How To Plant Pea [ Full Guide ]

Peas, also known as garden peas or English peas, are a cool-weather crop that are easy to grow and highly nutritious. With their sweet and tender pods, peas are a popular choice for both amateur and experienced gardeners. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned gardener, this comprehensive guide will walk you through the step-by-step process of planting peas, from selecting the right type of pea for your garden to preparing the soil, choosing the perfect location, and determining the best time for planting.

Quick Answer: How To Plant Peas

Before delving into the detailed steps, here’s a quick rundown of the key elements involved in planting peas:

  1. Choose the appropriate type of pea for your garden, such as shelling, snap, or snow peas.
  2. Prepare the soil by ensuring it is well-drained, fertile, and has a slightly acidic pH.
  3. Select a location with full sun exposure and access to support for climbing varieties.
  4. Plant peas early in the spring as soon as the soil can be worked, or in the late summer for a fall harvest.

Now, let’s explore each of these steps in detail to ensure a successful pea planting experience.

Choosing The Right Type Of Pea For Your Garden

Before you start planting peas, it’s essential to choose the right type of pea that suits your gardening goals and your local climate. The three main types of peas are shelling peas, snap peas, and snow peas.

Shelling Peas

Shelling peas, also known as English peas, have sweet, plump peas inside tough, inedible pods. They are typically grown for their seeds, which are shelled and eaten. Shelling peas are the traditional choice for fresh or frozen peas and are well-suited for cool climates.

Snap Peas

Snap peas, also referred to as sugar snap peas, have sweet and crispy edible pods. The entire pod, including the peas inside, is eaten. Snap peas are a hybrid between shelling and snow peas, offering both sweetness and crunch. They thrive in cool spring or fall weather.

Snow Peas

Snow peas are recognized for their flat, tender, and edible pods. The peas inside the pods are underdeveloped, so the pods are harvested and eaten whole. Snow peas are often used in stir-fries and salads and are a great choice for early spring planting.

When choosing the type of pea for your garden, consider your taste preferences, local climate, and intended use, whether for fresh consumption, canning, or freezing.

Preparing The Soil For Pea Planting

Peas flourish in well-drained, fertile soil with a slightly acidic pH. Before planting, it is imperative to prepare the soil to create optimal conditions for growth.

Testing And Amending The Soil

Start by testing the soil to assess its pH level and nutrient content. Peas thrive in slightly acidic soil with a pH range of 6.0 to 7.5. Soil testing kits are readily available and can be used to determine the soil’s pH. If the pH is too high or low, make the necessary amendments by adding lime to increase pH or sulfur to decrease it.

Additionally, enrich the soil with organic matter such as compost or aged manure to enhance its fertility and structure. This not only provides essential nutrients for the peas but also improves the soil’s water retention and drainage capabilities.

Turning The Soil

Before planting, loosen the soil to a depth of 6 to 8 inches using a garden fork or tiller. This process aerates the soil, breaks up clumps, and removes debris, ensuring that the roots can easily penetrate the soil and access nutrients and water. Work the soil when it is moist but not overly wet to prevent compacting the soil.

Selecting The Perfect Location For Your Pea Plants

Choosing the right location is crucial for the successful growth of pea plants. The ideal location provides ample sunlight, good air circulation, and proper support for climbing varieties.


Peas thrive in full sun, meaning they require at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight daily. Select a spot in your garden that receives abundant sunlight, especially during the early to mid-morning hours when the light is less intense.

Air Circulation

Good air circulation helps prevent diseases such as powdery mildew and promotes robust growth. Avoid planting peas in locations with excessive shade or crowded spaces, as poor airflow can lead to fungal issues and stunted growth.

Support For Climbing Varieties

If you are planting climbing varieties of peas, such as snap or snow peas, ensure that the chosen location provides adequate support for them to climb. You can use trellises, stakes, or netting to support the vine-like growth of climbing peas and prevent them from sprawling on the ground. This not only saves space but also facilitates better air circulation and minimizes the risk of rotting.

The Best Time To Plant Peas

The timing of planting peas directly influences their growth, yield, and overall success. While peas are cold-tolerant, they have specific planting windows for optimal performance.

Spring Planting

In most regions, peas are traditionally planted in early spring as soon as the soil can be worked. This typically coincides with the last frost date or when the soil temperature reaches around 45°F (7°C). Planting peas early in the spring allows them to mature before the onset of intense heat, ensuring a bountiful harvest of sweet and tender peas.

Fall Planting

In some areas with mild winters, planting peas in late summer or early fall for a fall harvest is a viable option. By sowing peas in late summer, they mature during the cooler temperatures of fall, allowing for a second harvest before the onset of winter. Fall planting also mitigates the risk of the plants flowering in excessively warm spring temperatures and potentially reducing yields.

