Blue Velvet sweet peas (Lathyrus odoratus Blue Velvet) are the go-to variety if you're looking for a reliable deep blue on which to base your annual summer climbing display. If dark colours aren't your style, check out our full range of sweet peas here. It's a tried-and-tested Spencer type, first introduced in 1972 and as popular now as it was then.
The flowers of Blue Velvet are very deep blue and when they catch the light, they often reflect different shades of violet and purple. Of course, it's all in the name - the blooms have a distinct velvet sheen, so much so it's hard not to touch them! They're well ruffled, typical of a Spencer type and the long stems and perfume make Blue Velvet an excellent cut flower.
The rich, dark shades of Blue Velvet need to be seen at close quarters to appreciate the subtleties of each petal's texture, so don't hide them at the back of the border. Grow them up obelisks near the front to act as a focal point and you'll be able to stop and smell the blooms, too.
They make a beautiful contrast to more other colours in the sweet pea range than virtually any other - think pale or bright pink, creams, whites or reds. It's this ability to look good in the company of other sweet peas which makes it such a summer asset. Of course, Blue Velvet doesn't have to be teamed just with other sweet peas - try combining it with a pale climbing rose such as Claire Austin or a tropical flower, like the deep red Cardinal climber (Ipomoea x sloteri).
Sweet pea Blue Velvet is suitable for growing in large containers but plants will need extra watering and a high potash plant food (such as tomato fertiliser) to keep flowering throughout the season. Keep deadheading faded flowers to make sure blooms keep forming - if seed pods are allowed to develop, the sweet pea's flowering mechanism will switch off. This is why it's a good idea to keep them within easy reach.
The Spencer-type sweet peas were first bred by Silas Cole, a gardener working for ancestors of Diana, Princess of Wales family. In 1900, one of his plants threw up a sport with much larger flowers and a wavy petal edge. This bright pink variety was named Countess Spencer and was exhibited at the National Sweet Pea Society's first show, at the Royal Aquarium in 1901.