How to Grow Lavender: Complete Guide
Lavender is preferred for gardens because of their aroma and beauty. Although it does require a little bit of know-how, it’s not hard to learn how to grow lavender by yourself. Today we will look over the complete guide on growing this interesting plant.
1. Choose a Good Location
It’s important to know that lavender is, in fact, a Mediterranean herb, so it’s good to choose a hot and sunny location for it. Plant it in a place that will offer it a minimum of 8 hours of sunlight a day. At the same time, go for a sheltered spot, so that it can be protected from the wind.
2. Choose the Right Soil
Lavender doesn’t really love humidity, so keep that in mind when you learn how to grow lavender. You can use a soil tester before getting down to planting. Ideally, the soil where lavender grows should be fluffy, well-aerated, and light for the plant to thrive. If you want to improve the drainage of the soil, add some silica sand before you plant. It helps drain well the soil, it reflects sunlight onto the plant, and it doesn’t cement. Keep this in mind, especially if you live in a wetter or colder climate.
Another option is to plant your lavender in a raised bed. A location found at the top of a slope can also be used to maximize drainage.
3. Check the pH Level
As we previously mentioned, you can test the soil with a commercial test probe before planting. In general, lavender loves to grow in slightly alkaline soil, which means that the pH level should be somewhere between 6.7 and 7.3. If you want to buy one, go to a garden center or a home improvement store. In case you need it, you can make the soil more alkaline by adding some lime. However, how much you should add depends on the test recommendations and the type of the soil you have.
4. Buy Lavender
Naturally, there are plenty of varieties to choose from when you decide how to grow lavender. If you buy it from the local nursery, they will offer you a species that is compatible with the conditions in the area you live in. However, if you’re not sure, you can ask the people there or check the label yourself. In case you’re looking for a hardy variety, you can choose Hidcote Lavender or Munstead. There is also the possibility of growing lavender from seeds, but it’s not generally recommended because it implies scarification, as well as chilling. Moreover, it can last almost a month for them to germinate.
5. Dig a Hole
An important part of how to grow lavender correctly is to plant it right. With a trowel, dig a hole where you want to plant. The hole should be deep and wide enough for the roots to fit in. Remember that you will have to spread them out. If you want to plant the lavender in a container or a pot, choose a very large one. You might not believe it, but the roots can spread much more than the size of the actual plant.
6. Take Care of the Soil
Prepare the soil for planting. If you want to get better growing conditions for your lavender, add two handfuls of round stone that measures an inch. Bring half a cup of lime as well, together with some bone meal and compost tea or composted manure. The stone is good for the drainage, while the lime makes the soil more alkaline. Meanwhile, the fertilizer and the bone meal feed the plant to make it grow better.
7. Water Lavender in the Pot
If you got the plant from the nursery, most probably it came in a pot. Water it at least an hour before planting right in the pot you bought it in. In this way, you make sure that the roots are hydrated enough before you plant them. However, they shouldn’t be damp.
8. Prune the Plant
It might seem surprising, but you need to prune the lavender before planting it. This helps the lavender grow a shape and stimulates new growth. Moreover, with this step, you help the air circulate well through its stems, while also keeping the center of the stems from getting woody. This is, in fact, a serious problem with this plant. Good airflow is essential, and even more so if you live in a humid area.
9. Take Care of the Roots
Take the lavender away from the nursing pot and shake it lightly to get the excess soil away from the roots. When you plant it in the new location, the roots should be bare. Thus, it will adapt quickly and easily to the new environment.
10. Plant the Lavender
Our next step in the guide on how to grow lavender is to plant it. Place it with care in the spot you previously chose. Make sure it rests on a layer of soil, somewhere above the stone mix we mentioned before. Be careful though, the roots shouldn’t touch the stones. Use soil to fill in the space around it and on top of the roots as well. Pat it to stay into place around the stems.
If you know how to grow lavender and want to have more than one plant, you should leave around 36 inches of space between the plants. In this way, you will ensure that the air circulates well and allows the lavender to grow.
11. Fertilizing the Soil
The best part about learning how to grow lavender is that it requires low maintenance. You will only need to fertilize it once a year. For this, you should use a top dressing of bone meal and compost. Do it in early spring. The first time you should do it is right after the first watering. Let the soil dry, then use the fertilizer.
12. Watering Schedule
Just as we previously mentioned, dampness is one of the worst enemies for lavender. If the roots have too much water, the plant will die faster than with any freeze or drought. Many people make the mistake of over-watering the plant, which is why they don’t succeed in growing it. After you plant it, you should water it once every 7-10 days.
If you want to water it correctly, you should ensure that the soil dries before you water it again. However, don’t let it get dehydrated. In case you live in a Northern climate, make sure you water it sparingly until summer comes. After the temperatures rise and the soil dries out much quicker, you should plant every 7-10 days. For those who grow lavender in a pot, offer it great drainage since there is the risk of water pooling at the bottom.
13. Preventing Weeds
A good way to prevent weeds when you learn how to grow lavender is to cover the soil with mulch. For this, use gravel, coarse sand or oyster shells. This step also helps you protect the roots from the frost in the winter. However, don’t use wood mulch since it retains moisture and can make the plant rot.
14. Pruning the Plant
The pruning process should take place once a year, usually before there is new growth on the plant, so in the spring. Prune 1/3 – ½ of the plant when it has new growth. For this, use some special shears or a hedge trimmer. The result should be a rounded and tidy shape. You can recognize new growth because it looks like thin, long legs that come from the branches. You will also notice that the plant begins to form blooms. Now is a good time to fertilize the plant as well. However, make sure that you don’t over-prune the lavender, since in this way you may kill all the new growth.
The best time to harvest is when you see the flowers at the bottom of each stem starting to open. Now the lavender has the most powerful smell and color. Cut the flowers next to the base of the stems, just next to the foliage. Then, prune the plant to the new growth leaves. This can make it bloom again in the fall. If you want to harvest it for drying, do it when the blooms are ¾ open. If you notice that most of the blooms are opened, then it’s too late to harvest if you want to use it for herbal purposes.
To dry it, make a bundle of a hundred flowers and tie it with a rubber band. Hang it indoors in a dry, warm, and dark location. You can suspend it upside down with the help of a nail. Keep it like that for 10-14 days. When it’s ready, you can remove the dried lavender from the stems by rolling it over a metal screen. Place it on a bucket so you can get it easier afterward. This process is called garbling. For decoration purposes, keep the lavender in a vase, but don’t put it in water. This only hurts the plant and makes it mushy.
Learning how to grow lavender is a simple step, but you must pay attention to humidity. Dampness is lavender’s greatest enemy, so remember not to over-water it. Other than that, this plant does not require too much maintenance, which is why many people prefer it.
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