The Types of Peas to Grow in Your Garden

A hand holds a handful of harvested peas
Peas At-A-Glance
Looking to add peas to your vegetable garden? Learn about the different types of peas and find out which ones are best suited for your garden and cooking needs.

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From snap peas to snow peas, there are many different types of peas that you can grow in your garden. Let’s talk about the unique characteristics of each type and how to incorporate them into your gardening plans!

What are the different types of peas?

There are three main types of edible peas you’ll find in a seed catalog:

  • Snow peas: (Pisum sativum var. macrocarpon) These peas form edible, flat pods. You typically harvest and eat them before the peas inside become plump. You’ll frequently find snow peas in stir fries.
  • Snap peas: (Pisum sativum var. macrocarpon ser. cv.) These are peas with plump, edible pea pods. The peas inside become large, but no need to shell! You eat the entire pea—edible pod and all. You’ll frequently find these kinds of peas on veggie trays. Thanks to their sweet flavor, they are also sometimes called sugar snap peas. 
  • Shelling peas (aka: English peas or garden peas): (Pisum sativum ssp. sativum) As their name suggests, these peas are grown to shell—or remove the pod. These peas typically have 8-12 plump, round, large peas inside an inedible pod that you remove.

Growfully Protip

Despite their name, chickpeas are not peas. They are a member of the legume family like peas and beans, but they themselves are not peas.

A split image comparing snap, snow, and shelling peas
For new gardeners or gardeners with small spaces, snow or snap peas are a great place to start! Just a few snow pea or snap pea plants will produce a wonderful crop of crisp, tender peas!

What about sweet peas?

Many gardening catalogs also offer sweet peas. These are a beautiful annual flower that look great in floral arrangements, but they are not edible. If you are looking to grow vegetables, make sure that what you are planting is safe to eat!

What is the best pea variety?

The “best” pea varieties are pretty subjective—a lot depends on your growing area, climate, and personal tastes! But these are some of our favorites:

If we have a trellis available, we like to grow climbing, vining pea plants. Some of our favorite climbing varieties include: 

  • Oregon Giant (Snow)
  • Sugar Daddy (Snap)
  • Green Arrow (Shelling)
  • Alderman (Shelling)

But if you are short on space or don’t want to deal with training the vines to a trellis, there are bush peas you can grow as well. Some of our favorite varieties there are:

  • Oregon Sugar Pod (Snow)
  • Maestro (Shelling)
  • Sugar Ann (Snap)

Want more gardening information about peas?

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Cassie is a Certified Master Gardener and the founder of Growfully. She's been gardening organically for over two decades, and she's so excited to answer all the questions you have about gardening!
Meet Cassie
Meet Your Guide

Hi! My name is Cassie.

I’m a Certified Master Gardener and founder of Growfully. I’ve been gardening organically for over two decades, and I’m so excited to answer all the questions you have about gardening!

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