Herbs and flowers such as lavender are popular to grow in gardens and pots. After you have harvested and dried lavender, the essential oils will keep their scent for a long time. There is no need to worry about growing lavender because it thrives in neglect. In addition to dry soil and cramped spaces, lavender does not need fertilizers if you want a stronger fragrance. Even someone who tends to forget about their plants can grow lavender easily at home.
What is lavender?
Lavender is a flowering plant in the mint family that’s easily identified by its sweet floral scent and stunning purple flowers. There are reports that it is indigenous to the Mediterranean, the Middle East, and India, with a history that goes as far back as 2,500 years.
Lavender was used as a holy herb in ancient times. It was often used to freshen up and give a light scent to a variety of personal items, such as clothes and hair. Today lavender is used to help with stress through aromatherapy and even for healing injuries due to its natural antiseptic qualities.
Why should you grow your own lavender?
When you grow your own lavender you know exactly what it has been treated with. Live lavender plants have many great advantages like the ability to enjoy their beauty during the summer while you relax in your garden or front porch where your flowers are growing. There are many great uses for lavender.
How to grow lavender at home
For bigger, fuller lavender bushes, they need full sun, which is the best way to ensure many buds. Plant them in a sunny location in your landscape rather than in an area shaded by trees, awnings, or other large plants. They cannot handle much shade, so don’t plant them under a tree, under an awning, or in a spot with too much shade.
If you’re cultivating plants for their essential oils, you’ll find that lean soil will achieve greater levels of oils, so don’t overburden the soil with organic matter and fertilizer. If you’re planning to grow lavender in a potting mix, be sure to add in some sand to ensure proper drainage. Lavender prefers soil that has good drainage and is on the drier side. The scent of your lavender will be enhanced by soil that is alkaline or particularly chalky. Acidic soil is not suitable for lavender.
The lavender plant is extremely drought-tolerant once established. You should water lavender plants regularly during their first growing season after they are planted, then ease off and let them go on their own each following year.
Lavender plants are pruned by harvesting their flowers, but a little spring pruning is recommended to keep them well-shaped and encourage new growth. For the taller varieties, you can prune back a third of their height, while for the lower-growing varieties, you can cut down to new growth or prune back a couple of inches.
Lavender can be cut back in the spring. It is best to wait until you see new green growth at the base of your lavender plant before you prune when your area suffers from winter die-back. Plants are unlikely to produce new growth if disturbed too early in the growing season.
How to grow lavender from cuttings
Softwood cuttings are made by cutting the soft tips of the new growth in spring. It usually takes 2 to 4 weeks for cuttings to root, but they are less successful than hardwood cuttings.
During the maturing process, wood becomes semi-woody and denser, becoming less malleable, and this is why it is referred to as hardwood. Bacterial infections and moisture-related problems are less likely to occur with hardwood cuttings. Cuttings of hardwood stems should come from healthy, straight stems which can be clipped in the spring through the fall for growing new plants from cuttings.
Always go for stems that are vibrantly colored, vigorously growing, and do not show buds or flowers. Thus, the cutting can concentrate its energy on root formation instead of flower development.
Always use a sharp, clean knife or garden shears to prevent spreading bacteria. Make cuts just below the leaf node, starting at a stem length of 4 to 8 inches.
Leaves should be stripped from the bottom three to four inches, and the skin should be gently scraped away from the stems. By lightly scraping one end of the stem with your knife, you can see greenwood slivers, approximately 1/4 inch wide and half an inch long.
Give your cuttings a better chance of rooting by cutting their bare ends and dipping them in rooting hormone powder. Multiple cuttings are smart to start at the same time since some cuttings will not root properly and you want to be sure to have a healthy plant.
How to grow lavender in a pot
While lavender loves a warm, sunny field like the lavender farms near us, it can also flourish in a pot. Potted lavender looks great near entryways or out on your patio. Lavender prefers tight spaces despite the fact it has a large root base. A pot that is too large will lead to excess moisture, which will not keep your lavender plant comfortable.
If you choose a pot, make sure you leave a few inches extra space for the root ball. Putting a small lavender pot inside a large one or planting multiple plants in the pot creates an impact in the early stages of growing lavender.
Your container should have plenty of holes for drainage at its base. The main problem lavender deals with is root rot, which can be prevented by keeping the soil dry. Terracotta or clay pots help wick moisture away from the soil and prevent it from getting too wet.
If you are planting lavender in containers, use a loose, soilless mix, and remember that container-grown lavender will require more water than garden-grown lavender. During dry weather, water the soil around the roots of the plants to minimize dampness on their leaves.
How to harvest lavender
Even after drying, lavender flowers maintain their fragrance, which makes them extremely valuable. The best time to harvest the flowers is when the buds are just beginning to open, while the oils are the most concentrated. A warm, well-ventilated spot with good air circulation is a good spot for the bunches to be hung upside-down for about 2 weeks to fully dry.
Uses for Lavender
You can use this herb in cooking, teas, and dried for fragrancing your home. You should always harvest before the flowers bloom because after blooming they will not produce more oil which is what gives them their fragrance and flavor. To help repel mosquitoes place large pots of lavender near entryways and near entertainment spaces. I like it grow it in pots in the corners of my gazebo along with lemongrass.
Lavender is often used for its scent in perfumes and body care products as well as household cleaning solutions to add fragrance. Lavender is great for repelling insects and can be made into a soothing night time tea.
Growing tips and tricks
- Lavender likes to grow in tight spaces
- Make sure your lavender plants get at least 6 hours of sun a day. They are perfect for growing facing the south side of your home.
- Do not overwater your lavender
- Adding compost when you first plant is okay but avoid over-fertilizing your lavender.
Problems with growing lavender
The most common problem with lavender is root rot that can be fixed by keeping the plants from being overly wet and soggy. Other common problems include:
- Spittle Bugs
- Controlling Spittle Bugs
- Controlling Whiteflies.
- Preventing Alfalfa Mosaic Virus.
What verities of lavender are there?
There are many varieties of lavender, each boasting its own benefits and perks. They include:
- English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), available in several cultivars, including: ‘Munstead’, an old-fashioned standard with blue-purple flowers that grows to around 18 inches tall; ‘Hidcote’, a variety favored for its dark purple flowers; ‘Jean Davis’, a unique blend that produces pale pink flower spikes
- Lavandin (Lavandula x intermedia), with cultivars including: ‘Provence’, a variety particularly popular for drying out; ‘Grosso’, a highly disease-resistant and fragrant standard
- Fringed lavender (Lavandula dentata): a bushy, spreading shrub that produces dense purple-blue flower spikes that are very pretty, but only mildly fragrant
- French lavender (Lavandula stoechas): a beautiful Mediterranean native that is compact and bushy with fragrant, dark purple flowers