Want more flowers in your garden just like Monty Don is sure to have, and for longer, next spring? We’re definitely saying yes, and we’re certain you will be, too. Seeing the garden burst into life is one of the joys of the early part of the year.
So when Monty Don shared advice on what to plant in October, we were all ears. We're talking about sowing sweet peas, because we love seeing these colourful blooms thriving in Monty’s own garden via Insta, and if we can reproduce a little of this loveliness in our own, rather more modest, plots that’s an incentive to put in a little gardening time now.
We’ve got more decorative garden ideas and inspiration for you in our feature, and for Monty’s expert tips on sowing sweet peas, just scroll down.
How to sow sweet peas: Monty Don’s top tips
Monty Don revealed that now is the time to sow sweet peas on his website (opens in new tab), and we’re sharing his top tips.
1. Why sow sweet peas in autumn? Monty says that you’ll end up with bigger plants and a stronger root system. They’ll produce flowers earlier next spring, and last longer, he explains. We say: all good news, and worth putting in the work.
2. You’ll need to make a little space to store the sweet peas while they germinate, Monty explains. Don’t worry if you don’t own a greenhouse, though. They can germinate on a windowsill – and we’ve all got one of those.
3. Monty uses three inch pots (9cm pots are fine if you’re shopping in metric, and, yes, we know that’s not quite the same as 3in), and sows three seeds into each. You could alternatively use root trainers, which encourage healthy roots and make removing the plant easy when the time comes, or put them into seed trays.
As for compost, Monty’s recommendation is to use potting compost rather than seed compost.
You could help activate germination of your sweet peas by using a knife to nick the coats of the seeds before you sow them. Make sure your knife is sharp, and make a small opening in each. Go cautiously, as you want to nick the seed’s coat only and not go any deeper.
4. After that? You’ll need to put the pots on your windowsill or in the greenhouse, and wait for them to germinate, Monty says.
5. When the first leaves appear, you can put the plants outside, Monty explains. They’ll need to go into a cold frame or in a protected spot that’ll keep them frost-free.
6. Don’t forget that when your sweet peas are in flower next year, picking them will encourage more flowers. In other words, follow Monty’s lead and show them off in a vase.