It’s no fun to see your pea plants falling over after you put in lots of hard work to grow them. I did some research to find the most common causes of this problem, along with some ways you can solve it.
So, why are your pea plants falling over? Pea plants may fall over if they grow tall and heavy enough without the support of a fence, trellis, or stake. Pea plants may also fall over if their vines are pinched or damaged. In addition, hot weather in late summer can cause pea plants to fall over and stop producing pods. Finally, environmental conditions such as pests, diseases, soil problems, and improper watering can all cause a pea plant to fall over.
Let’s look at each of these causes in detail, along with ways you can solve or prevent the problem so that your peas will stand up straight.
Why Are My Pea Plants Falling Over?
There are several different reasons that your pea plants could be falling over. The first is one you might not expect – your pea plants may be a victim of their own success!
Your Pea Plants Need Support (Pea Plants Are Too Tall Or Heavy)
If your pea plants are growing too tall or too heavy, they may fall over without adequate support. Some varieties of pea plants can grow 4 to 6 feet tall, and perhaps taller in some cases.
If your pea plants are bearing lots of pods, the extra weight can easily cause the plants to bend or fall over. To prevent this, you should keep picking the pods when they are ready. In addition to keeping the plant lighter, this will also stimulate the plant to keep producing more pods.
Even picking the pea pods regularly may not be enough to keep your plants from falling over. If that is the case, then you may need to provide support to your plants to help them stay upright.
There are several ways to support pea plants: with a fence, a trellis, a stake, or another plant.
Grow Peas Along A Fence
If the edges of your garden are along your property line, then you can grow peas along your fence. This will give the peas something to climb as they grow.
A chain link fence is probably best for pea plants to grow on, and any size holes in the fence would be suitable. If you want, you can use twine to tie peas to the fence at intervals as they grow. However, pea plants have tendrils that help them to grasp and grab things as they climb and grow.
A wooden fence might also work to support pea plants, but it would be more difficult for them to climb up and hold on. One way to fix this is to drive small nails (or screw eye hooks) into the fence for the peas to grab onto as they grow.
Grow Peas Up A Trellis
You can also install a trellis to give your peas something to climb on as they grow. If you have an A-frame setup, you can even have peas growing up both sides of the trellis at the same time.
As with a fence, you can use twine to tie the pea plants to the trellis. However, the pea plants may be fine on their own, especially if the trellis is angled.
For more information, check out my article on trellises.
Grow Peas On A Stake or Pole
As with tomatoes, you can drive stakes or poles into the ground near your pea plants and let them climb up. It is more difficult for peas to climb a pole than a fence or trellis, but you can use twine to tie them up and keep them from falling.
For more information, check out my article on twine uses and types.
You may not want to tie each pea plant individually. In that case, run a length of twine from one pole to another, down the entire length of your row of pea plants. Do this at varying heights (every couple of feet high), and then your plants have a few lengths of twine to rest on as they grow.
Grow Peas Near Another Tall Plant
If you want to completely avoid artificial supports for your pea plants, you can use other plants as support instead. Growing other tall plants, such as corn, can provide a natural climbing pole for peas as they grow.
Just remember that if the corn (or other supporting plant) falls, it will take the pea plant down with it! For more information, check out my article on how tall corn grows.
The Vines On Your Pea Plant Are Pinched
If the vines on your pea plant get pinched or bent, then the plant may fall over and have trouble standing up straight. You may see this on plants that fell over due to their height or weight, which is a good reason to provide the support discussed above.
You may also see pea plant vines accidentally damaged by you, your rambunctious kids, your digging dog, roaming deer, pesky woodchucks, or other pests. Unfortunately, there is not too much you can do about this after it happens.
To prevent damage to your pea plants in the future, make sure to put up a fence around your garden. Make the holes a chain link fence small enough to keep rabbits out.
Remember that even a 4 or 5 foot fence may not be enough to keep hungry deer out (whitetail deer can jump up to 8 feet!). However, at least it will be a deterrent if they not hungry enough to try jumping over.
