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Thrives in areas with cold freezing winters and hot summers.
Thrives in areas with hot temperatures.
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Lavender evokes images of fields in France, soaps and perfumes. While lavender does have many cosmetic and culinary uses, it's also an outstanding perennial flower and a great plant to attract butterflies and bees to your garden. Select varieties of English, Spanish and French lavender adapted to your climate, grow them in locations similar to their Mediterranean origins, and you'll be delighted with their beauty and usefulness.
How to Choose the Best Lavender
Light: Lavender needs full sun and well-drained soil to grow best. Lavender is hardy in USDA zones 5 to 10 depending on the type. In hot summer climates, afternoon shade may help them thrive.
Soil: Lavender grows best on low to moderately-fertile soils, so don't amend the soil with organic matter before planting. It does perform best in neutral to slightly alkaline soils. Add lime to raise the soil pH to around 7.0, based on a soil test.
Spacing: Depending upon the variety, space plants 1 to 3 feet apart.
Spring Planting: In areas colder than Zone 6, plant in spring and early summer.
Fall Planting: In areas warmer than zone 6, plant in early fall so the roots can get established during the cool, moist winter weather.
Growth Habit: Lavender grows into a round, bushy shrub in warmer climates. It's a lower-growing perennial in colder climates. Look at the varieties you're growing to determine their mature size.
Staking: Lavender plants range from 1 to 3 feet tall and wide and do not require staking.
Watering: Water young plants well. Once established, lavender is drought tolerant and doesn't need frequent watering. Over-watering is a common cause of stress to lavender plants.
Fertilizing: Like water, when it come to fertilizer, less is more with Lavender. You should not need to feed your lavender plants.
Mulching: Since lavender is drought tolerant, it shouldn't need mulch to conserve soil moisture in other than extreme cases. If you do mulch, use small sized bark and don't let it pile up next to the plant crown or your lavender may rot.
However, in the northern limit of its range, mulch the plants in late fall to protect them from the winter's cold. Pile a 1-foot deep pile of wood chips or bark mulch on the plants after a freeze. This will insulate them from the cold, but not cause them to rot. Remove the mulch in early spring.
Trimming and Pruning: Lavender flowers in summer. The flower stalks can be harvested and used fresh or dried. Even if you aren't harvesting lavender flowers to use, deadhead (cut off) spent blossoms after the flowers fade to spruce up the plant and stimulate a second flowering.
Lavender is a woody plant. It produces its best and most fragrant foliage and flowers from young stems. Prune 2-year and older plants in spring, cutting the woody stems back by one-third. This will stimulate new growth, which produces better foliage and flowering.
Pests and Diseases: Pests & Diseases: Since lavender is very fragrant, many pests, such as deer and beetles, avoid this plant. However, in humid regions powdery mildew and other fungus diseases can be a problem. Prevent fungal diseases from getting started by spacing plants further apart and in a location with good air circulation. This will keep the leaves dry and less likely to succumb to fungus.
Some insects, such as spittlebugs, whiteflies, and aphids, may attack your lavender as well. Knock insects off lavender with a strong stream of water from a hose. Also, sprays of insecticidal soap will kill these pests without harming other beneficial insects, wildlife, and pets. Spray early, before the pests become a big concern.
Dividing and Transplanting: To propagate lavender take cuttings in the early summer. Lavender does not survive well from being divided. To make cuttings, select a healthy branch, take a 6 inch long cutting, remove the lower leaves, dip the cut end in rooting hormone powder, and place it into a pot filled with moistened potting soil or sand. Keep in a partly shady location and water well until rooted.
Another propagation method is layering. In spring, bend a healthy, 8-inch long, lower lavender branch to the ground, remove the leaves where it touches the ground, and scar the branch in that spot with a knife. Dust the wound with a rooting hormone powder, cover the wound with soil and leave the rest of the branch sticking out of the ground. It should root by the next year. Once rooted, cut it away from the mother plant, dig and transplant it to a new location.
Lavender also can self-sow if you leave the flower stalks on the plant. Decide if you want lots of baby lavenders in that area of the garden; otherwise deadhead vigilantly.
Culinary and Craft Uses: Lavender is used in foods, medicines, cosmetics, sachets and potpourris as well as in fresh and dried flower arrangements.
Read more about which types of lavenders to plant for its many different uses.
Favorite Companions: If you're growing lavender in a perennial garden, plant it with other full-sun, well-drained-soil-loving plants such as portulaca, lantana, echinacea, salvia and artemisia. Of course, it grows well in an herb garden with oregano, thyme, rosemary and sage, too. The classic companion for lavender is roses. Use it as an underplanting around old fashion heirloom rose varieties to create a stunning display of pastel colors and heady fragrances.
Ecological Uses:Lavender also attracts butterflies, bees and other beneficial insects to the garden, making it a great choice for pollinator gardens.
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