here's another tip for removing the buds from the stems. Place
the bundle-still bound by the rubber band-into a pillowcase.
Roll it up and gently press and roll on a counter as you would
a rolling pin. I then scoop the buds out of the case and sieve
out any large debris. The remaining stems make great fire
starters in the winter (remember to remove the rubber band!).
Or place a few on the barbecue coals when grilling chicken for
an aromatic lavender chicken. Placed on coals or campfire
embers, the smoke also repels mosquitoes!
to Grow Lavender Tips from people who grow it:
likes it on the well drained and dry side... so you folks in
the east don't need to water much.
is a link that might be useful: my
the flower garden or herb garden, Lavender is attractive with
it's grayish foliage. When in bloom, the Lavender scent drifts
pleasantly across the yard.
some along the house under your windows, allows the scent to
waft inside in the breeze. Most varieties are under 1 1/2
feet. But, they can grow up to two feet tall.
flowers in full bloom and place in a small vase.
scent is in leaves, stems and flowers. Harvest in early
morning when the oils are at their strongest in the plants.
Cut the stems and spread loosely on a screen to dry.
lavender for its fragrant, thin gray-green leaves and purple
flowers in summer. This perennial grows well in a sunny border
with other herbs and flowers.
a light application of organic fertilizer
to the top of the soil in early spring; follow
directions on the package. Mulch around but not on top of the
plant with 3 inches of organic compost in early spring.Do not
water in summer - lavender is tolerant of dry soil. Cut off
flower stems to the base when in full bloom to use for sachets
or indoor arrangements; use bypass pruners or scissors. Cut
off old flower stems and shear lightly - cut off 2 to 3 inches
of leaves - after flowering to neaten the plant; use bypass
(Lavandula) is such a romantic flower that every
gardener sooner or later succumbs to the urge to grow it. a
native of the Mediterranean and and nrther Africa this wildly
popular perennial is now grown around the world. a lover of
dry, sunny, rocky habitats, we give it a try anyway, hoping it
will adapt. After all, England can hardly be considered dry or
particularly sunny, yet English gardeners are renowned for
their lavender plants. T This is a good place to start a
discussion of growing lavender.
varieties of this semi-hardy perennial exist, but all dislike
many plants grown for their essential oils, a lean soil will
encourage a higher concentration of oils. An alkaline and
especially a chalky soil will enhance lavenders fragrance.
While you can grow lavender in Zone 5, it is unlikely you will
ever have a lavender hedge. More realistically you can expect
to have plants that will do well when the weather cooperates
and to experience the occasional loss of a plant or two after
a severe winter or a wet, humid summer.
always grow your lavender in pots and move it to follow the
sun or even bring it indoors for the winter. Keep in mind that
although lavender has a large, spreading root system, it
prefers growing in a tight spot. A pot that can accommodate
the rootball with a couple of inches to spare would be a good
choice. Too large a pot will only encourage excessive
that the pot has plenty of drainage. To prevent water pooling
in the pot, place about an inch of loose gravel at the bottom.
Rot root is one of the few problems experienced by lavender
plants. Use a loose, soilless mix for planting and remember
that container grown lavender will require more water than
garden grown plants. How much more depends on the environment
and the type of pot. Water when the soil, not the plant,
appears dry and water at the base of the plant to limit
dampness on the foliage. Compact varieties make the best
choices for containers. Some to try are L. angustifolia
‘Nana Alba’ and Spanish lavender (L. stoechas subsp.
lavender in the spring and summer. Look for plants in nurseries in
4-inch to one-gallon containers. Choose healthy-looking plants
that have leaves to within 3 inches of the base.
Soil: Lavender needs loose, well draining soil. If your soil is heavy and contains clay, you will need to amend it with some sand and organic matter. The biggest destroyer of lavender plants is moisture - if the roots stay wet, they can rot, so it is imperative that where you plant your lavender gets good drainage.
Sun: Lavender grows best and flowers best in full sun, although it can be grown in partial sun.
Water: Lavender plants that are newly transplanted will need some attentive watering, like any perennial. However once established, lavender is very drought tolerant and during the summer months we rarely water our lavender plants.
