Lavender in the garden provides rich color and visual interest. It has multiple uses in fresh and dried floral bouquets, sachets, potpourris, wands, sheaves, and other post-harvest display purposes.
No amount of tender loving care will help if the area where lavender will be planted is choked with weeds. Careful soil prep necessitates the aggressive removal of weeds and weed seeds.
Next, check the soil pH level with a soil pH kit. The optimum pH should be somewhere between 6.5 and 7.5. The reason for this is that lavender will not thrive in overly acidic soil, nor will do well if soil is too alkaline, since all the nutrients will remain in the soil and not go to the plant. Balance out soil pH by adding organic compost.
When to Plant Lavender
Garden experts recommend planting lavender in U.S. hardiness zones 8 and up in spring and fall. In other zones, it’s better to do a spring planting after the last frost. When planting lavender in the fall, however, do so about two months before the first frost so that plants can establish sufficient roots before severe wintery weather conditions.
Where to Plant
Lavender plants like full sun. This holds true whether the lavender is planted in the ground or in pots. In hotter climates, lavender can tolerate some late afternoon shade. Also, according to lavender aficionados, plant lavender near a south-facing wall in a crowded garden.
In hot and humid regions, planting lavender in mounds or raised beds may be a better alternative. This hot, humid condition is not one that lavender tolerates well, however, so expect to deal with fungal problems.
How to Plant
Give lavender plants sufficient space. They need good air circulation. Consider the height of the plants at maturity and space them accordingly. For display purposes, most lavender can be spaced 18 to 36 inches apart, although there are some giant varieties that should be spaced 3 to 4 feet apart. When a hedge effect is desired, lavender can be planted closer together.
Dig a hole twice as wide and just as deep as lavender in the container. Set the plant in the hole and add soil, tamping down with fingers to eliminate air pockets.
Mulch around the lavender plant, but be careful to avoid mulching right up to the stems. Leave a ring (or collar) of about 2 inches around the plant that’s free of mulch.
Water thoroughly. Subsequent watering can prove tricky, since lavender doesn’t like to be drowned. Allow plants to dry out before another thorough watering.
In general, lavender takes about 3 years to reach its full size. But plants require pruning immediately after bloom in order to promote vigorous new growth and to keep the plants healthy. To prune, cut back the flower and a third of the stem. Do not cut so far that only woody stems show with no leaves.