Lavender is a hardy and drought tolerant perennial and a vigil eye for any disease, pests or aphids is worth your time to keep your lavender plant healthy.
Preparations for growing Lavender in your garden
Lavender loves the sun and hates to have its roots wet, so choose a position with good drainage, plenty of sunshine and enough space for when they have reached full maturity, for the diameter and height of the variety you have chosen.
Prepare the soil so that is well drained and so loose you can dig it with your hands. Lavender likes poor soil and slightly alkaline. Some sand and compost worked into the soil, will get the plant off to a good start. Adding approximately 25% of sand to the mixture and area, will moderate the soil temperature and reflect heat and light up to the plant.
Dig a large enough hole to accommodate the spread roots in the prepared area and gently knock the plant from its pot, spread it roots and place it in the hole and cover with the prepared soil from the hole. If the stems are long enough, give the plant a little shape by pruning, this will start the stems branching and create many more blooms in the summer. Water regularly newly planted Lavender, rain water is preferable, or you can add a liquid fertilizer to plain water.
Best months to plant your lavender are after spring frosts, March through April and end of summer September through to October in England.
Growing Lavender in Pots
Growing Lavender in a pot can be done, although not always successfully. Choosing a variety that is smaller in diameter, will give you greater success. Consider the use of porous clay pots, they will give greater aeration to the roots. As the root system of Lavender is much bigger than the plant itself, a very large pot is needed indeed. Not only in diameter but in height too.
Make sure the pot you are going to use has really good drainage holes. Put about a 0.5 inch – 1 inch of loose gravel at the bottom of the pot to ensure the water doesn’t bog up the container. It’s best if you can find a good soilless mix for potting material, a mixture of organic peat, vermiculite and perlite and 25% sand is one of the best.
Lavender in a container is going to need more water than lavender in the ground. If you let a lavender get dehydrated you may find it difficult to bring it back to its former glory.
Make sure you follow the section in pruning, a real must for lavender grown in containers to maintain a good shape and plenty of blooms. Your contained lavender plant will love you for it.
Feeding your potted lavender, will be beneficial to your plants health with a time- release fertilizer, in the spring.
Harvest your Lavender flowers in the summer, after the dew has dried the stems and early in the morning. Whether you harvest your lavender plant when it has either begun to blossom or in full bloom, is dependent on what you want to use them for. If you want a fresh bouquet to place in a vase of water, pick the blossoms when half of the flowers on the blossom have opened, and change the water you place them in regularly, as the stems may become mouldy within a few days if you don’t. Cut any mouldy stems off, before you place them back in water. If you are picking to dry the bundle for crafting or bags, harvest when 75% of all of the flowers on the blossoms are open.
Early Autumn is the best time to to give your lavender plant a good pruning and if you haven’t already harvested all of the blooms, you can harvest any left for drying. Cut the green of your lavender back so that one, or two inches of green leaf remain. Your plant will be approximately two thirds of its size after pruning. Seems drastic, but your Lavender plant will not only thank you, it will look tidier throughout the winter, be a healthier plant and the new spring growth will promote many more blooms for the following year. Avoid cutting any woody parts, as it is difficult for the woody part to produce new shoots.
If you have missed the autumn pruning then early spring is the next best time to do this.
The best tool for pruning is a clean sharp sickle, its serrated edge cuts through the plant with ease enabling you to shape your plant too. A sharp knife, large scissors, or a pair of garden shears will do the job too, not as easily as the sickle, so we really recommend that you get sickle. In first year plants, you can bunch the whole plant in one hand and cut straight across with the sickle, with older plants, take more bunches from the sides and middle to give a beautifully, rounded symmetry.
Do give your lavender a good pruning either in the spring or autumn, they respond very well, however drastic it may seem. Plants that are not pruned have a tendency to fall open in the middle, sprawl and become wild looking.
Lavenders transplant well, but keep in mind there will be a huge root system. Give yourself plenty time for this task. The best time to transplant is in very early spring when the frosts have gone, or in the autumn.
Water the plants well before moving them to a new position and trim off any flowering stems, as plants needs to concentrate their energy on root development. After you dig the plant up, cut back and trim any damaged roots.
Transplants usually have fewer blooms in the first year, use this to your advantage and keep trimming off any stemmed blooms. You can be sure you will get a larger, fuller plant the following year.
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