When to plant snap peas – for a bumper crop

Relish the flavour of home grown legumes with our guide on when to plant snap peas

Snap peas
(Image credit: Alamy)

Knowing when to plant snap peas is key to raising a bumper crop. Hugely satisfying and with an unbeatable fresh, sweet flavor, these fast growing climbers demand little fuss and attention. Just like mangetout, snap peas have a sweet yet nutty edible pod when young, making them perfect for throwing into salads and stir fries – that’s if you can resist eating them straight off the plant. The key difference is that whereas mangetout have flat pods, those on snap peas are pleasingly plump, crisp and rounded.

As well as outstanding flavor, there are plenty of beautiful snap pea varieties to try growing to add interest and color to kitchen gardens, veg beds, pots and borders. These varieties include the lime green pods of ‘Sugar Sprint’, ‘Spring Blush’ with its green pods flushed with magenta and the intense and stunning ‘Purple Magnolia’ – the first deep purple podded snap pea.

When to plant snap peas

Snap peas are perfect for encouraging children to get involved with gardening and growing their own food. Hunting for and picking the pods is great fun, plus you can be feasting on a tasty and nutritious crop within 10 to 12 weeks.

So, whether you’re new to veg growing or seriously green fingered, follow our tips for when to plant snap peas for a tasty and bumper crop.

When to plant snap peas undercover

Snap peas are pretty tough plants but along with many vegetables they are not fans of icy weather conditions, so you will need until the last frosts have passed to plant them in the open. Fortunately, you can get a head start by growing them in warmer, protected climes. A draft-free windowsill, propagator or glasshouse will encourage seeds to germinate, put down strong, healthy roots and form sturdy plants.

‘Snap peas can be sown undercover into modular trays 2-3 seeds per cell, or into lengths of guttering from early April,’ says Andrew Tokely, Horticultural Director of Kings Seeds (opens in new tab). ‘Once germinated the seedlings can be gradually hardened off before planting out into the vegetable plot, spacing modules 6in (15cm apart) or take out a shallow drill and slide the contents of gutter carefully in.’

When to plant snap peas directly outdoors

Snap peas can be sown directly into garden soil from mid-March through to June. They need a soil temperature of around 50ºF (10ºC) to successfully germinate so consider warming your sowing patch, prior to planting, by covering with a cloche or plastic tunnel.

When to plant snap peas for a continual crop

Who doesn’t want to enjoy the constant picking of home-grown snap peas? Tastier and sweeter than store bought produce they should yield a generous crop throughout the summer months into early fall.

‘If sowing direct outside this can be done in shallow drills, sowing from mid-April till the end of May in succession for a prolonged harvest period. Snap peas will be ready to harvest in approximately 12 to 14 weeks from sowing,’ says Andrew Tokely, Horticultural Director of Kings Seeds. Aim for sowing every 10 to 12 days for the best results.

When to plant snap peas into containers

Snap peas are ideal for growing as vegetable garden container ideas in large pots and planters, as long as they are kept well-watered and have a sturdy framework to climb up. Start sowing directly into the container from mid April. If the weather is exceptionally cold, you can start sowing undercover and transplant the seedlings into place when the weather is warmer.

Keep picking snap peas as soon as they plump up to encourage new pods to form. You can also supplement your original plants with additional sowings or new seedlings to prolong the season.

Jill Morgan
Contributing Editor

Jill Morgan has spent the last 20 years writing for Interior and Gardening magazines both in print and online. Titles she has been lucky enough to work on include House Beautiful, The English

Home, Ideal Home, Modern Gardens and Gardeningetc.com. Although much of her career has involved commissioning and writing about reader homes and home improvement projects, her

everlasting passion is for gardens and outdoor living, which is what she writes about for Homes & Gardens.