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Pea Growing Problems: Troubleshooting

Peas sugar on vine1
Peas sugar on vine
Pea growing problems occur most often when peas are grown in warm, not cool, weather.

Fresh-picked home-grown green peas are worth the effort. The flavor of fresh-picked peas will far outdistance the flavor of store bought peas because flavor of peas dulls quickly after picking as sugar change to starch.

Peas grow best in cool weather, but peas are not limited to spring planting. Late summer and fall planting can result in fall, winter, and early spring harvests in mild-winter regions. Peas are best grown on supports to keep them off the ground and away from many pests and diseases. (For pea growing tips see How to Grow Peas or Pea Growing Success Tips at the bottom of this post.)

Pea growing problems with cures and controls:

Seedlings fail to emerge from soil or seedlings are eaten. Cabbage maggot is a small gray-white, legless worm to ⅓-inch long; adult looks like a housefly. Seedcorn maggot is a small, yellowish white maggot, the larva of a small gray fly. Flies lay eggs in the soil near the seedling or plant. Apply lime or wood ashes around the base of plants; time planting to avoid insect growth cycle. Plant a bit later when the weather is drier.

Plants are eaten or cut off near soil level. Cutworms are gray grubs ½- to ¾-inch long that can be found curled under the soil. They chew stems, roots, and leaves. Place a 3-inch paper collar around the stem of the plant. Keep the garden free of weeds; sprinkle wood ash around base of plants.

Seeds rot or seedlings collapse with dark water-soaked stems as soon as they appear. Damping off is a fungus that lives in the soil; it emerges where humidity is high. Do not plant in cold, moist soil. Make sure soil is well drained. Rotate crops.

Plants stunted; vines off-color; roots rotten or absent. Root rot and crown rot. Improve soil drainage by adding aged compost to planting bed. Destroy infected plants. Rotate crops. Plant resistant varieties.

Leaves curl under and become deformed and yellowish. Aphids are tiny, oval, and yellowish to greenish pear-shaped insects that colonize on the undersides of leaves. They leave behind sticky honeydew. Spray away aphids with a blast of water. Use insecticidal soap.

Leaves turn pale green, yellow, or brown; dusty silver webs on undersides of leaves and between vines. Spider mites suck plant juices causing stippling. Spray with water or use insecticidal soap or rotenone. Ladybugs and lacewings eat mites.

Trails and tunnels in leaves. Leafminer larvae tunnel inside leaves. Destroy infected leaves and cultivate the garden to destroy larvae and keep adult flies from laying eggs. Cover crops with floating row covers.

Holes chewed in leaves, leaves skeletonized; runners and young fruit scarred. Spotted cucumber beetle is greenish, yellowish, ¼ inch (7mm) long with black spots and black head. Striped cucumber beetle has wide black stripes on wing covers. Hand pick; mulch around plants; plant resistant varieties; dust with wood ashes.

Large holes in leaves; leaves skeletonized. Armyworms are dark green caterpillars the larvae of a mottled gray moth with a wingspan of 1½ inches. Armyworms mass and eat leaves, stems, and roots of many crops. Handpick caterpillars and destroy. Cultivate after harvest to expose the pupae. Use commercial traps with floral lures.

Semicircular notches on leaf margins; holes in blossoms. Pea weevil is a brownish beetle with white and black spots to about 1/5 inch long. It feeds at night. Sprinkle diatomaceous earth or wood ashes around plants. Spray with pyrethrum.

Scorched leaf margins. Molybdenum deficiency. Test soil. If deficient in molybdenum, add one teaspoon of ammonium molybdate per 1,000 square feet.

Round to angular spots on leaves, reddish brown to black. Anthracnose is a fungus disease that spreads in high humidity and rainfall. Leaves may wither and fall. Plant may die back. Generally found in eastern North America. Spray or dust with a fixed copper- or sulfur-based fungicide every 7 to 10 days. Remove and discard infected plants. Avoid working in the garden when it is wet which can result in spread of spores. Keep tools clean. Rotate crops.

Irregular yellowish to brownish spots on upper leaf surfaces; grayish powder or cottony mold on undersides; dark sports on pods. Downy mildew is caused by a fungus. Improve air circulation. Add aged compost to planting beds to improve drainage. Plant resistant varieties. Rotate crops. Keep garden free of plant debris. Use a 4-year rotation.

Round white powdery spots and coating on leaves, stems, and pods. Powdery mildew is caused by fungal spores. Spores germinate on dry leaf surfaces when humidity is high; spores do not germinate on wet leaves. Common in late summer or fall but does not result in loss of plant. Avoid water stress. Pick off infected leaves. Rotate crops. Keep water off foliage as much as possible. Destroy plant debris after harvest.

Lower leaves yellow; cross-section of lower part of stem may show reddish-orange discoloration; plants are stunted and yellow. Fusarium wilt is a fungal disease which infects plant vascular tissues. Fungal spores live in the soil and are carried by cucumber beetles. Plant resistant varieties. Rotate crops. Remove and destroy infected plants. Fungicides are not effective.

Mottled light and dark green pattern on leaves; leaves are distorted and may become brittle and easily broken; plants are stunted. Mosaic virus has no cure; it is spread from plant to plant by aphids and leafhoppers. Plant resistant varieties. Remove diseased plants. Remove broadleaf weeds that serve as virus reservoir. Infected plants can produce edible fruit but the size and yield is reduced.

Vine produce but few blossoms appear. Too much nitrogen. Pinch back growing tips to slow down green foliage growth and encourages flower production.

