3 Main Types of Peas for Your Garden

Delicious Raw or Cooked

peas growing in a garden

​The Spruce / K. Dave

Peas are such a rewarding vegetable to grow. They are one of the earliest crops to mature in the spring and you can use them in all kinds of dishes. In fact, you can eat them right off the vine as a snack in the garden. And since they are legumes, they are as good for the soil as they are for people.

Peas are easy enough to grow. The most difficult part of growing peas is choosing what kind you want to grow. There are basically three types of peas: English peas, snow peas, and sugar snap peas. Each goes by multiple names, making the choice all the more confusing. But once you get the differences clear, you will probably want to grow some of each.

Here are the three main types of peas to grow in your garden.

  • 01 of 03

    English Peas (Pisum sativum, var. sativum)

    English peas

    The Spruce / K. Dave

    English peas do not have edible pods; you have to wait until fully plumped up before shelling and eating them. Shelling peas are one of the fastest maturing types of peas, with the smaller, bush varieties ready in about 50 days. Try growing the following varieties: 'Green Arrow,' 'Maestro,' 'Lincoln,' and 'Tall Telephone.'

    • USDA Growing Zones: 2 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full to partial sun
    • Soil Needs: Loamy
  • 02 of 03

    Snow Peas (Pisum sativum var. saccharatum)

    snow peas

    ​The Spruce / K. Dave

    Snows peas, often referred to as Chinese pea pods, have flat edible pods; the seeds are not allowed to fill out before harvesting. Even though you do not have to wait for the peas inside to plump, snow peas tend to have the longest days to maturity of all the peas, especially the tall varieties. Try growing the following varieties: 'Golden Sweet,' 'Mammoth Melting Sugar,' 'Oregon Giant,' and 'Oregon Sugar Pod.'

    • USDA Growing Zones: 2 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full to partial sun
    • Soil Needs: Drier, enriched soil
  • 03 of 03

    Sugar Snap Peas (Pisum sativum var. marcrocarpon)

    sugar snap peas

    ​The Spruce / K. Dave

    Sugar snap peas are a cross between English peas and snow peas. As with English peas, the seeds are allowed to plump up a bit. However, the pods are crisp and edible, so they do not need to be shelled and are used in recipes in the same way as snow peas. Sugar snap peas are grown the same way as English peas, but they tend to last a bit longer when the weather warms up. Try growing the following varieties: 'Cascadia,' 'Sugar Ann,' 'Sugar Daddy,' and 'Super Sugar Snap.' 

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 11
    • Sun Exposure: Full to partial sun
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained loamy soil