Pea ‘Sugar Magnolia’

Family: Fabaceae

Pea ‘Sugar Magnolia’ plants feature green leaves and stems that produce handsome Burgundy and lilac coloured flowers that are followed by purple pea pods. filled with fresh-green coloured peas.  The colour of ‘Sugar Magnolia’ pea pods varies a little from plant to plant.  Some plants produce pea pods with a uniform colour of deepest indigo-purple and others look rather more like well-loved (and washed) vintage denim with an inky-purple pod and a soft pea-green colour revealed in patches over the fullest part of the pea pod and along the pod’s outer edge.  All colours and tones of these peas are very attractive.  If you prefer one colour over another, just allow the pods of your favoured pea to grow on and reach maturity.  Once they have grown to full size and dried on the plant you can save the seed to grow next year.

This pea is sold as a sugar snap pea; however, I grow ‘Sugar Magnolia’ both as a sugar snap pea and to eat this plant’s delicious peas.  I often end up shelling ‘Sugar Magnolia’ peas and eating them in the garden – they’re such a tasty treat!  ‘Sugar Magnolia’ is a very decorative plant.  The pea’s unusual colouring makes a welcome addition, enhancing the appearance of salads and summer meals.  For a stunning colour combination, grow mangetout ‘Golden Sweet’ and combine the purple pods of ‘Sugar Magnolia’ with the yellow pods of ‘Golden Sweet’ and any green-podded mangetout or sugar snap pea.  ‘Sugar Magnolia’ pea pods turn green when they’re cooked; serve this mangetout raw if you want to make use of its ornamental colouring.

‘Sugar Magnolia’ pea plants will grow up to around 1.5-1.8m (5-6ft) tall; depending on the soil and growing conditions the plants experience.  These peas will need a tall and sturdy support frame that is a fraction taller than the peas’ eventual height.  I enjoy using a sturdy wire mesh fence to support my peas, but you could also use a trellis, netting, a homemade support frame, or tall twiggy pea sticks.  Whatever support you use, ensure that your plants will have lots of places to cling to to lift themselves off the ground and continue climbing until the reach their full size.

In the UK, we can sow ‘Sugar Magnolia’ pea seeds from April to the beginning of June.  Gardeners in the South East and warmer areas of the country can sow ‘Sugar Magnolia’ seeds from the start of March until the beginning of June, depending on the season and the weather.

Breeder, Alan Kapuler PhD, named Sugar Snap Pea ‘Sugar Magnolia’ after the Grateful Dead song from the 1970 album ‘American Beauty’.

‘Sugar Magnolia’ peas require a bright and sunny area to flourish.  These peas will do well when grown in almost any moist, but well-drained soil.  What does that mean?  Peas don’t want to grow in wet or waterlogged ground; this vegetable will do best in deep loamy soils that don’t dry out too quickly, but are never wet and boggy.  Avoid growing peas in compacted soil.

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