Sweet pea

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Infobox on Sweet pea
Example of Sweet pea
Sweet pea.jpg
Origin -
Stowage factor (in m3/t) -
Humidity / moisture -
Ventilation -
Risk factors See text

Sweet pea

Description / Shipment / Storage / Risk factors

Scientific Name and Introduction

Lathyrus odoratus. Once important cut flowers, prized for their aroma and range of colours, sweet peas benefit substantially from anti-ethylene pretreatments. Combined with a sugar pulse, treatment with STS or 1-MCP enables these delicate flowers to be harvested at an earlier stage when the flowers are less susceptible to damage, and to give as much as 1 week of display life.

Quality Characteristics and Criteria

Sweet peas are traditionally harvested when the last bud on the stem is about half open. "Bud-stage" flowers are harvested when the petals on the first bud are coloured and near full size, but have not yet opened. Flowers are harvested by holding the stem between the thumb and forefinger near the base (supporting the vine with two fingers behind and one in front) and then pulling the flower backwards and upwards from the axil of the leaf. Sweet peas should have five flowers per stem, with only one flower open at the time of purchase. Avoid bunches with wilting flowers or where buds or flowers have fallen.

Grading and Bunching

There are no grade standards for sweet peas, but quality flowers have long, straight stems and at least five buds on each spike. Flowers can be bunched by colour, or in mixed colours, in bunches of 10.

Ethylene Sensitivity

Exposure to ethylene results in accelerated wilting of petals, abscission of flowers, and failure of developing buds to open.


Proper pretreatment greatly improves the vase-life of sweet peas. Flowers should be treated with 1-MCP or STS, then placed in a preservative solution containing 4% sucrose at 20ºC overnight.

Storage Conditions

Sweet peas should be stored at 0°C to 1ºC. Flowers that have been pretreated with 1-MCP and sucrose will open well and have a satisfactory vase-life after storage for up to 1 week at 1ºC.


Sweet peas are packed in horizontal boxes or hampers.

Special Considerations

Cultivars vary in the intensity of their aroma, one of the characteristic and appealing features of sweet peas.

Sources used
BMT Consolidated Manual on (Dutch) Flower Bulbs, cut flowers/greens and potted plants