There is nothing as intoxicating as a lavender plant in bloom on a warm summer’s day! It’s beautiful along a border, as a small hedge, or spilling onto a wandering path. It can bloom from light violet to dark purple and deep blues AND even in pinks and whites! Oh my heart! With over 450 named cultivars - all with their different qualities, properties and unique scent, there’s sure to be a favorite for everyone!
Lavender is one of the easiest plants to grow and under the right conditions will flourish for you for years and years!
Here are my best tips for growing lavender for your own special oasis!
Water: lavender is an excellent drought tolerant plant and once established will want very little water. Let it dry out a few days before watering again. Here, in the Pacific Northwest, when it is raining in winter, lavender is dormant and the plants don’t mind so much. But during the growing season, be sure not to over water after the first year.
Pests: Lavender is virtually pest free and is an excellent plant for attracting ‘good bugs’ like lady bugs that will help control aphids - one of the reasons why we plant lavender along with our roses as a companion plant for natural pest control!
Spittle bugs, aphids or grasshoppers may find the lavender, but rarely do they do any damage even if present.
pH: Lavender loves neutral soil pH. Acidic soil needs lime or dolomite added and alkaline soil needs additions of sphagnum peat, organic matter or sulfur. In the Pacific Northwest, you most likely will need to add a little lime, but that isn’t always the case. Have your soil tested to be sure. A pH around 6.2-7 is best.
Soil: Lavender likes loose sandy loam, similar to their origins in the Mediterranean. Heavy clay soil can be amended with mushroom compost or organic material to help improve the texture of clay soil. Avoid adding sand, it may just make it worse and turn it into concrete like texture. Soil needs air so composting is best.
Sun: Lavender thrives in a warm sunny spot with warm soil and 6-8 hours of sunlight a day. Planting next to a side walk or gravel path will reflect heat and warmth that they love!
The Spot: Think “high and dry” when it comes to planting lavender! Lavender needs well – draining soil. Find a higher spot on a mound or hill and avoid areas where water pools up instead of draining.
Nutrients: lavender is not fussy when it comes to fertilizers and in general will not need much at all. A light application of nitrogen like feathermeal at planting time is helpful. A sprinkle of bonemeal in the spring will benefit blooms. A little kelp meal will help with extended drought periods. Use a very light hand, lavender originates from the dry rocky soil of the Mediterranean and has no need for over-fertilizing.
Containers: Lavender planted in containers will need some extra love: A bit more watering and a time-release general fertilizer added is a good idea to keep it healthy. Be sure if it becomes root bound where it outgrows it’s pot, that you move it to a larger container or plant it outside in the ground.
Pruning: Prune lavender each year – Fall or early Spring. Hedges will need pruning twice a year. Pruning keeps a nice shape and helps prevent plant from getting “woody” stems and splitting. Generally taking the plant down to 1/3 to 1/2 the plant size is recommended. Only trim the past year’s growth and don’t prune into the harder wood of the stem. Pruning about September or about 6-8 weeks before your first frost so that the plant can harden off before winter or to avoid that worry you can do your pruning in early spring.