variety, add poles or pea fencing at the time of planting.

Growing Peas

How to Grow Peas From Seed

Prior to planting, soak the seeds in warm water overnight. This will help to speed up their germination. Then, plant them in loosened soil. And make sure the soil is lightly moist but not wet, as this can rot the seeds. Expect germination in about a week if the soil is 65 degrees Fahrenheit or above. The seeds can take up to a month to germinate in soil that’s around 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

How to Grow Peas in Pots

If you don’t have the garden space or the right soil conditions to grow peas, you can try a container. Use a pot with drainage holes that’s at least 12 inches wide and deep. An unglazed clay container is ideal because it will allow excess soil moisture to evaporate through its walls.

Aim to plant in a container that will fit the mature plant's size, as peas don't do well when transplanted. Use a fast-draining organic potting soil made for vegetables. Also, if you're growing a vining variety, you'll need to add a support structure to the container.

Pea Plant Care


Peas prefer full sun, meaning at least six hours of direct sunlight on most days. They can tolerate a bit of shade, though this can hinder production and affect taste.


Peas can grow in a variety of soil types as long as there is good drainage. For best results, plant your peas in a loamy soil that’s rich in organic matter. A slightly acidic to neutral soil pH is ideal.


Proper watering is one of the most important factors of a successful pea crop. Don’t let the soil ever fully dry out, but also don’t let it become soggy. About an inch of water per week should be sufficient.

Temperature and Humidity

Peas do best in mild temperatures between around 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, though they do have good cold tolerance. Once the temperature is warmer than 85 degrees Fahrenheit, the plants will struggle. Humidity typically isn’t an issue as long as soil moisture needs are met.


Fertilizer typically isn’t required for pea plants. But it’s helpful to mix some compost into the soil prior to planting, especially if you don’t have nutrient-rich soil. You also can give your plants a boost with some balanced organic liquid fertilizer when the seedlings first emerge.


Pea plants are self-pollinating. There aren’t separate male and female plants.


Pea plants are annuals, meaning they complete their life cycle in one growing season. So overwintering them won't be necessary.

Harvesting Peas

Most varieties of peas are ready to harvest 60 to 70 days after planting. Peas mature quickly, so check daily once you see the flowers in bloom.

  • Pick snow peas when the delicate pods begin to show immature seeds inside.

  • Gather snap peas when the pods become plump, yet are still glossy and filled with sweet-tasting peas.

  • Pick shell peas before the pods become waxy.

How to Harvest Peas

  • Harvest peas in the morning after the dew has dried. They are crispiest then.

  • Harvest regularly to encourage more pods to develop.

  • Use two hands when you pick peas to avoid damaging the plant. Hold the vine with one hand and pull pods off with the other.

  • Peas are at the peak of flavor immediately after harvest.

  • Pea pods that have hardened or turned a dull color are over mature. Mature plants usually stop producing and die back in hot summer weather.

  • If you missed your peas’ peak period, you can still pick, dry, and shell them for use in winter soups.

Peas are best used as soon as possible after harvesting.

How to Store Peas

  • Store peas in the refrigerator for about 5 days: Place in paper bags, then wrap in plastic.

  • Or, freeze peas: Shell sweet peas, blanch, immerse in cold water, drain, and pack in sealed containers.

  • De-string/trim snow or snap peas and prepare as above.

Pruning and Propagating Peas


Pruning generally isn’t necessary for pea plants. But you can trim off small tendrils or shoots for eating. They have a mild, pea-like flavor that goes well in salads and other dishes.

Propagating Peas

Pea plants can be propagated by saving their seeds. Not only is this an inexpensive way to produce new plants, but it also will allow you to propagate particular varieties that you enjoyed. Here’s how:

  1. Allow healthy pods to remain on the plant to dry.

  2. Once they’ve browned and you can hear the seeds rattle inside, twist the pods off the plant.

  3. Remove the seeds from the pods, and spread them out on a screen indoors to fully dry for a few days. Make sure you've only kept the seeds, not any excess plant material.

  4. Store the dried seeds in an envelope marked with the date. They should be viable for a few years.

Pests and Plant Diseases

Aphids, pea weevils, and other insects can infest pea plants, attacking both the leaves and the roots. Try organic, food-safe measures, such as knocking off the insects with a strong spray of water or using an insecticidal soap, to mitigate pest problems. You also can grow companion plants that deter insects. For example, aphids can be repelled by rosemary plants.

Fungal diseases, including fusarium wilt and powdery mildew, also can impact pea plants. It’s typically best to destroy the affected plants to prevent diseases from spreading.

Benefits of Peas

Eye Health

Peas contain the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. These nutrients help protect your eyes from chronic diseases, such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Lutein and zeaxanthin act as filters from harmful blue light, which contributes to cataracts and macular degeneration.

Digestive Health

Peas are rich in coumestrol, a nutrient that plays a role in protecting against stomach cancer. A 2009 study done in Mexico City showed that daily intake of peas and other legumes lowered the risk of stomach cancer by 50%.

Peas are also high in fiber, which helps move food through your gut for easier digestion.

Blood Sugar Control

Peas are loaded with fiber and protein, which help to regulate the way you digest starches. The protein and fiber in peas slow the breakdown of carbohydrates and helps to control your blood sugar. Studies show that eating a high-protein diet decreases postprandial (after meals) blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes.

Peas also have a low glycemic index. This means that you are less likely to have sudden spikes in blood sugar after eating them.

Heart Health

Inflammation and stress caused by free radicals (oxidation) can contribute to plaque formation along blood vessel walls. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids found in peas help to reduce oxidation and inflammation and prevent plaques from forming.

In addition, magnesium, potassium, and other minerals found in peas can lower your risk of high blood pressure.

Good source of plant-based protein

Being rich in fibre and one of the best plant-based proteins makes peas a satisfying component of a meal. They are also a useful vegan source of iron, which is needed for making red blood cells and transporting oxygen around the body.

May be cancer protective

Regularly including legumes, like peas, in your diet may reduce the risk of cancer due to their high antioxidant levels. Peas also contain natural compounds called saponins, these compounds have been shown to help protect against some forms of cancer.

Good Source of Iron

Peas are a good source of iron. Iron deficiency is the leading cause of anaemia. If you don't have enough iron, your body can't make enough healthy oxygen-carrying red blood cells thereby causing haemoglobin deficiency. Iron helps combat fatigue and gives you strength.

Good for skin

Peas are an excellent source of Vitamin C, which plays a significant role in in the production of collagen. Collagen helps keep the skin firm and glowing. Vitamin C also protects the cells from damage caused by free radicals. The antioxidants help fight oxidative damage caused by the free radicals. The antioxidants which are present in it such as flavonoids, catechin, epicatechin, carotenoid and alpha carotene helps prevent signs of ageing too.


  • The immature peas (and in snow peas the tender pod as well) are used as a vegetable, fresh, frozen or canned.

  • Green pods of watana are fried with salt and seeds are eatern.

  • Matured seeds are used as vegetable or mixed in other food articles like pulav, mixed vegetables etc.

  • Husk and grinded seeds are fed to cattle.

  • It contains high percentage of digestible proteins, vit-A and vit-C.

  • It is also rich in minerals like Ca and P.

  • Seed are roasted with salt and turmeric powder and eaten as watanas.

  • It is also grown as mixed crop with oat and used as a fodder.

  • Leaves are used as a pot herb

2 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All