Who doesn’t love Sugar Snap peas? They are a versatile vegetable that is great in stir-fries, salads, or even on their own. But did you know that growing your peas at home is much more cost-effective, fun, and rewarding than buying snap peas at the store? They’re also very easy to grow!
But for many beginner home gardeners, growing peas at home sparks one question: Do snap peas need a trellis?
Well, if you have ever tried growing peas in your garden without a trellis, chances are you were having a hard time. When I tried growing my pea vines without a trellis, my garden looked like a tangled mess. Yikes!
But is there a way to keep your snap peas from getting out of control without a trellis? Or do these members of the legume family simply need a trellis to grow? We will answer these, and other questions, in the article below.
Table of Contents
Do Snap Peas Need A Trellis?
The short answer is yes! Peas require a trellis to grow properly. Sugar Snap Peas (pisum sativum) are naturally climbing plants, which means they are simply made to climb on surrounding plants, trees, or in our case, a trellis.
To reach as much sunlight as possible, peas evolved to climb their way up to the sun. To do this, they grow tendrils. These are small aerial roots they use to attach themselves to objects in their surroundings.
Without a trellis, your peas will be too heavy to keep upright and crawl over your garden floor. This is what happened in my case!
As the vines kept creeping, they became tangled, and many parts of the plant did not put out any fruits due to a lack of sunlight and space.
Do All Pea Varieties Need A Trellis?
There are two types of peas: bush peas and climbing peas. Some people argue that the bush varieties do not require a trellis, but I recommend using one for every kind of pea!
Bush peas live up to their name due to their ‘bushy’ growth pattern. They can reach up to three feet and tend to be wider and fuller than their vining cousins, who can grow up to twice as tall!
However, a pea bush of 3 feet will become too heavy to keep itself up, and it will eventually topple over and collapse. I’d argue that a trellis is necessary to grow healthy, strong peas!
While most types of peas have either bush or vining types of growth patterns, varieties like snow peas come in both bush and vining – so you can choose which works best for your space.
Vining snow peas will grow better with a trellis, while bush snow peas may not need the added support.
Benefits Of Using A Trellis For Your Snap Peas
Allowing your pea plants to grow up a trellis will ensure that your Peas thrive and grow to their full potential. Trellises add many benefits, which we will go over below.
Vertical Gardening Saves Room In Small Spaces
What do you do when you have limited horizontal space in your garden? You go up! Using otherwise wasted vertical garden space allows you to grow more plants than if you only grew horizontally.
Helps Prevent Fungal Diseases And Pests
All varieties of pea plants are susceptible to pests and diseases like powdery mildew, fusarium wilt, or pests like spider mites or pea moths.
Allowing your peas to grow on a trellis increases airflow and prevents overly wet soil, which helps to avoid fungal infections and minimizes the risk of pests.
Trellised Snap Peas Are Easier To Harvest
Finding pea pods to harvest will be hard if your plant looks like a tangled, twisted mess, just like a chaos garden! Trellises make harvesting your peas clean and accessible.
Using a trellis will also cut harvest time in half, as you will not need to search through the vines to reach the pea pods. When the plants are all tangled and twisted, there’s also a bigger chance of stunted pods.
It Helps The Plants Access More Sunlight
If the plant crawls over the garden floor, the vines will eventually choke each other out to try and reach for the sunlight.
Adding a trellis allows the entire plant to receive the same amount of sunlight, promoting healthy growth and encouraging a lush harvest!
The Most Popular Types Of Peas To Grow In Your Garden
If you want to grow sweet peas at home, you must make an important decision! There are three main types of peas to grow. Apart from Snap peas, there are two other varieties to choose from.
Below I’ve listed the most popular and easy-to-grow pea varieties to get you started on your pea-growing journey!
Garden Peas are otherwise known as English Peas or Shell Peas. They are the largest of the Pea varieties. These plump-looking pea pods are not edible and must be shelled before consumption.
Shell peas are the quickest, as they can be harvested after about 50 days from sowing. My favorite garden pea varieties include Tall Telephone, Mr. Big, and Green Arrow.