Fertilizer: Lavender is very sensitive to over fertilization. Do not fertilize with those granuals that you can normally toss out around the perennial/herb garden - they will burn up your lavender! When we establish a new bed, we will work some kind of organic fertilizer into the soil, like llama, sheep, rabbit and best - chicken - manure. (Although we are not "certified" organic, we farm organically - we do not use any chemicals on our plants) Vermiculture (worm compost) is also very good for lavender beds. In the fall we will top dress around the lavender again with loose, dried manure. Lavender does prefer a sweeter soil, so you can amend with lime.
Mulch: Do not mulch lavender! Those traditional mulches will hold too much moisture at the base of the plant. We use a mixture of 50% sand/50% limestone sand to top dress our lavender beds
Weeding: Like any plant it's important to keep weeds under control, as they rob the plants of vital water and nutrients. I hand weed, which is tedious, but also keeps the gardens looking their best.
Pests: The only insects I have seen on our lavender plants are spittlebugs, which are harmless and only lay their eggs in early spring under certain weather conditions. They do not eat the plants.
Disease: Lavender is very disease resistant and very hardy. Plants can live 10 years in full production - I've even seen an Old English lavandin plant that is over 25 years old.
Pruning: Pruning the lavender once a year is very important. I prune in early spring before new growth starts. Take 1/3 of the entire plant off, reshaping into a nice mound shape. Some lavender plants can get very "leggy" and they may need more attention to keep them in a nice shape. If you don't prune lavender it will develop a woody center and new growth will stop. The lavender will then sprawl and flower only on the outside edges, not in the center. Think of lavender as a semi-shrub and treat it that way and you will be happier with the look of the plants.
Harvesting: Harvest the flowers for their end use. For a fresh bouquet, pick when in full color and scent. For dried bundles, the stems must be harvested before the florets completely open. If you wait too long, they will just fall off when they are dried. If you pick them too soon, they will not have obtained good color. I check the gardens daily in the summer and pick each plant as it is ready. Pruning shears and scissors work, as do sheep shears. I take a handful of stems and cut them off at their base at the plant and wrap with rubber bands. If they are going to be dried, I then hang them upside down. Drying takes about 2 weeks, but is dependent upon humidity. Keep good air circulation and store your bundles out of direct sunlight.
Certification: Make sure the nursery stock and perennial beds where you buy lavender is inspected and certified by the USDA.
|The intoxicating scent, wandlike flowers, and gray-green foliage ensure lavender's enduring popularity.
Lavandin flowers grow on long stalks that sway in the wind. The stalks rise 18 to 24 inches above the plant and move as ornamental grasses do.
According to folklore, spouses who place lavender flowers between their bed sheets will never quarrel.
Many other species and cultivars have gained notoriety through the ages, including English lavender (L. angustifolia) for its superb oil quality and lavandin (L. x intermedia) for its long-stemmed flowers. See Exceptional lavender selections for a list of choice plants and their distinctive features.
Interesting leaf colors and shapes attract the eye-
Flowers and foliage play important roles in determining a lavender's worth. Some lavenders have unusual flower heads, while others are garden standouts for the color and shape of their foliage. When judged for their foliage, lavenders with dentated (toothed) and silver-colored leaves are the most sought-after specimens.
The small, spear-shaped leaves of lavenders are characteristically green when young and turn silvery-gray as they age. L. x intermedia 'Fred Boutin', a lavandin cultivar, is near the top of the list for foliage color. Its leaves brighten to a distinct silvery hue during the heat of the summer and stay silver into the winter months, when most lavenders become dull and uninspiring.
Dentation, or the rounded, teethlike shapes that adorn the margins of some leaves, is another attractive feature of a few lavender species. The leaf margins of 'Goodwin Creek Grey' have just a few teeth at the basal end of the leaf, whereas the leaf margins of French lavender are uniformly toothed.
Other lavenders with notable foliage, like 'Silver Frost', 'Ana Luisa', 'Richard Gray', and 'Sawyers', were derived from crosses with woolly lavender (L. lanata), a plant known for its textured leaves. They all rival 'Fred Boutin' in brilliance. They inherited not only silver-colored leaves, but also the hairy leaves of woolly lavender.
Dark-purple flowers are the best for drying
For some lavender enthusiasts, the darker the color of a lavender's flowers, the more attractive the plant. Some of us prefer lavenders with dark-purple flowers because they retain their color best when dried; so naturally gravitate toward English lavender cultivars.
'Hidcote' is a superior and well-known English lavender,
'Royal Velvet' sports dark-purple flowers on long flower stalks
'Sharon Roberts' performs as well as 'Hidcote' but is also a good rebloomer.
