Growing Peas: Four Basic Types

Type of Pea


Cultural Tips for Peas

Pea Varieties

Snap pea
(subspecies macrocarpon)

Plump, edible pods have thicker flesh than snow peas and also stay sweet and tender longer.

Pod size and tenderness vary with variety. Extend the harvest season by growing short and tall varieties.

‘Amish Snap,’ ‘Cascadia,’
‘Sugar Ann,’ ‘Sugar Sprint,’ ‘Sugar Snap’

Snow pea
(subspecies macrocarpon)

Flattened pods lack tough inner membrane present in shell peas, so they can be eaten whole.

Harvest pods when the peas inside are barely visible. Add tendrils to salads and stir-fries.

‘Golden Sweet Pea,’ ‘Snowflake,’ ‘Snow Sweet,’ ‘Oregon Sugar Pod II,’ ‘Oregon Giant

Shell pea
(subspecies sativum)

Eat only the peas; pods are tough and stringy. Harvest when the pods begin to look waxy, before the sugars in the peas change to starch.

Plants produce all at once, making freezing and canning more convenient. Short varieties grow well in containers.

‘Dakota,’ ‘Eclipse,’ ‘Knight,’ ‘Canoe,’ ‘Tom Thumb’


Soup peas
(subspecies arvense)

Seed color may be beige, brown, yellow or green. Cooking time varies with variety.

Easy to grow and also can be used as a nitrogen-fixing cover crop. Many varieties are adapted to dry climates.

'Alaska,’ ‘Blue Podded,’ ‘Carlin,’ ‘Margaret McKee’s Baking Pea’

* To learn more, see All About Growing Peas.

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