Snow peas are delicious, versatile, and extremely easy to grow at home.
Once you figure out the basic care needs they require, you’ll never buy them from the grocery store again.
Plus, you can even grow snow peas organically in containers sitting right in your garden. That’s right.
Ready to learn how to grow them yourself? Let’s dive in.
Quick care guide: Snow pea
|Plant type||Perennial (depends on hardiness zone)|
|Scientific name||Pisum sativum
|Other names||Sugar peas, Mangetout, or Chinese sugar peas|
|Soil type||Fertile, loamy, well-draining, potting mix|
|Soil pH||5.5-6.8 (acidic)|
|Sunlight requirement||Full sun, partial sun|
|Colors||Green, yellow, white|
|Max height||8 feet|
|Max width||12 inches|
|Low temperature tolerance||50F|
|High temperature tolerance||80F|
|Ideal temperature range||60-70F|
|Humidity||High (60% or higher)|
|Watering requirements||1" per week, but adjust as necessary for weather|
|Fertilizer requirements||Minimal, liquid fertilizer during spring and summer as needed|
|Plant food NPK||20-20-20|
|Days until germination||1-2 weeks from seed|
|Days until harvest||60-90 days|
|Bloom time||May to July|
|Speed of growth||Moderate|
|Hardiness zones||3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11|
|Plant depth||1 inch deep|
|Plant spacing||2 inches between seeds, 18 inches between rows|
|Don't plant with||Onions, garlic|
|Propagation method||From seed|
|Common pests||Spider mites, thrips, leaf miners, cucumber beetles, nematodes, armyworms, cutworms, slugs, snails, pea moths, or weevils|
|Common diseases||Brown spot, septoria blotch, powdery mildew, blight, and other fungal infections.|
|Grown in container||Yes|
|Care level||Easy (requires very little care)|
|Best uses||Edible, compost, cooking|
Can you grow peas in a container?
Snow peas can easily be grown in containers both indoors and outdoors in your garden.
These easy-to-grow, versatile crops can be grown in compact spaces while providing an abundance of crops all year round. If you grow them indoors, you can even harvest them throughout the wintertime.
They require little work to maintain so they’re good for indoor microgreens.
Here’s a YouTube video that shows what I mean:
See how easy it is? Even with just your balcony. That’s enough space to get snow peas to grow.
What type of snow peas grows well in pots?
There are dozens of different types of snow pea cultivars on the market.
But some are more suited for container growing compared to others, specifically the shorter varieties. Snow peas come in purple, yellow, and green with varying sizes. Some are even oddly shaped.
Do your research and see what suits your hardiness, garden space, and taste/texture.
Every pea species is unique and there is an optimal one for your zone. You can research them online to see their specific growing requirements.
- Tom Thumb (compact low growing sugar snap pea)
- De Grace (dwarf peas, medium-sized peas, tender, crisp, resistant to cold)
- Green beauty (requires tall support, grows up to 8 feet tall, good volume of peas, produces lots of pods, 60 day harvest time, 8 inch pods)
- Norli (early harvest, maxes out at 24 inches in height, requires trellis or garden stakes)
- Shiraz (purple snow pea)
- Oregon Sugar (large pods on a compact plant, bushy, abundant peas production)
You’ll need to do your reading and choose between the vanities. The main groups are snow peas, garden peas, and snap peas.
Snow peas are those nice lime green pods with the small peas hiding inside.
The peas are harder to see but can be squeezed out of the pods into your meal. The entire pod is edible though. People eat them raw or use them in culinary dishes.
If you’re in the UK, you may be more familiar with meteor peas or sugar snap peas. The care level is largely similar to the other snow pea types and this guide can give you general advice for proper care.
Garden peas are the type of pea that don’t have edible shells. You know, the one you need to peel. They’ll need to be deshelled before you eat the peas inside.
These are a hybrid. They’re a cross between snow peas and garden peas.
The seeds are visible on the inside of the pods and will need to be removed. The pods are edible so they can be eaten with the peas.
They all have differences that may affect how they grow in your hardiness zone. Not all peas will tend well in containers, so it’s important to choose one that does.
