How To Plant Purple Hull Peas [ Full Guide ]

Purple hull peas, also known as southern peas or cowpeas, are a popular and nutritious legume that thrive in warm climates. These peas are relatively easy to grow and are a staple in southern cuisine due to their delicious taste and high nutritional value. If you’re interested in growing your own purple hull peas, this comprehensive guide will walk you through the process from choosing the right location to harvesting your bountiful crop.

Purple hull peas are a warm-season crop that belongs to the legume family. They are not only delicious but also offer a rich source of protein, fiber, and essential nutrients. Planting and harvesting purple hull peas can be a rewarding experience, as they are relatively low-maintenance and produce a generous yield.

To successfully grow purple hull peas, it’s important to understand the planting process, including selecting the right location, preparing the soil, purchasing quality seeds, and providing the necessary care throughout the growing season.

Quick Answer: How To Plant Purple Hull Peas

Step 1: Choosing The Right Location For Planting

  • Select a sunny location with well-drained soil.
  • Ensure that the soil has a pH level between 6.0 and 7.5.
  • Avoid planting in areas with compacted soil or poor drainage.

Step 2: Preparing The Soil For Purple Hull Peas

  • Clear the planting area of any weeds, rocks, or debris.
  • Work organic matter into the soil to improve its fertility and structure.
  • Consider conducting a soil test to assess nutrient levels and make any necessary amendments.

Step 3: Selecting And Purchasing Purple Hull Pea Seeds

  • Choose reputable seed suppliers or nurseries for high-quality seeds.
  • Opt for pea varieties that are well-suited to your growing region and climate.

Step 4: Soaking And Treating Seeds Before Planting

  • Soak the seeds in water for 4-6 hours before planting to promote germination.
  • Consider treating the seeds with a legume inoculant to enhance nitrogen fixation in the soil.

Step 5: Planting Purple Hull Peas

  • Plant the seeds directly into the soil at the appropriate spacing and depth.
  • Provide adequate moisture and monitor the plants for pests and diseases.
  • Support climbing varieties with trellises or other structures as they grow.

Step 6: Harvesting Purple Hull Peas

  • Harvest the peas when the pods are plump and the peas inside are tender.
  • Remove the peas from the pods and enjoy them fresh, or consider freezing or canning for later use.

Choosing The Right Location For Planting

Before you start planting purple hull peas, it’s crucial to select a suitable location that provides the necessary conditions for their growth and development.

Sunlight And Soil Conditions

Purple hull peas thrive in full sunlight, so choose a location that receives at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day. Additionally, the soil should be well-drained to prevent waterlogging, which could lead to root rot. Avoid planting in low-lying areas where water tends to accumulate.

Soil Ph And Fertility

The ideal soil pH for growing purple hull peas ranges from 6.0 to 7.5. Conduct a soil test to determine the pH of your soil. If necessary, adjust the pH by adding lime to raise it or elemental sulfur to lower it. In terms of fertility, purple hull peas benefit from soil that is rich in organic matter. Work well-rotted compost or aged manure into the soil to improve its fertility and structure.

Drainage And Air Circulation

Ensure that the chosen location has good air circulation to minimize the risk of fungal diseases. Avoid planting in areas with compacted soil or poor drainage, as this can hinder root development and overall plant growth.

By carefully considering these factors, you can ensure that your purple hull peas have the best chance of thriving and producing a bountiful harvest.

Preparing The Soil For Purple Hull Peas

Once you’ve identified the ideal location for planting purple hull peas, the next step is to prepare the soil to create a conducive environment for their growth.

Clearing The Planting Area

Start by clearing the planting area of any weeds, rocks, or debris that could impede plant growth. This will also help create a clean and tidy space for planting and maintenance.

Soil Enrichment

To improve the fertility and structure of the soil, work organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure into the soil. This will provide essential nutrients for the growing plants and help enhance soil structure, ensuring proper aeration and water retention. Aim to incorporate the organic matter to a depth of at least 6-8 inches to ensure it is well-distributed throughout the root zone.

