Gardening Advice: Tips For Growing Lavender

Lavender is a beautiful easy to grow plant with many different uses. Tips for growers and introduction to the benefits.

With its numerous varieties and uses, lavender is a favorite of many gardeners. This hardy perennial is best known for its soothing floral fragrance and beautiful purple blooms. If you are hoping to add lavender plants to your garden or landscape, need information on how to care for existing lavender plants, or need to know how to harvest and utilize your lavender this article will answer all your questions.

Starting Lavender-

Lavender plants can be started from seed, bought from plant nurseries or started from cuttings. Since there are so many varieties of lavender, it is best to do a bit of research and determine which variety grows best in your area. Some types of lavender are more tolerant of frost, while others are more tolerant of less than ideal soil conditions and yet others tolerate humidity better. Selecting the best variety for your area will make your lavender growing efforts more successful.

Starting lavender from seeds can be difficult, and is not for the impatient. There are several potential draw backs to growing from seed. First, it may be difficult to even find good lavender seeds locally! Thanks to the internet, just about anything is available to be shipped, and it may require an internet search to find the perfect lavender species for your area and your preferences. Second, lavender seeds go bad quickly. This means that the seeds sitting on the shelves at your local garden store may no longer be good, and will not grow! Getting fresh seeds is critical. Third, lavender plants are slow to get stared and slow to get growing. It can literally take months for a seedling to produce a good root structure, and even longer before the plant takes off and starts gaining good size. Many types of lavender take a year or more of growing before they will bloom.

Buying a plant from a local nursery is a great way to skip the hassle of trying to propagate seeds. Many of the plants are already quite mature, and may even be mature enough to bloom the first year you have them. The cost of nursery bought plants can be prohibitive though, especially if you want to have a large number of lavenders in your garden. Again, the selection may also be quite limited.

One of the easiest and most economical ways to propagate lavender is to take cuttings from a healthy "Ëśmother' bush. The cuttings will root easily is sandy, well drained soil and before you know it each cutting will be a fully functional bush with a healthy root system that is ready to be transplanted into your garden. Finding someone to share cuttings with you may be difficult, but if you find someone willing this is often the best and least expensive way to acquire new plants. It's also an excellent way to multiply your existing plants and ensure that you will have a continuous supply of new plants to replace older plants as they die.

Growing Conditions-

Lavender plants like lots of sun, and sandy well drained soil. Soil pH should be balanced and in the range of 6.5 to 7.5. Lavender plants in a garden should be panted so that they receive lots of sun light, and plenty of air circulation. Humidity and excess moisture is extremely bad for lavender and will result in rot and death of the plant. It is generally not necessary to fertilize lavender plants. A bit of compost used as a mulch around the base of the plant is usually enough to produce healthy growth. Plants should be watered only when the soil is dry. Plants should be pruned each fall by about 1/3. This will result in healthier, fuller plants and more blooms.



Trouble Shooting-

If your lavender plants are wilting, dying or diseased there are a few common culprits.

Excess moisture is at the root of most plant problems. Avoid heavy soils, excess water, and too much humidity.

Check soil pH and augment as needed to balance.

Prune your plants! Although it may seem harsh, pruning actually helps promote healthier plants. Plants that have been neglected will become woody, overgrown, and will not bloom well.

If your lavender is potted, it may need a bigger pot! Potted lavenders should be repotted every spring in a larger pot so they have room to grow.

Harvesting Lavender Flowers-

The ideal time to harvest your lavender flowers is when the blooms have burst forth from their protective covers and are brightly colored. The long, tall stalks of lavender blooms should be hand snipped at their base. Harvest the flowers while it's cool and dry to preserve their fragrance. Gather small groups of clippings together, and hang upside down indoors to dry. For floral arrangements, lavender should be used immediately while it's still soft and easy to work with, and then allowed to dry within the arrangement.

Uses of Lavender:

There are so many ways to use lavender flowers the list is almost endless! Lavender is renowned for its wonderful smell, the many uses of its oil, and even as a flavoring for cooking!

A few uses of dried flowers include:

Potpourri

Drawer & linen closet sachets (for the wonderful smell, and to help repel moths!)

Rice or flax seed pillows that are heated used to relieve aches and pains

Hung in small clusters around a room to scent the air

Added to soaps and lotions

Used in cooking for flavor and color

Added to finished food dishes as a garnish

A few uses of lavender oil include:

Medicinal uses such as easing head aches, and tension

Antiseptic uses in laundry and cleansers

As a scent in toiletries

Lavender is a beautiful, multi purpose plant that will grow in many areas and climates if it is properly cared for providing years of enjoyment.

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