Lavender is one of the most well known herbs due to its distinctive fragrance and its many uses. There are also countless varieties of Lavender plants and they can be grown in a few different ways, which can seem a bit intimidating or confusing to first time gardeners. Here is a brief introduction to Lavender plants and how to care for them so that they will flourish and bring both scent and color to your house and garden.
Photo Credit: RussellHeistuman
Chances are good that when you picture Lavender plants, you are thinking of the traditional English types. Within this category, you will find Vera, Munstead, Hidcote, and Jean Davis varieties, among others. These plants flourish in low humidity zones and bloom from mid spring to early summer. Non-English Lavenders include Yellow, Spanish, French, and other species that bloom in early spring. Their flowers are larger and more densely clustered on the stem than the English Lavenders. Lavandins, or English Lavender hybrids, are literal late bloomers and begin to flower at the start of the summer months. Provence and Grosso are the most popular of the Lavandins and are commonly grown for drying or scented oil extraction purposes.
Lavender plants can be grown from cuttings that are taken from established plants and then potted. The cut stem will put out its own roots and become an entirely new plant, which means that you can get free plants from neighbors, friends, and relatives who have Lavender in their yards that they are willing to share with you. Seeding Lavender is not nearly as easy as starting plants from cuttings, as it can be a challenge to find the seeds of certain varieties and the germination rate is fairly low. There is also the fact that with cuttings, you know exactly what the resulting plant will look like, down to the leaf size and what shade of purple the flowers will be when it blooms. Seeds are more of an unknown entity, with the possibility for crosses and varying shades within a single seed packet.
There are several important environmental factors that must be taken into consideration when you are deciding where to plant your Lavender. The beds or pots must be properly drained, with no lingering dampness or a tendency to turn to mud during a good rain shower. Lavender plants also require a good pH balanced soil, with a number between 6.5 and 7.5 being the ideal. Once you are ready to plant your cuttings, be sure that the area is clear of weeds and that you have put out compost if you are planning on using any. Fertilizer is not necessary, particularly if you continue to use compost around your plants. It is also extremely important to not over water your Lavender, as excessive amounts of moisture from humidity or over watering will cause the plants to die. To avoid this, let the plants dry out a bit between waterings without allowing them to become parched.
Thanks to their lovely fragrance and appearance, Lavender plants can be a mainstay in nearly any garden. As long as you select cuttings from healthy plants, sow them in a well drained, pH balanced location and keep them carefully watered, you will end up with a flourishing crop of Lavender every spring or summer.