How to propagate snow peas in containers
This section covers how to start your snow peas in pots.
We’ll focus on starting from seed since it’s the most popular and economical way to propagate snow peas.
If you have a pregrown plant, you can just skip ahead to the proper section.
Peas can be grown from seed directly sown into the pots. They have a high germination rate and this makes it very easy to start from seed.
To start, choose a variety of snow pea that stays low. You don’t want them to get too tall so they can stay compact. If you have a small garden without a lot of planting space, smaller cultivars like Tom Thumb work well.
Sow the seeds around 2” apart in the center. Place the seeds in a circle right in the middle. This will give the roots some room to run without hitting the sides of the pot.
When to plant
Plant snow peas in early spring. They like cooler weather, so the January to February months are perfect. The temperature should be at least 45F, but not as hot as 75F.
If your zone takes time to warm up, start seeds indoors using a grow kit with a starter medium to get a head start.
If not, you can direct sow to the outdoors.
Warmer gardens can be started in September for a winter pea harvest. Cooler gardens can be started in the mid-summer.
Snow peas germinate well in cooler temperatures- preferably between 50-60F. Higher temps slow the germination process, which is usually the opposite of most plants!
If temps dip to the 30s, snow peas can tolerate it. But try to keep it higher than that with a plant heater or turn on the central heater to keep temps stable.
Fluctuating temperatures will slow down germination or even kill smaller younger snow peas. Sow somewhere that’s free from drafts, sheltered, but has full sunlight exposure.
Snow peas can tolerate light frost without protection, but the same can’t be said for heat.
Plant in spring or fall or optimal harvest.
Choosing your container
Use a sturdy plastic or ceramic container. If you’re growing bunches of pea plants, plastic is the cost-effective option.
Use lighter colors instead of black ones because they allow the heat to dissipate quicker. Remember that snow peas like cooler temperatures. Choose a container with at least 8 inches of height and 6 inches of width.
If you’re sowing multiple dwarf snow peas, you can use a plastic dishpan to germinate them efficiently.
However, the dishpan will need to have drainage holes that need to be drilled. For individual snow peas, the container should have at least 2-3 holes for drainage.
You can get creative with your container. Some people use plastic 2-liter bottles, mason jars (but they don’t drain), or even buckets. It doesn’t matter much.
It just needs to have proper drainage so the water doesn’t pool. Like other shallow-rooted plants they hate wet feet. Never let it soar. Keep it moist. But not wet.
Keep in mind that if you grow in a smaller container, it may require you to repot them sooner than later. So choose something that’ll save you time and money by going big.
Clay containers or terra cotta are good for temperature insulation. Plastic ones will heat the soil or drop the temp quickly, which isn’t good for peas plants. It’s a matter of now or later.
Fill it with potting mix
Fill the pot with a high-quality general-purpose potting mix. Consider lining the bottom of it with pebbles or sand. This will help keep it from clogging over time.
Gently fill the rest of the container with potting mix up to 2 inches from the rim of the pot. Leave some space for mulch or compost, which may be necessary for nutrients, weed prevention, or water retention later on.
The container should be at least 8 inches deep. Wider ones are optimal for saving space while maximizing your yield, so consider using window or box planters for peas.
Use a loamy well-draining potting mix. You can mix it with some peat moss or other substrate to create your own. Don’t use soil that’s already in your garden because this is often depleted soil that has minimal nutrients or contains plant pathogens.
Place the containers somewhere with stable temperatures with full sun. For hotter zones, you can get away with partial sunlight.
Sow the seeds
Dig holes half-inch deep in a circle around the soil. Each hole should be spaced 1-2 inches from each other with 2-3 seeds each.
You’ll be thinning the plants so it’s OK if you get multiple snow peas coming out of each hole. Put soil over the holes, but don’t pat down on it. The soil should be loose.
If you want to add bone meal or powdered inoculant, now’s your chance. The inoculant helps the seeds germinate quicker by speeding up the root development. Use as directed.