'Two Seasons', which produces its deep-lavender-blue flowers first in June and then again in September.
No lavender flower is more intriguing than Spanish lavender (L. stoechas). The dark-purple bracts, or "rabbit ears," that sit above the pinecone-shaped flower head appear to glow when backlit by a rising or setting sun. These showy flowers are the first lavenders to bloom in spring in my garden, and with some deadheading, they continue to bloom freely throughout the growing season.
Although the shapes of lavandin flowers may be less intriguing than those of Spanish lavender, these flowers make up for their lack of showiness by rising above the plant on incredibly long stalks. 'Grosso', which stands at 24 inches when in bloom, is my favorite lavandin. Its tapered flower head is a bit showier than the rest of the lavandins', and its fragrance has a pronounced hint of camphor. It's also the most versatile lavender for wand making. 'Provence' is another lavandin that is popular for its flower head and sweet, floral scent, but it tends to shed its flowers when cut and dried.
Lavender should be harvested when the weather is dry. For details on how to go about collecting and drying this plant, see Harvesting lavender.
Some pair superior foliage and flowers
A few lavenders have earned respect by possessing both interesting flowers and foliage. L. pinnata stands out in my garden for its silver-colored, dentated foliage and intense blue flowers that open in a spiral fashion along the flower head. Intricate dark veining adorns each flower.
'Goodwin Creek Grey', which came about through an accidental cross-fertilization by nursery owner Jim Becker, has hairy, silvery, slightly dentated leaves and long spikes of tapered, blue-gray flowers that make it a superb specimen plant. And from what I hear, it does well in the South's summer heat and humidity, unlike many other lavenders.
L. viridis teases gardeners with foliage that smells like a cross between rosemary and lavender when brushed. Its evergreen foliage looks good in the garden, and its pinecone-shaped flower heads with yellow bracts add distinctiveness. L. x allardii is a lavender hybrid that flaunts silvery, slightly dentated leaves, and 6- to 8-inch-long flower stalks. This plant is similar to 'Goodwin Creek Grey', though it's much larger, growing into a 4- to 5-foot-tall shrub from a gallon-sized plant in just one growing season.
A lavender's size and habit determine its use
Three low-growing lavenders
Smaller-growing, mound-forming English lavenders make great edging plants or can be massed to create a large silvery bank topped with hundreds of short lavender spikes. Some notable English lavender cultivars that lend themselves to this kind of treatment are white-flowered 'Nana Alba', pink-flowered 'Melissa', lavender-blue-flowered 'Maillette' or 'Martha Roderick,' and dark-purple-flowered 'Baby Blue'.
The pinecone-shaped flowers and silver foliage of Spanish lavenders make them great specimen plants. Plant these medium-high growers in your beds to act as beacons among the many green-leaved perennials I grow. For example, their silvery, needlelike foliage provides contrast to, but also blends especially well with, the reddish-purple flowers of anise hyssops (Agastache foeniculum and A. mexicana cvs.).
Tall-growing lavandins make good hedges. check out the pink-flowered 'Jean Davis' which lines the path of an entryway at Barn Owl Nursery in Wilsonville, Oregon.
Tall-growing lavandins make fine hedging plants. And since their foliage is larger and their flower stalks longer than those of their English lavender cousins, they catch the wind and provide movement in the garden, much the same way ornamental grasses do.
The less hardy species make great container plants. Use L. viridis and L. pinnata as specimen plants in containers to appreciate the detail of their flowers and foliage up close. For another unusual garden accent in a container, I rely on 'Goodwin Creek Grey' for its silvery-white foliage and tapered flower heads that are an unusual dusky purple color. I also like 'Silver Frost' for its textured foliage.
Lavenders like sun and well-draining soil
Most lavenders are native to southern Europe (see Lavender: the basics), but I don't let their love for hot, dry, sunny sites and their affinity for fast-draining, alkaline soils deter me from growing them. If your soil is heavy and slow to drain, like mine, you can create a hospitable place for lavenders by amending your beds with plenty of organic matter. Mushroom compost and composted garden debris promote soil aeration and help keep the plants from succumbing to root rot. Growing them in fast-draining raised beds is another workable option.