Pea blossoms are not followed by pods. Pollen is not reaching the female parts of the flower. Peas are self-pollinating; gently shaking plants during blossom period will aide the distribution of pollen.

Purple specks or lesions on leaves and pods. Ascochyta blight is a fungal disease that leaves streaks on stems; sunken tan or dark spots on pods. Remove and destroy infected plants. Apply sulfur as a fungicide. Plant resistant varieties.

Brown cavity on surface of pea. Manganese deficiency in alkaline soils. Spray the foliage with 1 percent manganese sulfate solution at flowering time and again 2 to 3 weeks later.

Cloudy cream or yellowish colored spots without definite margins on pod, tissue underneath is spongy. Stink bugs are gray or green shield-shaped bugs about ¼-inch long; they feed on fruits. Remove garden debris and weeds where bugs overwinter. Trap adults under boards and hand pick in the morning. Hand-pick egg masses and destroy.

Pods deformed; surface of pods scarred. Thrips are minute insects, yellow, brown, or black with narrow fringed wings; they scrape plant leaves and fruit as they feed. Keep garden free of weeds. Place diatomaceous earth around plants. Spray with insecticidal soap.

Plants are deformed; pods are highly deformed. Pea enation virus causes leaves to blister and become translucent. Plants and pods become deformed. Virus can not be cured. Virus is spread by aphids; control aphids. Plant resistant varieties.

Pods are woody. Harvest sooner, as soon as peas fill out but are still tender and succulent. Pods left on the vines too long will become hard and woody.

Plants stop producing pods; leaves turn yellow, then brown, and die. Hot weather; peas are cool-season vegetable. Plant early and heat-resistant varieties in warm regions.

Pea Growing Success Tips:

Planting. Grow peas in full sun. Peas grow best in well-drained soil. Add aged compost to the planting bed for best yield, but peas will grow in average soil.

Planting time. Sow peas directly in the garden as early as 3 weeks before the last frost in spring (when the soil temperature is at least 40°F). In mild-winter regions, peas can be planted 8 to 10 weeks before the first frost in fall; plant peas throughout the winter in frost-free regions. For a prolonged harvest, plant early, midseason, and late-season varieties on the same day.

For a summer pea crop, sow heat-tolerant pea varieties 3 to 4 weeks after the first sowing or about 2 to 4 weeks after the last frost in spring. Where summers do not get hot, peas can be sown throughout the summer.

Fall pea crops, should come to harvest 7 to 14 days before the first frost in fall. Plant an early variety in late summer, timed to mature before the frost.

When planting peas, keep this in mind: young pea plants are frost tolerant, but peas blossoms and pods are frost sensitive.

Care. Peas grow best when supported. Place a trellis, lattice, stakes, or long twiggy branches where peas can climb. Set the support in place at planting time. Keep peas just moist, but not overly moist. Seedlings will rot in wet soil (but do not let peas dry out). When pea vines bloom and begin to form pods, increase the water. Watch for pests daily; spray away small pests with a blast of water and handpick larger pests.

Harvest. Pea pods will mature from the bottom of the plant up. Pick snow peas when they are tender and easily bent; the pods will be just barely swollen. Pick snap peas when the pods are just swelling; ripe pods will “snap” when bent. Pick shelling peas when they are bright green but before pods look waxy. Pick all peas frequently to keep the plants producing.

More tips at How to Grow Peas.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.


Comments are closed.
  1. I have a question: I have grown peas for the first time in large tubs. Plants have been strong and vigorous with plenty of pea pods.
    However, whilst all of the pods have grown quite large only a few have peas in them – the rest have just tiny seeds and lots of air!
    Is there a reason for this? Should I be picking the first forming ones earlier to allow the later forming ones to “fill out”?
    I would be greateful for any advice.

    • Plant them a few weeks after, and with corn. The pea pods will climb the more mature corn stalks and receive some shade from the sun by the corn. You can also plant squash a few weeks after the corn, & around the edge of your planter which will grow in and shelter the roots, keeping them cool. This is called the sisters planting methed.

  2. Peas that do not fill the pod may be stunted by hot weather; peas are cool-lowing plants and do not grow well in high temperatures. Plant earlier so that the plants come to harvest when temperatures are between 55F and 75F during the days. The critical time for watering peas is during flowering, seed enlargement, and pod development; be sure to keep the soil evenly moist during these periods; don’t let the soil go dry. Peas are light feeders, but a compost rich soil will keep them growing steadily to harvest. For the best yield, pick peas frequently to keep the vine producing.

  3. I have planted snow peas and they are coming to the end of the fruitng period. What do I do with them now? Should I cut them back to soil level? If I do, will they grown back again? Any advice would be appreciated as they are now just taking nutrients from the soil and stunting growth of the other plants near by. Thank you.

    • Once your snow pea harvest to complete you can remove plants from the garden and if no disease or insects are present put them in the compost file. You can also turn the plants under and let them compost in the garden. The plants themselves will not grow back once they have fruited. But you can let some of the peas on the vine mature and dry–if the plant is open-pollinated and not a hybrid, you can save the seeds and plant them next year.

  4. I have a broken snap pea vine. Any tips on how to repair it? It’s broken most of the way through. I don’t know if I cut it at the break and put it in water if new roots will come out or if I can cut it and plant it directly in the soil. Thanks!

    • Once the capillaries are broken, it’s unlikely your plant will thrive or survive. You can use horticultural tape to try to mend the broken stem, but it may not take. Starting from cuttings is iffy; you can try, but the best course may be to start again from seed.

