Lavender, or Lavandula, as it is known by plant-geeks is probably one of the most popular perennials bought and sold in our garden centre. It is a fairly easy care and low maintenance plant once you understand its needs.
While it is tolerant of many conditions, lavender needs bright light and warmth. A location with full sun is ideal. It also likes average to poor soils that are alkaline and chalky. This type of soil will improve the scent and oil production of the plant.
Lavender is drought tolerant, but newly planted ones still need to be watered well until established. This is especially true for plants in a pot or container.
General Lavender Care
Most people lose lavender plants not from cold, but from over watering. Our wet, mild climate is hard on lavender plants. Lavender suffers when the humidty is high and its roots are wet. Ensure that your planting area is on the dry side with course, well drained soils. Consider planting in a mound if your garden is moist to rise the lavender roots above any standing water.
Winter Care of Lavender
Lavender benefits greatly from an application of mulch. This protects the roots from constant freezing and thawing and helps moderate the root temperature. Also consider sheltering it from cold winter winds. While the plant is generally dormant in winter, excessive winds can cause damage.
Do not prune lavender early in the year. Instead wait until you see new growth emerging near the bottom of the plant. This is often the cause of lavender death. While it appreciates a hard pruning, timing is important.
Once new growth emerges, you can start cutting away any dead, damaged or diseased wood. Taller lavender varieties can be cut back by 1/3. Limit your pruning to a couple of inches of existing growth for shorter varieties. After flowering, pick off or remove spent flowers. This will help in your overall pruning program.
Growing Lavender In Containers
Lavender is an excellent container plant if you follow a few key recommendations. First, ensure the potting soil is well draining, otherwise the plant may rot. Remember that any plant in a pot is more exposed to the elements and therefore needs more protection against extreme winter weather. If the forecast is for cold weather, consider moving your lavender pot to a sheltered location, ie closer to the house or near other barrier plants. Lavender in pots can't go out and get its own water so remember to water it occasionally, preferably before it starts to wilt. This is more of an issue for new plants as older more established plants have a bigger root system to work with. Remember to fertilize in spring too. Every couple of years, re-pot your lavender to give it more growing area. Choose a pot that is only slightly bigger than the older one. Lavender roots like to be a little contained.
If you have any questions about growing lavender, please feel free to give us a call at 604.882.1201, or drop by and visit Art's Nursery in person.