If you bought the seeds, they should come with a packet that has instructions. Read them and sow as directed. For quicker germination time, soak the seeds using distilled water for 24 hours before planting.
If sowing in rows, space each row 3 inches apart with each seed 1 inch apart, 1 inch deep.
Water thoroughly. Watch the water drain for the first time! The soil should be moist and even, but not soggy or wet.
Peas per container
If you want a bushier plant, sow 2-3 seeds in each spot. This will make them fuller but comes at the cost of the nutrient competition.
You may get smaller plants or fewer peas if you put so many seeds in one place. Make sure you provide enough nutrients in the soil column or plant food to support multiple snow peas in a single potter.
Plant one new pot with snow peas 2 weeks after your previous one. This will get you a nonstop harvest throughout the growing season.
Known as succession planting, it’s a good strategy for maximizing your harvest. It also helps reduce the possibility of plant viruses or pests wiping out your entire yield.
If you’re interested in learning more, here’s a good video that shows the main points of succession planting:
Wait for germination
The seeds will germinate within 5-7 days. Some may take up to 14 days. Temperatures must be above 60F for germination. Thin when the plants are 2 inches apart after germination.
If planting too close together, they’ll actually use each other as plant supports. This eliminates the need to add trellises but only applies to dwarf snow pea types like Tom Thumb.
Taller plants will require staking. Germination time varies. Things like temperature, humidity, and potting soil quality will affect how quickly it germinates.
Continue watering about ½ inch of water per week until the snow peas bloom. Then increase to 1 inch per week during the season.
Since they prefer weather that’s cooler, they prefer cold, moist soil. But overwatering will make the soil soggy and can lead to root rot. Overwatering also produces less fruit because the plants will suffer from pooling water. But if you let it dry out, it can make them produce the same.
For this reason, you should monitor your water soil saturation levels closely. Use a moisture meter if you don’t know what you’re looking for. It’s easier when you can see the current levels in the substrate.
For hotter days, water more. For rainy days, water less. Adjust as necessary based on the container size.
Do not let the soil dry out between watering sessions, but don’t give them wet feet either. This encourages root rot or molding at the root level.
When your pea plants grow to 5-6 inches in height (varies depending on snow pea type), add some plant food as directed. Mulch or compost is also preferable.
Opt for organic varieties since you’ll be eating them. The mulch helps retain the moisture so you don’t need to water it as often. It also insulates the roots from temperature swings.
Snow peas don’t usually require fertilizer or plant food if the substrate you use is high in nutrients- this is why you need to choose the right type from the beginning.
But if you want to maximize your yield, use a 20-20-20 general purpose plant fertilizer. Use half dosage once a month or as directed. Use organic plant food if possible- after all, you’re eating it.
Apply the fertilizer during the peak growing season. If you don’t want to use fertilizer, you can substitute it with manure or compost, twice per week during the peak season.
Compost, banana peels, processed food waste or other organic matter can be added to help supplement plant growth. Phorpsohure, potassium, and nitrogen-based plant foods are what snow peas need.
Peas will require a support system when grown in containers.
Either use a trellis for them to climb or stakes for them to wrap around. Dwarf varieties will climb on each other for support, but often leaves a tangled mess which makes it difficult to prune.
Pick snow peas at their peak of flavor by inspecting them. They should look firm, lime green, and peas visible inside the pods of the plant.
Pick peas gently by using the little stalks on the plant. Twist it off without damaging the plant. The pods come from the flowers. Picking often means more improved harvest.
Did you know picking your snow peas at peak flavor in the season produces MORE pods? If you let it sit, it’ll actually make it produce less yield.
Even if you don’t plan to use your harvest immediately, you can store them in the fridge for later use. If you succession plant them you can get peas during the entire season. You can even plant different cultivars together in the same plot to get a pea salad!
You can pick multiple pods from a single plant. Rinse peas with cold water right upon picking. Let them dry on a paper towel. Use immediately.
For surplus peas, you can put them in an airtight container then freeze them or put them in the fridge for short-term storage. Snow peas can last up to 3 days fresh in the fridge if stored properly.