Feed lavenders only when planting them and with an organic fertilizer. Although fertilizing lavenders with a formula high in nitrogen as they get older will encourage growth, it does so at the expense of oil quality. If you're not concerned about harvesting your lavender for oil, then you can apply a balanced fertilizer at the start of each growing season.
When first planting out young plants, cut off any flower stalks to divert the plants' energy into producing sturdy root and foliar growth instead of flowers. Pinch the tips of any strong leaders or stems to encourage my lavenders to branch.
Prune recently planted lavenders in flower to direct energy into foliar and root growth rather than into seed production.
Common garden nuisances like aphids and slugs avoid the aromatic leaves of lavender. The only pest I encounter in my garden is an occasional green caterpillar that harmlessly binds the leaves together; my lavender is just a convenient place to overwinter rather than a food source. No real harm is done, and the caterpillars can be removed by hand.
When grown in humid climates, lavenders can develop fungal and bacterial infections. One solution is to plant lavenders in containers in areas that experience humid summer weather to afford them better air circulation. Mulching with a couple of inches of coarse sand or grit around the base of the plants will help promote drainage and avoid moisture build-up that can lead to root rot and fungal disease. Keeping the area that surrounds your lavenders weed-free will also help to promote good air circulation.
The best method for propagating lavender is to take 2- to 4-inch-long semi-ripe stem cuttings in summer. Semi-ripe stems are still pliable, but will snap when bent. Remove the leaves from the bottom of the cutting, dip the end into rooting hormone, and place it into damp soilless mix. Since lavenders are susceptible to disease in humid conditions, keep the cuttings in a well-ventilated area until they have rooted. After a few weeks, cuttings that have grown roots can be potted up. These plants can be transferred into the garden in fall. Lavenders can also be grown from seed, but cultivars never come true.
Prune them back in stages
It takes lavender two to three years to reach maximum flower and foliage production. You can then harvest flowers and take cuttings to start new plants until a plant is about five years old, when flower output starts to decline. In the seventh year, woody growth develops, flower production decreases, and all the foliage is concentrated at the top of the plant. When I come across an old plant that I'd like to save, I first take cuttings and then try to rehabilitate the plant by pruning it.
Pruning a lavender to the point where it has no foliage will most likely kill it, so prune back only in small increments. In spring, I cut the foliage back by one third to stimulate new growth. Then, after the new foliage has grown in, I cut that back by one third to stimulate new growth at the base of the plant. If new growth does break at the base of the plant, I prune the plant back to just above the new growth. I never prune out old wood unless it is completely dead.
With so many lavenders to choose from, it might be hard to settle on just one. There's no need to limit yourself. The fun is choosing the lavender that's right for your conditions, and taking the time to stop and smell the flowers.
Lavender is an incredible plant. It's a hardy perennial, actually more like a semi-shrub, and it's one of the most versatile as well as one of the most beautiful plants there is - a virtual feast for the eyes and the other senses as well.
In our display gardens and our field rows, we are growing hardy angustifolias and many lavandins as well. We are in growing zone 5 here in mid-Michigan and have found that lavender does very well in our climate.
Angustifolias: Ashdown Forest, Betty's Blue, Buena Vista, Bowles Early, Compacta, Croxton's Wild, Folgate, Graves, Grey Lady, Hidcote, Hidcote Pink, Irene Doyle, Jean Davis, Lady, Loddon Blue, Maillette, Martha Roderick, Melissa, Munstead, Nana, Nana Alba, Rosea, Royal Purple, Royal Velvet, Sachet, Seals Seven Oaks, Skylark, Susan Belsinger, Twickle Purple, Victorian Amethyst, Wyckoff
Lavandins: Abriallii, Cathy Blanc, Dutch, Dutch Mill, Fred Boutin, Giant Hidcote, Grappenhall, Grosso, Lullingstone Castle, Old English, Provence, Sawyers, Seal, Silver Edge, Super and White Spike.
One winter's temperature deviation wreaks havoc on the gardens.
Lavender Essential Oil
Some farms do not distill lavender since it takes 500 lbs. of lavender flowers to distill 1 1/2 lbs. (24 oz.) of essential oil. Lavender oils are produced in England, France, Bulgaria, Hungary, Tasmania, New Zealand and Australia. Very limited oil production is being done on the west coast of the United States.
