How to Care for Lavender Plants
There are three main types of lavender: tall English lavender, Spanish lavender, and French lavender.
All lavenders require full sun and prefer well-draining soil and are winter-hardy in milder climates. The strong-scented flowers produce a variety of blooms, such as white or pale purple to bluish purple, depending upon the variety. The needle-like leaves are frequently a greyish-green color.
How to Care for Lavender in a Container
Lavender grows great in large containers, and since they can grow quite large, start off with a large pot, at least 12 to 16 inches wide, in order to accommodate fierce growth.
- Fill the bottom two inches of the pot with packing peanuts. Not only will this expedite drainage, but it will also keep your pot from getting too heavy.
- Combine potting soil with a tablespoon of lime. Add enough soil so that the potted lavender will sit about one inch about the soil line.
- Add additional soil and some fertilizer pellets to the remaining topsoil.
- Layer with white landscaping pebbles, which reflects light and aids plant growth, while keeping the area around the base of the plant dry.
- Locate potted lavender plants in a full-sun area that will receive at least 8 hours of sun per day.
How to Grow Lavender from a Cutting
Like other herbs, lavender can be propagated from a cutting successfully.
- Cut off a 3 to 5-inch piece with at least two nodes, making sure to cut below where the leaf and stem join together.
- Remove the lower leaves by hand or with sharp scissors.
- Dip the cutting into a rooting compound.
- Insert the cutting into the potting soil past the first node.
- Keep the potting soil slightly warm, and moist until the cutting has rooted, usually three to six weeks.
Once your lavender plant is three to four years old it will reach full maturity. If properly tended to, lavender plants will live about 10 years.
If your lavender looks to be in poor health, consider the drainage and amount of space between plants. Lavender prefers good air circulation, and doesn’t like to be overly wet. Consider adding soil amendments such as sand or gravel, in addition to native soil, to help the plants drain better. If weather is cool, consider moving potted lavender on top of concrete, which raises the temperature.
When to Harvest Lavender
Cut back lavender plants in the spring when new growth appears. Country Living suggests harvesting lavender when about 1/3 to ½ of the spike is in bloom. Harvest in the morning when the plant is dry and the sun is not too intense, this preserves essential oils in the blooms.
Lavender spikes have the strongest scent when the blooms on the stem just start to open, so this is the best time to cut the stems.
Dry lavender upside down in small bunches in a cool, dark, well-ventilated area. Darkness helps preserve the color, and handing it upside down helps retain the overall shape.
UGA Extension: Herbs in Southern Gardens
University of Illinois Extension: Herb Gardening- English Lavender