Across all varieties, peas grow best when given full sun for at least six to eight hours per day. They will grow in partial shade, too, but won’t reach their full height or produce as many pea pods.
Although peas thrive with full sun exposure, they do not like hot weather. Instead, they do best in moist, cool weather, making them a great early addition to your garden.
Peas are a great first veggie to land in any garden each year. The first planting usually occurs in May. Then, the staggered plantings continue every two weeks until July for harvests well into early fall.
You can also have great success in growing peas by using this guide to understand their sunlight requirements.
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How Many Hours of Sun Do Peas Need?
Peas need six to eight hours of direct sunlight each day to truly thrive in your garden. Unlike leafy greens, they cannot reach their full potential with just four hours of sunlight per day.
With enough sun:
- Climbing peas can easily reach eight feet tall.
- Bush pea varieties should land in the two- to three-foot range.
- Both types start producing harvestable pea pods in about 50 to 70 days.
At that point, you can keep coming out to the bush every two to four days for more peas. New flowers produce harvestable peas in five to ten days, depending on the variety you grow.
Can Peas Grow in Indirect Sunlight?
All varieties of peas can grow in indirect sunlight. They won’t grow nearly as well, however, resulting in lower yields than full sun plantings.
So, if you can manage to get your peas into full sun, they’ll grow the best. If not, you can help support their growth by providing rich, well-drained soil, best-suited for their needs.
Peas love soil that is:
- Rich with organic matter
Avoid working with the soil when it’s wet to keep from compacting it down and decreasing drainage.
In addition, the pH should land in the relatively neutral 6.0 to 7.0 range. Soil that is too acidic can benefit from the addition of ground calcitic or dolomitic limestone. Soil on the other side of the pH range needs an aluminum sulfate additive instead.
Can Peas Grow in Shade?
Pea plants are tolerant of partial shade, but they do best in full sun. Planting them in full shade will likely result in slow germination times and poor overall growth. If adequate sunlight is not given to peas, expect small yields as well if they even produce any pea pods at all.
When planting your pea, remember to:
- Wait until the soil lands in the 60-degree range for best results.
- Allow for extra time if planting in soil that’s 40 to 55 degrees.
- Push pea seeds about one to two inches into the soil.
- Plant the seeds about two inches apart as well.
- Use fertilizer, only if necessary
Peas that do end up growing and producing in full shade often produce pea pods with very little flavor. Ample direct sunshine is key in maximizing the sugar content and boosting the overall flavor of the peas.
What Happens if Peas Don’t Get Enough Sun?
Peas will not grow to their full potential if they do not get enough sun. Their poor growth starts with slow germination, especially when planted in cold soil. In ideal conditions, pea seeds should germinate in 7 to 14 days.
Germination could take up to a month without sunlight warming the ground. Waiting until soil temps land in the 60-degree range helps matters, although the lack of sunlight will continue to affect growth.
When grown without direct sunlight, pea plants end up shorter than their full-sun counterparts. The absence of sunlight also makes them more susceptible to:
- Root rot
If they do survive, the peas will not produce nearly as many flowers and pea pods either. Harvest times often extend out to every four to seven days as a result.
In the end, the lack of sun results in watery, flavorless peas. The sugary flavor profile doesn’t fully develop without sunlight, taking a lot of the magic out of the pea-eating experience.
Can Peas Get Too Much Sun?
Peas can get too much sun, especially when temperatures race past 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius). These plants produce the biggest, most flavorful yields of peas when they get six to eight hours of sun in cool, moist conditions.
Over eight hours of sun per day can cause the peas to:
- Focus on stem and leaf growth.
- Become much too leggy.
- Fail to flower properly.
The amount of sunlight must decrease to trigger the plant to go into flowering mode.
To help them do that, you can set up a shade cloth over the plants. The cloth overhead can help during periods of high temps, too, so it’s a great tool to have on hand.
Set up the shade cloth so that it’s easily removable each day. You’ll want to pull the cloth off early in the day to let your peas get up to eight hours of morning and early afternoon sun. Then, pull it back over the stakes or hoops to shield your plants from the sun for the rest of the day.
How Much Sun Do Peas Require?
Peas need at least six hours of direct sun to grow properly and yield plenty of flavorful pea pods. Indirect sunlight should hit at least eight hours per day for the best results.
Even with up to 12 hours of indirect sunlight per day, peas won’t grow as well as they do in full sun. You’ll still get a good amount of peas each season if you stagger your planting dates though.
Overall, when growing peas, remember that:
- Six to eight hours of direct sunlight produces the best plants.
- Indirect sunlight can work but plants and yields might end up smaller.
- Plant when soil temperatures hit 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius) for 7 to 14 day germination times.
- Cover your pea plants if it gets too hot or sunlight stretches past eight hours.
- Plan to harvest your peas every two to four days when grown in full sun.
- Harvest times can stretch out to a week when growing in partial shade.
Now that you know how much sun peas need to thrive, go look in your garden to find the perfect place to plant peas. Watch how the sun moves across your land to see where they might get six to eight hours of full sunlight.
Once you find that spot, put your peas in your garden planner. Then, get ready to put your favorite pea seeds in the ground immediately after the threat of spring frost has passed.