Soil Testing And Amendments

Consider conducting a soil test to assess the current nutrient levels in the soil. The test results will help you determine if any specific nutrients are lacking and if any adjustments are necessary. Based on the test results, you can make targeted amendments by adding fertilizers or soil conditioners to address any deficiencies. This proactive approach can optimize soil fertility and provide the necessary nutrients for healthy purple hull pea growth.

By taking the time to properly prepare the soil, you can create an optimal growing environment that supports robust purple hull pea plants and maximizes their yield.

Selecting And Purchasing Purple Hull Pea Seeds

Choosing high-quality purple hull pea seeds is essential for achieving successful and productive growth. When selecting and purchasing seeds, consider the following factors to ensure you acquire the best possible seeds for your garden.

Reputable Seed Suppliers

Select reputable seed suppliers or nurseries known for providing high-quality seeds. This ensures that you are obtaining seeds that have been properly stored and handled, increasing the likelihood of successful germination and healthy plant growth.

Variety Selection

Consider the specific variety of purple hull peas that is well-suited to your growing region and climate. Some varieties may be more tolerant to heat, drought, or specific soil conditions, so choose a variety that aligns with the environmental factors in your area. Additionally, consider the mature size of the plants, as some varieties may require more space or support for climbing.

Seed Quality

Examine the seeds for signs of damage, mold, or insect infestation before purchasing. Choose seeds that are plump, firm, and free from visible defects. Avoid seeds that are discolored, shriveled, or appear unhealthy, as these may have reduced viability.

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By carefully selecting and purchasing high-quality purple hull pea seeds, you can set the stage for successful germination and vigorous plant growth.

Soaking And Treating Seeds Before Planting

To promote optimal germination and enhance nitrogen fixation in the soil, consider soaking and treating your purple hull pea seeds before planting.

Seed Soaking

Soaking the seeds in water for 4-6 hours before planting can help soften the seed coat and kick-start the germination process. This is particularly beneficial for seeds that have a tough or hard outer coat. Place the seeds in a bowl or container of water, ensuring that they are fully submerged, and allow them to soak for the specified duration. After soaking, drain the water and plant the seeds immediately to prevent them from drying out.

Seed Inoculation

Consider treating the seeds with a legume inoculant, which contains beneficial bacteria that facilitate nitrogen fixation in the soil. This process can enhance the pea plants’ ability to access and utilize nitrogen, resulting in healthier growth and increased nitrogen levels in the soil. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper inoculation, and ensure that the seeds are thoroughly coated with the inoculant before planting.

By incorporating these pre-planting treatments, you can improve the germination rate and overall vigor of your purple hull peas, setting the stage for robust and thriving plants.

Growing purple hull peas can be a gratifying experience, especially when you follow the proper planting procedures and provide the necessary care throughout the growing season. By choosing the right location, preparing the soil, selecting high-quality seeds, and implementing pre-planting treatments, you can establish a strong foundation for successful pea cultivation.

As you progress through the growing process, be attentive to the needs of your purple hull pea plants, providing them with ample moisture, monitoring for pests and diseases, and offering support as needed. With dedication and proper maintenance, you can look forward to a rewarding harvest of delicious and nutritious purple hull peas to enjoy fresh or preserve for future culinary delights.

Planning The Planting Schedule

Purple hull peas are a popular Southern crop known for their delicious taste and high nutritional value. These legumes are a staple in dishes like Hoppin’ John and make a perfect addition to any summer garden.

Before sowing your purple hull peas, it’s essential to plan your planting schedule. Purple hull peas thrive in warm weather conditions, so it’s crucial to choose the right time for planting. Here are the steps to follow when planning your planting schedule:

  1. Determine your region’s frost dates: Check the average dates of the last spring frost and the first fall frost in your area. Purple hull peas should be planted about two weeks after the last spring frost and harvested before the first fall frost.
  2. Calculate the days to maturity: Different varieties of purple hull peas have varying days to maturity. Typically, purple hull peas take around 60 to 70 days from planting to harvest. Consider this time frame when choosing your varieties and planning the rest of your garden.
  3. Count backwards from the first fall frost: Subtract the days to maturity from the first fall frost date. This will give you the latest date you can plant your purple hull peas.

Once you determine the ideal planting date, you can move on to the next step of sowing your purple hull peas.

