Lavenders are neither difficult to grow nor particularly fussy and their list of likes and dislikes are straightforward and easy to deliver. Most importantly, that little bit of TLC is extraordinarily beneficial to the display they offer in return. Those few extra minutes improving the soil or pruning with care are repaid with hours – days – of beauty and fragrance.
How to find the best lavender
So, if you want to get the absolute best out of your lavender, follow these simple rules:
- Choose good, strong healthy plants
- Choose a sunny location – lavenders don’t like shade and should never be planted under trees
- Prepare the soil – lavenders will not tolerate being water logged.
So, if your soil is not free draining (and imperative if you have been cursed with clay), dig in plenty of organic matter (mushroom compost is particularly effective) with some gravel to a depth of 30cm (1 foot). Planting on a mound will offer additional protection against waterlogging – if you are creating a lavender hedge, plant on a ridge.
If you are planting lavender in tubs or containers, use John Innes No. 3 with added grit – John Innes No. 2 will also do the job (but No.3 is better)
- Lavenders prefer a neutral to slightly alkaline soil (pH7-8) and you should add lime if your soil is below pH5
If you don’t know your soil’s pH, testing kits are readily available and inexpensive. Electronic (and reusable) soil testers giving a digital reading are available from under £20. Knowing your soil’s pH is useful not just for lavenders but for any plant you may wish to introduce into your garden – and well worth the effort
- The best time to plant lavender is in the spring and summer but lavenders can actually be planted at any time during the year providing the soil has been prepared as above
- It is important to plant lavenders the correct distance apart and this varies from variety to variety and whether you are planting a hedge, specimen plant(s) or a clump of two or three plants. Our website features a plant estimator which will tell you what you need to know at the click of a button
- After planting, water well – but don’t drown! See 9. below
- Lavenders thrive in poor to moderately fertile soil – so do NOT feed when you plant.
If you are growing it in a tub or container or if your soil is poor, apply a general purpose, slow-release feed early the following spring and again in late summer. A sprinkling of potash around the base will encourage flowering.
NB: Do not use manure or feeds with a high nitrogen content as plants will grow tall and weak
- Lavender plants are deep-rooted and cope well with drought. Therefore, only water ground-planted lavenders if they show signs of wilting.
Lavenders in tubs or containers will require more frequent watering but don’t overdo it and always wait until the compost has dried out for a couple of days
- Lavenders do need pruning. It’s neither difficult nor particularly time consuming and we will tell you how in our next blog. Incidentally, cutting back the flower spikes immediately after they are past their best will encourage new flowers