Famous for its scent, lavender is a favorite in the garden. Harvest lavender for perfume, lotions, massage oils, potpourri and other fragrant products. It’s also known to have a calming and sleep-inducing effect when drank as a tea before bedtime.
In the kitchen, lavender is a favorite herb with French chefs. Recipes calling for lavender tend to be on the sweet side. But lavender can be a useful replacement for rosemary and other strong flavored herbs. Blend lavender with other herbs, for your own herbs de Provence.
1. Will lavender be happy in your garden?
It’s a native of the Mediterranean and a lover of sunny, dry, rocky habitats. Lavender is happiest in climate zones that mimic that area. If you are unsure of your climate or hardiness zone, ask your nursery or other gardeners in your area the local USDA zone is. Or, check the National Arboretum USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map.
2. Getting started with lavender in the garden
Lavender is easier to grow this from healthy nursery plants, cuttings or root divisions. It tends to be difficult to grow from seeds. Choose a location for lavender that has moist and well-drained soil. Young lavender plants will need some protection from the sun. Mature plants love full sun. Lavender doesn’t like too much water. Over-watering is the quickest way to kill young plants. During the first year trim off the flower shoots to encourage lavender to become compact and bushy. Once it reaches it’s mature stage, regular pruning and deadheading will keep it growing nicely.
Harvest the flowers during its peak season, usually at the end of summer.
3. The most popular lavenders
Lavenders are available in over 30 species of small shrubs or herbs. The most popular varieties of lavender are the English, Spanish and French Lavender.
English Lavender, Lavendula angustifolia, is the most popular lavender. This is what you’ll see most often in nurseries, home centers and magazines. English lavender grows up to 3-feet tall and produces dramatic purplish blooms. There are other sub-varieties that are smaller with different colors: white, pink, and blue-lavender. English lavender has a very strong fragrance and is most commonly used in many aromatherapy products. Grows well in climate zones 5-10.
Spanish Lavender, Lavendula stoechus, is a smaller variety that grows to one and a half to 2-feet. This variety grows best in humid and warm regions and produces deep purple pinecone shaped flowers. Spanish Lavender is a favorite attractor for bees. Ancient Greeks and Romans used Spanish Lavenders for their baths. Grows well in climate zones 8-9.
French Lavender, Lavendula dententa, is a cousin of the English Lavender. Its flowers have a milder scent and the colors are more pastel. The French variety can grow to 3-feet in height with serrated leaves. It’s popular as a decorative plant in landscaping. Grows well in climate zones 8-9.
4. Garden soil
Lavender is native to rocky, Mediterranean regions with alkaline soil and ample of sunshine. Those conditions will make lavender feel right at home.
If the garden soil is acidic, sprinkle a handful of lime or Calcium Carbonate around the drip line of the plant. It’s recommended to use lime when transplanting. Mixing it into the surface soil will help the lavender to adjust more easily to its new home.
Tips for growing lavender
• 6-hours of full sun
• Well-drained soil
• Good air circulation