The Symbolism and History of Sweet Pea Flowers

Since antiquity, flowers have been associated with symbolic meaning. Historically, entire gardens have been created based on the inner meaning of the flowers. Many florists today provide information on the meanings of flowers to encourage this practice. Charts of flowers and their associated symbolism help modern gardeners and gift-givers to “say it with flowers.”

Sweet peas were a sensation in the late 1800s, are often considered the floral emblem for Edwardian England and are the flowers most closely connected to the month of April. They come in over 250 varieties. Annual varieties prefer full sun, regular watering and soil with plenty of humus. Perennial varieties survive in average soils with moderate watering. They are wonderfully fragrant and were originally grown in the fields of Sicily. Most types grow from 1-5′ tall, though some may reach 6′.

The language of flowers associates the following meanings with sweet peas: blissful pleasure, delicate pleasure, good-bye, departure, adieu and thank you for a lovely time. This flower is often associated with young children and used to decorate blankets, clothing, bibs and other objects for babies. These items are excellent choices for baby showers and gifts for babies.

The most famous and perhaps most important use of this flower was the extensive genetics studies performed by Gregor Mendel. Since they self-pollinate, characteristics such as height, color and petal form can easily be tracked. Mendel’s work with these flowers earned him the distinction of being called the Father of Modern Genetics.

Try this flower as a stunning addition to your gardens and or as a cut flower and in corsages and boutonnieres. To encourage their cultivation and ongoing hybridization, many countries have societies, festivals and annual growing contests dedicated to this versatile flower.