Snow pea care
Here are some general care guidelines for snow peas.
Your pea plant’s care needs will vary. Some cultivars will need slightly different care guidelines from others.
They should all be similar in need so you can generalize the care requirements.
Snow peas can be grown nearly anywhere in the US. The nice thing about snow peas is that they require very little garden space to thrive.
They can be grown in containers or in the garden bed directly. Some varieties are tall. Others are short (dwarf). Snow peas are bushy and can be grown in tiny gardens.
Use a well-draining, nutrient-dense, high-quality potting mix. Do NOT use garden soil for potted plants. Snow peas like loamy, loose soils that drain well.
Poorly draining soil will be too compact and then pool water, which can lead to root rot. Do not use old soil because it can carry pathogens or have poor nutrient quality from previous plants.
Snow peas like soil with pH values between 5.5-6.8. Acidic to neutral soil pH give them ideal growing conditions. Snow peas don’t generally care about the soil pH, so you don’t have to worry about this.
Give at least 1” of water a week during peak season. Adjust the watering regime you use for rain or drought. Use a moisture meter for precision.
Aim for at least 6 hours of full sun per day. If growing indoors, choose a west or south-facing window. The partial sun can work too if you’re in a higher zone.
Snow peas will grow when temperatures are between 50-70F. If temperatures are higher than 75F for a consistent period of time, they’ll stop growing entirely.
Snow peas hate warm climates. Stable, steady climates are what they prefer. They’ll need about 65 days of consistent weather for them to bear fruit.
Smaller, compact spaces produce fruit quickly. This is why container growing is so popular. Some varieties can produce as early as 50 days upon sowing. If you’re container growing, choose a dwarf variety.
Taller varieties will need to be staked or trellised or else they’ll topple over. Snow peas are heavy, so they need some kind of support to keep them upright.
You can use traditional trellises for them to climb or cages. Plant stakes will work but are inefficient. They take up a lot of space and barely provide room to climb.
Snow peas don’t need any additional pruning or maintenance other than removing spent leaves, damaged foliage, or damaged crops.
Browning or yellowing leaf should be carefully pruned. Pest-infested parts should be removed as well. Check for signs of infestation each time you water.
These plants are susceptible to a host of pests because of their tender greens and delicious peas.
Some bugs you may come across on your peas include spider mites, thrips, leaf miners, cucumber beetles, nematodes, armyworms, cutworms, slugs, snails, pea moths, or weevils. Most of these can be controlled by reducing watering, manual removal, or organic pesticides.
If you keep your pea plants indoors rather than outside, you have a much lower chance of infestation. Greenhouses or floating row covers can also provide protection from bugs.
Pea plants are vulnerable to brown spot, septoria blotch, powdery mildew, blight, and other fungal infections.
These stem from overwatering or excess humidity in the area. Control watering by curbing it and pruning some foliage to allow evaporation. Blotch is a fungus that grows yellow patches. Powdery mildew also leaves yellow spots.
Both of these fungal infections love high humidity with warm temperatures. By reducing water pooling, you can prevent the fungus from finding favorable environments- exactly why you should never overwater your plants.
Snow peas are kind to other crops, so you can often pair them with neighbors and they’ll place nicely.
But if you’re growing in pots, you should only plant snow peas by themselves without other plants to compete.
If planting in the soil, you have a lot of options to companion plant with:
Don’t plant with
Some plants to avoid planting with your peas include onions or garlic plants. These will stunt pea plants from producing yield. If planting in pots, don’t combine with other crops.
Overwintering snow peas
Winterizing snow peas will require you to dig a trench to shield them from the cold for zones lower than 5. For higher zones, snow peas require no winter protection.
If trenching, dig a small trench before you sow seeds. The trench will protect them from teh cold, but you can supplement with mulch to help insulate the roots.
The trench should be about 1” deep for November planting. Space seeds 2 inches apart. Plant as usual.
