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I plant morning glories every year in containers to climb up the walls of my terrace, but this year am having a lot of trouble with them. When buying the seeds, I saw sweet peas as well, and decided to give them a shot, and unlike the morning glories, they're doing great so far - I planted them later than the morning glories (less than 2 weeks ago), and every seed has sprouted and they look very healthy. I'm wondering if I should be planting more sweet peas, and how they compare with morning glories in a number of areas:

  1. How fast do they grow, compared to morning glories? The number one priority is height/volume.
  2. How does their coverage compare? Will they "branch out" as much as morning glories? ~6 morning glories in a rectangular 36" planter fully covered a 6' x 10' section of wall - would the vines from the sweet peas do the same?
  3. Do I need to care for them any differently? I have read that they like colder temperatures. Is a New York summer too hot for them?
  4. When (as in time of day) do they bloom? One frustration with morning glories is that the flowers are only out in the mornings, and at night when I'm actually there they are gone or shriveled up. I've never had any luck with moonflowers. Will the sweet pea flowers be open at night?

Thanks - I have had a hard time finding answers to these by googling, and the photos seem to be focused on the flowers and not the vines.

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Have you considered honeysuckle? –  Tim May 4 '12 at 16:40
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... or more generally, have you considered any perennials? There are so many to choose from, and once established they're much less work. Clematis, wisteria, honeysuckle, various ivies... –  Ed Staub May 4 '12 at 18:50
    
@EdStaub: are sweet peas perennial or do they just easily self-reseed? I've got sweet peas coming up where we planted them last year; I thought they were perennial. –  bstpierre May 7 '12 at 16:05
    
@bstpierre: It's an annual. –  Ed Staub May 7 '12 at 20:21

2 Answers 2

Can't answer all of your questions, but I can tell you about my sweet peas. (Don't know what variety, sorry.)

I've got sweet peas on a fence. The fence is only about 4' high, but they would keep right on going if it was higher -- probably at least 8'. Planted just a handful in the ground (not a planter) last year and they grew in very thick. This spring they've come back, and brought friends. I'm in NH -- Zone 5, and summers almost never hit 100°F, really just expect to have maybe 2-3 days above 90°F.

I don't specifically remember that much about the timing of the flowers. I think they were open in the afternoon/early evening, but I don't remember about nighttime.

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Thanks! I'm curious just how thick. If you could just estimate - what's the width of the fence, how many plants do you think you have, and would you say the fence is completely covered? –  Jer May 7 '12 at 15:26
    
@Jer: Guesstimating from last year... there were maybe a half dozen plants that covered maybe a 4-5' section of fence "completely" meaning that you couldn't casually see through it, but if you got close and looked then there were gaps big enough to see through. The way they've multiplied I think we're going to divide them and plant more along another section of fence. –  bstpierre May 7 '12 at 16:04

There are a great many kinds of sweet peas... But I haven't ever grown one that much hight than 24", I suspect that a sweet pea could fill up some spacial volume better than morning glory

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Hmmm...these are the ones I got, and they say 6 to 12 feet. Do you think I'll have a hard time getting at least 6 feet? Or have you tried/seen different ones that aren't supposed to grow as much as these? burpee.com/product/retailSimplePDP.jsp?pid=38928 –  Jer May 6 '12 at 13:45
    
Yeah I was doing a touch of research, and looks like I just haven't ever grown one of these varieties, but there are many that I have found that are over a hundred inches... So good luck with them! –  Grady Player May 6 '12 at 17:03

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