Posted by Brent Wilson on 11/18/2016 to Fertilizing & Watering Tips
When planted right and in the right spot, Lavender plants are very easy to grow.
Here's a breakdown of what you need to know regarding planting and caring for Lavender plants...
First, Lavender plants must have a well-drained soil. Constantly soggy or wet soils are a killer. Poor-draining clay soils should be amended to ensure good drainage. They grow best in average, dry to medium, well-drained, soil with a neutral to alkaline pH.
Testing Soil Drainage
If you are uncertain about soil drainage in the area you intend to plant, it's well worth taking the time to test the drainage before planting.
To test soil drainage, dig a hole 12" wide by 12" deep in the planting area. Fill the hole with water and let it drain. Then, after it drains, fill it with water again, but this time clock how long it takes to drain. In well-drained soil the water level will go down at a rate of about 1 inch an hour. A faster rate, such as in loose, sandy soil, may signal potentially dry site conditions and possibly a need to add some moisture retentive organic matter. A slower rate indicates poor draining soil and is a caution you need to improve drainage, plant in a raised mound or bed, or look for plants that are more tolerant of wet or boggy conditions.
Lavender plants grow and flower best in a neutral to slightly alkaline soil ranging between 6.7 to 7.5 on the pH scale. Most average garden soils fall between a pH range of 6.0 to 7.0.
Testing Soil pH
Soil pH is a measurement of the alkalinity or acidity of soil and is measured on a scale of 1-14, with 7 as the neutral mark. Any measurement below 7 indicates acid soil conditions, and anything above 7 indicates alkaline.
If you're unsure about the pH of your soil, or whether or not it's suitable for growing Lavender, it's a good idea to test the soil pH in the planting area. You can quickly test soil pH with an inexpensive soil pH tester probe. To raise the pH (make more alkaline) you can add pelletized limestone to the soil. To lower the pH (make more acid) you can apply Soil Sulfur, Aluminum Sulfate, or Chelated Iron. Adding organic compost to the soil or using compost as mulch can also help to increase acidity and maintain acid soil conditions.
Lavender grows best in full to mostly sun. A few hours of light shade is okay. A minimum of 7 hours direct sunlight per day is suggested.
How To Plant Lavender In The Ground
Scroll down for planting instructions and care tips
Start by digging your planting hole at least two to three times as wide and no deeper than the rootball. The wider the hole the better. Place native soil removed from planting hole around the perimeter of the hole, in a wheel barrow, or on a tarp.
Depending on the type and porosity of the soil in the planting area you might need to amend the native soil. When planting in dense clay or other compacted soils it is beneficial to thoroughly mix some bagged top soil and/or sand and gravel at a 50/50 ratio with the clay soil. When planting in very sandy, quick-draining soil consider mixing in some bagged top soil to help retain moisture. When planting in well-drained soil of average fertility there is no need for adding a soil amendment.
To remove your Lavender plant from the container it was growing in first squeeze the sides of the container to loosen the root ball. Then try to remove the plant from the container. If the root ball is stuck use snips to cut the container away.
If you are planting in well-drained soil set your plant in the planting hole so that the top edge of the root ball is slightly above ground level to allow for settling. If your soil is moderately drained, meaning it drains slowly after rain or irrigation, the top of the root ball should be 2 inches above ground level, as shown in the planting illustration below. If necessary, add some backfill soil mixture to the bottom of the hole to achieve proper planting height.
Note: If the soil in the planting area is poorly drained (constantly soggy or wet) improve drainage or select a different plant species more tolerant of wet soils.
After setting your plant in the planting hole, use one hand to hold the plant straight and your other hand to begin back-filling your soil mixture around the root ball, tamping as you go to remove air pockets. When you have filled the hole to the halfway point you can soak the soil. Then continue back-filling to the top edge of the root ball. If you are planting the root ball higher than ground level taper your soil mixture gradually from the top edge of the root ball to the ground level, as shown in the illustration above. To avoid suffocating your plant, avoid placing any soil on top of the root ball.
Next, deeply water the planting area, including the root ball, to a depth equal to the height of the root ball. Get detailed watering instructions further below on this page.
Spread a 1-inch layer of bark chips or pebbles around the planting area suppress weed growth and conserve moisture. Avoid the use of freshly chipped or shredded wood for mulch until it has cured in a pile for at least 6 months, a year is better.
How To Plant Lavender In A Container
When growing in pots, Lavender plants appreciate a consistently moist but well-drained soil. Constantly soggy soil can be a killer. Therefore, I recommend using a quality potting mix that will hold moisture evenly and a container with a drainage hole(s). You can also add 10 to 20% pumice or Perlite to the soil mixture to enhance drainage.
As mentioned, choose a container with drainage holes at the bottom and one that is large enough to allow for 2 to 3 years of growth before shifting up to a larger size container. This might mean your planting pot would be 6 inches or more in width than the root ball of your plant.