  5. my shell peas are growing beautifully and are producing lots of peas. My problem is that several peas when I open them have a little white worm in it. Why is this happening and how can I get rid of them or stop from infecting the rest of my peas.

    • Look closely at the pods for small holes from boring insects; remove those pods and destroy them. Look under leaves for egg clusters and crush them. Inspect the plants frequently for signs of pests or eggs or larvae. Use a strong spray of water to spray away insects such as aphids for flea beetles and insect eggs. Handpick and crush larger pests.

  6. I have planted snow and snap peas for several years and have had minimal issues but this year, something has been destroying the plants. It’s as if someone is cutting through the middle of the stalks. When I go out in the mornings, I see the top portion of the stock 2′ in length, dangling in mid air, and limp. I am able to put the top portion into water to save some of the pods but, the rest of my will be gone if I can’t find a cure. Please help.

    • Sounds like the work of earwigs or perhaps slugs or snails. Wet a few sheets of newspaper and roll the loosely and set them in the garden in the evening. Check the next morning to see what insects might have taken refuge. You can proceed from there to trap or poison them.

    • I have same problem with stalks being cut on sugar snap peas. What animal is doing this to all the stalks . Next garden season must have chicken wire fence if the sugar snaps are to yield their crop.

  7. My peas are producing flowers and peas, but the plants, which are supposed to be vines, are no more than 6″ tall. How do I encourage plant growth first, then pea growth?

    • Peas flowering and producing pods at just a half foot in height: I suspect that your seed is a bush type pea–there are several varieties–Oregon Trail, Improved Laxton’s Progress, Waverex, Olympia, Maestro. Recheck the seed packet–if it says vining, I suspect the wrong seed went into the packet. If the plant is healthy, flowering, and producing, there is little the gardener can do to change the genetics of the seed. If the plant were stunted and not producing, we might suspect the soil needs more nutrients, such as nitrogen or green growth including vines and leaves, but that does not seem to be the case here.

  8. Hi, I have been having great snap pea production this spring, but now some of the pods are doing this strange thing where they are soft and getting a brown discoloration over the the surface… any ideas?

    • Discolored, water-soaked pea pods is a sign of bacterial blight or gray mold. These diseases can be problems in humid regions. You can still pick the healthy pods. But after that, you will need to remove and destroy the vines. Next year do not plant peas in the same part of the garden and look for disease resistant cultivars for next season.

  9. I am trying to grow English peas. It is September in Hawaii with daytime temperatures in the 80s nights in the 60s. A friend with extensive gardening experience grows peas all year long.
    My plants grow slowly but appear otherwise healthy except some of the leaves are brown and dry at the edges and the pods quickly brown and dry. I can see no pests but have sprayed with insecticidal soap anyway. My soil test shows normal manganese with a pH of 6.9. It does not measure molybednum. Other plants in the garden are thriving.

    • Growing peas where daytime temperatures are above 75F is likely to be a challenge–the optimal temperature for growing peas is between 65F and 75F. Make sure the peas are growing in compost rich soil that will hold plenty of moisture; give peas plenty of water throughout their growing time–except when flowering, then cut back as too much water can hinder pollination. Grow several varieties to see which performs best in your garden–grow a couple of early peas such as Little Marvel (59 days) and Progress No. 9 (60 days) and a couple of late peas such as Wando (68 days) and Arrow (70 days). Ask your friend what variety he or she grows and also see if you can replicate the growing conditions in that garden in your garden–perhaps, your friend has found a microclimate (shade or shelter) that peas love.

        • Pea leaves and pods can dry and brown for several reasons–bacterial and viral diseases included, but I would suspect that if you are in a dry and hot region, browning–particularly at leaf edges–could be the result of too little soil moisture or sun burn. Keep the soil evenly moist–particularly during pod set and development–and if you are having very hot days, make a frame over your crop and cover it with shade cloth.

    • Your soil may be a bit too rich in nitrogen–which supports green growth, not flower and fruit growth. Sprinkle bone meal or rock dust around your plants to increase the phosphorus and potassium–which support fruit growth. Use a low nitrogen fertilizer in the future.

  10. My green peas seemed to have been growing well, but in the last day or two, the bottom leaves have started to fade in color. There was a frost two or three nights ago. Would the frost have caused this? The plants are only about 8 inches tall and are vining. They haven’t produced any pods yet. I live in North Carolina. I would be grateful for any help. Thanks.

    • Yes, the tender leaves of your young green peas may have suffered frost burn. If you expect temperatures to dip into the 30s again protect your crop with a frost blanket until the temperatures moderate into the 50sF.

  11. Hi, I planted my pea seeds 4 weeks ago in 6 inch deep planters, and they have already grown to about 10 inches tall…. But they barely have any leaves, they are in an indoor sun room, nothing is eating the leaves they just don’t seem to be growing …. Is that normal? I seem to remember my other pea plants having lots of leaves

    • Your peas may be stressed and wanting to be out in the garden. Not getting the full-benefit of day-long sun they are growing “leggy.” Harden-them off and introduce them to their outdoor home as soon as the weather permits.

  12. i have grown pea in lab. they emerge in good condition but after 3 weeks the plants started to die. i also put some supports to climb but in vain.

    • The young plants may be collapsing due to a fungal disease called damping off. Be sure to use fresh potting soil or seed starting mix that has been pasteurized.

    • I have these big, amazing peas that are coming beautifully but not producing any peas. I’m afraid I’m running out of time for them to produce since it’s already May. I planted in February. Is there any hope of peas if I add some phosphorus to my soil?

