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Sweet Pea Flower Meaning - Queen of Annuals, Genetics & Breeders

Sweet Peas Meaning

Sweet pea flower meaning includes blissful pleasure, delicate pleasure, good-bye, departure, adieu and thank you for a lovely time. Sweet peas can also mean gratitude and loyalty in friendship. 

Sweet peas can be used successfully as cut flowers and in corsages and boutonnieres. There are few pests or problems associated with sweet peas, but they are sensitive to too much heat.

According to superstition, seeds sown before sunrise on Saint Patrick’s day will have larger and more fragrant blossoms. Sweet peas are the birth flower for the month of April.

Sweet Pea Table of Contents

Sweet Pea Name and Origins

Sweet peas derive their name (lathyrus odoratus) from the Greek word “lathyros” for pea or pulse, and the Latin word “odoratus” meaning fragrant. The name sweet pea is believed to have first been used by the poet Keats (1795-1821). The sweetly fragranced flowers are the focus of flower festivals around the world.

The most famous and perhaps most important use of sweet peas was the extensive genetics studies performed by Gregor Mendel, a Sicilian monk in the St. Thomas Abbey in the 17th century. Mendel worked with the basic principles of heredity.

Over the course of many decades, Mendel studied seven characteristics of pea plants: height, pod shape, pod color, seed shape, seed color, flower position and flower color. He published his work in 1866, suggesting the factors that we now call genes to be responsible for plant traits.

Henry Eckford of Scotland was another horticulturalist focused on sweet peas. Eckford’s emphasis was on improving the size of the sweet pea bloom and the general health of the plant. Eckford was so successful that the sweet pea gained worldwide importance.

Sweet Pea Flower Symbolism

Sweet Pea Meaning in England

Sweet peas were very popular in the late 1800s and are often considered the floral emblem for Edwardian England. Sweet peas were an important part of floral arrangements for every wedding and dinner party at that time. Dried petals of sweet peas were also one of the most important ingredients for potpourris.

Unlike their edible relatives, sweet peas can be toxic in large quantities. Sweet pea flowers naturally self-pollinate while still in bud. Sweet pea garden clubs exist for true sweet pea enthusiasts. English gardeners call sweet peas the Queen of Annuals.

Sweet Pea Flower Meaning in England

Sweet Pea Flower Color Meaning

Sweet peas come in beautiful soft pastels of red, pink, blue, white and lavender. A yellow sweet pea is an elusive ideal. Due to genetic factors, a true yellow requires careful hybridization and engineering. Sweet pea meanings by color are as follows:

White Sweet Pea Meaning

White sweet peas are a positive omen for brides and are often used for weddings. They mean innocence and purity. White is often associated with the moon and with feminine energy.

Orange Sweet Pea Meaning

Orange sweet peas mean enthusiasm and excitement. Orange flowers symbolize warmth, fire, energy and vitality. Orange flowers are related to creativity and friendliness.

Red and Pink Sweet Pea Meaning

Red represent love and passion. Red flowers symbolize drama and movement. Pink flowers correlate to youth and beauty. Pink flowers can also symbolize healing from grief or emotional trauma. 

Purple Sweet Pea Meaning

Purple sweet peas represent royalty and pride. Purple and violet soothe the mind and nervous system. Some psychologists believe that purple helps to dissipate violence and anger.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES: Learn more about flower color meanings.


Growing Sweet Pea Varieties

Sweet peas were originally grown in the fields of Sicily. Sweet peas come in over 250 varieties. Annual varieties prefer full sun, regular watering and soil with plenty of humus. Other varieties prefer cool weather. Perennial sweet peas survive in average soils with moderate watering. 

Most types grow from 1-5’ tall, though some may reach 6’. Sweet peas are climbing plants that do well on supporting structures. The delicate perfume of sweet peas combined with the variety of colors available made this flower the floral sensation of the Victorian era.

Sweet peas can be grown as garden borders, along a trellis or arch or across a fence. Many varieties are now grown for their blossoms rather than their sweet fragrance. Fragrant varieties are often labeled as “heirloom” or “old fashioned.”

White Sweet Pea Flower Meaning

More Flower Resources

Explore the meaning of flower colors, the history of the Victorian language of flowers, the symbolic meaning of flowers in art and over a dozen articles on specific flowers on this website. Visit Flower Symbolism. More on the web: Top 15 Most Exotic Flowers Around the World. Brighten up any space with gifts and decor featuring beautiful flowers! Find posters, prints, canvases and more. All products made in the United States. See all floral art & gifts.

Click on a flower photo below for additional articles.

Floral Art & Gifts

Floral artwork and gifts on this site are based on paintings by Kathleen Karlsen. Other prints and gifts including yoga symbols, Eastern deities and more are based on illustrations by Rose Karlsen and Sammy Ater. See all ARTWORK categories and products.

Author Kathleen Karlsen

Kathleen Karlsen Sacred Mantras & Symbolic Art

Kathleen Karlsen is the author of the book Flower Symbols: The Language of Love by Kathleen Karlsen. The handy reference book includes extensive flower meanings and folklore about the world’s most beloved flowers. The perfect gift for yourself or a flower lover in your life! 

Kathleen is a writer, artist and musician living in Bozeman, Montana. She is the mother of five kids (teen to adult) and the author of two books. Kathleen’s other book is Vocal Medicine: Transformation through Sound. Listen to Kathleen’s MUSIC and see more of her ARTWORK

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