How to Grow Peas in Containers

Pea Plants Take Two to Three Months to Grow

pea plant

Rev Stan/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 20 - 45 mins
  • Total Time: 20 - 45 mins
  • Yield: 1 container
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $10 to $50

Peas are the perfect vegetable to grow in a container garden. They grow quickly and don't need much attention but will yield a surprisingly large harvest for a little bit of effort. The must-haves for growing peas are full sunlight and moist soil. Peas prefer cool conditions, so planting them early in the season is your best bet for a plentiful harvest. Once the weather begins to warm, your peas will stop producing. You can pull them up at that point and start a different heat-loving vegetable in the same container.

Peas take between 60 and 70 days to grow to maturity from seeds. They don't have deep roots, so consider using planters at least 8 inches, going up to about 18 inches deep—plant peas about 1 to 2 inches deep and at the minimum 1 inch apart. You should be able to grow a second pea crop in late summer for a fall harvest. If your growing season is long enough, it might be possible to plant an early crop for a late spring harvest, then convert your planter to another fast-growing vegetable for the summer heat.

Some favorite types of peas for container gardening include:

  • Sugar snap peas
  • English peas (including the 'Little Marvel,' 'Tom Thumb,' and 'Early Frosty' varietals)
  • Snow peas
Garden supplies on a deck
Kerry Michaels

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Garden trowel
  • Garden gloves

Materials

  • Large planting container with drainage holes (8 to 18 inches deep)
  • Plastic screening
  • Coffee filter or porous landscape fabric (as needed)
  • Potting soil
  • Fertilizer (if needed)
  • Pea seeds
  • Legume inoculant (optional)
  • Support structure

Instructions

  1. Prepare Your Container

    Cut a piece of plastic screening large enough to cover the drainage hole in the bottom of the container you've chosen. If you don't have screening, you can use a coffee filter or a piece of porous landscape fabric to cover the drainage hole.

    Tip

    If your container is enormous, fill the bottom third with empty, clean plastic containers, soda bottles, milk jugs, or anything that will take up space without impeding water flow. It saves money on ​potting soil and keeps the container light. Separate the soil from filler material with a sheet of plastic screening or porous landscape fabric; cleanup will be easier at the end of the season.

  2. Fill Your Container With Potting Mix

    Pour potting mix into your container; stop filling at least 3 inches from the container rim. If your potting soil doesn't have fertilizer already included in its mixture, add in a general, all-purpose formula. Keep in mind that peas don't need much fertilizer—if you use too much, the nitrogen (a common ingredient in most fertilizers) will harm production, and the plants will produce large pods with small or no peas inside them. After filling your container, smooth out the soil, so it is relatively flat but not compacted.

  3. Plant Your Pea Seeds

    Though it's not mandatory, treating your pea seeds with a legume inoculant will produce a more significant pea yield and healthier plants. For faster germination, you can soak your seeds in water overnight. Then, while they're still wet, shake them in a bag with the inoculant.

    Sow your peas evenly. Plant peas at least one inch apart. The number of peas depends on the surface area of the container. You can plant two peas together to increase the chance of germination in that spot. With the flat part of your hand, press them onto the surface of the soil, and then add 1 to 2 inches of soil on top of the seeds. (Make sure not to add more than that, or the peas might have trouble germinating.) Water your container deeply with a watering can or a hose nozzle set to a gentle spray.

    Tip

    Pull the weaker pea shoot if both peas sprout in the same spot. Pea shoots make an excellent, fresh salad topping.

  4. Set Up a Trellis

    Most pea varietals are climbing plants, so they need a trellis or support structure for the vines to climb. Peas do not naturally cling very well with their tendrils, so you might have to help them get started by using wire ties to secure the stems to the structure. Bamboo stakes tied together at the top with twine into a triangle shape work well. Or you can place your container near a deck or railing that can serve as a "trellis" for the plants.

  5. Care for the Peas

    Peas are relatively easy plants, so this is just about the only care required. Keep the soil moist but not wet as your pea seeds germinate, sprout, and begin to grow. And make sure that your containers receive at least six hours of full sunlight each day. Because you fertilized the potting soil before planting the seeds, no additional feeding is necessary—peas are legumes that naturally "fix" nitrogen into the soil by absorbing it from the air.

    Harvest your pea pods as they ripen. For sugar snap peas, harvest them when the pods are still young, which is when they are the sweetest and tender. When harvesting English peas that you will shell, wait until the pods swell, letting you know that the peas inside are big and juicy. For snow peas, pick them from the plant before the peas inside become large and tough.

    Harvesting peas in a garden
    Elva Etienne/ Moment/ Getty Images

Watch Now: 19 Timelapses Perfect for Plant Lovers

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Peas. University pf Connecticut Home and Garden Education Center.