Where To Grow Lavender
Find Out Where To Grow Lavender In Your Garden
When you buy lavender plants, imagining the glorious purple haze of fragrant flowers and buzzing bees in summers to come; take time to consider where you are about to plant your dreams.
Given the right conditions, you can plant lavender that will settle in and flower profusely in the same year. Grown well, it will bring colour and perfume to your pots and borders all summer long, as well as attracting a wide range of bees, moths and butterflies to your garden. As a bonus, your lavender, if happy, will need very little care once established.
The fact that you can dry your lavender flower heads for winter arrangements, make fragrant potpourris to keep the moths at bay, scented sachets to help you sleep soundly, and make the best icecream deserts on the planet, takes growing lavender into a whole extra dimension..
If your lavender plants look spindly and leggy, the hoped for flowers small, or the winter freeze has left a blackened mess of twigs, you will find the reason and the solution here. The secret is to know where to grow it and get the growing conditions right. If you can do that, your plants will reward you richly with flowers and heavenly fragrance.
Where to grow lavender if you have hot summers and mild winters above freezing point: - Perfect lavender growing conditions
You can grow the full range of lavender species and varieties, from the hardy Lavender angustifolias to the tender and delicate Lavender dentata. There is no need for winter protection.
Where to grow lavender if you have short intermittent spells of frost in winter to - 5 degrees: - Fair growing conditions for the Lavender angustifolia varietie
Tender lavender varieties will not survive these temperatures and need winter protection.
The majority of commercially grown lavender is grown within this temperature range, notably Southern France and Eastern England. This is generally varieties of Lavender angustifolia, and winter protection is not needed.
Grow frost tender lavenders in pots, and remove to a frost free, well lit environment over winter. Keep soil dry, and only water if the plant appears to be wilting. Do not feed or cut plant over winter.
Grow hardy lavenders in the soil. Providing the soil is gritty, sandy, and does not become waterlogged, the hardier lavenders need no winter protection, and survive mild frosts well.
Where to grow lavender if you have continuous frost throughout winter down to - 5 degrees: - Borderline lavender growing conditions.
Plants constantly surprise us by adapting to new conditions, or behaving in ways not mentioned in the text books.
Try growing hardy lavender in extremely well drained gritty or sandy soil in a sheltered position covered by agricultural fleece.
Try growing lavender in pots, covering the plant with fleece, and wrapping the exterior of the pots with an insulating material such as garden fleece or an old blanket.
Where to grow lavender if you have continuous temperatures throughout winter below - 5 degrees: - Only suitable for growing hardy lavender varieties in pots wit
You can still grow lavender, but you need to grow it in pots.
Bring your lavender pots in before the frost and snow arrive.
Grow on in a well lit, frost free envoronment. Keep soil dry, and only water if the plant appears to be wilting. Do not feed or cut the lavender plant over the winter.
Make sure that you acclimatise your lavender plants to their outdoor position each spring by gradually exposing them a little more each day to outside conditions.
Start by leaving the door open. Increase exposure to short spells outside in the day.
Only leave out overnight when all chance of frost is over.
Where to grow lavender if you have heavy snowfall: - Branch breakage protection needed.
Heavy snowfall can act as an insulating blanket, but it can also cause a lot of damage.
Small lavender plants are less likely to be damaged than larger plants, where branches may snap or become permanently distorted under the weight of snow. Brush snow from plants
If it's a predictable but rare event, you can erect a wigwam of sticks and netting above the plants to breduce the snow impact
If heavy snow is a regular or long term winter feature, it's best to grow lavender in pots and bring into a frost free, well lit environment until spring.
By Marek Gehrmann (Own work) , via Wikimedia Commons
The Best Soil For Growing Lavender - Lavender likes dry, poor soil : wet, cold, ground kills lavender quickly.
The best and most fragrant lavender plants that I have ever seen were self seeded, growing along the edge of a gravel and sand pathway in southern France. No one watered them, no one fed them. They had just found the perfect conditions to grow.
I've already mentioned that lavender will only survive below freezing temperatures well if the soil is free draining. In fact lavender grows best, flowers most prolifically and lives longest in free draining soil.
'Free draining soil' means soil where rain drains through quickly because it is gritty and does not absorb or collect moisture. It also means soil that doesn't have a high water table, or clay layer near the surface to keep heavy rains trapped within the root zone of the plants.
Another soil requirement is 'poor soil'. 'Poor soil' can be any soil that hasn't been fertilised or manured. Lavender becomes lanky and leggy when growing on rich or fertilised soil. Don't be tempted to hurry the plants along with feed, because you will produce a weak, spindly plant unable to hold it's flower spikes up, short lived, less fragrant and prone to disease.
If you can't meet these criteria your Lavender won't grow well. I don't grow it in my heavy clay soil; the results are always disappointing as the plants grow weakly, become leggy very quickly, and die off completely if the winter is wet or very cold.
Is Your Soil Right For Growing Lavender?
Is your soil the right soil for growing Lavender?
Growing Lavender In Pots
If your soil is like mine, and is rich and clayey or very wet in winter, the only thing to do is grow your lavender in pots or window boxes.
