Dwarf Sweet Peas

Seed companies would have us believe that dwarf sweet peas are new. In fact they pre-date the Spencers having first appeared 1893 when Messrs Morse & Co discovered a white Cupid. Pink Cupid followed a year later, followed by a cream sport a year or two after that. The dwarf gene was successfully transferred to a number of the current grandifloras with the result that well known sweet peas such as Prima Donna, Blanch Ferry and Lottie Eckford existed in both tall and cupid forms.

The original 'Cupid' mutation produced a plant with a trailing habit growing some 6" tall but with a spread of 12 - 18". A second dwarf mutation was discovered by Ernest Benary in 1895 which he christened 'Tom Thumb White' and gave rise to the type sometimes referred to as "Erect Cupids", but now best known as "Bijou". This form of sweet pea has an erect mode of growth and reaches about 12" in height.

The 'Cupid' type of sweet pea has never been hugely popular in the UK due to its tendency to rot under damp conditions, and its susceptibility to bud drop. A further problem which affects all the dwarf strains is the need to remove faded flowers in order to prolong the flowering season, a more onerous task than with the taller growing strains.