      • Add phosphorus to encourage blooms; it is likely you will run out of time for flowers and then pods to develop before warm weather sets in–unless you are in a northern cool-summer region. Adding phosphorus now may help when you sow peas again in late summer for late autumn harvest.

  13. ?. I am growing snow peas and snap peas in the same area of the garden. I am getting a good crop but some of the flowers are coming out purple in colour. Are they safe to eat or has the plant cross
    ed with a sweet pea.

  14. Aloha, I have tried to grow sugar snap peas a ton of times here in Hawaii. I get my seeds to sprout and actually get a few inches tall, but at around 5 to 7 inches high, my leaves always fall off. They are trellised and I don’t see any pests. I just don’t get it!! Do you have any ideas

    • Grow sugar snap peas in the coolest part of the year; temperature too warm can cause pea plants to simply give up. Over or under watering can also cause plants to drop leaves; make sure the soil stays just moist, never dries out and never over water.

  15. hello, i direct sowed my Lincoln Pea seeds before the last frost date (I am zone 4/5 border) which was about a month ago, and the seedlings emerged well, but not the peas are growing very slowly, they are only about 4-5 inches tall. Is this normal (I’m a beginner veggie gardener)?

    • It may be temperature that is slowing the growth of your plants–if the nights are chilly 40sF or below or if the days are very warm 80sF or greater. You can protect the crop with a floating row cover until they are well rooted and take off. As well, be sure the soil does not dry out–keep the soil just moist so that plants can take up moisture and nutrients.

  16. help! my pea plants are dying at the soil level…though they had grown beautifully until now. The vines look healthy, but at the soil the stems have “pinched” and the stem is dry and browning from that point (and will now not be able to bring water to the rest of the plant and it will die) . any idea why this is happening and what i can do? thanks for your help!

    • Your pea seedling failure may be due to damping off caused by fungi in the soil. Seedlings that emerge may collapse later as the water and nutrient moving capillaries collapse. Remove infected plants, increase the light around seedlings if possible, replant in fresh soil. Good drainage is important–do not overwater, and do not let the soil be moist when nightfall comes.

  17. A friend of mine gave us a bag of peas. Some of the pods are reddish brown in color and the pea is a tanish color. Are they just getting old? ok to eat? Not even sure what kind of peas they are. I’m a city girl!

    • You should ask your friend if she knows what variety of peas she has given you. There are some heirloom pea and bean varieties that have reddish brown pods and tan pods and some that are speckled when harvested. On the other hand, peas and beans do dry out and turn tan-brown as they grow old. Rather than eat them, you may want to plant a few of the seeds and grow them on. When harvest comes you can compare them to pods seen in seed catalogs online and you may be able to identify the variety you have.

  18. I have a question, I planted dwarf peas in a container, and they have sprouted and grown a little bit (maybe 2″ tall) but they seemed to have stalled. The plants seem otherwise healthy, no wilting no bugs? Spacing seems reasonable, though maybe could thin them a little bit?

    • Some dwarf pea varieties only grow to 2 feet tall. If they begin to flower and set pods, then all is well. If they do not flower, then environmental factors may be slowing them down: (1) weather too hot or to cold; (2) cloudy weather or rain; (3) harsh winds; (4) not enough sunlight; (5) inconsistent watering.

  19. Thank you for the helpful response! I think my problems are related to heat and wind, which we have had a lot of this summer in Big Sky, MT. I have moved the pot to a less windy spot and with a little less heavy sun! Thanks again.

  20. Hi Steve, I am growing Hurst Green shaft peas, Can you advise how tall they will grow approx before starting to flower and harvest peas.
    Many Thanks

    • Your Hurst Greenshaft peas will grow to about 30 inches tall and will produce peas on the top half of the plant. You should have peas for harvest 12 to 14 weeks after sowing. Flowers should come 8-9 weeks after sowing.

    • Yes; sounds like you allowed the peas to dry in the pod on the vine. Soak dried peas overnight before cooking; your cooking time will be about 40 minutes. Unsoaked peas take from 1 to 2 hours of simmering.

  21. I am growing sugar snap peas which have reached 6 feet in height and produce quite a few very healthy pods. However, the bottom of the vine has become pinched and brown and the bottom leaves all appear to be dying or dead. The harvested pods taste and look wonderful and in fact the top 2/3 of the vine look very robust, green and healthy. It just seems unlikely that the tops are getting any nutrients or water. Is this the normal life cycle, or is something killing the plants?

    • If the bottom of the pea vine has been pinched or injured, you will begin to see die back from that point moving upwards fairly quickly. If the top of the plant continues to thrive, then continue or harvest the peas daily. Commonly older leaves will die back first, so if the top of the plant continues to thrive the bottom dieback may be simply end of the season browning.

  22. My snow peas are producing good quality peas but i noticed the vines are turning brown from the base up investigation into the cause doesnt provide much conclusive answers. I thought it might have been powdery mildew used lime sulphur to treat it but doesnt seem to help.

    • Pea streak virus causes brownish purple streaks on pea stems; leaves will later turn yellow, and pods can turn brownish. There is no cure for plant viruses. Plant resistant cultivars next season. Make sure you clear all diseased plant materials from the garden.

  23. My plants have survived into early summer and many mature pods are “woody” and inedible. Are these good for seed saving or will they produce a inferior crop? I also have good, tender pods I can save but trying to decide whether to toss the woody ones.

    • The dry, woody pods should have seed that can be shucked and saved for planting next season. Store the dry seed in a paper envelope in a cool location until it’s time to plant next spring.