Over 86,000 acres of lavender are now being farmed world wide. The lavender oils that we use in our soaps and products are the very best quality pure essential oil. Be careful not to purchase lavender "products" made out of chemical derivatives, i.e. fragrance oils. Fragrance oils do not have the aromatherapy benefits that the pure essential oils do.
Julia Lawless's book "Lavender Oil: Nature's Soothing Remedy"
Think southern France. Think Sequim. You may be hypnotized by the magic of lavender, but you can help your garden by making a few rational choices.
When choosing a cultivar, decide what you want to do with your lavender. The buds fall off the stem soon after it is dried on some types like 'Sachet', and 'Provence', which makes these ideal for sachets and potpourris. 'Royal Velvet', 'Grosso', and 'Hidcote Giant' hold onto the stem better and are useful for dried bouquets and crafts like lavender wands.
Scent and flower color also varies according to cultivar. They make a lovely addition to fresh bouquets. To dry spikes, use a rubber band to hold the bunch together, and a bent paper clip to suspend the lavender bouquet upside down in a dry, dark place. Drying it upside down helps retain the blossom shape. I've also put fresh stems in an empty vase and allowed them to dry in place. That seemed to work just fine for a small quantity. It usually takes about a week for spikes to dry. For sachet, potpourris and culinary uses remove the flowers by rubbing the heads of dried bundles between your hands, collect the blossoms on a clean surface. To preserve the fragrance store in an airtight container.
Lavender needs growing room, so space it for good air circulation in the warmest section of your garden when they are mature. Size varies by cultivar. 'Grosso' is 5 feet across when in full flower. Once established in a garden, lavender is hardy and drought tolerant. Lavender likes well drained, loose, and slightly alkaline soil (if your soil is very much on the acid side, lime it in the fall using 5 pounds dolomite lime per 100 square feet.) Some well rotted manure or compost will get the plant off to a good start. Water in the transplant, and water as needed until it is established. A two-inch mulch of light colored sand will moderate the soil temperature and reflect heat and light up to the plant. More heat creates more fragrant blooms. I've also seen lavender mulched with oyster shells and white rock.
In early autumn, cut the green growth of your lavender back so about one or two inches of green remain. Avoid cutting into the woody stems. The older wood will generally not produce new growth. This pruning will promote fuller growth for the next season and it will look better throughout the winter. Plants that are not pruned tend to fall open in the middle, exposing the ugly woody growth and do not produce as many flower spikes. I ended up removing my first lavender plants because they got so ugly as a result of improper pruning.
During early spring, prune again. This time cut your plant to 2/3 of its size, leaving a couple of inches of green above the woody stems. It seems drastic but this will stimulate new growth. Professional growers use a small sickle, but clean sharp hand clippers work fine.
To see acres of these wonderful plants, visit the Annual Celebrate Lavender Festival, in July in Sequim,hosted by the Sequim community and the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Lavender Growers. It's a very pleasant day trip from the Puget Sound area. Reading up on herbs makes summer delightful. A favorite book of mine is The Northwest Herb Lover's Handbook by Mary Preus.
Lavender, the dried flowers of Lavandula angustifolia Mill., yield a volatile oil, the calming and relaxing effects of which are better documented by both empirical medicine and experimental studies than the three previous herbs. Apparently, its actions are mediated by olfactory receptors, but it may possibly act directly on the CNS following systemic administration. Suitable research in human subjects is required to verify preliminary observations.
The German Commission E approved hops as a calming and sleep promoting drug, lemon balm as a sedative, passion flower for nervous restlessness, and lavender flower as a sedative. There is little or nothing in the published scientific or clinical literature to substantiate these recommendations.
Labiatae Lavendula officinalis Chaix. in Vill.
Source: Magness et al. 1971
Lavender is a perennial shrub of the mint family, which under good culture may reach 5 feet in height. The leaves are oblong-linear to lanceolate, up to 1.5 inches long, somewhat hairy. Flower spikes may reach up to 3 feet, and the oil distilled from the flowers only is of highest quality. The oil is used mainly in perfumes, but may be used in aromatic vinegar. Dried lavender is sometimes used to flavor salads, dressings, etc., and dried flowers are widely used in sachet bags to perfume clothes. In the U.S., 17 acres of lavender were reported in the 1949 census. No later data are available.
Family: Lamiaceae (Labiatae), Lavandula species
Source: Simon, J.E., A.F. Chadwick and L.E. Craker. 1984. Herbs: An Indexed Bibliography. 1971-1980. The Scientific Literature on Selected Herbs, and Aromatic and Medicinal Plants of the Temperate Zone. Archon Books, 770 pp., Hamden, CT.
