How to Germinate Peas

Peas supply a wide variety of nutrients to your diet. Depending on the type--from sugar snap peas to dry peas to green garden peas - they provide high amounts of fiber, iron, protein, Vitamin C, lysine, tryptophan and carbohydrates. Peas are a cool-season crop, so indoor planting and germination should take place several weeks before the last frost in your area. This will ensure plenty of time for outdoor planting, growth and harvest before temperatures warm to the point where pea plants fail to grow and produce. Although you can plant pea seeds directly in the ground, horticulturists with the Oregon State University Extension Service and the University of Maryland College of Agriculture and Natural Resources advise that knowledge of how to germinate peas before planting ensures a better harvest.


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    Apply nitrogen-fixing pea inoculant (available at garden supply centers) to the pea seeds. Follow package recommendations.
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    Moisten a paper towel and fold it into quarters.
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    Slide pea seeds into the paper towel's folds.
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    Put the paper towel and pea seeds into a perforated plastic baggie.
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    Place the seeds in a warm location, such as a sunny windowsill, with a temperature of approximately 64 degrees Fahrenheit (17.8 degrees Centigrade).
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    Monitor the moisture level of the paper towel and pea seeds, adding water as needed to ensure a humid environment inside the baggie.
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    Watch for roots poking from the folds of the paper towel.
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    Fill 3-inch (7.62 cm) pots with potting soil.
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    Plant 1 germinated seed from the folded paper towel into each pot.
    • Note: Set the germinated seeds about 1/2 the planting depth recommended on the seed packet and cover them lightly with potting soil.
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    Water the pots until the soil surrounding the pea seeds is thoroughly moistened.
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    Allow the germinated pea seeds to grow into healthy seedlings before transplanting them outside into your garden.


  • An ideal pH for pea plant growth is 5.5 to 6.5.
  • Optimal temperatures for pea plant growth in the outdoor garden range from 65-to-75 degrees Fahrenheit (18.3 to 23.8 degrees Celsius).
  • Apply mulch to peas grown in high-temperature areas to cool the soil and reduce water loss.
  • Peas usually take 50-to-70 days from germination to harvest.
  • Peas prefer soil that is fertile, well drained and high in organic matter.
  • Plant 2-to-3 oz. (56-to-85 g) of seed for each 100 feet (30 m) of row.


  • Watch pea crops for pea aphids, army worms and cutworms, pea weevils, fusarium wilt, pea enation mosaic (virus transmitted by aphids), powdery mildew, root rot and damping off.
  • Old pea seeds may not germinate as well or at all. Sow last year's leftover seeds more thickly than directions call for.
  • Peas fail to germinate well in very cold or overly warm soil.
  • Don't eat old seed peas. Seed peas are treated with pesticides that make them inedible.
  • Monitor pea plants for flower drop or stringy pea pods. These are signs of too much heat and/or not enough water.

Things You'll Need

  • Nitrogen-fixing pea inoculant
  • Pea seeds
  • Paper towel
  • Perforated plastic baggie
  • 3-inch (7.62 cm) pots
  • Potting soil

Article Info

Categories: Growing Vegetables