One of my favorite memories as a child was going to my Grandma’s house and getting to eat peas from her garden.
I know as a kid, I used to wonder about why some pea pods were flat and others had big balls of peas. Plus, we ate some of the fresh peas with the shell on and others we would open the shell up and eat the peas inside.
It turns out, these are different varieties of peas.
Once you realize how delicious it is to eat raw peas directly from your garden you will want to grow them all! I know when we look through gardening catalogs it’s easy to have a HUGE number of different types of peas on my list to add to my garden each year.
Growing the peas in my garden is the easy part. Narrowing down my long list of peas I’d like to grow to what I actually have room for, is the hard part.
To clear up the confusion for anyone else who is wondering about these delicious garden snacks, I’ve put together a bit of a pea variety guide on the different types of peas and what makes each variety unique. I also included the different types of peas with pictures, so you can see the visual difference between them.
Plus, I put together an FAQ at the end with the most common questions about the varieties of peas.
Garden or English Peas
Garden peas are also commonly known as English peas, shelling peas, and green peas.
These peas come in pods and the peas are large (relatively large when we are talking about peas), round balls. You want to shell the peas from the shell before eating them as the shell is not edible.
If you haven’t done this before, it is super easy to do. Here is a video demonstrating how to shell these peas.
You want to plant Garden peas early in the spring. Some fun varieties of these types of peas are:
This is a favorite variety for many gardeners, with many claiming tall telephone peas are the best tasting. The peas are sweet, tender and a great size for eating.
Fair warning that these plants do get tall. So, if you plan to trellis them, you will want something tall – like 5 feet or so.
These peas are known to be sweet with some claims that they are the sweetest garden pea you can get.
If you have a smaller garden, these peas are perfect. They tend to grow to be about 2-3 ft. high.
King Tut Purple Pea
What? A purple pea!?!
Well, only the pod is actually purple, the pea inside is a lighter colored green pea. It has an interesting history, with claims that it was found in King Tut’s tomb.
These peas are good tasting, if you are looking for something unusual in your garden, they definitely fit that requirement.
Snow peas stay flat, the pods are edible and they are slightly sweet.
Here are a couple of my favorite snow peas.
Oregon Sugar Pod II Snow Pea
Oregon sugar pods II snow peas grow on compact bush plants. These are a milder tasting pea.
Little Snowpea White
These are super quick to mature. They only take 30 days! A perfect pea if you want almost instant gratification!
These pea plants grow to be about 40 inches tall and the peas are crunchy and sweet.
Sugar Snap Pea
Sugar Snap peas are my favorite! You might also know them as just snap peas.
Sugar Snap peas are like the best of both worlds. They are a cross between garden peas and snow peas.
The peas get a little plump, similar to the garden peas and the shells are edible just like the snow peas. These peas are also sweet.
I think these might be one of the more popular sugar snap peas to plant. They don’t grow very tall, only about 24″ and they are crisp and sweet!
We grow these every year.
These are a great pea to plant if you are limited on space. They are wonderful in stir fry’s, but that is only if they aren’t all eaten before then!
Sugar daddy is a stringless snap pea. So, if you want to make sure you are planting a pea you can eat the pod and pea of, plus have it stringless, these are the peas for you!
I know you may have more questions about homegrown peas. Here are a few common questions and their answers. Feel free to ask questions in the comments below if you have anything else you want answered.
How many types of peas are there?
There are 3 types of peas. The English or garden pea, snow peas and sugar snap peas. With so many different names, especially with the English peas, it’s easy to think there are more than just 3 different types.
Are all peas green?
Peas are most commonly green, but they can also be yellow.
Are peas a fruit or a vegetable?
Peas are actually part of the legume family, but they are also considered to be a starchy vegetable.
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