Lavender is the name for any of several aromatic shrubs, including English lavender, Lavandula angustifolia Mill. subsp. angustifolia, and French lavender, Lavandula dentata L. English lavender, formerly classified as Lavandula delphinensis Jord ex Billot, Lavandula officinalis Chaix, Lavandula spica L., and Lavandula vera D.C., is native to southern Europe and the Mediterranean area. Cultivated extensively for perfume and ornamental purposes in several European countries, the plant reaches a height of about one meter, has linear, lanceolate leaves covered with a velvety pubescence, and develops blue or purple flowers. French lavender, also known as fringed lavender, and formerly classified as Lavandula delphinensis Hort., is native to Spain. Grown as a popular ornamental, plants have long, linear, toothed, tomentose leaves that are a gray color and flowers that are a purplish color.
The reported life zone of lavender is 7 to 211Cdeg;C with an annual precipitation of 0.3 to 1.3 meters and a soil pH of 5.8 to 8.3 (4.1-31). Lavender grows in well drained, dry, calcareous soils located in full sun. Plants can be directly seeded, but are usually transplanted from vegetative cuttings. Growth is slow, and it takes a few years for the crop to develop fully. Some varieties have been bred to display their terminal inflorescence high above the foliage to facilitate hand and mechanized harvesting. Established plantings can last as long as thirty years. Lavender oil is obtained by the immediate steam distillation or solvent extraction of flowers harvested at full bloom. The essential oil contains linalyl acetate, linalool, 1,8-cineole, camphor, -pinene, and many other volatile constituents (8.3-78, 14.1-8). The concrete and absolute are commercially available.
The leaves and flowers of lavender are used in regions where the plant is grown as a flavoring in salads, dressings, fruit desserts, jellies, and wines (14.1-23) . The plant and oil are used in herbal teas and as a flavoring mixed with black teas. Flowers and leaves are sometimes used in sachets, potpourris, and dried bouquets. The plant material is used to perfume linen and scent tobacco. The oil is used in perfumes, toilet water, and cosmetics. The plants are grown as ornamentals along garden borders, in rock gardens, and as potted outdoor plants. The plants are also grown near highways for beautification and stabilization of soil. Lavender plants are attractive to bees.
As a medicinal plant, the lavenders have traditionally been considered antispasmodics, carminatives, diuretics, nervines, stimulants, and tonics. They have been used as a folk remedy against colic and headaches. The essential oil of lavender is reported to have antiseptic, carminative, and spasmolytic activity (11.1-154). The leaves are considered to be an insect repellent (14.1-23).
Cultivated for perfumery and ornamental purposes, Spanish lavender, Lavandula stoechas L., also known as French lavender, has narrow tomentose leaves and purplish flowers. Spike or broad-leaved lavender, Lavandula latifolia Medic., has wide, gray-green tomentose leaves and is collected in the countryside of Spain for use in perfume. Lavandin, Lavandula hybrida Reverchon, is a hybrid of English and spike lavender and is reported to supply one of the most important essential oils in the fragrance industry (8.2-48). The plants produce a high yield of lower quality lavender oil, which is used in the less expensive perfumes, in scenting soaps, and in the adulteration of other higher-quality lavender oils (14.1-8).
English lavender is generally recognized as safe for human consumption as a natural flavoring, and spike lavender and lavandin are generally recognized as safe for use as natural plant extracts/ essential oils (21 CFR sections 182.10, 182.20 ). http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/med-aro/factsheets/LAVENDER.html
PLANTING, LOCATION AND CONDITION
Lavender is romantic, fragrant, intense, healing and nostalgic.
Lavender has been around for centuries. Lavender is very popular today and will be for many years to come. The most frequently asked question is "Can I grow lavender where I live?". The best condition for growing lavender is a region with a dry summer. Too much humidity can cause mildew and fungus. Too much rain can cause root rot. Cold winter regions are also a challenge.
In conditions where the weather gets below 32 degree it is best to plant in containers so they can be easily moved into a basement, green house or room protected from winter weather. Also, keep in mind that lavender loves the sun, so close to a window is the best location. If you get too much summer rain, using a container makes moving the plants to a shelter area much easier.
