Peas are one of the most rewarding legumes to grow. There are peas ideal for shelling, and those with edible pods, like sugar snap and snow peas. All are delicious and require minimal care when planting and growing for a successful harvest.
Here’s everything you need to know about each type of pea.
Table of Contents
Types of Peas
There are three main types of peas featuring dozens of varieties between them. These include:
- English Peas
- Snow Peas
- Sugar Snap Peas
English peas or garden peas are the most common type of peas. They feature smooth and fleshy green pods that are plump and curved. This pea variety needs to be shelled because their pod is tough and fibrous. They are very nutritious and contain round, sweet-tasting seeds. Many people prefer to buy shelled and frozen English peas from farmers’ markets or grocery stores. The store-bought peas may not be as delicious as the freshly shelled ones.
The English pea has many varieties, including:
This type of pea produces many pods per plant. Each pod has an average of 8 peas inside. It has a sweet flavor and is ready in sixty days.
Survivor peas are almost leafless and have very tough and stringy vines that cling together. These peas are a cool season, viney annual legume bred for advanced winter tolerance, providing producers with more confidence and consistency. The plant is about two ft. tall, producing pea pods with an average of 7 peas.
Wando peas are frost-hard, cool-season vegetables. They can tolerate warm to cold climates and are very popular throughout the United States. Plus, they have dark green pods and produce medium-sized peas, which are ready in seventy days. They have a mildly sweet taste and are perfect for freezing or drying.
This pea variety is very sweet with a 3-inches pod containing up to 9 peas. It can be ready in seventy days and is one of the most delicious types of English peas.
These peas are about 4 ½ inches long. They produce dark green and very plump peas. They have a slightly sweet taste.
This variety features crescent-shaped 3 ½ inches long pods, producing 8 to 9 tender, medium-sized peas. Early perfection peas are resistant to dry weather and can be ready in sixty-five days.
Lincoln peas contain large and tender peas. The peas taste sweet, are tolerant to heat, and can be ready in seventy days. They’re suited for eating fresh, freezing, or canning.Big Peas
This variety produces extra-large peas with up to 10 seeds in each dark green pod. Also, this prize-winning variety is moderately sweet.
Maestro pea plants are a robust, medium-sized heirloom variety of garden pea. This variety produces large pods and is used in the kitchen as a shelling pea. Like many other pea plants, Maestro plants are relatively small and compact, usually growing up to 30 inches.
This variety produces a high yield and has 4 ½ inches long green pods with 11 mid-sized seeds. The pea is mildly sweet and is ready in sixty days. It is a great variety to harvest in the fall.
This is a sturdy, compact plant that produces delicate, tasty green peas. This heirloom pea plant grows well in home gardens and can handle cooler temperatures and light frosts.
This variety produces 3-inch long pea pods with up to 8 seeds. These peas are medium-sized, tender, and sweet and are ready in sixty-five days.
The Misty Shell bears 3-inch large pea pods with up to 8 peas each. These peas are sweet and plump and are ready in sixty days.
2. Snow Peas
Snow peas or Chinese peas are popular in East Asian cuisines. You can instantly tell snow peas from English peas because they have a flat shell with no pea-shape seeds inside. Unlike English peas, these peas feature edible pods and are cultivated for their pods rather than the seeds inside.
Snow peas come in different varieties. These include:
Mammoth Melting Sugar
This is a tall variety of pea plants reaching up to 5 ft. in height. They produce 4 ½ inches thick pods. The peas have a moderately sweet flavor, and get ready in seventy days. They are among the best pea types for culinary purposes as they can easily tolerate high temperatures and longer cook times.
Snowbird pea plants are short and have an average height of 18-inches. They can produce a high yield with 3-inches long pods containing mildly sweet peas. It takes them about sixty days to get ready to eat.
If you’re looking for a stringless snap pea, this one is a great option. This pea produces pods that are about 3-inches long. They contain disease-resistant, tender, and sweet peas. And grow up in seventy days.
This pea variety has 3-inch long pods containing moderately sweet peas. This variety is generally ready in sixty-five days.
Oregon Sugar Pod
There are two main types of Oregon Sugar Pods. This pea plant gives a high yield with two pods per group. The seeds are sweet and tender and are enveloped in 4-inch long pods.
Oregon Sugar Pods #2
This variety of pea is very long and has plants reaching up to 2 ½ feet in height. The pods are very sweet and tender, and resistant to disease.
This is a prolific variety that produces 6-inch long dark green pea pods. Avalanche pea pods are resistant to diseases and contain sweet and tender seeds.
3. Sugar Snap Peas
Sugar snap peas look identical to English peas. However, they have a slightly more cylindrical pea pod than the English pea variety. Sugar snap peas are a hybrid of mutant garden peas and snow peas. These peas contain characteristics of both of their parent pea varieties.
Like English peas, the seeds need to become plump and round before they are shelled. However, the pods are thick, crunchy, crisp, and edible. This means you can cook sugar snap peas with their pods. Also, sugar snap peas are more tolerant of hot weather than English peas.
Here are all the varieties of sugar snap peas:
When it comes to a versatile pea variety, this one is hard to beat. The Sugar Bon variety can produce 3-inch long pods, which are sweet and tasty. This plant is also very resistant to diseases and can be ready in fifty-five days.
This pea variety produces pods that contain about eight peas each. Sugar Ann peas are a great choice for smaller backyard vegetable gardens. The bushy plants produce crisp, tasty pea pods and have excellent yield potential.
