18 Types of Peas To Grow
Last updated: 04/12/21
Peas are a quick-growing, tasty tool in any gardener’s belt. They are cool-weather vegetables, making them a good option for early spring and late fall planting.In any case, they are a sweet tender bean with a thin skin and good light flavor – a good choice for salads as they absorb dressings well.As nitrogen-fixing legumes, peas will revitalize the soil if planted after heavy-feeding plants, such as squash.Peas are divided into three categories:
- Sugar Snap
With a huge number of varieties available, every gardener can find at least one type of pea to grow that fits their needs.
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18 Of The Best Pea Varieties
Type I: English Peas
English peas are also known as ‘garden peas’ or ‘shelling peas’ have inedible pods. These types of peas typically grow on long vines that benefit from trellising.
When possible, English pea seeds should be sown directly into the ground as soon as the soil can be worked. That said, some varieties do well in containers and can be started indoors.
English peas need to mature on the vine long enough for the peas inside each pod to plump up. Once harvested, remove the shell from these peas prior to eating or cooking.
English peas have an incredibly sweet taste and are an excellent source of vitamin A and a delicious addition to many dishes. These garden pea varieties also freeze and can well.
Lincoln peas were introduced in 1908 and have been popular since. They mature in 60-76 days, and are slightly more tolerant of warm weather than other pea varieties.
These plants produce a high yield of 6-9 sweet, tender peas per pod that are easy to remove from the shell. Lincoln pea vines grow up to 36 inches and are resistant to several common diseases.
This variety of pea is also open-pollinated, meaning you can save a few seeds from the plant to grow next year!
2. Penelope Peas
Penelope peas have longer than average pods, making them look especially appealing and delicate. For this reason, many folks interested in selling produce at farmers markets select Penelope peas.
The pods on these will yield 8-9 peas each and taste great. Sow these later in the year, two months before the first frost, and harvest mature plants in approximately 59 days.
Penelope peas are resistant to pea enation mosaic virus, a common problem for pea plants.
3. Maxigolt Peas
Maxigolt pea plants can grow up to five feet tall, so be sure to secure them to a trellis or wire. The peas on these plants are notably large and sweet, making them an excellent choice in any garden.
They are a late variety, so plant Maxigolt seeds in the fall near a trellis. They will mature in 62 days.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even pick the edible flowers of the Maxigolt plant and sprinkle them across your salad!
Alaska garden peas were developed to have an even shorter growing period than a typical pea plant. This makes them a great choice for gardeners who have a shorter growing season or who would like to plant a second crop after harvesting their peas.
Alaska peas mature after just 50-60 days. They are a little less sweet than other varieties and will produce many average size pods with 5-7 peas per pod.
5. Miragreen Peas
Miragreen peas are hearty plants that mature in 68 days. One of the tall varieties of peas that grow on longer vines that will need support, and will produce fruit well into the summer if planted in early spring.
Miragreen peas are sweet and freeze particularly well after harvesting.
They do better than other varieties of heat and mild drought conditions.
Tom Thumb peas were developed in 1854 and considered extra-dwarf plants, growing just 9 inches tall. Due to their small size, Tom Thumb peas are ideal for container gardens.
Check out our article on Growing Peas in Containers for more advice.
These plants mature after 55 days and produce a small harvest of sweet, plump peas.
Type II: Sugar Snap Peas
Sugar snap peas also known as just ‘snap peas’ grow in round, crunchy, edible pods. These varieties of peas began as a cross between garden and snow peas, combining the best qualities of both.
Like other types of peas, sugar snaps prefer cool weather and can handle light frost, so sow these seeds early.
Check out our article on Growing Sugar Snap Peas for more information on cultivating a successful harvest. For maximum sweetness and tenderness, harvest sugar snap peas when the peas are plump.
Eat or freeze them as soon as possible.
Super sugar snap peas are a newer variety of pea that have been bred to be sweeter and have a much higher yield than other varieties. Maturing in 64 days, these plants grow on vines that reach 5 feet.
They also have a high resistance to powdery mildew and several other common viruses that can afflict peas.
Eat super sugar snap peas right off the vine for a near-perfect sweet treat!
