About Bijou Mixed Sweet Pea: According to traditional lore, poet John Keats first called these fragrant country flowers "sweet peas." It has also been called the queen of annuals and is the quintessential old fashioned English flower. Though accounts of this flower's origins differ, most historians agree that a Franciscan monk named Francisco Cupani found it growing when visiting the island of Sicily. In 1699, he sent the seeds of the plant to a botanist in Amsterdam, Dr. Casper Commelin, who published the first recorded description and illustration of sweet peas in 1701. Dr. Leonard Plukenet, the Royal Professor of Botany and gardener of Queen Mary, also recorded obtaining a specimen of sweet pea in the early 18th century.
Bijou Mixed Sweet Pea Germination: To soften the hard coating of these seeds, soak them for several hours or overnight in warm water before planting. Most of the seeds should have softened and begun to swell, but if a few remain hard make a slight nick in the seed coat with a sharp knife. In climates with mild winters, these prepared seeds can be sown in the fall to bring the earliest spring blooms. Otherwise, they should be planted in spring as soon as the ground can be worked; light frosts will not be harmful, though the seeds require at least 55 degrees F to germinate. Plant the seeds just under the surface and keep the soil lightly moist until germination. Seeds started indoors should be prepared in the same way, but planted in groups of three in individual peat pots and given plenty of sunlight.
Growing Bijou Mixed Sweet Pea Seeds: As the seedlings develop, pinch off the top set of leaves occasionally to encourage branching. Keep in mind that pests such as birds and slugs can damage the young plants. Both seedlings and mature plants need regular watering for best growth; several applications of fertilizer will also bring these plants to their full potential. A layer of mulch will help conserve moisture as well as controlling weeds.
Harvesting Bijou Mixed Sweet Pea: Cut these flowers early in the morning, choosing stems with the lowest blossom just beginning to open. Place in water immediately, stripping the leaves that will fall below the surface. Pick the blossoms often, since this encourages more to grow.
Saving Bijou Mixed Sweet Pea Seeds: After the faded blossoms fall from the plant, bean-like pods will develop. When they turn from green to a light brown color, pick them from the plant and spread them out to dry away from direct sunlight. When they have dried, split them to remove the seeds; spread the seeds out to dry completely. Store the dried seeds in a cool, dry place.
Detailed Bijou Mixed Sweet Pea Info: Origin: Introduced US Flower Other Common Names: None Duration: Annual Bloom Time: Summer to Fall Height: 12-18 inches Spacing: 4-6 inches Light: Full Sun Soil Moisture: Medium USDA Zone: 3a-9b Seeds Per Oz: 300 Produces a compact, bush-type sweet pea with large blossoms in shades of lavender, pink, white, and red.