Sowing Purple Hull Peas

Sowing purple hull peas is relatively straightforward. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you successfully sow your seeds:

  1. Choose a suitable location: Purple hull peas need full sun for optimal growth, so select a location in your garden that receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day. Ensure the soil is well-draining and rich in organic matter for best results.

  2. Prepare the soil: Before planting, prepare the soil by removing any weeds or debris. To improve soil fertility, consider adding compost or well-rotted manure to the planting area. Work the soil to a depth of 12 to 18 inches, ensuring it is loose and friable.

  3. Soak the pea seeds: Purple hull pea seeds benefit from pre-soaking before planting. This process softens the hard seed coat and facilitates germination. Fill a bowl with room temperature water and place the seeds in it. Allow them to soak for 8 to 10 hours.

  4. Create furrows: Using a garden hoe or a similar tool, create furrows in your prepared soil. The furrows should be approximately 1 inch deep and spaced around 2 to 3 feet apart to provide sufficient space for the vines to grow and spread.

  5. Plant the seeds: Plant the pre-soaked purple hull pea seeds in the furrows, spacing them around 2 to 3 inches apart. Cover the seeds with soil, gently firming it down to ensure good seed-to-soil contact.

  6. Water the seeds: After planting, give your seeds a thorough watering. Ensure the soil is evenly moist but not waterlogged, as excessive moisture can lead to rotting. Keep the soil moist during the germination period, which generally takes around 7 to 10 days.

  7. Mulch the planting area: Once your seeds have sprouted, apply a layer of organic mulch around the plants. This will help retain moisture in the soil, suppress weed growth, and maintain a stable soil temperature.

Providing Proper Support For Vine Growth

Purple hull peas are vigorous climbers that require proper support as they grow. Providing support not only prevents the vines from sprawling on the ground but also improves air circulation, reducing the risk of disease. Follow these steps to ensure your purple hull peas have the necessary support:

  1. Install a trellis or a fence: Before your purple hull peas start climbing, install a trellis or a fence system that suits your garden space and preferences. The trellis should be sturdy enough to support the weight of the vines and tall enough to accommodate their growth. Ensure the trellis is firmly anchored in the ground.

  2. Train the vines: As the purple hull pea vines begin to grow, gently guide them towards the trellis or fence. You may need to tie the vines loosely using garden twine or soft plant ties for additional support. Avoid tying the vines too tightly to prevent damage or constriction.

  3. Prune for better growth: Regular pruning helps promote better airflow and prevents overcrowding, which can lead to disease. Once the vines have reached a height of 12-18 inches, pinch off the growing tips. This encourages lateral growth and helps the plant develop sturdier branches. Remove any damaged or diseased leaves or vines throughout the growing season.

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Proper support and pruning will ensure healthy growth and abundant yields of purple hull peas.

Watering And Irrigation Techniques

Proper watering techniques are crucial for the successful growth of purple hull peas. While they don’t require excessive moisture, consistent watering is important to keep the plants healthy. Here are some watering and irrigation tips to follow:

  1. Water deeply and infrequently: Purple hull peas prefer deep watering rather than frequent shallow watering. Water the plants deeply, ensuring the water reaches the root zone. This encourages the roots to grow deeper and makes the plants more drought-tolerant. Aim for approximately 1 inch of water per week, either through rainfall or irrigation.

  2. Watch for signs of water stress: Keep an eye on your plants and watch for signs of water stress, such as wilting leaves. If you notice wilting during hot and dry periods, give your purple hull peas a deep watering. However, avoid overwatering, as it may lead to root rot and other problems.

  3. Use mulch: Mulching is not only beneficial for moisture retention but also helps regulate soil temperature. Apply a layer of organic mulch, such as straw or shredded leaves, around the plants, making sure to keep it away from the plant stems to prevent rotting.

  4. Consider drip irrigation: For precise and efficient watering, consider using drip irrigation systems. Drip systems deliver water directly to the plant’s root zone, minimizing water waste and reducing the risk of fungal diseases caused by wet foliage. Place the drip emitters near the base of the plants and adjust the watering schedule as needed.

