If you’re thinking of growing lavender in your garden, it’s important to know how to properly care for your plant. Lavender is a low maintenance herb and should be grown in sunny locations.
Watering is essential for the health of your lavender plant, but don’t overwater. Overwatering will lead to rot, which can kill your lavender plants.
Lavender is a hardy small shrub that thrives in the Midwest with lots of sun, good drainage and room to grow. Plant lavender alongside orange poppies or in a rock garden, where the foliage will help prevent erosion and provide water retention.
The plants are low maintenance and do well with very little fertilizing, as they tolerate poor soils. In fact, too much fertilizer can hinder their overall growth and development.
After the flowers are fading, prune lavender to about 1/3 of its stem, cutting it low to the wood base. This helps the plant maintain its dome shape and promotes more even blooms.
If you want to plant new lavender plants, transplant them after the last spring frost. For northern planting, mulch lavender plants with wood chips or bark in fall to protect them from freezing temperatures.
Lavender plants need lots of water to thrive. The key is not to overwater, as this can make your lavender wilt and die.
When you plant lavender, choose a location that receives plenty of sun, and avoid clay soils because they don’t drain well. You can also plant lavender in containers with drainage holes on the bottom.
In humid regions, powdery mildew can develop on the leaves if they don’t dry out between waterings. To prevent this, space plants more closely together and provide adequate air circulation.
In the fall, plant new lavender plants 18 to 24 inches apart in light, well-aerated, gravelly soil. This ensures that the roots will grow before winter. Mulch the plant with wood chips or bark in late fall to help protect it from cold temperatures.
Lavender grows well without fertilizer, however in some situations it needs a little extra help to thrive. To give lavender a boost toward healthy blooms, apply a mineral-rich, slow-release organic fertilizer in spring, just as new growth begins to appear.
The key to fertilizing lavender is choosing the right product for the type of soil you have. Soil pH is important, and lavender does best in a 6.5 to 7.5 range.
Using a slow-release granular or liquid option, such as Superthrive Organic or Neptune’s Harvest, works to improve soil fertility while also nurturing plants. If you live in an extreme-winter region, a second application, in fall, can increase tolerance against cold.
Pruning lavender is one of the most important horticultural practices to keep this perennial herb healthy and blooming. Lavender is a bushy plant that can quickly become leggy and overgrown.
When pruning, it’s critical to be careful not to cut back too much into the woody base of the stems. This can stress the plant and kill it.
It’s also very important to prune the lavender in the correct time of year to stimulate tender new growth. This encourages flowering and helps the plant store energy for winter.
Most varieties should be lightly pruned after flowering and in the early fall. The short-lived Spanish (lavandula stoechas) and English varieties (lavandula angustifolia) should only be pruned about one third in size.
Taking special care to protect the roots of lavender plants in winter is critical for their survival. This means providing the plant with a location that is well protected from frost, snow and winds.
In addition, soil should be amended with sand and gravel at a ratio of 30-50% sand to 50-70% compost before planting lavender. This will help to regulate soil temperatures and ensure the plant has good drainage.
Lavender plants grow best in quick draining, dry soils that don’t hold onto moisture for long. Keeping the plant’s root base dry is essential to avoid root rot (which can kill the plant) and fungal diseases such as powdery mildew, which are common in humid regions.