Sweet peas are not easy plants to describe as there are many varieties and types. The description given below may, on a glance, seem to be a really neat alphabetical list of all the available sweet pea varieties being systematically described - this is not really the case. A number of problems make the results and systematic description given here very variable and subjective. The first problem lies in the fact that the exact way in which the description is carried out. For example, the way the petals are held, and the degree of waviness, may vary greatly from variety to variety and can differ even within a single variety based on the way the plants have been grown by the gardener. The state in which the plants were described - dry or moist, or peak season, or late season etc. - and even time of day in which they were inspected may also be a problem. There may be a very real difference in the way the same flower on the same plant appears on two consecutive days. The inspector of the plants may make errors of judgment.
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The introduction of the new Spencer sweet pea varieties in the same color as the previous Grandifloras in the early years of the 20th century shows how difficult it is to describe sweet pea varieties accurately. The newly introduced Spencer varieties were often simply given a modified version of the Grandiflora name, for example, the 'Flora Norton Spencer' is a new variety with the same color as the 'Flora Norton,' however, it has the waved Spencer form and is very distinct - but it is named after the older Grandiflora flower. The naming convention is very confusing and could have been a something to do with the reason that many of the contemporary plants grown under the old Grandiflora names, at times, seem a little too good to be true or are doubted by enthusiasts. The confusing naming problem also extended to the Cupid sweet pea types as well as the Bush sweet pea types. This confusion in naming sweet peas can be gauged by an example from a variety of sweet pea introduced in 1914; this variety 'America' was available, along with the 'America Spencer', as well as an 'America' of the Cupid type and also along side an 'America' in the Bush type that was about 90cm - three feet tall. When comparing this system to the contemporary standards of nomenclature, one can immediately see its shortcomings and complexity - aside from the plain confusion it must generate.
Given below is an alphabetical list that includes almost all the known sweet pea varieties that are available to gardeners today: