Lavender (scientific name, Lavandula angustifolia) is a universally grown herb and popular garden plant, celebrated for its fragrant aroma, picture-perfect colours and elegant poise.
This easy-care, low-maintenance specie enjoys dry, hot conditions, which makes it the perfect choice for a variety of landscape settings. It’s also a great option for gardens that are prone to drought, or which have soils that drain very quickly.
How to grow lavender in the garden
Lavender seeds can be slow to germinate, which is why purchasing seedling plants is the most consistent way to grow this particular specie. Providing you follow a few handy tips and give these plants what they need, planting lavender and watching it grow is a relatively stress-free endeavour.
What results are strong fragrances that can make your indoor or outdoor space a relaxing place to be.
Lavender is able to withstand a number of growing conditions, however it thrives best when in a warm, sunny environment. It also prefers well-drained, alkaline soil in the shape of a rich organic matter – this will promote a higher plant oil production, which will in turn enhance the fragrance of the lavender plant.
These plants don’t like to endure moist or overly wet conditions, as they are originally native to arid regions. This is why it’s very important to consider location when planting lavender plants in your own garden.
Choose a spot with suitable drainage and place the plants at equal intervals, as this will ensure good air circulation. It will also help to reduce the chance of root rot.
Lavender plant care
Once established, lavender plants are pretty much maintenance-free and require little care.
For best results, you should water them regularly in their initial stages of life. However, once in place, they are renowned for being extremely drought tolerant.
Another good tip when planting lavender involves regular pruning. Again, this is not a necessity, although it will however keep the plants looking neat in appearance, while also promoting new growth.
Low-growing assortments can be cut back to the new growth, while larger types can be clipped to about a third of their complete height.
In most scenarios, lavender plants can take up to a year (or in some cases longer) before they are ready to harvest. Once ready, it’s wise to harvest these plants early in the morning, choosing flower spikes that haven’t yet fully opened.
For best results, package the plants together and drape upside down in a dark, dry space for around one to two weeks.
How to grow lavender indoors
Asides from planting lavender outdoors, you can also grow these plants indoors. In fact, there is hardly any difference to the end result. When growing these species of plant inside, ensure the plants obtain plenty of light and warmth.
Do not fertilise and only water the plants when they appear considerably dry.
Common issues and problems
Overly wet soil conditions can cause issues such as fungus and root rot. This can lead to wilted black leaves. Treatment comprises of cutting back the diseased sections of the plant and allowing the remainder of the plant to dry out.
As with the majority of plants, they can also be attacked by pests. It’s a good idea to check the plant for unwanted insects every now and again.
Best time to plant lavender
Asides from planting lavender in the morning, the best month to plant this specie is in October, as the plant enjoys the low to moderate rainfall, cooler temperatures and less intense sunlight.
By establishing lavender in the winter months, it will be ready to bloom come spring.
Types of lavender to grow
There are a number of variants to choose from when it comes to planting lavender. In fact, it’s a genus of an impressive 39 species of flowering plants, which belong to the mint family. There are numerous colour varieties available, which range from fresh, spring green to the richest royal purple.
There are also indigos, yellows, whites, pinks and reds to choose from. Some of the popular varieties include:
True Lavender – Commonly known as English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), this evergreen is a slow-growing perennial plant, which tends to reach a height of three feet and boasts a short, somewhat curved stem.
The blooms are barrel-shaped and come in a selection of colours, while the leaves are narrow in shape and grey-green in hue. This hardy variant is drought resistant and boasts a sweet, floral scent.
French Lavender – This particular species (Lavandula stoechas) is most commonly used for decorative purposes. It can reach a height of one to three feet and boasts an array of serrated, green-hued leaves, which sit alongside pine cone-shaped blossoms.
These flowers begin to emerge in the late spring to early summer and are dark purple in colour.
Spike Lavender – This type of lavender (Lavandula latifolia) is similar to that of English lavender. The biggest difference is its leaves, which are wider in size. It offers three times more essential oil than that of true lavender, and has an aroma that smells a little like a combination of eucalyptus and lavender oil.
This is traditionally used in soaps, insect repellents, disinfectants and room sprays.
Spanish Lavender – This smaller variant is native to the Mediterranean and Northern Africa. It doesn’t usually grow taller than two feet, but what it lacks in height, it makes up for in its deep purple hue and impressive aroma.
Lavandin – A hybrid of true and spike lavender, it is commonly referred to as Dutch lavender. This slow-growing, hardy evergreen plant crops vibrant flowers, which appear from early to midsummer. This specie is mainly used to embellish gardens, in herbal remedies and potpourri as both the flowers and the leaves of this plant are highly fragrant.
The blossoms tend to be white, pale purple, or pink in hue. The plant also yields oil, which is used in a variety of products, including the likes of perfumes, massage oils, toiletries and other household products.