Container color will matter as well. Not only will you want to pick a color of container that goes well with the flower and foliage color of your Lavender plant, you'll also want to pick a container that matches the style of your home or other structures and other plants in the surrounding environment.
Many nursery & garden centers offer a wide variety of containers to choose from. Before heading out to buy a container take pictures of your home and the surrounding environment. Doing so will help you to choose just the right color and style.
Container Planting Instructions
Before filling your container with the soil mix, we recommend lining the bottom with shade cloth or a porous landscape fabric. This will keep the drain holes from becoming stopped up with soil.
To remove your plant from the container it was growing in, firmly grasp the base of the plant and try to gently lift and remove it from its container. If the root ball is stuck in the container either cut the container away or place the plant on it's side and gently pound on the side of the container to loosen the root ball. After having removed the plant from the container, loosen some feeder roots around the surface of the root ball.
Pour a small amount of your soil mixture in the bottom of the container. Set the plant in your container and make necessary adjustments by adding or removing some soil so that the top edge of the root ball will sit 1/2 to 1" below the rim of the container.
Backfill with your potting soil around root ball, tamping as you go, until the level of potting soil is even with the top edge of root ball.
Water thoroughly until water starts to drain from the holes in the bottom of the container. Add more potting mix if settling occurs during watering.
Step 6 (Optional)
Apply a 1/2" layer of wood chips, sphagnum moss or pea pebbles to soil surface.
How To Grow And Care Lavender Plants
Feeding - Watering - Pruning
How To Fertilize Lavender Plants
In The Ground - Lavender plants are very light feeders however will benefit from light fertilization. Feed lightly in late winter or early spring with a mild organic plant food.
In Pots - Fertilize lavender plants growing in pots and other containers in early spring and again if needed in early summer with a organic plant food listed for use in containers or a water soluble liquid plant food at 1/2 the recommended strength found on the product label.
Note: An application of bone meal around Lavender plants in the early fall help to make plants stronger and more winter hardy. to make it stronger and more winter hardy.
Soil pH - Lavender plants grow best in a neutral to slightly alkaline soil ranging from 6.7 to 7.5 on the pH scale. Most average garden soils fall between a pH range of 6.0 to 7.0.
How To Water Lavender Plants
Lavender plants growing in the ground are quite drought tolerant when established, however will require water to become established. Lavender plants growing in pots and other containers will appreciate a consistently damp to slightly moist soil. Lavender do not like a constantly soggy soil, which can lead to root rot and other plant diseases. So be careful not to over water them!
At Planting Time
Immediately after planting deep soak the soil in the planting area, including the rootball, to a depth equal to the height of the root ball.
During the First Active Growth Season
In average garden soil you should not have to water your newly planted Lavender plants every day. More often than not, this causes soggy soil conditions that can lead to root rot and other plant diseases. In the absence of sufficient rainfall, water only as needed to keep the root ball and surrounding soil damp to slightly moist. Keep in mind that deep soaking less frequently is much better than splashing just a little water on the plants every day.
When established, Lavender plants are quite drought tolerant. Only during prolonged periods of summer drought will plants require supplemental irrigation. If you see stem tips or flower stems wilting or bending down during a summer drought this could be an indicator that your plants could use a good deep soaking. That said, wet soil can cause these same symptoms, so always check soil moisture with your finger before watering.
Note: When watering with an automated irrigation system it's best to set your timer to water during the early morning hours and not in the late evening or at night, which can lead to the onset of fungus and other foliar diseases. During the first few weeks after planting, check soil moisture often and adjust irrigation time if necessary to keep the soil moist, not wet.
How To Prune A Lavender Plant
Lavender plants do not require pruning, however, a once a year trimming after flowering can be beneficial to maintain a fuller plant. At this time, you can remove 1/3 the height of the plant.
Pruning lightly right when new growth emerges in spring can also help to promote branching and fuller plants with more flowers.
Harvesting & Storage Of Lavender
Lavender flowers will keep their fragrance for months when you harvest just before they are entirely open.That said, you can harvest lavender stems at any time by cutting them from the plant. I suggest only clipping about 1/3 of the flower stems to keep the plant full.
To dry flowers, gather a bunch of stems and hang them upside-down in a dark, well-ventilated place to preserve color and keep the stems from molding.
Other Lavender Growing Tips
Some Lavender varieties, such as Phenomenal Lavender, are exceptional heat and humidity tolerant. Others are not. If you are growing a variety that is not as heat and humidity tolerant, when there is a lot of heat and humidity, fungus can attack the plants, turning the leaves brown. To minimize the chance of having such a problem, mulch with pebbles or sprinkle sand around the base of the plant for faster evaporation.
If you cut the blooms, trim in a way that thins the plant a bit, leaving it open for better air circulation.
Plant Long & Prosper!
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