Growing lavender is not difficult, even for those with less than prime conditions. By selecting the right variety for your area, you can easily grow masses of the fragrant, perennial herb for years to come.
There are over 200 varieties of Lavender.
Lavender flourishes in arid climates. In the Mediterranean where the climate is sunny and dry, and in the rocky soil of English gardens. Two varieties that are hardy enough to grow anywhere are English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) “Hidcote Blue” and “Munstead”. It’s always an adventure to try new varieties and see what grows the best with the least amount of time and effort.
Considerations when growing lavender.
First consider the growing conditions. Lavender loves dry well drained soil and full sun. As for soil-type, if you want to grow your lavender for its essential oils it is recommended that the soil is lean, chalky, and mostly alkaline in its nature. This combination minimizes risk of root rot from dampness.
Don’t get the feet wet.
Though the plant is extremely tough and can survive a severe drought, it doesn’t do well in humid summers and severe winters, you can easily lose a plant or two with this sort of weather. In addition, it takes a while for the plant to become established. In its first few years, the plant is very sensitive, and requires a few handfuls of compost and fertilizer.
Damp soil kills lavender more than any other condition, the soil should be very well drained. Because in winter months the soil freezes and thaws continuously, a thick layer of mulch will help keep the plant’s roots dry.
We find that planting on mounds helps to drain water away from the root system, but the truth is in Maryland, the humidity and the recent rise in rainy season makes growing lavender more challenging than it has been in the past.
Growing Lavender in containers
Lavender likes having its roots in a tight space. Pots should measure no more than an inch larger than the root ball, if the pot is much larger, there may be a problem with dampness. Make sure there is lots of drainage. Be sure there’s no standing water in the container.
For drainage: add some pebbles or rocks in the bottom layer of the pot which will keep excess water away from the roots. You can also choose to use a soilless mix for your plants which is mulch and other potting substances mixed together.
The best soil for growing lavender is gritty or sandy soil with a pH factor between 6.0 and 8.0. Lavender requires full sun, needing eight or more hours of direct sunlight a day.
Not all lavender is ideal in pots.
If you are searching for the best lavender for small containers are; Nana Alba (L. angustifolia) Irene Doyle (L. angustifolia) Blue Cushion (L. angustifolia) and Lavenite Petite (L. angustifolia). You can grow Hidcote or Munstead in containers, but repotting every 1-2 years is best for optimal growth and blooming.
Lavender should be planted in full sun.
If this is your first time growing lavender the following do well in tight spaces: Fringed Lavender, (L. Dentata) and French lavender are good for zones 8-9. Spanish lavender is preferred in humid areas and environments such as ours here in Maryland.
We’ve had some good luck with Lavender Phenomenal (Lavandula intermedia) it is tolerant of high heat and harsh winter and shows resistance to the effects of humidity. Highly fragrant with concentrated essential oils Phenomenal is edible, deer-resistant and fast-growing.
We’ve experienced lots of ups and downs growing lavender on the Eastern Shore, so we are are always looking for new and different varieties to add to our fields.
Pruning lavender is not at all difficult. Each variety may have different requirements.
The best time for pruning is once flowering is over for us, that is in late June. We find that this often results in two blooms per year during a good growing season.
What are your favorite types of lavender? What types have you had success growing? Let us know!
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