These Peas have edible pea pods and are smaller and flatter than Garden Peas. They are versatile in the kitchen and can be eaten in stir-fries or salads.
Although they are not the fastest growers, I’ve had good luck growing this type of pea, and I consider these the easiest to grow! Varieties I love include Golden Sweet and Mammoth Melting Sugar.
The most loved pea variety is the Snap Peas. They’re also known as ‘Sugar Peas’ because they are the sweetest pea variety, and their edible pods have a crunchy bite.
Popular Snap Pea varieties are the Sugar Ann, Sugar Snaps, and the so-called ‘Super Sugar Snap’(even sweeter than the regular sugar snaps!)
Snap peas are a cross-breed between snow peas and garden peas, making them the best of both worlds! Snap peas are the most popular type of peas in your local grocery store since most people will find them the most tasteful.
How To Grow And Care For Snap Peas
To ensure you’ll enjoy a lush and plentiful harvest, plant your snap pea seeds at the right time and provide the plant with optimal conditions as it grows!
This cool weather plant can be sown at the beginning and end of the year, as they need cold soil temperatures to germinate and grow.
Don’t worry. It sounds a lot more complicated than it is. Beginners can have great success growing snap peas at home!
Once the plants are growing and established, they are very low-maintenance and will reward you with delicious fresh peas straight from your vegetable garden!
Planting Your Snap Pea Seeds
To prepare the seeds and encourage a faster germination rate, you can soak the seeds in (lukewarm) water for up to 12 hours before planting.
Outside, seeds can be planted as soon as early April. If you like, you can germinate your seeds indoors if outdoor temperatures are too cold.
Germinating Snap Peas Indoors
You can sow pea seeds indoors instead of planting them directly. This is a great option to give your sugar snap pea seeds a head start and enjoy an early fall crop.
Germinating indoors also protects seeds and young pea seedlings from pests and diseases.
Grab some small, biodegradable pots and fill them with compost or special seed-starting soil. Push the seeds about 1.5-2 inches deep into the soil, and water lightly.
Because peas plants do not like to be transplanted and have their roots disturbed, I highly encourage you to use degradable plant pots.
Once the seeds are about 8 inches tall, they can be transferred outside in full ground. By now, the soil outside should have warmed up to keep your plants happy!
Sowing Snap Peas Outside
Before planting your snap pea seeds, you must ensure you’re growing in the right soil conditions. Peas need slightly acidic but well-drained soil that’s rich in organic matter. Add compost or manure to your garden beds and mix it in thoroughly.
Peas are known for their ability to grow in cooler weather, but only sow peas outside when the soil temperature reaches 50F or higher; otherwise, the seeds may take a long time to germinate!
But the young plants will likely survive a light frost for one or two nights.
The best time to sow your pea seeds outside is 4-6 weeks before the last frost date, resulting in an early fall harvest. You may sow a second batch in late summer or early fall, about eight to ten weeks before the first frost date.
This is a great way to enjoy an early spring harvest!
Spacing Snap Peas
Depending on your variety, the plants may become bushy and take up a lot of space! Keeping decent airflow around your plants is crucial to prevent diseases like powdery mildew and leaf spot.
Sow your pea seeds about 2 inches apart in rows with at least 7 inches of space between them. This will give your pea plants plenty of space to grow.
Where to Grow Sugar Snap Peas
To prevent your tall, robust pea plants from blocking sunlight in the rest of your garden, I suggest planting your peas on the north side of the garden.
Your peas will appreciate full sun exposure to partial shade. They’re not too fussy about the hours of light they get, but avoid planting them in full shade.
Sugar Snap Pea Care
Established, mature snap pea plants do not need lots of irrigation. The plants need slightly moist soil, but their deep roots will mostly be able to sustain themselves from rainwater alone.
It’s best only to water them during dry spells. Otherwise, you risk drowning their roots!
But, as soon as the plant produces pods, water them whenever the soil feels dry. Depending on the time and season, this will be once every 7-10 days.
Check the soil before watering, and apply about an inch of water when you notice the soil has gone dry.
