If this is your first time planting peas in the garden, you are probably wondering how long they will take to germinate, or sprout. Even if you have planted peas before, you may want to find ways to make your peas germinate faster.
So, how long does it take peas to germinate? Peas take 7 to 30 days to germinate. Peas will germinate faster if soil temperatures are 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. You can speed up the germination process by soaking the peas for 24 to 48 hours before planting.
Of course, there are other factors that affect how quickly peas will germinate and grow. Let’s start by looking at how germination times vary. Then, we’ll go over some ways to give your peas the optimal environment to grow.
How Long Does It Take Peas to Germinate?
Peas will take 7 to 30 days to germinate, but this is a wide range. One important factor that affects time to germination is the soil temperature.
Time for Peas to Germinate by Soil Temperature
If soil temperatures are lower than 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius), you may fail to see any germination at all.
In cooler soil temperatures in the 40s (4 to 9 degrees Celsius), it might take 3-4 weeks (21 to 30 days) for peas to germinate. You will also see a relatively low germination rate (the percentage of planted peas that sprout).
In warmer soil temperatures in the 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit range (16 to 21 degrees Celsius), peas can germinate in 1 to 2 weeks (7 to 14 days). The germination rate will be much higher in this scenario.
For very warm soil temperatures of 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24 degrees Celsius) or higher, peas will germinate quickly, but the germination rate will be lower.
How and Why to Start Peas Early
As you can see, warmer soil temperatures will generally result in faster germination and better germination rates for peas.
The question is, why not wait until soil temperatures get warmer before planting peas? There are two parts to the answer.
First, the growing season may not be long enough to accommodate the peas if they are planted too late. Second, if temperatures get too high, the plants will stop producing flowers or peas altogether.
So, you will want to start your plants early enough so that they can grow to maturity and produce peas. Now, the question is how to do this. There are a few ways to proceed.
First, you can plant your peas outside in a cold frame, greenhouse, or under cloches. A cloche is a plastic container with a hole in the top, to keep the soil warmer for the plants.
You can also start your seeds indoors and transplant them outside when most of the danger of frost has passed (more on this later).
Remember that pea plants can tolerate snow, but extended periods of frigid cold due to an excessively early planting will kill them.
How to Help Your Peas to Germinate Faster
If you want your peas to germinate faster, you have a few options to make that happen. The best place to start is with the specific variety of peas that you plant.
Soak the Peas
Peas need to absorb water after being planted in order to germinate. If the weather and soil are dry, you will need to water frequently to keep them moist. If temperatures are low, the process will go even slower.
Luckily, there is a way to circumvent some of the time you spend waiting for peas to germinate. If you soak your peas indoors first, they will germinate faster when you plant them, since they have already absorbed the water they need.
One option is to soak the peas in water overnight. I would recommend soaking the peas in water for 12 to 24 hours. Any longer than this and the peas might start to rot.
Once the peas start getting larger, you will know that they have soaked up some water and are ready to plant.
Another option is to wrap the peas in a damp paper towel, put the paper towel in a plastic bag or plastic wrap (sealed shut), and let them sit in a warm, sunny area.
This method may take longer (a few days), since there is less water available. You may also need to add extra water to the paper towel if it dries out.
When you see the peas just starting to sprout, you will know that they are ready to plant in the soil.
You can speed up the process even further by using a razor to cut slightly into the peas before soaking them. This will allow the peas to absorb water faster.
Remember that these methods only take 1 to 3 days or so, and your peas must be planted shortly afterwards. Otherwise, the soaked peas will rot, or the sprouted ones will have no soil to grow in. So, figure out your planting schedule ahead of time and plan accordingly if using this method.
Of course, you can also use a humidity dome if you wish, although it is not required. For more information, check out my article on humidity domes.
Use Newer, Younger Seeds
You can certainly use older peas for planting, and they can germinate even after several years. However, peas that are more than 1 or 2 years old will have a lower germination rate, and they will take longer to germinate.
To get the fastest germination possible, use the youngest peas that you can find.
Choose the Right Time to Plant
As mentioned above, soil temperature has a huge impact on the time it takes for peas to germinate. If you plant too early, a hard frost can kill the peas (although they can survive snow). If you plant too late, hot summer temperatures will prevent the plants from growing flowers and peas.
So, when is the right time to plant peas? A general rule is to “plant peas as soon as the ground can be worked”. This means that once the soil thaws and can be raked and dug with a shovel, you can plant peas.
The Farmer’s Almanac suggests planting peas 4 to 6 weeks before the last danger of frost. Check out this tool from the Farmer’s Almanac to find the last danger of frost for your area. Then, you can work backwards (4 to 6 weeks) to find your planting time for peas.
If there is still snow on the ground, you may have to wait. You can try to shovel the snow to reveal the soil. However, it the ground is still frozen, then you will need to wait a bit longer.
Either way, you should check the weather forecast, and if the next week or so calls for temperatures below the mid-20s Fahrenheit (-4 degrees Celsius), then wait to plant.
Use Proper Plant Spacing and Seed Depth
If your peas are planted too deep or too shallow, they may germinate slowly, or not at all. Ideally, the peas should be planted 1 to 2 inches deep.
Also, each pea should be 1 to 2 inches apart. This will give them enough space to avoid competition as they grow.
Finally, plant your rows of peas 1 to 2 feet apart. The exact spacing is up to you, but it’s nice to have enough space to walk between rows when you need to water, fertilize, pull weeds, inspect your plants, or harvest your pea pods.
Water Your Peas Properly
As I said earlier, your peas need to absorb enough water before they can germinate. This will only happen if the soil you plant them in has enough moisture.
After planting your peas, keep the soil moist, but not waterlogged. The best way to do this is to feel the soil with your hands each day.
If the soil feels dry, add water! The only exception is when a big rainstorm is coming. In that case, you should avoid watering. Check the weather forecast, to make sure you don’t drown your plants.
For more information, check out my article on over watering your plants.
How to Help Your Peas to Grow Better After Germination
Even after your peas germinate, you still need to take care of them properly so that they grow to maturity to produce flowers and pea pods. There are a few ways to do this.
Your peas will want loose, well-draining soil, with a pH of 6.0 to 7.5. You can add compost to your soil before planting to help with drainage.
You can test your soil pH by buying a soil test kit online or at a garden center. You can also send a soil sample to your local agricultural extension. For a small fee, they will test the pH and also tell you about any nutrient deficiencies and how to fix them. To learn more, check out my article on soil testing.
Remember that the three primary nutrients for plants are NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium). Peas are a legume, which means that they work with soil bacteria to fix nitrogen from the air. This means that peas need less nitrogen than other plants.
Too much nitrogen will encourage pea plants to grow leaves at the expense of flowers and pods. Use a fertilizer that has less nitrogen and more phosphorus and potassium. For more information, check out my article on low-nitrogen fertilizers.
Alternatively, you can add wood ash (potassium) and bone meal (phosphorus) to your soil before planting, to supplement these nutrients without adding nitrogen.
Of course, you can always use good old-fashioned compost to maintain nutrient levels in your soil. For more information, check out my article on how to make your own compost.
Hopefully, this article gave you a sense of how long it will take your peas to germinate. You should also have some good ideas on how to speed up the process.
I hope this article was helpful – if so, please share it with someone else who can use the information. If you have any questions or germination tips for peas that you want to share, please do so in the comments below.