  24. I have my snap peas seeds are being stolen and my plants are being destroyed. Tried everything what can I do to protect the seeds and the seedlings

    • Place a frame over your planting bed of seedlings–you can use PVC pipe to create a hoop bed or you can place short stakes around the bed. Next drape bird netting over the bed (if you suspect birds or critters are eating the seedlings) or you can place spun-poly row cover over the bed. Leave the protection in place until the seedlings become strong young plants. If the stems of the seedlings look like they have be sheared off you may have cutworms or slugs at work; in this case put cardboard collars around the seedlings or sprinkle diatomaceous earth around each seedling as a barrier.

  25. I bought peas in the pod at the Farmers Market and they are discolored and seem to have powdery material on the outside of the pods. The peas do not look affected but it is impossible to shell them without getting the powdery stuff on your hands and then on the peas. Is is safe to cook and eat them?

    • The safest course of action is to return to the farmers’ market and talk to the grower. The powdery substance could be an insecticide, an herbicide or powdery mildew, a fungal disease, or mold. Pods are in place to protect the seed, but it would be difficult for the substance not to be spread to the peas on your hands, kitchen tools, or even water. Best to try to find out what the substance is before you cook the peas.

    • The pimples on your pea pods could be the start of a fungal infection. Spray the plants with compost tea or with neem oil; both are organic and should not affect the peas inside the pods, and both are fungicides. Avoid overhead irrigation which can spread fungal spores. Dimples could be the sign of insects feeding, but the raised spots should be watched for the start of disease.

  26. I am growing sugar snap peas and they are growing well but i have found some of the lower pods with quite large holes in then what could be doing this?????

    • Holes in pea pods could indicate a pest insect is feeding on the plant. Check for cucumber beetles, bean leaf beetles, or weevils. Sprinkle diatomaceous earth around the base of the plant and even on the lower leaves. Check the undersides of leaves for insects or eggs and crush them. Don’t let the pea pods linger on the plants too long; once they begin to show the seed inside you can harvest.

  27. We have sugar snap peas in our garden that we grow every year. Everything looks great and pods are growing. But this year we have had bumps on the outside of the pods. We harvest the pods early because we eat the whole pod, we don’t wait for the peas to get big. But we have more than half our crop, with this bumpy skin on the pods. The color is green. You can feel the bumps, we are not sure if these are edible so we are putting them in a composite.
    We reached out to the university extension, and got no answer. We have searched online and can’t find any information on this blight. Can you help us?

    • The peas inside the bumpy pods should be edible as long as the pod remains green and does not show signs of disease–such as fungal diseases or insect damage. The bumps may be disease related–usually fungal; or physiological/environmental–weather usually too hot or inconsistent watering; or insect related–some piercing insects can leave pods bumpy with scars.

      • Dear Steve Albert,

        Thank you for posting this article and I’m sure to refer back to it later. It is my first year gardening and I’m happy to say that most my Super Sugar Snaps are at an impressive (in my opinion) six and a half feet tall or taller. I check it over for pests once a day (or more if it is raining or cool enough) and typically water it 2-3 times a day.
        However, while I haven’t had any major problems, I had noticed small, pimple-like spots starting to form on some of my pods on multiple plants when I went to harvest today. My plants have been producing normal pods up until this point and I have been trying to research the cause, whether it is caused by insects, viruses, fungi, or the temperature (It is starting to reach a constant temperature of 80°F and above here). Depending on the cause, will the peas still be fit for consumption and if not, is there any way to help combat it?

        • Pea Enation Virus is the likely cause of the pimple-like spots you see on your pea pods. Some describe these spots as blisters. The blisters are called enations. Enations will appear on the undersides of leaves and on the pods. The leaves may become splotchy yellow. The virus can lower the yield of the plant and may kill it. The virus is spread by aphids and can be hosted in clover and vetch over the winter. Knock aphids off of plants with a blast of water from the hose or spray with insecticidal soap. A plant virus cannot be cured it can only be prevented. Peas are a cool-season crop, so plant in early spring or early autumn–then the temperature will be too cool for aphids.

  28. I am trying to identify a half-centimeter big skinny green jumping bug I noticed a couple days ago. It looks unlike a grasshopper besides the jumping legs and has black and white antennae at least as long as its vaguely pod shaped body. I saw a couple hanging around on my undamaged Daylily plant. Most of my pea plants were yellow and had holes when I returned after being away for about ten days, but I have some that are still producing.

    • Three insects almost fit the description you give: the field cricket, the blister beetle, and the lacewing. Of the three, the lacewing most closely fits the description you give; it has an elongated body, white antenna, and is light green. But the lacewing does not feed on peas. The filed cricket and blister beetle do feed on peas. The lacewing is a beneficial insect–it eats other pest insects such as aphids and small caterpillars. Check closely to see if aphids or caterpillars might be feeding on the peas and the lacewing is there to feed on the pests. As far as crickets and blister beetles are concerned, you can handpick and drop those pests into soapy water or you can spray them with need oil. If you handpick, wear gloves the blister beetle is so-named because it can secrete an oil that causes blisters.

  29. I have grown snap peas for years on trellises that fit in one of the raised beds. There are three rows of plastic trellises and peas are planted on both sides of each one. The whole thing is held up with connecting PVC pipes. The first picking was more than I could have hoped for. Beautiful pods, great color, sweet…the second picking many of the peas pods were stained brown. This stain would not wash off. Still tasted fine but couldn’t sell them at the market. Any ideas what to do?

    • Your description could be Ascochyta leaf and pod blight. This is a fungal disease. There is no fungicide for Ascochyta blight and there are no resistant cultivars. Remove and dispose of diseased plants; this may stem spread of the disease. Look for commercially grown disease-free seed. Rotate peas out of these growing beds. This disease can overwinter in the garden, so be sure to clean the garden of all debris when the crop is finished.

