Types of Peas: Different Pea Plant Varieties To Grow in Your Garden
Peas can be a great plant to add to your vegetable garden. But there are three different types of peas, and several different varieties of each, depending on the pea type you are considering planting. It's important to understand the differences before planting seeds for your next harvest. In this article, gardener Emma Braby examines the three different types of peas, as well as the pea varieties under each.
There’s nothing like the flavor of freshly picked peas. And we know what you’re thinking, peas are peas, right? Well, not exactly. There are three types of pea plants, with many different pea plant varieties in each pea category.
Each plant is quite tasty, really nutritious, and easy to produce. And as you might have already found out, the hardest part of the decision is picking which type of pea to grow in your garden.
Here in this pea type guide, we will look at peas as a family and all of the different types of pea plants there are. Some grow better in different zones, some provide a different taste, and some are more challenging to grow than others. Let’s take a look at the different varieties there are out there, so you can find the perfect pairing for your garden.
Peas should be sown in the spring or early summer, ready for picking during the thick of summer. They can be sown indoors to encourage quicker germination and a better start, taking them outdoors shortly after. Certain varieties are prone to disease and pests, including caterpillars, mice, and rodents, so you need to protect the plants. Peas are quite popular as a veggie because of their ease of planting and are often companion planted with either spinach or radishes.
By choosing different cultivars, you can harvest a selection from June to October. They are ready to be picked when the pods are full. All types of pea plants should be picked regularly rather than leaving the pods in situ. Otherwise, the plant will stop flowering and producing further peas.
Below we have listed the number of days each pea type is ready to be picked. The number of days until the plant is ready, should be counted after the seeds have germinated. But be sure to look for the signs that they are ready, as every garden is unique. Pea seeds take around a week to germinate in warm soil and up to one month in cooler climates.
Pea Types and Varieties
There are three types of pea plants; garden, snow, and snap. Let’s look at their differences and all the different varieties to choose from in each pea category.
Garden peas are also known as English peas, green peas, and shelling peas. They should be sown in early spring. They are housed in their pod and are relatively large compared to other types. When the pods are thick and swollen, it’s time for them to be picked. They must be shelled (removed from their pod) as the shells are not edible.
As you might have guessed, Tall Telephone is a very tall pea variety that can exceed five feet. Garden steps are going to be a must-have for the Tall Telephone. It is a favorite for many gardeners as many of them claim they are the best tasting. Expect a your harvest to be ready for picking within 60 days.
This is another extra sweet variety of garden pea, making it another very popular type. The pods grow to an average of 3 ½ inches long, housing 9 to 10 medium-sized peas. This variety is ready to be picked in 75 days.
This pea type is moderately sweet in flavor, and it produces a lot of pods per plant. Making it a reliable option for all gardens. The plant grows to around two feet tall, and each pod contains approximately six to seven peas. The spring variety is ready to be picked in 60 days.
This is a prize-winning variety, thanks to its high-yielding capabilities. It is also a hardy pea type, boasting excellent resistance to fusarium. It is moderately sweet, and the dark green colored pods contain around 9 to 10 extra-large peas. The plant reaches approximately four feet tall, and should be ready to be picked in 60 days.
The early perfection pea variety produces crescent-shaped pods. The pods are 3 ½ inches long, making eight to nine tender peas per pod. This type is another prolific producer meaning there’s plenty for the whole family. The peas are medium-sized, relatively sweet, and this variety is drought resistant. This type is usually ready in 65 days.
Some gardeners challenge the Tall Telephone sweetest title and claim that the Lincoln type is the sweetest garden pea. They produce seven to eight large peas. Many gardeners claim that this type is ideal for small gardens and has good heat tolerance. The plant grows to around two to three feet tall, and usually ready in about 70 days. This variety is known to freeze well too.
This ideal variety is almost leafless, and the very stringy vines grow closely together. Making this an ideal plant for those looking for a minimalistic garden that produces vegetables. The plant reaches two feet tall, and each pod houses an average of eight peas. This variety is moderately sweet and will be ready for picking in 70 days.
This plant is best known for producing long pods that house eight to nine large peas. The pods usually grow to four inches and are dark green and very plump. They are relatively sweet in texture. The vines reach an average of three feet tall, and are ready to be picked in 60 days.
King Tut Purple Pea
Legend has it that this plant was found in King Tut’s tomb. It is only the pod that is purple in color; the peas inside are light, bright green. They add a splash of color to any garden or veggie patch, making them popular with gardeners. This variety is ideal for cooler climates and taste better when cooked rather than eaten fresh. These plants grow to around six feet, and are ready to be picked in about 68 days.