When planting lavender in the ground there are two key things to remember.
1. Sun: plant your lavender in a location were they get at least 6 hours of sun.
2. Drainage: drainage is important because lavender does not like to have wet roots. So if your soil is rocky that is ideal, if it is not, try adding sand.
I live in Washington State and as most people know, we get our fair share of rain. My soil has excellent drainage; it is very rocky. I use sand around my lavender plants about an inch deep. The sand does several jobs, it adds to the drainage, it attracts heat during the day and as I said, lavender loves the sun, it also acts as a mulch to protect my plants during the winter.
Lavender likes an alkaline soil with a ph of between 6.5 and 7. The amount of hummus in the soil is important too, so chose a spot in your garden that is rich in compost.
Weather in the ground or in containers it is good to prune your lavender. Cutting it back to just above where the green beings is best, but do not cut below the green or you can lose your plant. You should see at least 1 inch of green foliage. Prunning can be done in the spring just before blooming or in fall after summer blooming. While pruning don't forget to give your plants shape. If you don't prune lavender will becomes too woody and not attractive with very few spikes of lavender. So remember this, pruning is a good thing...it stimulates new growth!
The harvest is what lavender farms wait for all summer, the pleasure of standing in the middle of their lavender fields is an amazing experience. The smell of the lavender, the beautiful color of the flowers and the feeling of peace that summer brings fills you with such gratitude that rewards you for all your hard work. You could easily spend the entire day there in all its beauty, that is the best way I can describe my feelings about a lavender harvest.
In early morning right after the dew is dry on the flowers is a good time to harvest. The lavender spikes should be cut when most all of the flowers have opened. Cut where the stem meets the leaves. Tie in bunches using a rubber band hang upside down in a dry dark place with good air circulation. In 2-3 weeks you will have preserved your lavender to use as you like.
Lavender is a wonderful addition to any garden. It smells wonderful, looks beautiful, is drought tolerant, and deer resistant! (Very important in the Napa Valley.)
Which Type of Lavender Do You Plant?
here are truly so many wonderful lavenders that once you start exploring - we're sure you'll be hooked. At our test garden we have 26 different varieties. Our suggestion is to get yourself a copy of Lavender the grower's guide, by Virginia McNaughlan. It's the best book we've found, plus it has a forward by Joan Head of the Lavender Bag and a 'write up' by Henry Head of Norfolk Lavender - both from England, but not related.
Prepare your garden for planting lavender:
Check your soil. You should have a Ph between 6.4 - 8.
If you have bad drainage, add one of the following to your soil: a little lime-based soil; builders sand; mushroom compost; or composted garden debris. You could also use raised beds with high sand content.
Use a drip system. You should not use overhead watering, as it will mildew the plant and the flowers and stems will become top heavy and droop.
Use nursery seedlings. Some lavender is sterile; others are hard to plant from seed. (Note that a 3"- 4" lavender container will quickly catch up to a gallon size and save you money.)
5) Once a plant is established, cut back on watering. Over-watering is one of the worst things you can do to your lavender plant.
Fertilizer Professionals go back and forth whether it is a good idea. If you choose to, use organic formula high in nitrogen when you plant in the beginning of the season. Harvest or Prune? If you want to use the lavender, Harvest, if it is only for show, Prune.
Bunch 25-30 stems together and tie with a rubber band. Hang upside down in a dry dark place or lay flat. This drying area must NOT be damp.
Pruning young plants early helps roots to get started faster. Pinch strong leaders to promote branching.
Pruning after blooms have peaked:
Clip stems down to 2-3 inches above the wood. The leaf will protect the wood from frost.
some Harvest May through July, then again in late summer or fall. (We have even harvested another crop in December!) then prune around Halloween, and turn the plants into pretty soft-green mounds.
We have not seen any pests here in the Napa Valley, but have heard of a green caterpillar.
Maintenance Keep the area around your plants weed free to keep the plants well ventilated. Propagating
It is best to take cuttings 2-4 inches in the summer when the stems are pliable. Remove all leaves from the stem, dip the end into rooting hormone, and place it into damp soil mix, which is well ventilated. When roots appear in a few weeks, pot the stem. It is good to take cuttings from a well-established plant (at least 5 years old).
