How to Grow Cowpeas – A Beginner’s Guide

cowpeas plant growing in garden
Cowpeas, which are known botanically as Vigna Unguiculata, are a type of vegetable that can easily be grown at home. Continue reading to learn the basics of growing cowpeas as well as common mistakes to avoid along the way.

Best Time to Plant Cowpeas

This will depend largely on your local climate, but as a rule of thumb, begin to plant the cowpea seeds Sow in summer, when the soil is warm. This is the best time to ensure that the seedlings survive the weather.

To check when cowpeas are most likely to thrive in your area, see the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map. If you live outside the US, do a quick search for ‘plant hardiness zone + [city]’.

How to Plant Cowpeas the Right Way

There are a number of things to consider that will help you avoid some of the common mistakes of growing cowpeas in your home garden.

Often overlooked, your soil can have a huge impact on how well your cowpeas grow. Generally, your soil should be well-drained sandy loams or sandy soils. Soil PH levels should be around 5.5 to 6.5.

roughly 2′ apart.  3″ apart in rows. The seeds should be sowed at a depth of about  1″. For each plant, be sure to sow at least a few seeds to ensure that at least one of them will germinate.

Begin thinning your cowpea seedlings plant 2 seeds every 3″.1 plant every 3″ when they have 4 leaves.

How Much Sunlight is Needed to Grow Cowpeas

The amount of sunlight is another key to a successful harvest. Too much sunlight will dry out your cowpeas. Not enough sunlight will stunt your its growth or even kill it.

Ideally, your cowpeas should be getting full sun, which means as much sunlight as you can possibly give it, or at least 6 hours or more.

How Much to Water Cowpeas

As you’ve figured by now, a lot can have an impact on how well your cowpeas do, and the amount of water is no different.

Ideally, the soil should be damp to touch; not soggy or bone dry. If the leaves on your cowpeas begin to change colors or start to look droopy, you need to adjust how much water you’re giving it.

Unfortunately, if you give it too much or too little water, you can kill it, so it’s best to just keep an eye on it and water as needed.

How Long Does it Take Cowpeas to Germinate and Grow?

Now the fun part begins and you get to watch your cowpeas grow.

It takes approximately 7-10 days to germinate, and a total of 80 days from seed to harvest.

When to Harvest Cowpeas

The best time to harvest your cowpeas is once they have begun to turn yellow.

Cowpeas can grow up to about 6 to 10 in. long.

What Can Cowpeas Be Used For?

Food Use: Cowpea may be used green or as dry fodder.

Flavor Profile:  Creamy texture and delicious flavor.

Can Cowpeas Grow in Pots and Containers?

Yes, you will need a large container that is at least 12″+ wide. This can help control weeds and keep your plant from growing out of control.

It also gives you the flexibility to move your cowpeas around if you need to adjust sunlight or bring it indoors to avoid harsh weather conditions.

Are Cowpeas Safe for Bees?

Yes, cowpeas are safe for bees.

According to, bees pollinate human food crops that make up about 90% of the world’s nutrition.

Given their importance in our ecosystem and food supply, I feel it is important to note that growing cowpeas is bee-friendly.

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