How To Grow Peas Without A Trellis – The Complete Guide

When it comes to supporting a climbing pea plant, a vertical structure called a trellis is usually constructed or installed. This is a structure that comes in many shapes and sizes, usually made from bamboo, wood, and even metal, and aids climbing plants to latch on and climb upward. However, if a trellis is not an option for you, how would you go about ensuring that your peas grow upward without falling to the ground due to their frail stems and lack of support?

Good news, it is very possible to grow a healthy and lush pea garden without a trellis by simply planting them closer together. Instead of latching onto a vertical trellis, they will be close enough to latch onto each other and move upward together, like they would have done if there was one. 

When a pea plant starts to climb, what happens is quite interesting. They will stop at nothing to reach towards the sunlight. They will even climb over other plants that are in their way. One might even refer to them as impatient, almost as if they are in such a rush to get energy from the sun that they skip the foundation phase. Instead of growing their roots strong, sturdy, and supportive, they reach out and grab onto everything and anything that will support them on their way up.

How Do To Substitute The Support Of A Trellis?

A trellis is not the only method you can use when it comes to planting peas, and you don’t have to worry if you do not have one. Think about the people at a popular music concert. These large concerts usually have no seats, and everyone stands up straight, packed together like sardines, unable to walk or even bend over. 

You can apply this theory to your pea garden, too, by planting them in close proximity to each other (16 seeds per square foot will be perfect) arranged in 4 x 4 seed rows per block. Just like the people at the concert, singing along with their friends with their arms over each other’s shoulders, the peas too will grab and latch onto one another for support whilst growing upward.

The pea plants are substituting the function of the trellis by relying on each other for support. This is a very beneficial way because the plants will grow so close together that there is no room for them to bend over or break. The space for unwanted weeds also becomes very limited, if there is even any space at all.

If you are a bit worried that your plants are going to struggle to climb without a trellis, you can tie stakes to each plant for support. They will still move upward and will have less of a chance to wither.

How To Start A Pea Garden At Home Without Using A Trellis

Growing your own pea garden without a trellis is quite simple. Before you begin, it is important to start with the perfect environment so that your plants grow at their optimal grade level. It is good gardening practice to plant a different variety of peas in your garden. These will all have different harvesting times, so you will never run out of peas!

The best and most effective way to grow your seedlings is by planting them indoors first. This will prevent poor germination, and fewer seeds will go to waste. Because if they are planted indoors, in a planter, it is easier to give individual attention and care to your seedlings as they start to grow.

This will also give sufficient time to plan your garden correctly, without installing a trellis. You will need to be very precise with your spacing measurements and planting zones.

What You Need For Your Indoor Starter Garden:

  • Potting soil
  • Compost
  • A plant pot, homemade planter, or a few small planters (all will have a good drainage system)
  • Pea plant seeds (select seeds from a variety of different peas species)
  • Small garden fork
  • Large plastic container
  • Watering can with a gentle sprinkler head


  • Prepare your potting soil and compost by combining them in a large plastic container, using a small garden fork. Be sure to mix the compost and potting soil thoroughly before you proceed. Transfer the prepared soil to your planter(s). 
  • Do not put any stones or pebbles at the bottom of the planter, as this could result in root rot. This happens due to the pebbles holding most of the water above it and causes the roots to be submerged in too much water. Eventually, they will drown due to an inefficient supply of oxygen and start to rot.
  • You can use your fingers to make the small holes in the soil. Sow your seeds about 1-1 ½ inches deep and 1 inch apart from each other. Make sure they are about 1-2 inches away from the sides of your planter.
  • After you have planted your seeds, you can go ahead and water them with a gentle sprinkling watering can (to avoid unearthing your seeds), not too much, but enough to ensure that the soil is moist enough. 
  • While your seedlings are growing indoors, be sure to keep the soil moist at all times. Your seeds will need about 8-10 hours of sunlight or artificial sunlight a day, so be sure to place the seedlings near a window that lets in enough sun throughout the day.

Preparing The Seedlings For Safe And Successful Transplanting

  • Before you transplant your seedlings, place them outdoors to expose them to natural outside conditions such as wind and sun. You can do this about 5 – 10 days before the date of transplant.
  • During this time, reduce the amount of water and fertilizer that you have been giving your seedlings to prepare them for the outdoor conditions. This will help them to adapt faster once they have been transplanted.
  • Try to transplant your seedlings on a warm day, preferably with a bit of overcast. This will help them to settle their roots into the soil properly, so keep an eye on the weather forecast.
  • When your seedlings have about 2-4 true leaves above ground, they are ready for transplanting. This means that they are ready for the process of photosynthesis.

Preparing Your Garden
It is very straightforward to prepare your garden for your pea plants without installing a trellis. You can use garden wire to section off the area that you will be transplanting to. 

After you have measured your area, divide your garden into 1 square foot-sized blocks by using more of the garden wire. You can tie the wire to small poles from side to side to form a grid. You can even draw the blocks in the soil if you do not have garden wire or if you don’t want to go through too much trouble.

Make sure to plant your peas in a low-temperature environment, as they thrive in a cooler climate and struggle to grow in high temperatures. The air temperature needs to be +/- 70 Degrees Fahrenheit and the temperature of the soil needs to be no less than 45 Degrees Fahrenheit. You can use a soil thermometer to test the temperature of the soil.

