Australian Grow Guide: Snow Peas

Snow peas are best grown from seed and will continue to crop as long as you pick the crisp pods regularly.

Featured Image: Rob Duval I Wikimedia (cropped) I CC BY-SA 3.0

Snow peas are surprisingly easy vegetables to grow in Australia, especially if you live in cooler southern regions.

They are best grown from seed and will continue to crop as long as you pick the crisp pods regularly.

Here’s everything you need to know to grow snow peas in Australia.

When to plant snow peas

Pisum sativum var. macrocarpum Snow Pea | Fruit & Vegetables
Salicyna I Wikimedia I CC BY-SA 4.0

In Australia, snow peas are grown over the cooler months as they suffer from stress when exposed to temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius.

When you can plant your snow peas depends on which part of Australia you live in and what your climatic zone is.

The ideal temperature range for snow peas is between 15 to 24 degrees Celsius.

Here’s a general guide:

  • Cold regions. Plant your snow peas from September to October.
  • Temperate, cool and frost-free regions. You can plant snow peas from February to August.
  • Subtropical regions. Snow peas can be planted from April to July.
  • Tropical regions. It’s not possible to grow snow peas successfully in the tropics.

How to plant snow peas

Snow peas are best grown from seeds but you can use seedlings if you prefer.

However, the roots can be quite sensitive and your seedlings may suffer from transplant shock.

In addition, it’s much more cost-effective to grow your snow peas from seeds.

Here’s how to plant snow peas using seeds:

First, find a sunny spot in your garden that has well-drained soil. Ideally, the soil pH should be around 6 to 7.

Next, using a garden fork, loosen the soil to a depth of 30 cm. This makes it easier for the roots to grow once the seeds have germinated.

Now you can plant the seeds around 2 cm deep into damp soil. There’s no need to water after you’ve planted the seeds because they are prone to rotting.

Therefore, try not to plant the seeds during periods of rainy weather.

It should take around 10 days for your seeds to germinate.

How to care for snow peas

Once the seeds have germinated and the seedlings are around 5 to 10 cm high, you can start watering your plants regularly. 

Because snow peas fix nitrogen into the soil, they generally don’t need to be fertilised if you have soil that already contains plenty of organic matter.

Snow peas have a symbiotic relationship with a certain soil bacteria that allows them to take nitrogen from the atmosphere and store it in the nodules of their roots. 

This not only means that your snow peas should be getting all the nitrogen that they need but if you turn the plants into the soil after they’ve finished producing, there will be plenty of nitrogen available for the next crop that you want to grow in the same spot.

The most important thing for growing snow peas successfully is to provide them with a support system to grow on.

Most gardeners prefer to use a trellis when they grow snow peas but you can also use a tall teepee made from bamboo stakes.

How to grow snow peas on a trellis

It’s best to install your trellis before you plant the seeds so that you don’t disturb the delicate roots of the young seedlings.

Select a tall trellis made from wire panels or one made from bamboo as this helps with airflow around the plants.

As your young plants start to grow, you’ll notice that they produce climbing tendrils that will cling onto the trellis.

You can assist the snow peas to climb up the trellis by gently wrapping the tendrils around the support.

But do this very gently to ensure that you don’t break the tendrils.

Snow pea pests and diseases

Because snow peas are generally grown in the cooler months, they do have fewer pest and disease problems.

However, there are a few that you should be on the lookout for.

Slugs and snails

Snail on a leaf | Fruit & Vegetables

These annoying garden pests just love munching on the newly emerged seedlings and will destroy your entire crop if you don’t control them.

The easiest way to limit the damage is to use snail and slug pellets around your plants.

Multicrop has a product called Multiguard Snail and Slug Pellets that is safe to use around pets and wildlife.

Scatter the pellets around the soil as soon as you see some seedlings emerging.

Powdery mildew

This fungal disease can be a problem in areas of humidity which is why it’s not a good idea to grow snow peas in tropical regions.

To avoid the spread of the disease, water only the soil and avoid getting the leaves wet.

If you do notice the white mildew on the leaves and stems of your plants, spray with a mixture of 1 part milk to 9 parts water.

Rust disease

This is also a fungal disease and can cause the leaves to turn yellow and the plants to die.

You can treat this with a copper spray such as Yates Leaf Curl Copper Fungicide.

How long do snow peas take to grow?

Oregon sugar pod 1 | Fruit & Vegetables
Rob Duval I Wikimedia I CC BY-SA 3.0

Snow peas are quite fast growers and you’ll be surprised at how quickly they start flowering and producing those lovely tender pods.

In fact, you should be able to pick your first pods around 10 weeks after planting the seeds.

When to pick snow peas

Snap peas | Fruit & Vegetables
Ruth Hartnup I Flickr I CC BY 2.0

You can harvest snow peas once the pods are large enough (around 5 cm long) but still quite flat.

They should be crisp and firm and snap when you bend them. 

Snow peas are at their best when you use them straight after harvesting them.

Therefore, just pick the amount you need and leave the rest for the following day.

Bear in mind though, that the more often you pick them, the more pods each plant will produce.

If you have an oversupply of snow pea pods, you can blanch them for 90 seconds and freeze them to use when their growing season is over.

How to pick snow peas

Ideally, you want to pick your snow peas early in the day while they’re nice and crisp.

You can snap the pods off with your fingers but make sure that you support the rest of the plant with your other hand so that you don’t break it. 

Alternatively, use a garden knife or a pair of kitchen scissors to snip the stems of the pods off the plant.

Snow pea companion plants

Snow peas can be grown successfully with other cool climate plants including:

  • Carrots
  • Radishes
  • Potatoes
  • Turnips
  • Lettuce
  • Spinach

In addition, there are some plants that you should NOT grow with snow peas.

These include:

  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Leeks
  • Chives
  • Shallots


How tall do snow peas grow?

Snow peas are prolific growers and can reach a height of around 60 to 210 cm. That’s why you need a tall trellis to grow them up.

Why are snow peas called snow peas?

Snow peas have received this name because they can survive in frost and snow and are better grown in cooler seasons.

Photo of author

Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.


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