Lavender is a beautiful flowering herb that has many culinary, medicinal and additional additional uses. It makes a great companion plant in the garden by attracting pollinators and repelling harmful insects. Learning the basics of planting and growing lavender can provide many benefits as well as beauty.
Successfully Planting and Growing Lavender In Your Garden
My favorite herb has to be lavender, and as such I have a ton of experience growing it in the garden. With the many different varieties of lavender, it can be grown in most regions and zones. Planting lavender in the right soil and sunlight can make all the difference.
The Different Types of Lavender
There are many varieties of lavender, and depending on your usage of this great herb, plus the zone you live in, you can pick and choose which plant works best for your home. There are three main types of lavender – although they have sub-types as well. Be sure to research which lavender is best for your region.
English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) – This perennial bush grows best in zones 5-10 and is a hardy, woody variety. English lavender does well in landscapes, attracts butterflies and bees, is extremely aromatic and is the best used for essential oils and culinary uses.
Spanish or French Lavender (Lavandula stoechas) – This warm weather perennial grows best in zones 5-11. Spanish or French Lavender is a Mediterranean plant that is used for its strong fragrance in soaps, potpourri and beauty products.
Provence Lavender (Lavandula x intermedia) – A cross between English Lavender and Spanish Lavender, this perennial grows best in zones 5-8. Lavandin is most known to be used for dried arrangements and cut flowers. This great bush also attracts pollinators to your garden.
Growing Lavender From Seed
Lavender is extremely difficult to grow from seed as germination rates are scattered and unpredictable. Although it’s possible, it’s not easy. However, there is a secret to growing lavender from seed.
Before planting your seeds in soil, moisten your seeds on a paper towel, place them in a plastic ziploc bag and put in the refrigerator for a month. This process is called stratification.
After the seeds have been refrigerated for a month, plant them in a seed tray very close to the surface, under a grow lamp. Lavender needs sunlight and warmth in order to germinate, so they may need a seed heating pad. Even after the stratification process, lavender can take over a month (and up to 3 months) to finally sprout.
Once seedlings have reached 4 inches high, they should be safe to plant outside. However, be sure to harden off your seedlings before planting them into the ground.
It’s much easier to propagate lavender than to grow lavender from seed. If you already have lavender in your garden or you have bought a lavender plant from the store, it only takes a few lavender branches to create more lavender.
Simply cut a lavender stem about 3-4 inches in length. Be sure that this is not a flowering stem. Remove the leaves from the bottom two inches of the stem and scrape off the bark of the stem.
Then you can either dip the stem in rooting hormone or just plant it directly into a pot, covering up the bottom two inches with potting soil.
Place a ziploc bag or plastic tupperware top over your lavender stems to create a homemade “greenhouse.” Put your new lavender in a sunny location and water when the soil begins to feel dry. The lavender will take a few weeks to begin growing roots, but once roots have been established, the lavender can be transplanted.
Soil and Sun Requirements for Growing Lavender
All lavender types are sun loving plants! Be sure your lavender is planted in a full-sun location with at least 6 hours of sun a day. This plant loves heat, so it will grow well in warmer regions.
Lavender enjoys sandy, well-drained soil. The soil should be slightly alkaline with a pH between 6.5-7.3 You can amend soil by adding lime, bone meal and compost. Be sure to allow lavender to dry out completely before watering again. If your soil is clay based, add sand to ensure that water drains well. Lavender does not like high humidity.
Additionally, lavender cannot handle salty soil. Soil that is high is soluble salts will need to be amended or allowed time to break down, otherwise your lavender will not thrive.
All lavender varieties grow to be large bushes. A lavender plant can grow up to 24 inches tall and 36 inches (3 feet) wide. Be sure to leave plenty of room for your lavender bush to grow to maturity.
Plant lavender starters a 3-4 inches deep, enough to cover the roots and a but of the stems. Water only when the soil begins to dry out, this is an average of every 7-10 days. Too much water can stunt the plant and prevent the lavender from growing to maturity.
Companion Planting with Lavender
Lavender is one of the best herbs to grow near vegetables and other flowers as it attracts bees and other pollinators. It is also excellent at repelling harmful insects.
If you’re planting lavender in a flower garden, plant this shrub with roses or irises.
Although the soil requirements don’t always work well with most vegetables, lavender makes a great border plant for vegetable gardens, and does well in containers to help vegetables without causing issues with the soil.
When To Harvest Lavender
Lavender should be harvested right before the buds (corollas) open if you’re using your lavender for soaps, bath products, or for culinary purposes.
If you’re planning on using the lavender for display purposes, or potpourri, it’s better to allow the corollas to bloom for more vibrant colors and aromatic tones.
Removing blooms or deadheads throughout the season will encourage new blooms. It’s common to have lavender that blooms all summer.
Pruning and Mulching for Winter
All lavender should be pruned and mulched before winter. During the colder months, lavender will go dormant and look a little dead. However, with the proper mulching, your lavender will come back year after year.
During the fall, weeks before your first frost, prune your lavender down 1/3rd (leaving 2/3rds of the bush). Never prune into the wooded part of the plant. Do not prune back if winter has started early, as pruning after your first frost can kill the lavender bush.
Mulch the base of the bush with straw or wood chips. Leafs work too as long as the tree it comes from is not acidic. Go heavy on the mulch as it adds protection from the harsh elements.
In cold climates, if not mulched properly, your lavender will die off. After living in Colorado for years, I’ve only lost one lavender bush to extreme cold weather.
Lavender takes 3 years to grow to maturity and, in the third year, will give you the most robust flower harvest. Expect it to taper off in following years.
Additional Lavender Related Posts:
Planting and growing this miracle herb can offer so many wonderful uses. From beauty products to kitchen recipes, this herb is a powerhouse in both the garden and the home. Adding lavender to your garden and learning how to grow and cultivate it is a skill worth learning.
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