Winter Flowering Sweet Peas

Winter flowering sweet peas originated in about 1900 in several places as sports from Blanche Ferry, Captain of the Blues, and Lottie Eckford.

The 'Christmas' series of early flowering grandiflora sweet peas was introduced by Anton Zvolanek between 1902 and 1908. It was derived from a cross between an early flowering sport of Lottie Eckford and Blanche Ferry.

Winter flowering sweet peas are popular in areas where winter light levels are higher than in the UK, eg Japan, South Africa, Australia and California. The flowering period in the northern hemisphere would typically be December to March from a late summer sowing.

The penalty for the convenience of having flowers for Christmas is the lower quality of these varieties. The colour range is restricted, and the weight and substance of the blooms does not compare with that of the Spring and Summer flowering sorts. Under the dull winter conditions which prevail in the UK, these varieties flower rather later and require a greater degree of skill on the part of the grower.

The Early Spencer or Spencer Praecox strain is the main source of cut flower varieties in Holland. Few of these varieties are still in cultivation, and many commercial stocks are degenerate. Those that have been maintained by families of cut flower growers are rarely made available to outsiders.