  30. Hi! I’m having trouble with my sugar snap peas plant. Yes, I said plant. There is only one. My six year old daughter grew it as a school project. It gave me three good pea pods before it got attacked by leaf miners. I’ve been treating the plant with a neem oil solution, and it looks fairly healthy now. It is producing new vines and the new and existing foliage is deep dark green, but the flowers are yellowing off and dying shortly after blooming. What could be the problem?

    • Pea flowers can yellow and die for a few reasons–one of these may be the problem with your plant: (1) the temperature is too warm or too cold; peas are cool-weather crops they prefer air temps in the 50s and 60sF; (2) soil moisture problem–either the soil is too wet or too dry; keep the soil just moist; (3) too much nitrogen in the soil; use an even organic fertilizer such as 5-5-5; avoid high nitrogen fertilizers; (4) incomplete pollination; the pea plant has a complete flower meaning it has both male and female parts and is self-pollinating; however if the weather is very dry or very wet pollen may not fall from the male stamen onto the female pistil and pollination does not happen; if a flower is not pollinated it will die. With a little detective work and observation, you will likely find one of these is the problem.

  31. Some of my garden pea plants/pods are turning a creamy/yellow. What causes this and, are the peas still
    edible. They are certainly ready for picking

    • The discoloration or mottling is likely the result of very warm or hot weather. Time your pea planting so that peas for fresh eating come out of the garden before the weather is consistently much warmer than 70-75F. Try a couple of the peas still on the plant; if the flavor or texture are not good for fresh eating you can allow the peas to dry on the vine and then harvest and dry them further to use for dried pea recipes such as pea soup. See the article on How to Harvest and Store Peas.

  32. I have noticed aphids have invaded my purple hull pea plants and are on the shells. Is it safe to eat the peas inside the shells once they are picked and the aphids are washed off?

    • Aphids suck juices from plants; they also can be vectors for the spread of disease from one plant to another. If you caught the infestation early, there should be no harm in eating the peas. If the pea leaves or pods are discolored–white or yellow–it is likely the aphids have been feeding for quite awhile.

  33. Sir,

    • There are several possible reasons peas fail to set fruit (pods) after flowers have appeared: (1) lack of pollination; the pea has a complete flower so it is self-pollinating. When flowers appear give flower clusters a slight shake; this will help the pollen to drop from the male to female part of the flower; (2) too much nitrogen in the soil; (3) air temperatures are too cool or too warm; optimal growing temperature is 65-70F.

  34. Hi,

    My snow pea plant has grown about 20cm tall and they all have leaves showing signs of drying out on the bottom of the stem. This has happened to the other lot i try to grow too. I planted them in autumn in Aus and keep the soil moist. I’m not sure this keeps happening?

    • Uneven watering may account for drying leaves on a snow pea. 20 cm (about 8 inches) is relatively small. Avoid letting the soil go dry. Other reasons leaves may dry include (1) exposure to drying wind which can suck the moisture from leaves, (2) too little light reaching the bottom part of the plant, (3) poor air circulation around the plant, (4) too much nitrogen in the soil.

  35. I am growing sugar snap peas, they sprouted well and are growing, but the growing tip and new leaves are very yellow compared to the lower leaves. Could it be a nutrient deficiency? I did inoculate the seeds before planting.

    • Yellowing leaves can be a sign of a nutrient deficiency but yellowing leaves can also be the sign of the onset of a disease. Yellowing leaves or chlorosis may indicate the plant needs nitrogen, iron, manganese or zinc. Yellowing leaves may also indicate fungal diseases such as fusarium wilt or ascochytia blight. Spray-mist the plant with compost tea; compost tea can be a foliar feed but it will also inhibit the growth of fungal spores. You can also give the plant an all-purpose fertilizer such as 10-10-10.

    • The plant will continue to blossom as long as the weather stays mild. Try to identify which critter or insect ate the flowers. If you suspect an insect you can sprinkle diatomaceous earth on the leaves or spray with an insecticide that contains spinosad.

  36. Hi, this is my first year planting peas. I planted them in a container. They grew to about 3 ft. , produced flowers and peas. My concern is they leaves turned white , withered, but I have new growth up and down the stocks. Can’t figure out why it is doing this.

    • Growing peas or any other vegetable in a container can be a challenge when it comes to watering. It’s very easy to overwater and also not water enough. Leaves that wither may be suffering from too much or too little water. You can try bottom watering your plants, put water in the saucer below the container and allow the soil in the container to draw up the water it needs. If the saucer goes dry in 15 to 30 minutes; add a bit more water; if the water in the saucer remains after 30 minutes, you know the soil is saturated and you will not need to water for a day or two or three. (You can also use a moisture meter to check on soil moisture.) One other cause of leaves turning white is powdery or downy mildew–which is a fungal disease. If mildew is the problem, you will feel the mildew “dust” between your fingers; if this is the problem spray the plants with an organic fungicide.

  37. I am growing peas in my aero garden. It’s a constant 70 in my house. They are growing wonderfully except there are no flowers, no peas. What do I need to do to get them to produce?

    • Peas that are not flowering may be in soil too rich in nitrogen. Side dress the plants with a 0-10-10 organic fertilizer or any fertilizer rich in phosphorus.

  38. Every year some of my Sugar Snap vines produce peas that do not have fleshy pods. The pods are thin skinned, hug the peas in the pod and tend to curl. They are still tasty but not as attractive as the properly formed Sugar Snaps. Is there anything that I can do to minimize this or do some seeds just yield that type of pod?