Sugar Ann peas are a dwarf plant that grow to only 24 inches, making them a great choice for smaller spaces. They typically do not require additional support as they grow.
Their 3-inch pods will mature in just 56 days and then stay crisp on the vine for about a week. These plants are so impressive, they were the All-American Selections winner in 1984.
9. Royal Snap II Peas
Royal Snap II peas are named for the dark, regal purple pod they produce. The vines are mid-sized at approximately 24 inch long and take 58 days to mature.
The purple color develops over time; harvest the pods when it has become dark and the peas are plump. Toss Royal Snap II peas with Sugar Ann and Honey Snap peas for a bright, colorful spring mix!
10. Honey Snap II Peas
Honey Snap II peas were developed by the same plant breeder as the Royal Snap II. When mature, they have a light, golden color that contrasts very well with other varieties of pea.
Honey Snap II peas take up a little more space than their purple counterparts, with 30 inch vines that may need support.
They take a short 58 days to mature and produce a mid-size pod.
Cascadia snap peas are a favorite among many home gardeners. The vines are on the shorter side at 32 inches, making them very manageable in any space.
The dark green pods produce incredibly sweet peas after 60 days. Cascadia snap peas also have a high resistance to pea enation mosaic virus.
12. Sugar Sprint Peas
Sugar sprint peas are a newer variety of pea. They mature in 62 days and are very resistant to powdery mildew.
The sugar sprint is known for producing sweet, crunchy fruit very early in the season, allowing for a long harvest in both spring and fall.
Type III: Snow Peas
Snow peas – also known as Chinese pea pods – have a flat, edible pod. These types of peas have been grown for thousands of years and are typically eaten whole, as the pod walls are thin and tender.
They are not quite as sweet as sugar snap or garden peas, but still delicious in a variety of dishes. In fact, snow peas and sugar snaps can often be used interchangeably in recipes such as salads and stir-fries.
Most snow pea plants grow tall, thin vines that wrap around anything nearby, so be sure they have trellises, stakes, and fences to climb.
Oregon sugar pods were bred at Oregon State University and live up to their name with huge, 5” pods. They are a shorter variety, growing up to 4’, making them a great choice for smaller gardens.
Like most peas, they prefer cool weather, but they will tolerate some mild heat. It takes 70 days for Oregon Giant snow peas to mature.
14. Avalanche Peas
Avalanche snow peas are another very large variety, with pods up to 6” long.
These plants produce more peas than other similarly sized plants if harvested regularly, and their tendrils and vines can be used to garnish dishes. Avalanche snow pea plants grow to 30” but don’t produce very many leaves.
Plant several close together and they will curl around each other to develop a self-supporting network of vines.
15. Royal Snow Peas
Royal snow peas have a dark purple pod that tastes just a touch bitter. As they grow, these pea pods curl, making them attractive in any salad or dish.
Royal snow peas grow vines up to 30” long and mature in 61 days. They don’t have an especially high yield or resistance to common disease, but their unique appearance more than makes up for these potential issues.
16. Golden Sweet Peas
Golden sweet snow peas mature in 67 days, but before this they produce beautiful purple flowers that will brighten up your garden.
These plants are large, growing vines up to 6’ and so require a trellis or stake. Golden sweet snow peas have a sweet flavor as long as they are picked small, around 3” in length.
If left to grow larger, they may develop a slight bitterness.
17. Snowbird Peas
Snowbird peas are a dwarf plant, only growing to 18” tall. After 58 days, they will mature with pods that are in groups of 2-3. This makes for a robust harvest that’s easy to bring in.
Snowbird peas should be picked early, when the pods are 3” in length and the small peas inside are just beginning to develop.
Mammoth melting peas are one of the absolute largest varieties of snow pea. They mature in 68 days and do especially well in cooler temperatures.
Sow these early and directly in the ground, as soon as the soil is workable. The plants can grow as large as 6’, so be sure you have plenty of room.
Once harvested, Mammoth melting peas retain their sweet flavor.
In summary, it’s important to understand that the life of a plant in a container is much different from the one in the ground.
Always remember that while the container can provide excellent drainage, the plants are dependent on you for water, nutrients and positioning them under direct sunlight or partial shade.