Top Problems Growing Peas and How to Fix It

Peas are relatively simple plants to grow. The key to a fruitful pea season is to plant them as early as possible in the year. If you have planted your peas at this time, you should see sprouts within 3-5 weeks, and at the time of 3-4 months, the plant will start to flower. If you don’t see peas being produced shortly after this time, you may have a bigger problem at hand.

The most common issues while growing peas include pea plant leaves turning white, yellow or brown. These issues are usually caused by an in-ground fungus or surface mildew. Short-term treatment is an application of a fungicide, while the long-term solution is to use crop-rotation into your garden.

To learn more about ridding your pea plants of these dangerous fungi, and to solve many more issues, read on.

Pea Plant Leaves Turning White

If the leaves on your pea plant are turning white, you may have a fungus on your hands.

Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that shows it’s presence by creating a white powder that spreads over the leaves of infected plants.

This powder contains the spores of the fungus, what it will use to spread to other plants on the wind.

If your plant is in the beginning stages of the plague, it may be salvable by spraying the plant with fungicides. Some of the most effective fungicides include Garden Safe Brand Fungicide3 and Bonide Revitalize Biofungicide, Fungicide/Bactericide Concentrate for tomatoes and the garden.

It’s best to completely remove leaves that are fully infected by the powder mildew, and destroy them. If the mildew spreads throughout the entire plant, the pea plant will not be salvageable and should be removed from your garden to stop the fungus from spreading to other plants.

Pea Plant Leaves Turning Yellow

If the leaves on your pea plants are turning yellow, not white, this may mean that another type of fungus is affecting them. Fusarium is a stubborn fungus that infects plants within the root systems.

It works by blockading the roots, preventing them from drawing up water and nutrients.

Though Fusarium fungus is difficult to eradicate, and you may be better off terminating the infected plant altogether, there is a chance you can save the crop if you are attached to it.

This involves uprooting the pea plant, and washing the roots and bulbs with water, and then letting them soak for a short time in a fungicide like Organocide by Plant Doctor.

The plants must then be replanted in clean, fresh soil, not in the same soil or place as before. The Fusarium fungus will live in the soil, and the key to preventing future infections is crop rotation. If you are growing pea plants in pots, make sure to wash your pots and disinfect them with soap or bleach.

Pea Plants Not Flowering

If your pea plants do not bloom or flower, there are two main issues you may have.

The first is that the weather is too hot for the plants. You may have planted too late in the season, and now the spring heat is stunting their growth.

The second is that you’ve used too much fertilizer. While nutrients are vital to the growth of healthy plants, too much nitrogen can stop pea plants from flowering.

Unfortunately, if the weather is too hot for the pea plant, the chances are the plant is past the point of saving. It’s best to cut your losses and try planting earlier next year.

If your issue is too much fertilizer, you can help solve this issue by switching to a low-nitrogen product. This 5-10-5 Lilly Miller Morcrop Tomato & Vegetable Food may be the solution that you need. Discontinue using your high-nitrogen fertilizer immediately.

Pea Plants Turning Brown

If your pea plants are turning brown, chances are they are experiencing too much heat. Pea plants cannot survive or thrive in temperatures above 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26.6 degrees Celsius).

The heat will cause the plants to turn brown and burn. This is why early planting for pea plants is so crucial, so their stalks can grow and develop in the cooler part of the season.

Peas Not Sprouting

If your planted peas are not sprouting, there are a few different reasons why this may be. The first is that your peas seeds are not getting enough water. You may have buried the seeds too deep in the soil, or not been watering frequently enough. 

Since pea seeds are a hard-shelled seed, it’s crucial that they get enough water to soften the shell and gain access to the water.

The second reason your seeds may not be sprouting is too much water. If your seeds become waterlogged, they won’t be able to use the water fast enough, and the seed will rot and die.