Snow pea uses
The obvious choice for snow peas is for cooking. Here are some ideas to get your creative side running:
- Snow peas with butter/lemon
- Snow pea skillet
- Snow pea baked chips
- Garlic sesame snow peas
- Spicy wok peas
- Glazed snow peas
- Lemon peas
Commonly asked questions
This section contains questions commonly asked by readers regarding snow pea care. You may find it useful for your own journey to grow them at home in pots.
Check it out.
Do snow peas need full sun?
Snow peas prefer cooler temperatures, so full sun is discouraged. If you’re in a hotter zone, partial sunlight is “good enough.”
Full sun is only necessary when germinating or for those people in colder zones.
Otherwise, full sun with a cool climate is ideal for pea production. You need to do some reading to find out how much sun you should provide.
Do snow peas need a trellis?
For taller snow pea varieties, yes, they’ll need a trellis for plant support or else they’ll topple over guaranteed.
Cultivars that produce high yield will get top heavy and start to lean. If they don’t have neighbor plants to lean on, they’ll fall over.
Dwarf varieties can lean on each other, which eliminates the need for trellising if kept tidy. For individual plants or taller varieties, they’ll need trellising.
Peas require support for max yield. When the leaves or pods touch the soil, you risk fungus or mold. Don’t do this.
Trellising in containers is easy. You can put the pot near a vertical trellis. Or you can get a large trellis and float it between pots on both sides. Traditional garden stakes can do it too. No need to get too fancy now.
When can I transplant peas?
When your pea plants grow to around 5-6 inches, you can thin first. Then transplant. They should be placed in a similar soil substrate.
Choose a container that’s sturdy and you won’t have difficulty lifting later on. Pea plants don’t tolerate being uprooted often, so try not to do it multiple times.
The roots are quite shallow so be gentle when digging it out. Use a pot that’s at least 8 inches deep with the same width. This should be good enough.
What is the best fertilizer for snow peas?
Snow peas don’t require fertilizer to grow, but you can supplement some balanced general-purpose plant food for your greens if your soil is lacking in nutrients. Any generic blend will do, but preferably something for veggies that’s certified organic.
Here are some random ones I found that can get you started (from Amazon):
- Jobe’s 09026NA Plant Food Vegetables & Tomato, 4lbs
- Miracle-Gro Shake ‘N Feed Tomato, Fruit & Vegetable Plant Food, Plant Fertilizer, 4.5 lbs.
- Miracle-Gro Performance Organics Edibles Plant Nutrition Granules, 2.5 lbs.
How tall do snow peas grow?
This depends on the type of snow pea you’re growing. For containers, you should plant smaller dwarf varieties to make it easier.
But some snow peas are quite tall such as Oregon Giant. Some snow peas can grow up to 8 feet tall.
Unless you’re going to use a huge trellis with a huge container, smaller is the obvious choice for ease of growing. But to each their own!
Can you grow snow peas indoors?
Some pea plants can be grown indoors, but the yield it produces won’t be perfect. Indoor grown snow peas will generally have fewer pods without the crisp texture or full flavor as outdoor grown plants.
If you have a west-facing window, you can place it there to get at least 6 hours of full sun daily.
Growing indoors lets you harvest all year round throughout the winter. That’s the main “pro” of it.
Enjoy your container grown snow peas!
Growing snow peas at home is easy.
Since they grow well in containers, you can maximize your garden space. The containers allow you to grow them in tiny gardens, windowsills, or even indoors.
As you can see, snow peas are a versatile crop that’s perfect for beginners. Peas can be used in a variety of dishes or even as compost for your other plants.
Now that you’re armed with all the knowledge you need to grow and care for snow peas, go ahead. Enjoy them to the fullest.
Snow peas are extremely easy to grow and container growing them is beneficial because you can move them around your garden to maximize your yield.
Do you have any questions? What do you think? Why are you container growing instead of garden direct sowing? Let me know in the comments section!
I took interest into microflora and microgreens before it became mainstream. The idea of growing an entire ecosystem on a tiny scale simply was astounding. That’s where I discovered that I actually like raising plants and wasn’t as much of a black thumb as I thought. Now, I’m relaying what I’ve learned to others who are getting into the hobby in a way that anyone can understand.