The Weather Is Too Hot For Your Pea Plants
If the weather gets too hot for your pea plants, then they may fall over and stop producing. This could happen for several reasons.
First, the season for pea plants could be at its natural end. When temperatures get too far above 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24 degrees Celsius) during the day, pea plants will slow down growth and production.
It may also be that you planted your peas too late in the season. If that is the case, plan on planting earlier next year, depending on the last frost dates. For more information, check out this last frost date calculator from the Old Farmer’s Almanac.
If you cannot plant outside any earlier, then think about starting seeds indoors to give your pea plants extra time to grow. You can also opt for heat-resistant varieties of pea plants, such as:
- Dwarf Grey Sugar, matures in 60 days, grows 3 feet tall. For more info, check out Dwarf Grey Sugar peas on ufseeds.com.
- Lincoln, matures in 70 days, grows 2 to 3 tall
- Oregon Giant, matures in 60 days, grows 3 feet tall. For more info, check out Oregon Giant peas on ufseeds.com.
- Wando, matures in 70 days, grows 2 to 2.5 feet tall
Environmental Conditions Are Hurting Your Pea Plants
Environmental conditions could also be causing your pea plants to fall over. One obvious sign to look for first is pests.
There are numerous garden pests that can pose a threat to pea plants. One of the big threats is the aphid. These tiny insects suck sap out of plants and excrete a sweet substance known as honeydew.
Ants love honeydew, and will “farm” and protect aphids in exchange for the sweet substance. Sooty mold may also take up residence on leaves that have honeydew on them.
As you can see, aphids can cause additional problems in your garden, so it’s best to get rid of them quickly. With a small number of aphids, you can probably just spray with cold water from a hose to remove them.
However, a large infestation of aphids will not be so easy to rinse away with water. Such a large group of aphids can weaken multiple plants, spreading as they multiply and ultimately causing your pea plants to fall over.
If you have trouble with aphid infestations on your pea plants, check out my article on how to get rid of aphids.
If you don’t notice any aphids or other pests on your pea plants, you should consider the possibility of disease. Numerous diseases can affect pea plants, including fusarium wilt.
According to Wikipedia, fusarium wilt is a fungal disease, caused by fusarium oxysporum. Fusarium can make the leaves on your pea plants wilt.
The leaves may also turn yellow (known as chlorosis), and you may see necrosis (blackening and death of plant tissue), leaf drop, and stunted growth. Of course, all of this would eventually lead to your plant falling over, but this probably wouldn’t be the first sign of the disease.
Fusarium grows well in warm temperatures and moist soil, and there is no cure. Remove and destroy any affected plants to prevent the spread of the disease to your other plants.
Remember not to compost infected plants, since fusarium wilt can survive for some time in your compost pile and come back to haunt your garden in later years. Also, be sure to practice crop rotation, which means never planting the same crop in the same part of your garden two years in a row.
For more information, check out this article on fusarium wilt from Wikipedia.
If your pea plants are falling over, you may have either a pH imbalance or a nutrient imbalance.
To test for this, you can buy a soil test kit online or at a garden center. You can also send a soil sample to your local agricultural extension.
For more information, check out my article on how to do a soil test.
You should always do a soil test before making any amendment to your soil to adjust pH or nutrient levels. That way, you will know that you are moving in the right direction when you apply lime (to raise pH), sulfur (to lower pH), or fertilizers (to supplement nutrients).
Pea plants like moist soil – not too wet, and not too dry. If the soil is too dry, your pea plants can die from lack of water.
If the soil is too wet, your pea plants may suffer from root rot or other problems. For more information, check out my article on over watering plants.
You may also encounter problems if your soil drains poorly, especially if the soil has a clay composition. For more information, check out my article on how to improve soil drainage.
Now you have a better idea of what might be causing your pea plants to fall over, along with ways to treat the problem. If it is too late for this year, don’t forget to write down some notes in your gardening journal for next year’s garden planting!
I hope you found this article helpful – if so, please share it with someone who can use the information.
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