    • Here are a few possible reasons the sugar snap pea pods are not filling out: (1) insufficient pollination at flower time; peas have complete flowers with both male and female parts; when the peas come to bloom, give the flowering branches a gentle shake to be sure the pollen is falling and full pollination is occurring; (2) the plant has more pea pods than it can fully support and some so are not fully developing while others are; be sure to pick peas often; this will allow all of the pods to develop; (3) insufficient soil moisture; be sure the soil stays evenly moist from flower time to harvest.

      • Thanks Steve. All the Sugar Snap pods fill out with peas. What is different is that the pods on some vines are normal (fleshy) while on other vines the pods are thin skinned with the peas showing through like ribs in a rib cage. Both regular and the unusual types are growing together so conditions such as moisture and pollination are the same. I experience this on about 40% of the vines every year.
        My sense is that it has something to do with the hybridization not being consistent but would be curious to know if anyone else experiences this and what causes it.

  39. Hi there! I sowed a fall crop of both snap and shelling peas in early September, and in late September when the snap peas were about 7 in tall and the shelling peas about 3 in tall we had a big heat wave that lasted several days. My lower leaves are all yellow, brittle, and shriveled from the heat stress. I have mulched and kept the soil evenly moist but they haven’t grown much since and haven’t yet flowered. Do they have a chance of recovering? Anything I can do to help them recover? I don’t have time for another sowing.

    • The heat has no doubt stressed the plants. The upper leaves are the new leaves. If they remain green and viable then the plant is still alive–and likely struggling to regain its vigor. Sidedress the plants with compost tea or a dilute solution of fish emulsion for a boost. And continue to keep the soil evenly moist. If more hot weather threatens, place shade cloth over the plants to protect them from the midday sun.

  40. Hi there,

    Fantastic article and responses!

    I am wondering if I have a problem.. my peas flowered. Formed pods. I harvested the pods and now is not producing more flowers? Do peas flower only once? Do I need to trim it back? Any ideas?

    • Check the variety of pea you are growing. Bush varieties have a finite harvest of 2 to 4 weeks. They will not flower and set pods over an extended period. Pole peas have an extended period of flowering and pod set, 6 to 8 weeks when conditions are optimal. For an extended harvest from a single plant, plant pole peas. For an extended harvest of bush peas, stagger the planting times so that the harvest will last longer. If you did plant pole peas and there was an abbreviated flower and pod set period a few factors could be in play: the pods remained on the vine a bit too long, telling the plant it did not need to flower and set more pods for seed production to ensure a future generation (be sure to start harvesting when pods are just plump not fully plump; this will trigger more flowers). A second factor could be a change in temperature; peas flower and set pods between 55 and 70F; if the temperature goes too low or too high the plant will stop flowering. Plant stress such as lack of water could also affect flowering and pod set. Excess nitrogen in the soil can also cause plants not to flower.

      • Thanks for the great info!! I think it’s a combo of type and temp. I am in Australia and it’s sitting around 30 ..will get to 40 this week. 86 to 106. J guess peas are Winter plants here!!

        • Yes, peas are a cool-weather crop. Plant again when the weather cools. Peas are best planted in early spring or in autumn. If you plant in autumn choose a shorter-days to maturity variety so that the crop is harvested before frost.

  41. Hi there,
    I have planted so English peas in a container. They are doing okay with the occasional yellow leaf towards the bottom, but it’s growing tall and producing flowers. One of the flowering stems bent in a windstorm, it’s not broken however it is leaking water. I tried tying it at the spot to encourage self repair, but I’m not really sure what else to do. Any tips?

    • You’ve done the best that can be done. If the stem is broken and the capillary-system which transports nutrients and water to the upper part of the plant is interrupted, you can expect die back. If the capillaries were not broken, place a stake next to the stem and tie it in loosely with horticultural elastic tape or cloth strips to keep it upright.

  42. My peas cannes through and we’re looking very good. Yesterday I went up to water and something had eaten the whole lot. The root and a small green shoot is there will they grow again. I have Netted them now

    • If the leaves are gone, it is unlikely the stems will generate new leaves. The shoots will likely shrivel and die. It’s best to re-sow new seed.

    • Sugar peas and sweet peas are not members of the same botanical family making cross-pollination very unlikely; as well, both plants are self-pollinating; pollination for either would likely occur before outside pollen could be introduced.

      • I grow sugar snaps every year. I don’t gave quite full sun. I get good looking product, but they are fibrous so much that I can’t stand eating them. Doesn’t seem to matter what stage I pick them. Stumped as I used to have success with them.

        • Full sun will help speed growth–if pods linger on the plant they can grow fibrous. Be sure the soil is staying moist–never let the soil go dry; consistent uptake of water should alleviate tough, fibrous growth. On the offseason, add aged compost or commercial organic planting mix to the soil to be sure the soil is nourished.

  43. I am growing sugar snap peas. I had beautiful growth and many peas almost ready to harvest. When I checked on them this morning the whole harvest was gone. Some animal took the time to eat all of the peas out of the pods. I have a 3 foot fence around the garden. Could it have been a raccoon? Is there any way to keep him from coming back?

    • A raccoon or rodent likely ate the peas. You can put bird netting over the plants; this will slow down critters. You can also apply an animal repellant–which is usually ground hot pepper in a solution. You can get a repellant at a garden center.
      This link may help:
      Animal Pest Control in the Garden

    • You may have either a sucking or rasping insect feeding on the leaves. Check the undersides of the leaves; look for insects and insect eggs. You can squish both with your fingers; you can also spray with insecticidal soap. If the soap does not work, use a spray with Spinosad. The affected leaves will not recover, but you can stop the attack.