Lastly, the temperature of your soil is also very important to a pea plant’s ability to sprout. Temperatures below 45°F (7°C) or above 75°F (23.3°C) are usually inhabitable temperatures for pea seeds.

Be patient with your seeds, as the various temperatures and growing conditions of plants around the world means that there are no hard guidelines when it comes to growing pea plants.

Do Peas Need Sun or Shade?

Peas can be grown in part shade, but their production will be stunted and minimal. Pea plants much prefer to grow in the sun, with well-draining soil. 

A pea plant grown in the sun will generate many large, luscious, and delicious pods.

Do not plant a pea plant in full shade, they are not able to grow fully, and will not produce as many, if any, pods in the shade.

Peas Root Rot

Root rot is caused by a fungal infection below the earth’s surface of your pea plants. It is usually signified by yellowing or browning leaves and stunted growth.

The fungal infections are caused by moist, waterlogged soil that never gets the chance to dry out. Fungus thrives in damp places, and once it has a chance to take over your pea plant, there is no saving it.

The only way to solve root rot is by preventing it. Properly draining soil and a well-sunned area are key to preventing root rot. Also important is crop rotation and properly fertilized plants. If your plants are properly fertilized, they will grow faster, using the water that is in the soil before it has a chance to develop fungal infections.

Pea Plants Wilting and Dying

The pea plant that is not properly watered will show visual signs of stress. If your pea plant is too dry, it’s leaves will sag and wilt. It will look sad, like it’s been left alone for too long, and being to droop.

Touch the soil at the base of the plant. If it’s dry, give the plant a big drink, preferably in the morning, so it has the nutrients to work with throughout the day.

If watering the plant doesn’t improve the wilt, you may have a bigger issue at hand.

Pea wilt is most often caused by fungal infections. The previously mentioned Fusarium fungus is known to cause dramatic wilt in infected plants. Again, the easiest method of dealing with Fusarium is to get rid of the infected plant altogether. 

Plants that have been infected should be removed and burned so as not to track the deadly fungus into other areas of the garden.

If an older plant has been infected, it may continue to produce pods, though much slower than the previous months.

Once the infected plant is removed, that soil may stay tainted for up to 10 years. If you want to grow in that spot next year, you’ll need to look for seeds that are resistant to wilt.

Peas Plants Not Germinating or Producing

If your pea plants are flowering, but they are not producing pea pods, you have a pollination issue on your hands. This means that the pollen from the flowers of the plant is not reaching the female parts of the plant.

Pea plants are self-pollinating, and you can assist in the process. Gently shake the plant at the stalk to release more pollen, and help speed the process along.

Peas Frost Tolerance

Peas are a cool-weather crop. They should be planted as soon as your soil is workable, reaching 45°F (7°C), even if there is more snow in the forecast.

Pea seeds can survive a small amount of frost a few days at a time but ultimately are not considered frost-tolerant plants. If there are many consecutive days in the forecast that fall below 28°F (-2°C), then you’re better off waiting until this cold snap passes.

Aphids on Pea Plants

Aphids are a small insect that can infect your pea plants. Pea aphids feed on your plants and inject the plant tissues with a toxin that causes the plant to slow its growth and reduce its pea production. 

Signs to look for when looking for aphids on your plants include stunted growth, small leaves, wilting stems, and physical presence of the bugs.

Extreme aphid infections will cause your plant to wilt and die. They also leave a sticky honeydew residue when they feed, and this attracts sooty mildew. The mildew, while not deadly to the pea plant, can spread so thickly on the plant’s leaves that it prevents proper photosynthesis from happening, and your plant will die from lack of nutrients.

There are many defenses against aphids. Some natural defenses include using aphid predators to rid your crop of the smaller insects. Ladybugs are famous for their welcome presence in gardens, and this is because of their ability to eradicate crops from annoying pests such as aphids. 

Other bugs, like the big-eyed bug and damsel bug, may also be introduced into the garden to help keep aphids at bay.