Peas can handle a little bit of frost, but they can’t handle too much humidity or heat. It is also very important that the pH level of your soil is between 6.5 and 7.5. If you find that your soil is a bit on the acidic side, adding lime or dolomite to it will help to balance the pH levels so that it is safe for the peas to grow in. To test and establish the pH level of your soil, you can use a home test kit and distilled water (pH neutral).

Peas also need to grow in a sandier type of soil with an excellent drainage system. Nitrogen is naturally produced within the roots of the plant (because they are legumes), so they don’t really need much fertilization. Improve drainage by adding aged compost to your planting beds.

You do not need to add nitrogen because although it will do wonders for their foliage, their pod production will reduce. So be sure to check the material ingredients for too much nitrogen before you mix it in with your soil.

How Do You Transplant Your Seedlings?
Once you are done checking the soil, the air temperature and have installed a proper drainage system, you can go ahead and transplant your seedlings into your garden. Make sure that you remove the entire plant with all its roots and try not to damage any part of the plant. 

Make your holes using a small garden spade and plant them in your sectioned blocks (1 square foot) into your garden area. 

Make sure you space them 4 inches apart, no deeper than 1-1½ inches (the same depth as indoors), and 2 inches away from the edges of the blocks. They are close enough to each other to start grabbing hold of the plant next to them when they start to move upward. 

If you follow this growing method, you will see that you can indeed plant peas without a trellis, and it works quite well. The plants will be strong enough to support each other, and they won’t bend down to the ground and break or damage.

Watering And Aftercare

Peas love water. They also love the sun (not too hot) because it is important in the production of the fruit. Your soil should never be too dry, so water your pea plants sufficiently about 1-2 times a week. Be careful of over-watering, as this could result in root rot due to the lack of oxygen and unwanted fungus that is attracted to moisture.

Once your plants start to blossom, they will require an extra amount of water, so be on the lookout for any blooms.

To keep the temperature of the soil and the water in your pea garden consistent, it is possible to add a layer of mulch on top of the soil and around the stems. This will also keep unwanted weed growth at bay.

Spray your leaves (especially the underside) with insecticidal soap and water. This will prevent aphids from colonizing on your pea plants, which can cause the leaves to curl under and turn yellow.

If your leaf margins look like they are scorched, you can add 1 tsp of molybdate/1000 square feet. Make sure you test the soil first.

If there seem to be no pods appearing after pea blossoms, it could mean that the pollen is having difficulty reaching the female plants. You can give the plants a subtle shake to help the plant spread pollen.

Harvesting Time
The only time root rot is recommended is when it comes time for harvesting your peas. Nitrogen-fixing bacteria on the roots can supply a sufficient amount of nitrogen in the soil for your next batch of peas to grow in.

So instead of pulling the plants out root and all, snip them off at the stem (with a garden scissor or a pair of shears) just above the level of the ground. Leave the roots remaining in the ground until they have rotted, and your soil will be ready for the next round.

Be very careful when you start picking your pods. This is a delicate process because the roots are quite shallow in the ground. If you pull the pods with too much force, you could pull out the entire plant. To avoid this from happening, use one of your hands to grip the vines and, with the other hand, gently start to pick off the pods.

After harvesting your peas, you can dry them, refrigerate them, freeze them or use them right away, fresh from your garden.

Different Varieties Of Peas

  • Snow Peas – flat and slightly sweet
  • Lincoln Peas – sweetest garden pea
  • Tall Telephone Peas – large, tender, and sweet
  • Sugar Snap Peas – plump round peas, sweet
  • English Peas/Garden Peas/Green Peas – large peas, slightly sweet

Fun And Interesting Facts About Peas

  • Peas can be eaten without being cooked and are very tasty straight from the pod.
  • There is more fiber in peas than there is in one slice of bread (wholewheat).
  • Clarence Birdseye was the first person to commercially freeze peas. This only happened in the 1920s.
  • Squashing your peas with the backside of your fork is considered the correct etiquette before you consume them.
  • The biggest amount of peas that are used for freezing in the whole world is produced in the United Kingdom.
  • Apart from oysters, people believe that if you boil peas and onions together and add cinnamon to it, it too becomes a very potent and powerful aphrodisiac.
  • Peas were so expensive long ago that Elizabeth I had to have them imported.
  • The oldest pea in the world was 3000 years old and was found in Thailand.
  • Two large apples contain the same amount of vitamin C as in a single serving of peas.
  • The flowers that grow on the stalks are beautiful, shaped like butterflies, and come in colors of white, pink, and purple.
  • When the pea is ripe, it will split in half. It will be about 10 cm in length and will normally contain 5-10 seeds, which can vary from white, yellow, or green.
  • Green peas are a wonderful source of magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, phosphorus, vitamins B1, B2, B6, K, copper, niacin, and protein.
  • If you boil a pea, it becomes sweeter.
  • Peas have a large range of health benefits. These include; prevention of arthritis, osteoporosis, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s. Peas boost the immune system (vitamin C), helps with regulating your blood sugar levels, and many more.
  • Peas have a life cycle of only one year, making them an annual plant.

In Conclusion

We all know a trellis is convenient to have. There are no special preparations needed, except to install the trellis where the peas can reach and climb their way up. Yes, they look pretty in a garden, and yes, they work really well, but now we have learned that we don’t necessarily need one to grow peas successfully.

You can create a perfectly safe and suited environment where the pea plants help each other to grow strong and full, and it will have the same effect as a trellis. You will even have fewer weeds to worry about because there won’t really be any space for them to invade. And if you want to add extra support to the plants, you can tie stakes to your pea plants.

Now you can proceed to start your garden, without a trellis, without worry. Go green, fingers!   


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