    • They may need some help. Place sturdy posts at each end of the row, and in the middle of the row if the row is long; then loop garden twine between the posts on either side of the plants to give them some support. Even if they are sprawled on the ground, they can still bear a crop.

  44. I planted purple hull peas , they came up great, they bloomed great and there are plenty of peas. But the peas are turning purple before filling out. I will not get one pea off 5 frow 150 foot each

    • Peas that do not fill the pod are usually stunted by weather, that is temperatures too warm. A second reason could be insufficient pollination.

    • Check the days to maturity for the variety you are growing; if they have reached the days to maturity, several factors could be at play: temperatures too warm; too much nitrogen in the soil–feed the plants with a 5-10-10 fertilizer; erratic or insufficient soil moisture.

  45. Hello, First time growing organic sugar snap peas- plants have grown to 7-8 feet tall- have adequate trellis work. Flowered beautiful and first few pods were juicy and thick. As plants have started to flower more, the base of the stalks have turned brown and withered. Noted white powder on lower leaves- most likely powdery mildew, correct? Any way to salvage plants to harvest? Still have tons of blossoms but newest pods are flat and thin- are they unable to get nutrients from withered stalks? Thanks in advance for your help!

    • There are two likely reasons the pea pods are bitter: (1) hot weather; if temperatures are much above 80F, pea pods will become tough and bitter; (2) uneven soil moisture; keep the soil just moist–do not let it dry out; dry soil can also cause pods to become tough and bitter.

  46. Hello! It was my first time growing peas. I picked some off and wanted to dry them up to roast. I set them outside for a little. They have lost their green color and are more of a pale yellow now. Are they still safe to eat? Or are they goners?

    Thank you

    • Peas can be left on the vine in the pod to dry. If the pods have turned pale yellow, this would be normal. If the peas where shelled then dried they may have sunburned.

  47. Hi! I planted laxtons progress peas indoors with grow lights. They’re growing healthy looking but already starting to flower even though it’s only been 3 weeks and they’re only 5 inches tall. Should I be removing flowers to promote growth? I can’t imagine these tiny plants will have a good yield if the fruiting starts already

  48. My first attempt to grow snap peas. I grew them from seed. I have a south facing garden in Northern California. My peas are maybe 3 inched (not feet) tall and flowering. Is this normal? If not, which seems to be the correct response, what is happening to cause this?

    • The peas are flowering because the temperature is right. If you are growing tall pole peas you can nip off the blossoms and the plants will set new blossoms. If they are bush peas, they may not reflower if you pinch off the blossoms. Mild temperatures and warming soil will cause peas to blossom. Planting earlier in cooler weather will allow the plants to develop more slowly. Since temperatures may fall before spring, plant succession crops every couple of weeks until mid spring.

  49. Steve,
    This is my first year growing Oregon sugar pod peas in my new raised bed. The plants have become a bush and they grew over the top of my 4′ trellis and down the other side. They are crowding each other out and the peas are now misshaped due to the entanglement of the vines. They are producing and flowering even in February ( Sonoma County, California)

    Is it OK to to trim back the plants ( 6 spaced about a foot apart) so they do not pile on top of each other?

    • You can “top” the peas at any length or height. This will produce bushier plants. Once the plants have grown excessively long–as you describe–you can still cut them back; this may lessen the yield initially, but in the long run, the yield will be very close to the same as longer plants. Bushier plants will produce many flowers and pods.

  50. The leaves and vines themselves look great! Even the blossoms when they first bloom. But within a day or two, the blossoms have begun to shrivel and become paper dry. Any tips on how to stop this from happening? For a little background information, I’ve kept them inside and in pots since planting them and they get watered about 3-4 times a week, but not full saturation. They also get direct sunlight everyday for at least 5 hours.

    • If the plants are green and healthy and the flowers are failing, there are a few possible reasons (1) insufficient pollination–give the blossoms a jiggle to help them self-pollinate, (2) too much nitrogen in the soil–use a low nitrogen fertilizer, (3) temps to warm or too chilly.

  51. I planted a fall crop of green beauty snow peas late July here in Ontario 🇨🇦. They grow 8 feet tall and I planted them in semi shade. They’ve been doing amazing climbing up the trellis but this week we’re having a heat wave with humidity. I’ve never seen a pea plant bolt but I think that’s what’s happening? The grow tip is I think forming yellow flower buds in a mass. So my question is, do peas bolt? How does this effect the snow peas? Should I take this out and replant indoors and transfer outside later in the season or will they be fine after the heat wave? If it will greatly effect the taste or quality then I’d rather start over than waste time and a fall crop

    • Yes, peas bolt in hot weather. You can start new plants indoors at room temperature. Leave the plants in the garden in place until the new plants are ready. Some of the plants in the garden may not have bolted and may still produce pods. You will have a 3 or 4 week period waiting for the new plants to reach transplant size to decide which plants will need to be replaced.

  52. Hi I started growing what I’m pretty sure are sugar snap peas and there have been decent sized dots appearing on the leaves. It doesn’t look like powdery mildew and they are insides so no insects have affected it. I’ve seen some people talk about this and say it might just be the coloration of the plant. I’m unsure and just wanted to see if there was something I should do. Thank you.

    • The dots may be a reaction to cold or wet weather; if they persist spray the plant with an organic horticultural oil which will slow fungal growth and will not harm your crop.

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