Growing Peas In Containers 101: (2022)

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Do you lack a good growing season or ample gardening space? Growing peas in containers may be the answer to your problem! It’s easier than you probably realize. Here’s everything you need to know about how to grow peas in containers.  

 fresh ripe organic peas on branch from a container.

Have you wanted to grow your vegetable garden but don’t have the space to do it? I get it! Whether you have a small garden or no backyard to plant anything, it is possible to plant and grow your veggie produce.

Most people believe a garden is either in the ground or non-existent, but that’s not the case these days.

I’ve been having fun growing various fruits and vegetables in containers, and I have to say- I’ve been pretty successful! Container gardening is a good option for growing many different foods, including kale, green beans, onions, pumpkins, beets, or carrots (not an exhaustive list, you can grow so much food in containers!).

It also works well for growing fruits such as blueberries, and strawberries and herbs such as lavender.

Growing sugar snap peas in pots and containers allows you to grow them indoors or on your back porch. This space-saving gardening method offers the flexibility to develop your garden no matter your current gardening situation.

Here are all the ins and outs of successfully growing snap peas in containers. Now you can enjoy fresh homegrown peas any time of the year! 


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Advantages Of Growing Peas In Pots

There are several reasons why growing peas in containers might be beneficial for you, including:

  • Container gardening is a great way to reduce the amount of weeding you need.
  • Growing peas in containers provides great flexibility to move the pots around (or inside) as needed. 
  • Don’t have suitable garden space in the ground? Container gardening could be the ideal solution!
  • Container gardens help to keep some pests from attacking your plants and enjoying your crop themselves.

Peas growing on a balcony.

Disadvantages Of Growing Peas In Containers

While there may be plenty of positives to growing peas in containers, there are also a few downsides to going with this gardening method you should be aware of:

  • Your harvest pickings will likely be smaller than your plants would provide if they grew in an in-ground garden. While the harvest may be less, you’ll still get all the taste and nutrition!
  • Plants grown in containers dry out more quickly. You’ll likely need to carefully monitor moisture levels and water more often – as much as twice a day if your plants are outside. 
  • Due to frequent watering, the soil will lose nutrients, so you’ll need to supplement with a dose of low-nitrogen fertilizer twice during the growing season. We like to use Promix in our gardens and containers.
  • Peas are a cool-weather crop. So, if you plan to grow your peas outside, you can plant in late winter or early spring. As soon as the ground has thawed and can be worked, you can plant in your pea plants.
  • Sugar snap peas need at least 5 hours of direct sunlight a day. If you grow them indoors, place the containers by a south-facing window or invest in a grow light so they get enough light.

Pea seedlings growing in pots.

How To Grow Peas In Containers

If you are ready to start growing peas in a container, check out some of my best tips and answers to commonly asked questions to help you get started!

Container Size

Pea plants don’t like their roots to be disturbed, so start your seeds and keep them growing in a wide container, at least 8 inches deep, so you don’t have to transplant them. Make sure your container has drainage holes.

Soil Requirements for Growing Peas

Peas prefer loamy, well-draining soil. You can use a purchased potting mix or make your own by adding lots of organic material, such as manure or compost. As long as there are plenty of nutrients, they aren’t picky about the soil type or pH levels.

Inoculation of Pea Seeds

For the highest yields and healthiest pea plants, an inoculation powder is recommended for all types of peas. Peas have a special relationship with bacteria called rhizobia, which lives in the roots and fixes nitrogen into the soil, feeding the plant.

Inoculation ensures that the right rhizobia is present in the roots, ready to help your pea plants grow. This is especially important when growing peas in containers, where you will likely be using new, clean potting soil that does not yet have this bacteria.

There are different types of inoculants for different species of legumes, so be sure to choose one intended for peas. When in doubt, ask the experts at your local garden centers.

To inoculate your pea plants, you can either roll your damp pea seeds in the powder after soaking them, giving them a nice coating, or pinch some into the hole with the seed before covering. There’s no such thing as too much, so be generous with your inoculant, but remember that the rhizomes live specifically in the root of the pea plant, so spreading inoculant all over your soil won’t do you any good.

Seed Starting:

Start your seeds 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost date in spring. Soak your seeds in water overnight, then sow them 1 inch deep, about 2-3 inches apart. Don’t forget your inoculant. Peas will germinate in cold soil, around 40 degrees F, so in most climate zones, you can start your container peas outdoors. If you’d like them to start quicker, keep your pots indoors for the first couple of weeks in full sun. The warmer soil temperature will speed up germination. Once the seedlings are peeking out of the soil, you can move the pots outside.

New small peas sprout in pot, two weeks after planting seeds.