Like all plants, peas need nutrients, but they do not need much fertilizer. Feed your peas a balanced fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 15-15-15 at the start of the active growth season.
To encourage the production of pods, avoid fertilizers with too much nitrogen. This will promote leafy vines instead!
Did you know that pea plants’ roots contain certain bacteria that convert unusable nitrogen in the soil to available nitrogen for surrounding plants? How cool is that? But if you want this special power to work, you must amend your pea seeds with a pea inoculant to activate these special bacteria.
In late spring or early summer, apply a thin layer of mulch around the base of the plant. This helps to lock in moisture and maintains the soil’s temperature. This helps to reduce the risk of dry or burnt plants during hot summer weather.
Harvesting Your Sugar Snap Peas
Once your peas are ready to harvest, ensure to remove them swiftly. Otherwise, the plant will stop producing new pods! On average, Snap peas are ready to harvest around 50-60 days after sowing.
Snap Peas are ready for picking once the peas inside the pod are round and plump, but the shell still remains tender. Do not wait too long to pick these because they can become too firm quickly!
Different varieties will have different growth rates.
Garden Peas will need to be harvested before the pods become waxy. These pods are ready for picking when they are plump and mature.
Snow Peas should be harvested while still slightly unripe. You can harvest the pods when they are roughly 2 inches long.
It’s important to harvest your peas at the right time. Otherwise, you will be left with tasteless, hard, bitter peas.
It may take some trial and error, but you’ll get the hang of it! Luckily, one pea plant can produce up to three harvests. So there is room for practice!
DIY Trellis Ideas For Your Sugar Snap Peas
As a home gardener on a budget, I love DIY projects that don’t take much time or effort. Below are my favorite trellis ideas to give your pea plants some support.
1. Use Tomato Cages
If you don’t feel like making a trellis from scratch, using tomato cages is a very easy and effective way to trellis your peas. You can find these cages in every garden center worldwide; they do not cost much.
These are self-explanatory. Simply place the trellis on top of your young pea seedlings (make sure the seedlings are in the middle of the trellis), and watch your vines grow!
2. Pole Stake Trellis
Using poles to create a trellis is my favorite trellis idea. It’s incredibly easy to do and costs little to no money. This sort of trellis is easy to make and can be done with minimal equipment.
You can make a trellis tower using tall bamboo poles, wooden stakes, or metal pipes. For the full tutorial, check out this tutorial by Bonnieplants.
3. Repurpose Old Chicken Wire
If you live in the countryside and have an old chicken coop, consider recycling chicken wire into a trellis for your peas.
Create an A-frame out of wood (bonus points if you can reuse old wood from a chicken coop!), PVC pipe, or something similar.
Since green peas can grow up to 6 feet tall, ensure that your trellis will be tall enough to support the vines. Create two frames of the same size.
Once you have the frames, grab some wire cutters and cut your chicken wire to size. Wrap the wire around the frames and attach it using a staple gun. You can use a cattle panel or other mesh panel as an alternative to chicken wire.
Lean the two panels against each other to create an a-frame. You can attach them at the top using metal connecting plates. Your sugar snap pea plants will happily climb and trail along the sides of the trellis!
4. DIY Bamboo Trellis
Choosing to make a DIY trellis for your potted plants is easy, and it can be done using simple materials like bamboo. As an added benefit, you can do it without using power tools.
A DIY trellis for snap peas is the perfect weekend project and will provide you with more space in your crowded vegetable garden.
FAQ for Trellising Sugar Snap Peas
Can I Grow Snap Peas Without A Trellis?
While possible, growing snap peas without a trellis is far from ideal. The plant will quickly become too heavy and topple over! Using a garden trellis has many benefits, ensuring a healthy pea plant and a good harvest!
What Is The Best Support For Snap Peas?
Snap peas will grow on any kind of trellis. The best support for your peas is the one that fits your garden best! Many options exist, so feel free to browse and try out different trellis ideas.
For the best results, use a tall and strong trellis to support the weight of your pea plants. They can get quite bushy and grow tall vines, so ensure your trellis is up to the task!
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