This is a prolific variety with vines that can reach as high as 7 ft. It can produce a high yield, with pods that are 3-inches long and very sweet.
Super Snappy peas are a unique pea variety featuring large pods containing up to 10 seeds. These edible-pod peas have rounded pods and thick pod walls. Also, they are very crisp and extra sweet.
Super Sugar Snap VP
This one is a prize-winning variety, and its plant can grow to be six ft. long. The pod is about 3-inches long and sweeter than the original variety of sugar snap peas. It takes about sixty days to be ready and is resistant to disease.
Pea Plants: Care and Growing Guide
Peas are tasty, nutritious legumes that are easy to grow and maintain. Read on to learn how to grow peas in your garden and what these legumes need to thrive.
Pea plants can tolerate a wide range of sunlight conditions, including full sun and partial shade. If you want a bountiful harvest, plant your peas in a spot that gets at least eight hours of sunshine a day.
Pea plants are flexible and can adapt to a range of different soil types, as long as your mixture isn’t clay-like or super heavy. For best results, plant the peas in a well-drained, loamy soil blend rich in compost or organic matter. Once the vines are a foot tall, mulch them with straw to help retain moisture and keep the soil as cool as possible.
Proper watering is essential for of a successful pea crop. You should water your pea plant deeply and regularly. A good rule of thumb is to water your plants once a week, though you may have to increase that if your plants are subjected to warm weather. Never allow your pea plant’s soil to become dry. This can negatively impact your pea crop almost instantly.
Temperature and Humidity
Peas are a cool-season crop and will do best in temperate climates that range from 65 degrees Fahrenheit to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re planting your peas outdoors in your garden, you want the soil temperature to be about 45 degrees Fahrenheit. This will also help the seeds to germinate properly. Once the weather is consistently hot, your pea plant vines will stop producing. Additionally, peas have no specific humidity requirements.
Pea plants don’t require fertilizer to thrive, especially if they are planted in nutrient-dense soil with plenty of compost and organic matter. If you want to give your pea plants an extra boost, feed them with a balanced liquid fertilizer when the seedlings first emerge.
How to Grow Pea Plants?
To plant peas, you should soak the seeds in water overnight to speed up their germination. If you haven’t grown peas in your backyard garden before, sprinkle the seeds with legume inoculant. You can easily buy inoculants at a garden center or nursery. Select a spot in full sun, and prepare the soil by loosening it to at least 7 inches.
If you have ample, it’s a good idea to install a trellis. That’s because most peas plants need something to climb up as they grow. Plant your peas in two separate rows, one on each side of the trellis. Also, you should plant peas 1 to 2 inches apart. You won’t need to thin your pea plants as they will grow perfectly with this spacing. Keep the soil soft and moist until your peas germinate, which usually takes about ten days.
How to Harvest Peas?
Most pea varieties are ready to harvest around 70 days after planting. To avoid damaging the stems, use one hand to hold the pea vine and the other hand to remove the pea pods. Once you’ve picked the peas, cool them in a cold water bath and then dry them. Eat fresh peas after picking for the best flavor. They can last in the refrigerator for up to a week.
English peas: You can harvest English peas once pods are nearly round. After picking, remove English peas from the pod. These peas have inedible pods that must be shelled.
Snow peas: You can harvest snow peas once the pods reach their mature length, as mentioned on your seed packet. Some snow pea varieties may have string-like fibers across the seams that you must remove before eating.
Sugar snap peas: Harvest sugar snap peas while the pods are tender and still growing. The ideal time is when they’re swollen but are not fully plump. Like snow peas, some sugar snap pea varieties have string-like fibers that you must remove before eating.
Common Pests and Diseases
No matter the specific variety of pea you grow, you may have to deal with the same pest and disease issues. The most common diseases for peas are fungal issues like bacterial blight, root rot, and asocochyta blight. Some of these issues can’t be treated with a fungicide, so your best protection is getting disease-free seeds from a reputable nursery and removing any diseased pea plants at the first sign of infection.
In addition to the above plant diseases, your pea plants may encounter pests such as pea weevils and aphids. These pests attack the roots of pea plants. If you notice any signs of pest infection, treat the plant using mild insecticides or horticultural oils such as neem oil.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which is the most popular type of pea?
English Peas are one of the most widely used in households. Since their pods are tough and fibrous, they don’t taste pleasant, and the peas need to be shelled out. If you want to avoid the inconvenience of shelling peas, you can buy frozen peas. But, they do not taste as fresh or tender.
Are Peas Healthy?
Yes, peas are healthy. Here are some pea nutrition facts:
Peas are a great source of vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, thiamine (B1), phosphorus, and iron. They are also rich in protein, carbs, and fiber and low in fat.
A 100 calories serving of fresh peas contains more protein than an egg or tablespoon of peanut butter.
Just one serving of frozen garden peas and petits pois contains as much vitamin C as two apples! Also, peas are low in sodium and good for your heart.
Are all types of peas green?
No, all types of peas aren’t green. The color may vary from green, golden yellow, to even purple. That said, green is the most common color due to the presence of chlorophyll.
How long can pea plants keep producing?
Pea plants can keep producing as long as the vines and roots are healthy. You can maintain your pea plant’s health by mulching the soil regularly. Also, remember not all pea types can tolerate high heat except Sugar bon and few others.