This is actually a great way to grow good plants as It opens up all sorts of opportunities for flexibility and change in your summer garden displays.
Tips For Growing Lavender In Pots
Large lavender plants in beautiful pots look magnificent.
Place your lavender pots along paths, on terraces and decks, and even place them in borders. It also makes a wonderful centre plant for summer bedding displays. You can move the pots about, bringing them to the fore when in bloom, removing them to cover over winter.
By growing lavender in pots you can provide the perfect soil mix and drainage for your plants.
Choose pots in natural, porous materials, particularly terraccotta. Plastic and metal pots allow compost temperatures to fluctuate greatly, allowing plant roots to bake in summer and freeze in winter. They also can contribute to water-logging and poor soil oxygenation.
Make sure that there are adequate holes in the bottom of the pot for drainage.
Raise pot from the ground with ready made pot feet or small stones to increase drainage.
Buy a gritty compost or make your own by mixing 50% potting compost and 50% sharp sand. It's not a good idea to use garden soil, unless it is already the right kind of soil, as it quickly becomes very consolidated, and often contains organisms that you will prefer nnot to take indoors during winter.
Lavender doesn't need to have it's roots restricted. Get a pot several sizes bigger than the root ball of your plant. That way it will have room to grow, you won't need to re pot it every year, and you won't need to water it so often.
Don't forget to water your pots. lavender is drought tolerant, but that is partly because it can search for moisture in the soil. In a pot, it is completely dependent on a supply of water from you. Don't over water; wait until the soil is dry before watering, and make sure the water drains freely through.
Lavender is Drought Tolerant.
This sun loving plant flourishes in dry, hot conditions.
But newly planted plants will need watering after planting, and during the first growing season whenever the soil gets dry, but once they are established watering is rarely necessary.
How To Plant Lavender
Originating from Hidcote gardens, this lavender has been planted in thousands of gardens. Like Munstead, it is a shorter growing variety.
The Best Way To Prune Lavender - Clip every year
Without pruning lavender becomes straggly and full of old, unproductive wood within a few years.
Only cut off the soft growth that has leaves and grew in the present year.
Avoid cutting back into old, established wood. It can be done, but you really need to know how and when, and this will vary from plant to plant, and from one year to the next. Cutting back hard can result in a re-envigorated plant, but it can also kill the plant, and it takes experience to get it right.
If the plants are to be left to flower on in the garden, dead heading will extend the flowering season considerably, but pruning must be done well before cold weather sets in, or left until the following late spring.
When To Feed And Mulch Lavender - To mulch or not?
You can kill with kindness!
Do not feed or fertilize your plants as this will make them become weak, spindly, and prone to disease.
Do not mulch your Lavender with organic matter as this will make it rot at the base of the stems.
You can top dress pot grown plants with shingle, pebbles or crushed shells. This, keeps soil from splashing the leaves, stops the pot from drying out too quickly in hot sun, and looks very decorative.
Image unattributable: if you have the copyright, let me know
Lovely Lavender, full of colour, perfume, goodness and beloved by the bees.
Pests And Diseases Of Lavender
There are few problems that affect healthy plants. Most disease and pest attacks occur when plants are stressed and weak due to poor and unsuitable growing conditions.Capsid bugs occasionally become a problem when their larvae create frothy bubble nests amongst the leaves in summer. A few nests hardly matter, but if your plants begin to look overwhelmed and unsightly, a sharp blast of water from a garden hose will dislodge them easily.
Bees are in trouble the world over, and whilst we still don't have a definitive answer as to why bee poulations are falling drastically, and bee diseases increasing, we do know that loss of a nectar sources, agricultural mono cropping and foraging exhaustion plays a part. This means that we are in trouble too, as all our crops depend upon pollination by bees.
Mike Baldwin ], via Wikimedia Commons
Growing Lavender From Seed
Lavender is easy to grow from seed
You can sow the seed directly into warm, free draining ground at the end of Spring and have a row of small plants by Autumn.
In a cool summer such as the one we have had in England this year, the seed may germinate more easily with the help of an unheated greenhouse, cold frame or sheltered window box. Sow the seed thinly, barely covering it with soil, and thin the plants out as they grow, so that there is always space between each plant. If you want to move them you can transplant them the following late spring.
Rather like L.Hidcote, but with bluer, paler coloured flowers.
The basic species. It grows quite large and can get lanky if you don't keep it clipped hard every year. But wonderful in drifts in borders.
This is the butterfly lavender also known as L. papillion. Not so fragrant, not useful for cooking or healing, but very pretty.
Butterflies And Moths Feed On Lavender
This is a film I made of Swallowtails and Black Lace butterflies, Six spot Burnets and Hummingbird moths dancing on nectar rich flowers, and swathes of Lavender.
Music by Albeniz
Tools For Pruning Lavender
It's important to have good tools. It makes the job easier. It is also a pleasure to use and own good tools. By good tools, I mean tools that are well made, well designed, last, and are comfortable to use.
All the following recommendations have withstood the test of use and time within my garden company, and have been used by me personally in my own garden.
The Best Shears
Once a year you need to give your lavender bushes a good trim. You need sharp shears, and if you have a few to trim, a pair like this with shock absorbers will make the job much less tiring.