Pea plants are very easy to grow, making them a favorite among gardeners. However, they only grow during cool weather, which means that they will grow best during spring and fall months. The most common types of pea plants that you can grow are sweet peas, snap peas, and snow peas. Sweet peas are grown for their delicious seeds, as the pods are not edible. Both snap peas and snow peas are excellent choices for their edible pods and their tasty seeds. Get on your garden gloves and let’s dig into the pea plant growing stages!
In This Article
What are the Pea Plant Growing Stages?
The pea plant growing stages are germination, seedling, vegetative growth, flowering, pod development, and harvest. During each stage, the pea plant will go through different types of development that will be essential to the plant’s ultimate success. Understanding each stage will allow you to better know your plants and catch anything that may go wrong ahead of time.
Pea Seed Germination Stage
The journey of the pea plant starts with germination of the seed. When the seed of the pea plant is provided with moisture and warmth, the process will begin. The seed will start to absorb water from the surrounding soil, softening its outer shell. The seed will break open, revealing a small first root and, eventually, a stem with two seed leaves, called cotyledons. These will push up through the dirt in an effort to grow towards light.
Peas should be directly sown outdoors when the temperatures are right. These plants can withstand light frosts and will grow outdoors when temperatures are above 40°F. Sow the pea seeds 1 inch deep within moist soil. Follow your seed packet instructions for specific spacing and depth requirements. Do not plant your peas where you have previously grown them in previous seasons to make sure the soil has enough nutrients. Melons, cucumbers or squash are excellent candidates to plant where your peas were last season. They will appreciate the extra nitrogen fixed to the soil by your previous pea plant.
Tip: Soak your pea seeds in water overnight in order to soften them prior to planting. This will speed up the germination time.
Pea Seedling Stage
The seedling stage is marked by the baby stem and leaves breaking through the soil and revealing themselves. The plant will start producing true leaves that will begin the process of photosynthesis for the plant. These true leaves will look more like the plant’s typical leaves that you are used to seeing. The pea plant will be at its weakest point during the seedling stage, so it’s important to protect it from damage. If you are looking to grow peas for the fall, it is important that you gently care for them through the heat of the late summer to make sure that they make it to the fall. To do this, make sure to provide them with plenty of shade and water.
At this point your new pea plant will need full sunlight of 6 to 8 hours or more per day. These plants can tolerate partial shade conditions, however, they may not grow as well or produce as many pods. Using plants such as corn or sunflowers as natural support can help with this. The leaves of these tall sturdy plants will shade your pea plant just enough without reducing its growth and pod production.
Pea Plant Vegetative Growth Stage
Vegetative growth is an important part of the pea plant growing stages. This is when the pea plant will begin putting all of its effort into growing leaves, stems, and tendrils. The plant will continue to work on growing its root system to aid in nutrient uptake and growth. You will see your plant starting to make tendrils that are curly little vines. They will grab onto anything that they can as they search for support in order to grow upward. This is the point where having a trellis, some form of netting, or a tall sturdy plant like corn or sunflowers is important for your plants to grow big and tall. You may need to help your plant grab onto nearby support initially.
Pea Plant Flowering Stage
Flowering marks the point in the pea plant growing stages where maturity has been reached. The plant will now start producing many flowers that will soon be the location of a pod. The flowers are often white, purple, or even pink. Pea plants are self pollinating, meaning that they have both male and female parts within the flower. The plant does not rely on pollinators or nature to spread pollen from flower to flower. Though, you will often still see pollinating insects visiting your peas anyways!
Tip: Be careful growing different types of peas near each other because they can cross pollinate with nearby pea plants. This could lead to a hybrid type of pea growing on the plant.
Pea Pod Development
After successful pollination occurs within the flowers, the pod development phase of the pea plant growing stages will begin. The flower will dry out and a pod will begin to grow in its place. The pea plant will begin to put all of its energy into developing pea pods at this point. The seeds within each pod will grow larger as they develop.
Light fertilizer may be applied to pea plants that are grown in containers during this point in the plant’s development. Target low levels of NPK, such as 5-10-10. However, pea plants do not often require any fertilizer if they are being grown in the ground, as long as the soil is nutrient rich. Peas are nitrogen fixing plants that will create their own nitrogen to use from the air and fix it into a usable form for the plant. So, they get most of what they need all by themselves!
Tip: Make sure to provide adequate water at this point in the your pea plant’s lifecycle and to not let the soil completely dry out. This may cause the plant to produce fewer pea pods.
Pea Harvest Stage
The harvesting stage is the grand finale of the pea plant growing stages! This is when you get to reap the rewards for your hard work and nurturing care. Each type of pea plant will have different signs of being ready for harvest. Harvest your peas when:
- Snap peas are full length according to your seed variety. They have formed a tender pod with seeds that have begun to plump up inside. It’s best to not leave snap peas on the plant for too long, as they may become less tasty and tough.
- Snow pea pods are often harvested when young and tender. The pods have formed and the seeds inside have not fully matured yet. The seeds should appear very small. Snow peas that are left on the plant to mature for too long will not have as much flavor and may be tougher to eat.
- Sweet pea pods will look plump, green, and filled with seeds. The seeds should be small and tender, without being overly developed within the pod.
If you are not sure if your peas are ready for harvest, pick one and do a taste test. This will give you an idea of when the perfect time to harvest is. This is also the time where you need to decide if you want to eat the peas, store them, or collect the seeds for future planting!