Planting peas is a gratifying endeavor that can yield a plentiful harvest of delectable and nutritious peas. Whether you opt for shelling peas, snap peas, or snow peas, the key lies in selecting the right type, preparing the soil meticulously, choosing an optimal location, and timing the planting correctly. By adhering to the guidelines outlined in this comprehensive guide, you can ensure the successful cultivation of peas in your garden, leading to delightful culinary creations and a rewarding gardening experience.

Pre-sprouting Vs Direct Sowing

Peas are a versatile and nutritious vegetable that is easy to grow in a variety of climates. Whether you have a small garden or a larger plot, planting peas can be a rewarding experience. Not only do peas provide a bountiful harvest, but they also enrich the soil with nitrogen, making them an excellent choice for crop rotation.

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Before planting peas, you have two options: pre-sprouting the seeds or directly sowing them into the soil. Both methods have their advantages, and the choice depends on your preferences and the specific conditions in your garden.

Pre-sprouting Pea Seeds

Pre-sprouting is the process of germinating the seeds before planting them in the soil. This method gives you a head start by allowing you to identify viable seeds and promote faster and more uniform germination. Here’s how you can pre-sprout pea seeds:

  1. Place the desired number of pea seeds in a shallow dish or container.
  2. Moisten a paper towel or cloth, wring out any excess water so it is damp but not soaking wet, and place it over the seeds.
  3. Put the dish in a warm location, such as near a sunny window or on top of a seedling heat mat.
  4. Check the seeds daily to ensure they stay moist but not waterlogged. Mist the towel with a spray bottle if needed.
  5. In about 3-7 days, the seeds will begin to sprout. Once they have sprouted, carefully transfer them to individual seedling pots or trays to develop their roots further.
  6. When the seedlings have reached a height of about 2-3 inches and have developed a few sets of true leaves, they are ready to be transplanted into the garden.

Direct Sowing Pea Seeds

Direct sowing involves planting the seeds directly into the soil where they will grow. This method is simpler and more convenient, especially for large planting areas. Here’s how you can directly sow pea seeds:

  1. Wait until the soil temperature reaches around 45-55°F (7-13°C), which is typically in early spring. Peas prefer cooler weather and may not germinate well in warmer temperatures.
  2. Prepare the soil by removing any weeds, rocks, or debris. Loosen the soil with a rake or garden fork to ensure good drainage.
  3. Create furrows or trenches in the soil about 1-2 inches deep and 2-3 feet apart, depending on the variety of peas you are planting.
  4. Place the pea seeds along the furrow, spacing them about 2 inches apart.
  5. Cover the seeds with soil, gently firming it down with your hands or the back of a rake.
  6. Water the area thoroughly, keeping the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged until germination.

Proper Spacing And Planting Depth For Pea Seeds

Proper spacing and planting depth are essential for healthy, vigorous pea plants. Adequate spacing allows the plants to receive proper airflow, sunlight, and access to nutrients. Planting seeds at the correct depth ensures optimal conditions for germination and healthy root development.


When planting peas, the spacing between each seed and between rows depends on the specific variety you are growing. As a general guideline, bush varieties require less space, while vining types need more room to grow. Here are some spacing recommendations:

  • For bush varieties: Space the seeds or seedlings about 2-4 inches apart in rows that are 12-18 inches apart.
  • For vining varieties: Space the seeds or seedlings about 4-6 inches apart in rows that are 24-36 inches apart.

Proper spacing allows the plants to grow without competing for nutrients, sunlight, and moisture. It also makes it easier to tend to the plants and harvest the peas.

Planting Depth

Planting seeds at the correct depth is crucial for successful germination. If planted too shallow, the seeds may dry out and fail to germinate. If buried too deep, they may struggle to break through the soil surface. As a general rule of thumb, plant your pea seeds at a depth of about 1-2 inches.

Essential Supplies And Tools For Successful Pea Planting

To ensure successful pea planting, you will need a few essential supplies and tools. Here are some things you’ll want to have on hand before getting started:

  1. Pea seeds: Choose high-quality seeds from a reliable source. Consider the specific variety you want to grow, keeping in mind the size and growth habit of the plant.
  2. Garden rake: Use a rake to prepare the soil by removing any debris, rocks, or weeds. It also helps in leveling the soil before planting.
  3. Garden fork: A garden fork is helpful for loosening compacted soil to ensure proper drainage, aeration, and root penetration.
  4. Garden spade or trowel: Use a spade or trowel to dig furrows or trenches for planting the seeds.
  5. Watering can or garden hose: Proper irrigation is essential for pea plants. Use a watering can or garden hose with a gentle spray attachment to provide adequate moisture without causing soil erosion or damage to the plants.
  6. Organic mulch: Mulch helps conserve moisture, suppress weed growth, and regulate soil temperature. Straw, dried leaves, or grass clippings can all be used as mulch around your pea plants.
  7. Support structures: Vining varieties of peas require support to climb and grow vertically. You can use trellises, stakes, or garden netting to provide the necessary support as the plants grow.
  8. Garden twine or plant ties: These are useful for tying the pea plants to the support structure as they grow, ensuring they remain upright and stable.
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Having these supplies and tools ready before planting will make the process smoother and more efficient.

