LAVENDER GROWING TIPS
This is a beautiful plant, coming in many shades of blue, green, purple, white, pink, grey, and all heights from 6 inches to 3 feet. All of the more than 200 varieties have wonderful fragrance.
Here are several important facts about lavender:
1. What is the difference between CULINARY AND NON-CULINARY” lavenders. The lavender fragrance is both flowery and kind of “piney”. There isn’t any lavender that can’t be used to flavor teas, honey, cream, cookies, etc., but generally the English group (not a scientific term but commonly understood) is less piney. Too much lavender added to food can taste like medicine. NEVER use lavender essential oil in food: tastes horrible. All food should be infused using the actual flower buds.
2. If you are in a mild climate that is not too humid you can use all the lavender varieties.
If you have a real winter with freezing temps, you must stick to HARDY lavenders. These are mostly English ones as well; we grow both English in many varieties and also Grosso, the French commercial variety you see pictured in the south of France. If you live in a very humid climate, such as my family in Charleston SC experiences, you can grow a little lavender in pots above the ground year round. Very difficult/impossible to grow in the hot, humid, clay soils of the south. Instead grow the beautiful flowers we cannot!
3. It is native to hot dry, sunny climates, such as the Mediterranean area, South Africa, Australia, Texas, and parts of Oregon and Washington State. This means it must be in a well-drained very airy location with full sun at least 8 hours a day. The good news is once the plant is established with watering the first year (trying to avoid getting the leaves wet), you will never have to water it again. Therefore do not plant it with plants that require a lot of water, such as roses.
4. It is a small shrub; that is, it doesn’t spread like a ground cover. Weeding is a continuing necessity. It can be planted close together as in a hedge or labyrinth, but this can cause MILDEW, the only serious problem with lavender, but rapidly fatal. Out of our 1000 or so plants, we must replace 100 every year.
While the Eastern US soil is mostly acid due to the wealth of deciduous leaf origin, this plant requires an alkaline soil. We just add lime pellets, broadcasting loosely each year.
5. It has a life span of about 7 years at most. It rapidly becomes larger and larger until the stem becomes so woody it looks like driftwood and produces fewer and fewer flower stems until almost none at all. PRUNING twice a year will greatly extend the life of the plant.
6. It does not mind most cold temperatures, we get to below zero every winter, but hates to get wet. This is hard to avoid in very large plantings, as fall leaves collect, holding moisture and causing mildew.
ALL THE INFO YOU NEED ABOUT GROWING AND USING LAVENDER IS ONLINE