Lavenders are flowers with striking shades and unique fragrance. If you know how to grow lavenders at home, you can get perfumed air and eye-pleasing view every day. You can also use them to make soap, perfume, candles, and potpourris. If you have other plants, growing lavender is great to invite bees and butterflies to pollinate them.
Here is the basic guide to grow and take care of lavenders at home.
1. Choosing the Lavender Types
Several types of lavender are commonly planted in the home gardens. They are:
- English lavender
This is one of the most popular lavender plants, and often referred as “true lavenders”. Despite the name, this lavender plant came from the Mediterranean. This lavender type has mild fragrance used for soap and perfume. They are also used in foods such as cookies and ice cream. English lavenders bloom from late spring to summer.
- French lavender
French lavender has milder fragrance than English lavender, but the blooms are usually more colorful. This lavender plant also has aromatic leaves, although they may smell a little like rosemary or camphor. Unlike English lavender, French lavender can grow from spring to fall or even all year round, as long as you provide enough light and water.
- Portuguese lavender
This lavender is famous for its hardiness and heat tolerance. This flower blooms from late spring to summer. The fragrance is stronger than English or French lavender, and even a little pungent.
- Spanish lavender
This lavender has unique small “ears” on their upright blooms. The flowers are less prominent in look than English lavender, and they are not as fragrant as the other types. However, the mild aroma makes Spanish lavender perfect for potpourris. The leaves also emit unique but fresh fragrant. This lavender has high tolerance toward humidity.
If you love hybrid type, try planting lavandin. This lavender type is a hybrid between Portuguese and English lavenders. The result is a flower type that has a prominent fragrance (but not pungent), with a high tolerance for heat and cold. This type blooms from late spring to summer.
2. Planting Lavender in the Garden
Lavender flowers grow well under full sun, so make sure your garden spot gets the optimum sunlight during the day. Unlike many other flowers, lavenders thrive on soil that is just moderately fertile. You only need to rake the garden, but do not add mulch, compost, or aged manure before planting. The ideal soil pH for this flower is around 7.0 (neutral to slightly alkaline).
Here are the steps to plant lavenders in your garden:
- Prepare healthy young plants
When buying lavender plant starters, make sure they are healthy and have upright, green young foliage. These plant starters must already have healthy roots.
- Dig the holes
After finding the right spots, dig holes with one to three feet of distance between each of them. The hole must be twice the width and depth of the plant starters.
- Place the plants
Shake the plants a little to release them from the pots. Place them in each hole and bury them until only the foliage that extends from the soil. Water them only if the soil is dry.
Lavenders can tolerate a little shade in the afternoon. This is good if you cannot find any area in your garden that gets full sun.
3. Taking Care of Lavenders
Lavender plant care does not require regular watering and fertilizing. You need to water the young plants regularly, but once the flowers appear, reduce the watering frequency. Lavender flowers start to bloom 10 to 14 days after planting in the warmer soil. However, if the soil is still cold after winter, you may see the blooms after one to three months. When you see flowers, you only need to water them when the soil looks a little dry.
Pruning lavender is important to make the flowers bloom for many years to come. Pruning is done right after the first flowering. You must cut right under the bloom, but without touching the woody part. Leave one or two inches of foliage, and make sure that only the greens are left afterward.
4. How to Grow Lavenders in Pots
Lavender is a surprisingly good plant to grow in indoor pots. Growing lavender indoors requires enough space and sunlight. You need to find a pot that is at least 12 to 16 inches wide. You must also place the pot in a spot that receives a lot of sunlight. To fit the flower in a pot, chooses a dwarf lavender variety that does not take up too much space.
Here are the steps to plant lavender in a pot:
- Fill ¾ of the pot with a sandy potting soil mix. The soil must drain water well. To make it more acidic, add a tablespoon of lime powder.
- Place the lavender plant in the soil and fill it up. Leave several inches of distance from the top. Pat the soil to firm it.
- Water the soil and add 5 inches of mulch layer.
Position the pot in a proper place. Make sure it gets at least six hours of sunlight every day. You can fertilize it once a week with liquid fertilizer, but only water the flower when the soil looks dry.
5. Tips to Keep the Lavender Fragrant
When harvesting lavenders, you expect the fragrance to last as long as possible. You can harvest the flowers when they bloom after pruning. The best time to pick lavenders is in the morning, when the weather is dry. Avoid harvesting the flowers when there are dews or moisture sticking on them.
Wait until the buds release a few flowers. Using a small, serrated blade, grab a bunch of stems (but not too thick), and cut on the parts when the foliage meets the stems. Tie the base of the bouquet. If you want to dry it, hand the bouquet upside down in a dry and dark room with good air circulation. After several days, put the flowers in airtight bag or container.
Knowing how to grow lavender is great to provide you with beauty and fragrance. Plant the flowers in your garden or pot and enjoy their beauty for many years to come.