Tips For Caring For Pea Plants During The Growing Season

Providing proper care for your pea plants is essential for their growth and development. Here are some tips to help you maintain healthy pea plants throughout the growing season:


Pea plants need consistent moisture, especially during flowering and pod development. However, they do not tolerate waterlogged soil. Watering deeply once or twice a week, depending on weather conditions, is generally sufficient. Aim to keep the soil evenly moist and avoid overhead watering to prevent the spread of diseases.


Applying a layer of organic mulch around your pea plants is beneficial in several ways. Mulch helps retain soil moisture, suppresses weed growth, and regulates soil temperature. It also prevents the pea pods from touching the soil, reducing the risk of rot and disease. Apply a 2-3 inch layer of mulch around the base of the plants, taking care to keep it a few inches away from the main stem to prevent stem rot.

Supporting Vining Varieties

If you’re growing vining varieties of peas, providing them with proper support is crucial. As the plants grow, gently guide and tie the tendrils to the support structure, ensuring they remain upright and well-supported. Regularly check the plants for any loose or damaged ties, adjusting them as necessary.


Peas are unique in that they have the ability to fix nitrogen from the air and store it in nodules on their roots. However, providing additional nutrients can promote healthier and more abundant yields. Before planting, incorporate a balanced organic fertilizer or compost into the soil. Side dressing with compost or a gentle organic fertilizer mid-season can also help provide essential nutrients. Be cautious when applying fertilizers rich in nitrogen as excessive nitrogen can lead to lush foliage with reduced pod production.

Weed Control

Weeds compete with your pea plants for nutrients, water, and sunlight, so it’s important to keep them under control. Regularly inspect your garden bed and remove any weeds as soon as they appear. Be careful when weeding around your pea plants to avoid damaging the shallow roots.

Protecting Your Pea Plants From Pests And Diseases

Peas can fall victim to various pests and diseases that can reduce yields or even kill the plants. Understanding the common issues and implementing preventative measures can help keep your pea plants healthy and productive.

Common Pests

  • Aphids: These small, soft-bodied insects can suck the sap from pea plants and secrete a sticky substance, known as honeydew, which attracts ants and promotes the growth of sooty mold. Use insecticidal soap, neem oil, or a strong jet of water to control aphids.
  • Pea leaf weevils: These pests feed on the foliage, leaving characteristic notched areas along the leaf edges. Handpicking and destroying the weevils and their eggs or using insecticidal sprays can help control their population.
  • Pea moths: The larvae of pea moths can cause significant damage to developing pea pods. Install pheromone traps to catch the adult moths and remove any affected pods promptly.
  • Slugs: Slugs can feast on tender pea seedlings, causing significant damage. Implement slug control methods like handpicking, traps, diatomaceous earth, or organic slug pellets.

Common Diseases

  • Powdery mildew: This fungal disease appears as a white, powdery coating on the leaves and stems of pea plants. It thrives in humid conditions. Ensure good airflow around the plants, avoid overhead watering, and apply fungicides if necessary.
  • Root rot: Overly wet soil can lead to root rot, which causes stunted growth, yellowing foliage, and wilting. Improve drainage in your garden bed and avoid overwatering to prevent this disease.
  • Fusarium wilt: This soil-borne fungus affects the vascular system of pea plants, causing wilting, yellowing, and eventual death. Choose disease-resistant varieties, rotate pea crops regularly, and practice good sanitation to reduce the risk of Fusarium wilt.

Regularly monitor your pea plants for signs of pests and diseases so that any problems can be addressed early on.

Planting peas can be a rewarding experience, providing you with a plentiful harvest of nutritious and delicious vegetables. By choosing the right planting method, spacing the seeds properly, and providing the necessary care and support, you can enjoy a successful pea-growing season. Remember to water your plants consistently, mulch to conserve moisture, and provide support for vining varieties. Take steps to protect your pea plants from pests and diseases to ensure healthy growth. With these guidelines in mind, you’ll be on your way to growing thriving pea plants and enjoying the fruits of your labor.

Fertilizer And Watering Guidelines For Pea Plants

Peas are an easy-to-grow vegetable that can provide a bountiful harvest of sweet and nutritious pods. With a little preparation and care, you can plant peas and add a healthy supplement to your diet.

