Lavender - Tips to grow Lavender
Growing this herb is a fairly straightforward process. Yet there are a few things to keep in mind to prevent failure and ensure success in this endeavor. Amongst the many types of lavender, three main varieties stand out, English, French and Italian.
Some have been hybridized and these are easily grown, though you can't grow
them from the seeds, as they will revert back to the original plant. The
hybridized plants have larger flowers; so if looks are what you are after, go
If you intend to harvest for the oil, or to make lavender pillows, the English lavender has the strongest scent. It is the most popular lavender, with its compact bushy growth reaching about 3 feet high. It has silvery pointed leaves and tiny mauve flowers grow at the end of long stems.
Different colored flowers, from white through to pinks, blues and mauves, are
available and the highest concentration of oil is in the flowers. This plant is
an addition to any herb garden.
French lavender is considered the most hardy of all, reaching a height of about five feet. If the spent blooms a snipped off regularly it will bloom for nearly nine months of the year, giving good value for money and time. The blooms that are cut off can be dried and used for pot-pourri or sleep pillows; so can the leaves. Given a sunny spot, it will reward you with a greater depth of color in the blooms.
Italian lavender is the baby of the three, growing to only about two feet high. It is a bit scarcer, but well worth cultivating if you can find it. Its leaves are tiny, smooth and pointed and although similar in many respects to the other lavenders, it is still different enough to form a good contrast.
It flowers from mid-winter to early summer and will make a most attractive
small hedge or ground cover, the deep mauve flowers covering the bush profusely.
It is not as highly perfumed as the other two lavenders.
Lavender prefers full hot sun and a well-drained soil to grow well. If your soil is clay, then keep your lavender in pots. In the garden, it will need about 18 inches spacing between plants to allow room for development. Lavender is not a gross feeder and too much fertilizer is detrimental to the plant, reducing both flower number and quality of perfume.
When the buds of your lavender are starting to swell in the spring is the time to prune them; this makes the plant bushier and gives you more flowers.
Growing Lavender is from seed is easy, but if you want a particular variety, get a tender cutting of it, as the plants don't grow true from seed. This is off course a personal preference. For myself I love to grow this herb in a pot on the patio, looks great. Together with a few pots of basil and oregano your will Patio will have the scent and atmosphere of a Mediterranean summers day.