Growing your own purple hull peas can be a rewarding experience, bringing the delicious taste of fresh peas to your kitchen. By planning the planting schedule, sowing your seeds correctly, providing proper support for vine growth, and using effective watering techniques, you’ll increase your chances of a successful harvest. So roll up your sleeves, embrace the Southern tradition, and enjoy the bountiful harvest of your purple hull peas.

Controlling Pests And Diseases

Purple hull peas, also known as Southern peas or field peas, are a popular warm-season legume that is cultivated for its delicious and nutritious pods. These peas are a staple in Southern cuisine and are loved for their unique taste and versatility in various dishes.

Purple hull peas require warm soil temperatures to germinate and thrive. They are typically planted in late spring or early summer when the soil has warmed up and all chances of frost have passed. These peas are relatively easy to grow and don’t require extensive care, making them a suitable option for both novice and experienced gardeners.

Like any other crop, purple hull peas are susceptible to certain pests and diseases that can hinder their growth and productivity. To maximize your chances of a successful harvest, it’s important to be aware of these potential issues and take preventive measures. Here are some common pests and diseases that may affect purple hull peas and methods to control them:


Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects that feed on the sap of plants. They can cause stunted growth, deformed leaves, and transmit viruses. To control aphids, you can spray your plants with a strong stream of water to dislodge them or use insecticidal soap or neem oil. Introducing natural predators such as ladybugs can also help keep aphid populations in check.


Armyworms are voracious caterpillars that feed on the foliage and buds of plants, including purple hull peas. They can quickly strip a plant of its leaves, leading to reduced growth and yield. To control armyworms, manually inspect your plants regularly and handpick any worms you find. You can also use biological control methods like Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) or organic insecticides labeled for armyworm control.

Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that appears as a white, powdery coating on the leaves, stems, and pods of plants. It thrives in warm, humid environments and can weaken the plants, reducing their overall health and productivity. To prevent powdery mildew, ensure proper air circulation around your plants by spacing them adequately. Avoid overhead watering and apply a fungicide labeled for powdery mildew control as a preventive measure.

Root Knot Nematodes

Root knot nematodes are microscopic roundworms that infest the roots of plants, causing the formation of galls or knots that obstruct nutrient uptake. They can lead to stunted growth, yellowing leaves, and reduced yield. To control root knot nematodes, rotate your crops regularly, as some plants are nematode-resistant. Applying organic soil amendments like compost and using beneficial nematodes or biocontrol agents can also help keep their population in check.

Fertilizing Purple Hull Peas

Purple hull peas, like all legumes, have the unique ability to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere into a usable form for plants. This means that they are relatively self-sufficient when it comes to nitrogen nutrition. However, providing adequate nutrients in the form of fertilizer can help boost their overall growth and productivity. Here are some tips for fertilizing purple hull peas:

Soil Preparation

Before planting purple hull peas, it’s essential to prepare the soil properly. Incorporate organic matter like well-rotted compost or aged manure into the soil to improve its fertility and structure. This will provide a good foundation for your plants to establish strong root systems.


As mentioned earlier, purple hull peas are capable of fixing nitrogen from the atmosphere. However, adding a small amount of nitrogen fertilizer at planting time can help jumpstart their growth. Apply a balanced fertilizer with nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, following the manufacturer’s instructions for rates and application methods.

Phosphorus And Potassium

Purple hull peas require adequate phosphorus and potassium for flowering, fruiting, and overall plant health. A soil test can help determine the levels of these nutrients in your soil. If deficiencies are detected, you can top-dress with a phosphorus and/or potassium fertilizer according to the recommended rates.

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Side-dressing is the process of applying fertilizer alongside the row of plants during the growing season. Around four weeks after planting, you can side-dress your purple hull pea plants with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer, such as blood meal or fish emulsion. This will provide an extra boost of nutrients when the plants are actively growing and flowering.

Harvesting And Storage Of Purple Hull Peas

Purple hull peas are typically ready for harvest within 60 to 75 days after planting, depending on the specific variety and growing conditions. Harvesting at the right time ensures the peas are tender and flavorful. Here’s how to harvest and store your purple hull peas:


Purple hull peas are usually harvested when the pods turn fully mature and the peas inside the pods are plump. The presence of a purplish color on the hulls is an excellent indicator that the peas are ready for harvest. To harvest, hold the stem of the pod and gently pull it away from the plant. Avoid applying excessive force, as it may damage the plant or detach the entire stem instead of just the pod.