Pea plants require nutrient-rich soil to thrive and produce a healthy crop. Therefore, it’s essential to fertilize your soil adequately before planting your peas. The best way to improve the fertility of your soil is by adding compost or well-decomposed manure to it.

Before planting peas, you should also test the soil’s pH level to determine its acidity or alkalinity. Peas grow best in slightly acidic soil with a pH range of 6.0-7.5. If the pH level is too high or too low, you can adjust it by adding lime or sulfur to your soil.

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Peas have shallow roots, and therefore, they require regular watering, especially during the germination and flowering stages. It’s crucial to keep your soil evenly moist at all times, but not too soggy. Overwatering can lead to rot, while under-watering can affect growth and cause the plants to wilt.

When watering your pea plants, you should direct the water to the soil’s base, avoiding splashing the leaves to prevent diseases and pests. One inch of water per week is sufficient for peas, but if you live in an area with hot, dry summers, you may need to water more frequently.

Harvesting And Storing Your Freshly Grown Peas

Peas are usually ready for harvest within 60 to 70 days after planting, depending on the variety. You can tell when your peas are ready by checking the pods’ size and color, which should be full-sized and bright green.

To harvest your peas, you should pick them when they are still young and sweet before the peas inside start to harden. Time is of the utmost importance in pea harvesting because the crops can turn tough and unpalatable once the pods are overripe. You can either pull the pods off the vines carefully or use scissors to cut them off.

After harvesting your peas, you can store them for up to a week in a plastic bag, refrigerated or freeze them if you’re not using them immediately. Do not wash the peas before storing them because it can reduce their storage life.

How To Extend The Pea Growing Season

Peas are cool-season an annual plant that grows best in temperatures ranging from 50°F to 70°F. They grow best in early spring or late fall when the soil is still cool and moist. If you live in an area with a warm climate or short growing season, you can extend the pea growing season by following these tips:

  • Select early maturing varieties of peas that require less time to mature.
  • Choose a spot with partial shade to protect the plants from the intense heat of the sun.
  • Fertilize your soil with nitrogen. Peas require a high nitrogen content to grow and produce significant yields.
  • Mulch your soil to retain moisture and keep the soil temperature cooler.

Moreover, you can also plant peas in containers, which will allow you to move them around to find the best location for optimal growth. When planting peas in pots, choose deep containers with good drainage and use a soil mix that is rich in organic matter.

Troubleshooting Common Pea Planting Problems And Solutions

Some of the most common problems that affect peas include:

1. Pea Plant Diseases

Pea plants can be susceptible to various diseases, including powdery mildew, root rot, and pea blight. To prevent these diseases, you should:

  • Choose resistant varieties that are less prone to diseases.
  • Keep your garden clean and remove any debris, diseased plants, or weeds.
  • Rotate your peas every two to three years to prevent soil-borne diseases.

2. Pests

Some pests that can attack pea plants include aphids, spider mites, and cutworms. To control these pests, you should:

  • Inspect your plants regularly to detect any signs of pest infestations.
  • Use natural remedies such as neem oil, garlic, or hot-pepper spray to deter pests.
  • Use insecticidal soap or insecticide as a last resort.

3. Environmental Stress

Pea plants can experience stress due to extreme temperatures, drought, or soil compaction. To prevent environmental stresses, you should:

  • Provide shade during hot weather.
  • Water your plants regularly and deeply.
  • Improve your soil by adding organic matter such as compost or mulch.


Growing peas is a rewarding experience that can provide you with a healthy and nutritious harvest. By following the guidelines and tips provided in this article, you can plant peas successfully and produce a bountiful crop. Remember to fertilize your soil, water your plants appropriately, harvest your peas when they are still young and store them properly, extend your growing season and troubleshoot any common planting problems.


What Type Of Soil Should I Use When Planting Peas?

Peas prefer loose, well-drained soil with a pH level between 6 and 7. A soil that is rich in organic matter, such as compost, is ideal for planting peas.

When Is The Best Time To Plant Peas?

Peas are a cool-season crop and should be planted in early spring or late summer. In warmer climates, fall is the best time to plant peas.

How Deep Should I Plant The Pea Seeds?

Pea seeds should be planted 1 to 2 inches deep, depending on the size of the seed. Larger seeds should be planted deeper than smaller seeds.

How Much Water Should I Give My Peas?

Peas require regular watering, especially during dry periods. Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. Avoid overhead watering, which can promote diseases and damage the plants.

Can I Grow Peas In Containers?

Yes, peas can be grown in containers, provided the container is at least 12 inches deep and wide to accommodate the growing plant. Use a high-quality potting mix and provide support for the vines to climb on.