How to grow lavender
Not only does it have an intoxicating scent, lavender looks simply divine in the garden. You can find it in classic deep-purple tones, but it’s also available in dark-to-pale pinks, pastel purples and even white. Lavenders require little maintenance once established, and the flowers are suited to drying for craft projects. It truly is a herb that has it all!
Lavenders thrive in warm, temperate climates, but also grow in cool and cold areas, depending on the variety. As natives of the Mediterranean, they ideally like their summers hot and dry, and winters cool. English lavender does not tolerate humid summers very well, but other lavenders will happily grow in areas of mild humidity. Frost tolerance varies with the species, so check plant labels before buying.
Plant in full sun and protect from strong winds. If there are spots in the garden that bask in the hot afternoon heat, plant lavenders – they will love it! However, lavenders will also grow in semi-shade, provided the soil conditions are met.
These plants grow best in fertile, well-drained soil. If the soil does not drain well, consider raised garden beds or pots. Before planting, enrich soil with compost or manure. Where soils are strongly acidic, a dose of lime is beneficial.
Once established, these plants are drought hardy, but an occasional deep soak during dry spells will help them through the warmer months. Just don’t over-water – they don’t like wet feet.
Feed regularly through the flowering season with a liquid fertiliser. After flowering, feed with a general purpose, slow-release fertiliser.
Remove spent flowers and trim lightly after flowering. Once plants are established, trim them back by up to one-third. This will help rejuvenate the plants and encourage growth. And if you’d like to increase your stocks of lavender, use a few pieces as cuttings.
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Did you know…
Lavender is an incredibly versatile herb and has been used in both ancient and modern times for various medicinal, culinary and cosmetic purposes:
- Romans used to bathe in lavender-scented water – the word is derived from the Latin lava, which means ‘to wash’.
- Lavender’s unique fragrance makes it a popular ingredient in perfumes. It’s grown widely throughout the south of France and gives a sweet, floral and fruity aspect to perfumes and scented products.
- Medicinally, lavender has been used to soothe, sedate and suppress. Lavender oil was traditionally inhaled to prevent vertigo and fainting. It was also used to soothe burns, stings and aches.
- Dried lavender was commonly placed in linen sachets and inserted in pillows, linen cupboards and clothes drawers to remove odours and deter moths.