The Maestro type is a prolific producer that makes an ideal fall crop. It produces a dark green pod over four inches long, with up to 11 peas per pod. This variety is moderately sweet and ready to be picked in 60 days.
The Little Marvel produces sweet and tender peas. The pods grow to an average of three inches long, and they contain seven to eight medium-sized peas. The plant itself reaches two feet tall, making this plant ideal for smaller gardens. This variety is ready to be picked in 65 days.
This is another ideal variety as a fall crop as it tolerates both warm and cold weather. It produces dark green pods with an average of seven to eight medium-sized peas. They are moderately sweet and great for freezing and drying. The plant reaches over two feet tall, and are ready to be picked in 70 days.
Last but certainly not least is the misty shell pea plant. It produces a lot of pods with seven to eight peas in each. This variety is sweet and plump, and the plant as a whole reaches under two feet tall. An excellent option for gardens that have been ravaged by disease plants, this pea plant is highly resistant to all types of disease. The Misty Shell is ready to be picked in 60 days.
Snow peas are also commonly known as sugar peas. The pea pods are much flatter compared to garden peas, and the whole pod is edible. This variety is traditionally used in salads or oriental dishes such as stir fry. Expect them to be juicy and moderately sweet.
Oregon Sugar Pod
The Oregon sugar pod has several varieties, so you might come across Oregon Pod I or Oregon Pod II. The plants generally reach 2 ½ feet tall, and the average pods measure 4 to 4 ½ inches long. Oregon Sugar Pod is very disease resistant, and it produces very sweet and tender peas. Both types are usually ready in 70 days.
This pea plant produces short plants that only reach around 1 ½ feet tall. Making them ideal for smaller gardens or tabletop options. They are prolific producers, and the pods grow in groups of two to three. They are moderately sweet, and they are ready to be picked in 60 days.
This is one of the traditional slow pea varieties, and it is still popular to this day. This is another shorter plant that only reaches 1 ½ foot tall, and the pods are an average of three inches long. The pods are tender and relatively sweet. This variety is ready to pick in 65 days.
Mammoth Melting Sugar
This heirloom variety grows to four to five feet tall, making it one of the tallest snow pea varieties. The pods are enormous in size and grow to an average of 5 ½ inches tall. So if you like your stir fry veg chunky, these are an excellent option for you. The larger size also lends them to more extended cooking methods such as stews. They have a sweet flavor, and they are ready to be picked in 70 days.
This is another variety that produces larger than average pods, and they grow to an average of six inches long. Making them the most giant pods on this list. They are disease resistant, produce many dark green pods, and the plant reaches six feet tall. They are sweet and tender, and they are ready in 60 days.
Little Snowpea White
Little Snowpea White grows to be just over three feet tall. They are crunchy and sweet. What is great about this variety is that they are ready to be picked in just 30 days. Almost half the time of any other pea plant. Making this plant a top choice for impatient gardeners who like instant produce gratification.
Snap peas are also commonly known as sugar snap peas. They are similar to snow peas, but they produce plumper peas with an edible pod. Making them the best blend of both pea pod worlds. They are also particularly sweet and crunchy, making them ideal for a wide variety of dishes.
This was the first stringless snap pea to be developed. As the name suggests, this is a very sweet pea variety, and it is super tender as well. Making a popular option with gardeners. The vines reach two feet tall, and it also has a high disease resistance. Sugar Daddy can be picked in 75 days. This makes it one of the longest to develop, but it is definitely worth the extra few days’ wait.
These are the variety typically found in stores because the plant yields a lot of produce, and they are crunchy and very sweet. For these reasons, they are a prize-awarded variety that many gardeners choose. They can be picked as early as 54 days if you opt for an early type.
Super Sugar Snap VP
This type of pea is similar to the original sugar snap, but it is even sweeter than the original. This plant reaches five to six inches tall, and it is a prolific producer. It is highly disease resistant, and it is ready to pick in 65 days.
These are some of the most popular snap peas to plant because they are super crisp and sweet. They are delicious to eat in stir-fries, salads, or on their own as a fresh snack. They only grow about two feet tall, making them ideal for gardeners who are limited on space. Sugar Ann is ready for picking in about 55 days.
As you can see, there’s more to peas than meets the eye. There are three types of pea plants, the garden, the snow, and the snap. And they all have different culinary purposes. Some produce plumper peas, and others create more petite peas. Some are crunchy, some are super sweet, and some only take a month to cultivate. Others are suited to small gardens, and some need a step ladder to pick your peas. Why not choose a few and see which pea type you prefer.