Once harvested, you need to shell the purple hull peas to separate the peas from the hulls. To shell the peas, apply gentle pressure with your thumb or fingers on the tip of the pod, causing it to split open. Then, use your fingers to push the peas out of the hull. This process can be time-consuming, so consider involving friends or family members to make it more enjoyable and efficient.


Freshly harvested purple hull peas can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week. Place them in a breathable container or bag and keep them in the crisper drawer to maintain their freshness. If you plan to store them for a more extended period, consider freezing or canning them. Blanch the shelled peas in boiling water for 2-3 minutes, then transfer them to an ice bath to cool. Drain and pack them in airtight containers or freezer bags for freezing. Alternatively, you can follow a canning recipe to preserve them in jars.

Tips And Troubleshooting While Growing Purple Hull Peas

To ensure successful growth and a bountiful harvest of purple hull peas, here are some additional tips and troubleshooting advice:

Provide Proper Support

Purple hull pea plants can benefit from trellises or stakes to provide support as they grow. This helps to keep the plants upright, prevents damage to the pods, and makes harvesting easier. Install the support structure when the plants are young to avoid damaging the root system later on.

Weed Regularly

Like most crops, purple hull peas are susceptible to competition from weeds. Weeds compete for nutrients, water, and sunlight, which can negatively impact the growth and yield of your pea plants. Regularly remove weeds from the planting area to reduce competition and ensure that your purple hull peas have the best growing conditions possible.


Purple hull peas have moderate water needs and require consistent moisture throughout their growing season. Water them deeply and regularly, especially during dry spells or when the weather is hot. Avoid overhead watering, as it can increase the risk of disease. Instead, use a soaker hose or drip irrigation to deliver water directly to the soil. Mulching around the plants can help conserve moisture and reduce weed growth.

Thin Plants If Necessary

If your purple hull pea plants are too crowded, it can hinder their growth and airflow, increasing the risk of diseases. Thin out the plants if they are spaced too closely together, allowing them to have enough room to grow and develop. Maintain a spacing of about 6-8 inches between the plants for optimal growth and airflow.

Rotate Crops

To reduce the risk of diseases and pests, practice crop rotation by avoiding planting purple hull peas or other legumes in the same location year after year. Rotate them with unrelated crops such as tomatoes, corn, or cucumbers to disrupt the life cycle of pests and reduce soil-borne diseases.

Monitor For Signs Of Stress Or Disease

Regularly inspect your purple hull pea plants for any signs of stress or disease, such as wilting, yellowing leaves, or unusual spots. Timely detection and intervention can prevent further damage and potential spread of diseases. If you notice any issues, consult gardening resources, extension services, or local experts for advice on appropriate treatment methods.


Growing purple hull peas can be a rewarding experience, especially when you can enjoy the delicious and nutritious peas fresh from your garden. By taking care of the plants, controlling pests and diseases, providing adequate nutrients, and harvesting at the right time, you can ensure a successful purple hull pea harvest. Remember to follow the tips and troubleshooting advice provided in this guide, and soon you’ll be savoring the flavors of these Southern delicacies.


What Is The Best Time Of Year To Plant Purple Hull Peas?

Purple hull peas grow best in warm weather and should be planted in late spring or early summer.

How Do I Prepare The Soil For Planting Purple Hull Peas?

Till the soil to a depth of 6-8 inches and mix in compost or well-rotted manure to add nutrients and improve drainage.

Do I Need To Soak The Peas Before Planting?

Yes, soaking the peas in water for 8-12 hours before planting can help speed up the germination process.

How Far Apart Should I Space The Purple Hull Pea Seeds?

Space the seeds 2-3 inches apart in rows that are 15-18 inches apart to allow enough room for the plants to grow.

Do I Need To Fertilize The Plants?

Yes, fertilizing with a balanced fertilizer once a month can help promote growth and increase yield. Be sure to follow the instructions on the fertilizer packaging for proper application.