Trellis Requirements

The whole idea behind container gardening is to, well, contain the plants. Without trellises, peas will spread horizontally and take over the area. Use a trellis to keep the peas growing up instead of out. This also makes it possible to move the pots as needed. I don’t recommend using plain stakes, as there’s not much for the vines to grab onto. Instead, choose (or make) a trellis with horizontal supports and a steady base to prevent toppling.

Check the growth height of the peas you are planting before buying a trellis. Bush peas grow 18 to 30 inches tall, but pole varieties can grow up to 6 feet tall! Buy a trellis that will match the height of your pea plants.

Hardiness

Peas grow well in most of North America, in USDA zones from 3 to 11. They prefer cold weather to hot though, so they do better in cooler zones. In hot zones, many folks have success growing peas as a winter crop or planting them out in late summer for a fall harvest. You can check this handy map if you’re unsure what climate zone you’re in.

Of course, if you’re growing peas in containers indoors, it doesn’t matter what zone you’re in!


A diagram of peas grown in a container with a small trellis for support.

How to Care for Pea Plants

Sun Requirements: Growing peas need 5+ hours of direct sunlight every day. However, as a cool weather plant, it will appreciate some afternoon shade during hot days if you live in a hot climate.

Water: Peas like moist soil, but not too soggy. Water about 1 inch per week. Don’t let the soil dry out, or the plants will stop producing pods. This can happen easily when growing peas in containers, so keep a close eye on your plants. Adding some mulch (straw, leaves, wood chips, or bark) will help prevent your pea plants from drying out between waterings.

Fertilizer: Since you’ll need to water frequently to keep the soil moist, the nutrients will wash out of the soil. Give your plants a boost by fertilizing them with a low-nitrogen fertilizer twice during the growing season! If you use a basic fertilizer, dilute it to half strength.

On the other hand, if you prefer to avoid using fertilizers (me too!), provide nutrients by amending the soil with organic matter like compost, manure, or even banana peels.


Peas growing in a container in front of a sunny window.

Pests And Diseases

Climbing plants avoid pests and diseases since they don’t grow on the ground where pests and bacteria live. However, keep an eye out for a few things as you grow your peas in containers.

Pests: Growing peas outdoors in containers can mean dealing with slugs, aphids, snails, and spider mites.

Get rid of aphids and spider mites with a blast of water from the garden hose, or high-pressure spray bottle. If that doesn’t work, you can use an insecticidal soap 2 to 3 times a week for up to 3 weeks.

Diseases: Other problems you might encounter include brown spots, septoria blotch, and powdery mildew. Remove affected leaves immediately if you notice signs of these diseases.


How And When To Harvest Peas

Once your plants bloom, the pea pods will replace the flower blooms. So continue to care for your plants while the pods grow. The right time to harvest your pods depends on the type of peas you’re growing:

  • Garden peas (AKA English Peas) – Wait until the pods are plump and you can see the mounds caused by the peas.
  • Sugar Snap Peas – Pick sugar snaps just a little earlier when the edible pods are less swollen.
  • Snow peas – Pull these varieties off the plant very early, before the pods swell.

Fresh harvested peas in a white bowl against a white background.  Pea pods and a white dishtowel are scattered around .

Try Growing Peas In containers!

I hope this guide has answered all your questions about growing peas in containers! Thanks to this plant’s easy-growing nature, you can potentially enjoy homegrown, fresh peas all year long!

How deep do containers need to be for peas?

Peas have shallow, delicate roots, and the plants can grow pretty large. So first, select a wide container at least 8 inches deep with good drainage. Then, be sure to provide a support system, such as a trellis, so you can tie up the plants as they get tall and heavy. Peas don’t like to be transplanted, so plant your seeds in large pots where they can grow to full size.

Do peas need full sun?

Yes, growing peas need 5+ hours of direct sunlight every day. However, as a cool weather plant, it will appreciate some afternoon shade during hot days if you live in a hot climate. 

How much water do pea plants need?

About 1 inch per week, from watering or rain – enough to keep the soil moist but not soggy. If the soil dries out completely, the plants will stop producing pods.

When can I transplant peas?

Peas have sensitive roots and do not transplant well, so it is recommended that you direct-sow your pea seeds. They have no problem germinating in cold weather, so indoor starts are not usually required. However, if you have started seedlings indoors, they can be planted out gently about 2 weeks before the last frost date, when the seedlings are about 4 weeks old.

Do peas need a trellis?

Yes! Even dwarf varieties of peas need a trellis for best results. Peas left to grow on the ground are susceptible to disease, and do not get as much sun as they would on a trellis. Choose a trellis with horizontal supports, as peas can’t hold onto vertical surfaces like poles very well.

Editorial Note: This post was originally published on December 31, 2021, and was updated on February 13, 2022.


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