Who hasn't ooohed and ahhhed over the photos of incredible purple fields in the UK and the South of France? Well, there's no reason you can't grow lavender in your own backyard, but there are a few things you need to know. First of all, if you live in a very humid place, it simply won't work. It's almost impossible to grow perennial lavender in South Florida, for example, but most of the US, north to Zone 5, is fine. Of course, the farther north you are, the more of the perennial plant you'll lose each year to winterkill. A good thick hedge will probably never happen in Zone 5, but don't worry. Winter may kill the tops, but these plants are tough and dependable perennials, so they'll be back and bloom for you each year. Read More...
Lavender Continued From Above
Where and how you plant is all important. Keep in mind that the lavenders are native to the Mediterranean, and if you've ever been to the South of France, you know that means hot, rocky, and arid--almost desert-like in many places. This tells you that perennial lavenders demand sharp-draining soils, never rich, damp and soggy. In fact, if your soil is heavy, it's worth it to mix in some sand or gravel before you plant, and perhaps create little mounds for your plants so each one drains quickly. Fact is, if you fail with lavender, it will probably be due to over-watering. Lavenders don't mind drought a bit, and love hot, blazing sun. Remember, little water and no shade! As for varieties, first there are the "English Lavenders", which are cultivars of Lavendula angustifolia and include the famous "Munstead," most popular variety for the US. (Munstead is the one in the photo at right.) And then there's "Hidcote," a shorter version of the same species. Both are highly fragrant, and both are favorites as dried flowers. Beyond the English types, there are other lavenders commonly called French, Spanish, and other names.
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