Very light aphid infestations can be solved by simply washing off your plant and physically displacing the aphids. A generous watering with a powerful garden hose may be all you need to get rid of these pests.

If you have a massive aphid infestation on your pea plants, then you can look at using some insecticidal controls.

The most popular of these being Neem oil, as it is safe to use on organic crops, and does not harm valuable bugs like bees. Other, more intense insecticides are not encouraged on your home crops.

Underwatered Pea Plants

Pea plants that are not receiving enough water, or are not getting watered thoroughly enough will show physical signs of upset. 

These plants will often droop and appear tired and wilted. The solution is easy: water your plants thoroughly as soon as possible.

Moving forward, try to pay close attention to your plants’ soil. If it is dry to the touch and dry and inch or so down into the soil, they are ready for a drink. 

You should try and water your plants in the morning. The cooler morning temperatures will limit the amount of water lost to evaporation on the hot soil. It will also give the water the chance to saturate the soil fully before being heated up by the sun.

The early morning watering also means that your plants will have the proper hydration to deal with the sunny day ahead.

When watering, make sure to apply the water on the root systems, not the leaves of the plant. It is the root systems that need the water, not the leaves.

Water your plants for long enough that the water runs out of the soil. That’s how you will know that the dirt is fully saturated.

Overwatered Pea Plants

Overwatering, like underwatering, shows physical signs in the plant. The plant may seem to wilt when overwatered as well. The way to tell the difference between the two issues is by checking the soil.

If your plant is drooping and sagging, but the soil is still wet, you have overwatered it.

This is much more serious than underwatering a plant, as you can add water to the soil, but you cannot simply take it away.

Firstly, do not water your plant for a few days. The plant is already waterlogged and struggling to use all of the moisture around its roots. Secondly, do not add any more fertilizer. The plant is not in a growing phase at this point.

It’s very important to address the chance that your plant might be on the verge of being infected by fungus and could fall ill with root rot soon. Applying a fungicide to your plant now will increase the chances of its recovery.

Remove all wilted or yellowed leaves, and create additional air space around the roots of the pea plant. You can do this by gently breaking apart the soil at its roots with a chopstick. This aeration will allow in more oxygen and promote the drying of the soil and roots.

Tunnels and Markings in Pea Plant Leaves

If you’ve noticed some odd patterns on your pea plant leaves, you may have a Leafminer infestation.

These little bugs lay their eggs on the leaves plants, and when their larvae are born, they burrow into the leaves and carve out squiggly pathways as they feed on the leaves for nutrients.

The good thing about the Leafminers is that their damage is purely cosmetic. You don’t have to worry about the bugs killing your pea plant or ruining its legume production.

The best and easiest way to get rid of Leafminers is to pluck the leaves that are infested. This will improve the look of the plant and get rid of the larvae before they become adults and lay more eggs.

Pesticides are not generally used to battle against Leafminers, as the pesticides are generally overkilling for such a small, non-deadly issue.

The best way to protect against these pests is by checking your plant every day and looking for signs of an infestation. If you can spot and pull the infected leaves early, you’ll solve your Leafminer problem before you even have one.

Final Thoughts

Pea plants are a relatively simple plant to grow. They are great for beginners, and the perfect plant to add to your space if you’re gardening with kids. Though they do not produce for long, a well cared for pea plant will produce plentifully.

Be sure to pick your peas as soon as they are ready. You will encourage more pea development this way and can stretch your production season a bit longer.

When growing pea plants, take special care in the following areas and you will avoid many of the problems above:

  • Purchase a wilt-resistant seed
  • Plant your seeds early
  • Plant them in a sunny location
  • Use a low-nitrogen fertilizer
  • Do not overwater your plants
  • When you do water them, do it in the mornings
  • Check them daily for signs of illness, or infestation
  • Treat them with a fungicide if they are susceptible to root rot
  • Pick your pods as soon as they are ready

Follow the guideline above, and you are sure to have a healthy, well-producing pea plant.

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