Sweet Pea Meaning

Sweet Peas Meaning

Sweet Pea Meaning

Ancient Symbolism, Genetic Prototype & Beloved Flower

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

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Sweet Pea Name Origin

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.
Sweet Pea Meaning Dew Drops

Sweet Pea Flowers and Heredity

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.

Mendel and His Sweet Pea Garden
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.

Mendel Discovers Genetics
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.

Improving the Sweet Pea Plant
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.

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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.

Facts About Sweet Peas
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 Flower Meaning

White sweet peas are a positive omen for brides and are often used for weddings. They mean innocence, inner illumination, spirituality and purity. White is often associated with the moon and with feminine energy. White awakens creativity and stabilizes energy, giving a general boost that amplifies all other colors. Use white to give breathing space in your garden from the intensity of bright colors demanding attention.

Orange Sweet Pea Flower Meaning

Orange sweet peas mean enthusiasm and excitement. Orange flowers symbolize warmth, fire, energy and vitality. Orange flowers are related to creativity and friendliness. Orange flowers raise the spirits and reflect the joy of sunshine. The color orange stimulates sociability and promotes emotional health. On the physical level, orange is good for the digestive system including the spleen, pancreas, stomach, intestines and adrenals. Some color therapists say that orange can help with paralysis.

Red Sweet Pea Flower Meaning

Red represent love and passion. Red flowers also symbolize drama, movement, pleasure, desire and vitality. In addition, red represents the will to win, love of sports and the survival instinct. Red flowers are stimulating and eye-catching. The intensity of red flowers creates movement and drama. Bright red flowers symbolize cheerfulness and happiness. Red flowers and colors are warming, activating and energizing. On the physical level, red is recommended for colds and conditions related to poor circulation.

Pink Sweet Pea Flower Meaning

Pink flowers connect to youth and beauty. Pink flowers can symbolize healing from grief or emotional trauma. Pink is related to warmth and love, gentleness, beauty, and an outward orientation. Pink is believed to awaken compassion, love and purity. On the psychological level, pink eases anger and feelings of neglect. Pink can assist in alleviating emotional scars from past experiences. on the physical level, pink stimulates the thymus and immune system. Too much pink may result is hypersensitivity and emotionalism.

Purple Sweet Pea Flower 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. Purple is the color of royalty, adding a sophisticated note to the color palette of a garden or bouquet.  Violet is related to the psychological quality of transformation, transmutation and the balance of power and love. Additional meanings include charisma, charm, magical abilities and tolerance.

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Fun Sweet Pea Flower Facts

There are legends and beliefs about sweet peas as well as many associated traditions. Here is a sampling of fund sweet pea flower facts!

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

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. 

Size and Aroma of Sweet Peas
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.

Where to Grow Sweet Peas
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.”

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Author Kathleen Karlsen

Kathleen Karlsen is a musician, artist, writer and speaker. She is the author of two books (Flower Symbols and Vocal Medicine) and over 200 articles. Kathleen, her husband Andrew, and their five children live in Bozeman, Montana. More about Kathleen Karlsen.


Sweet peas are famous for their usefulness in genetics as well as their beautiful, delicate blossoms. This article covers sweet pea flower meaning, the origin and use of the sweet pea name, sweet pea color meaning and how to grow sweet pea varieties.

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