You may also take a pliable stem and bend it over the ground by staking the stem. The stem will then root on its own
What to Expect From Your Plant
It takes 2 to 3 years to reach maximum stage of flowers and foliage. There is a disagreement among horticulturists whether or not the plants start to lose their maximum potential after 5-7 years. Jennifer met with Henry Head from Norfolk Lavender in England who stated that they are still harvesting lavender that his mother planted, over 40 years ago. Regardless, when your plant becomes woody and this woody foliage is concentrated at the top of the plant, you may want to replace that plant.
Any time you add lavender to your menu or decorating ideas, you are adding relaxation, and according to folklore, romance. Lavender is a versatile herb and can be used in many different ways. Lavender can be used in the meal, in the drinks, on the table, in the decorations, and beforehand, to rejuvenate before the party. Here are a few of our ideas for how to incorporate lavender into your next party.
Decorating Your Table With Lavender
First, cover the table with a simple, fresh tablecoth.
If you have an oblong table, set the center with 3 or 4 Napa Valley Lavender Co. Candles spaced evenly. Between the candles, lay lavender bunches from your garden (or you may substitute fresh flowers). If you have a round table, place 3 or 4 Napa Valley Lavender Co. Candles in the center of the table, with a vase containing lavender bunches (or you may substitute fresh flowers) in the center of the candles. This is a wonderful idea for any meal containing lavender (See our Lavender Recipes for ideas.)
- OR -
Set your table and tie little bunches of lavender (5 - 7 stems) to your napkin.
A nice idea for a bridal or baby shower is to make your own sachets with lavender from your garden and set next to the place cards. Be aware that some people are sensitive to the strong scent of fresh lavender (especially an expecting mom!) you may want to wrap the sachets in cellophane (easily purchased at a sweet shop or party store), and tie with a pretty bow to match the colors of your party.
You may also fill the cellophane bags with lavender, place the place card inside the bag and tie with a pretty bow (a pretty bow allows for a quick décor and is an inexpensive way to add pizzazz to your table).
Use lavender at the table as a gift at a baby or wedding shower.
increase your stock of lavender plants, Cuttings taken in the
spring or fall will do the best. Prepare a potting soil of
damp perlite and sand to start you cuttings. Cut a 2-3 inch
sprig from the main stem, leaving a little heel attached.
Strip off the lower leaves and dip the stem in a rooting
compound. Press the cutting into the potting mixture and place
in a protected, warm sun-filled room. Keep the cutting moist.
Once rooted, moving them outdoors for a few hours each day
should harden off cuttings. Once the cuttings have reached 3-4
times their original size, plant in the garden in a sunny
well-drained location. is
normally accomplished by taking cuttings from known genetic
sources in winter. Fields are planted in rows 1-1.2m apart
with intra-row spacing of 0.4m at an approximate density of
approximately 20,000 plants/ha. The first year of the
plantation should be for establishment. Harvest in the second
year will depend on the rootstock vigour of a particular
stand. The life span of lavender plants is 10-15 years after
which replacement plantings may be required. Attention to
obtaining the correct genotype is essential as recognised
markets are only open to oil that closely resembles the
international standards. Sources of the preferred genotype are
currently not easily available.
lavender is propagated from plant cuttings, not grown from
also transplanted in the spring when I needed to move the
plant with good success. Dig as deeply as you can and move it
quickly. You can also take cuttings from a lavender plant to
propagate. Cut a 3-4 inch piece of the plant that is newer,
not woody. Trim the leaves from the bottom half, remove any
blooms, and dip lightly in a rooting hormone, then place in a
sterile potting mix or sand. Keep moist, but not soggy--just
barely moist. It will take several weeks to root. Keep out of
the sun-- temperature around 70 degrees-and in a well
ventilated area. When the roots have formed, transplant it to
a pot and transfer to the garden in the fall before frost.
Mulch it for the winter for a little added protection.
- grown from seed. start indoors six to eight weeks before the
last frost. You will want to get these plants in bloom in your
yard as early as possible. Place seedlings in a sunny window
or use gro lights. You can also directly sow seeds into your
garden. Sow seeds early in the season and cover lightly with soil.
Space seedlings or thin plants to 18" apart, in rows 24
Apart from nutrient and water
competition between lavender and weeds, there is considerable risk
of contamination from the weed species in the distilled oil
product if weeds are allowed to grow in the rows.
For best drying results, harvest
the flowers as the buds first begin to open. Hang in small
bunches upside down in a warm spot with good air circulation.