Planting Heirloom Sweet Peas “How-To”: Father Cupani’s

Purple and pink Cupani’s Original are one of the best varieties to grow. I’d say it is the most intensely fragrant sweet pea available. It’s also an heirloom variety, Introduced by Father Cupani, a Franciscan monk in Palermo, Sicily, in 1699. It has deep blue standards and purple wings.

You can buy heirloom sweet peas at Terra Edibles, an excellent Canadian grower/supplier in Foxboro, Ontario.

Sweet peas need an early start, by March 15th, plus they need to be cool, and dark while they germinate.
  1. It helps to soak the seeds for 24 hours first before you plant. It speeds germination because the seeds have a very hard seed coat. You can nick the seed coat as well, but this is finicky and I’m always worried I’ll damage the seed by doing this. You can also dust them with nitrogen inoculant.
  2. Put soaked seed in commercial planting mix, like ProMix, 1/2 in deep at 55°F/13°C soil temp. for 14 days.
  3. Cover seeds with fine soil and firm. Place pots in total darkness. Cover with black plastic, tin foil, or newspaper. I have mine in a cool window sill, with tin foil covering. It’s not 55 degrees, but cool-ish.
  4. When plants are about 3″ high, pinch out the growing tip, to encourage branching. I am going to grow some of mine in pots. 3 plants to a 10″ pot is good.
  5. For garden culture, transplant into rows 6 in apart.
  6. Support plants when 10 in high, with string or wire 7 ft high and 3 in apart. Grow-cool. Even 45°F/7°C nights is okay and 60 degrees F in day is perfect for them.
For Direct Sowing in Garden:

Sow outside April 1st as soon as soil can be worked, 1 1/2 in. deep. and 1/2 in apart. Prefers rich, heavy soil and does not do well in sand. Keep moist in dry weather.


  1. Sarah — good luck with your planting. (Our) Sarah is quite the sweet pea girl, and I get to admire them; form, colour and of course fragrance.

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