Lavender is a completely unique ornamental and medicinal plant that won endless love two thousand years ago for its delightful spicy aroma. Its traditional purple or violet fluffy beauty and outstanding culinary qualities. This article gives you an explanation of how to plant lavender, care and harvest.
Currently, lavender is widely used for borders and ridges, where it is advantageous to place it in pots and essential as a background plant.
In addition, experienced gardeners will confirm that the smell of lavender is offensive to Colorado potato beetles and moths. For this reason, it is important to place the plant not only in the flower bed but also in the garden.
In recent years, many flower growers have added lavender to their summer cottages and private residential areas. It’s no surprise the delicate lavender flowers and fragrance in the garden are stunning.
You can find more information on growing crops from seedlings below, as well as a photo guide for layering lavender and seeds
The lavender plant (Lavandula) belongs to the lambda family and there are about 30 species. Lavender flowers grow naturally in the Canary Islands, East, and North Africa, Australia, Arabia, India, and Southern Europe.
Culturally, only two types of lavender are grown in the world – broad-leaved lavender (France) and narrow-leaved lavender or medicinal (England).
The name of the plant comes from the Latin word lava, meaning “to wash” and denotes the use of lavender in the ancient world – the Romans and Greeks used the plant for washing.
Today, lavender flowers are not only grown in private gardens but also commercially as a valuable essential oil crop.
DESCRIPTION OF LAVENDER
Lavender is a perennial evergreen shrub with woody fibrous roots up to 2 m deep and numerous woody buds in the lower part, 60 cm (23.6inch) tall, opposite sessile linear silver-green leaves with soft pubescence and fragrant blue or lavender flowers in whorls of 6-10 interrupted spikes.
Inflorescences form at the top of leafless stems. Lavender blooms in the second half of the summer. Lavender is a great honey plant. When stored correctly, lavender seeds can germinate for many years.
Lavender is a close relative of crops such as hyssop, basil, mint, lemon balm, motherwort, oregano, sage, and rosemary.
We will tell you how to grow lavender from seed, what are the conditions for growing lavender in open fields, growing lavender in open fields and caring for it, how to spread lavender, and how lavender winters.
PROPAGATION OF LAVENDER
Both narrow-leaved and other lavender species are almost identical in propagation. Regardless of their hardiness, lavender species have very similar characteristics and differ only in details, which include the size of their leaves and flowers.
All lavenders are easy to propagate vegetatively, as the plants send out many shoots, and both divisions and cuttings can take root.
However, this method can only be used for varieties or species of lavender that are available now or on the market (more specific species and rare species are usually not available). And the number of offspring will always be more or less limited.
If you want to grow a new lavender plant and have a lot of seedlings, thus saving a lot of time and money, then the less popular and less reputable method of lavender seed propagation can be used.
In fact, lavender seed propagation is not so tricky because the only difficulty – stratification – is relatively easy to overcome.
HARVEST YOUR OWN LAVENDER SEEDS AND SELECT THEM FOR SOWING.
When choosing lavender seeds, pay special attention to price and manufacturer. Buy lavender only from reputable companies and suppliers you trust with a wide variety of ornamental plants that are representative of not only annuals but other perennials as well.
Remember that lavender seeds cannot be too easily obtained: cheap seeds can unpleasantly “replace” one variety with another.
Make sure that information about the producer, the characteristics of the plant, and the characteristics of the seeds sown are presented in full.
You can also collect your own seeds by buying or collecting fully bloomed inflorescences, making lavender bouquets, drying them, and saving the small, fragrant seeds.
Lavender seeds have an amazing germination rate. It is not necessary to use fresh ones; they can still germinate after five years if the correct technique is used. And it is best to keep the seeds in an airtight container.
PRE-TREATMENT OF LAVENDER SEEDS
Lavender seeds need to be stratified and cold-layered. Without this treatment, they will not germinate and must be exposed to cold temperatures for an extended period of time. Depending on the method and timing of this treatment, there are two possible ways to grow lavender from seed
- manual stratification, where the seeds are soaked in cold water before sowing.
- Natural stratification, where the seeds are sown under winter after a cooling period already in the soil.
The minimum stratification time for lavender seeds is 1.5 months (or at least 30 to 40 days). Storage beyond this time will only positively affect the number and germination of seedlings.
Manual stratification is best done by mixing lavender seeds with sand or substrate rather than in bags.
Place the seed mixture in a container and wrap or cover it with plastic wrap (you can also place the seed mixture in a sealed plastic bag).
Send the seeds to cool at a temperature of about 5 degrees Celsius for 6-8 weeks. Lavender seeds do not need to be frozen: they can simply be stored in the refrigerator.
In addition to normal stratification, you can try other methods of treatment.
Scalded lavender seeds are sown in the ground. Treatment with growth stimulants or plant hormones (e.g. gibberellin at a concentration of 100 to 200 ml per 1 liter of water). However, these methods may not yield any results at all.
WHEN TO PLANT
Lavender can be sown into the ground in October or late May. If lavender is to be planted in the ground, it should be purchased in early winter or fall, as the seeds will germinate at 5°C (41°F) for 2 months before planting.
The seeds are usually mixed with wet sand and layered in a vegetable box in the refrigerator. lavender seeds are sown in February or March for seedlings.
Sowing lavender in the ground
Sowing lavender in the ground in winter is an easy task, not much different from any perennial or shrub that likes to stratify. seeds should be sown at the end of October and the seeds should not be buried too deeply. There is no fear of lavender germination in early spring: lavender will not produce its first seedlings until May or even before summer when temperatures rise significantly overnight.
In spring, sow the seeds in the soil in May when there is no longer a risk of frost. The seeds are then manually stratified.
Soil and container for sowing lavender seeds
A loose substrate with a high nutrient content is generally used for lavender. Prepared potting soil (universal potting soil for indoor plants or special potting soil for seedlings and summer plants) is preferable. It is advisable to bake or soak the substrate with mangoes before planting.
When choosing containers to sow lavender seedlings, shallow, large, and wide containers, crates and pots are preferred. Lavender has not sown inboxes. The maximum depth of the container is 7cm (2.75inch).
Sowing lavender seeds
Lavender should be planted in late winter, sown in late February or early March. Lavender is sown less in large boxes, and seeds should be sown one by one because although the plant is not afraid of transplanting, it has a strong root system and produces long roots that can be easily destroyed if sown too densely. Otherwise, the rules of planting are simple.
- The container is filled with soil and carefully, without tamping it down, flatten it.
- Use a sprayer to moisten the soil on top.
- Plant the lavender seeds one by one at a distance of 1.5-2cm (0.59-0.78inch).
- Cover the top layer with 2-3mm of soil (preferably sieved) and do not deepen it.
- Immediately after sowing, cover the container with glass or film.
Conditions for seed germination
Lavender must provide two main factors.
- Room temperature limited to between 15-21°C (59-69.8°F).
Soil moisture should be kept light and steady throughout the lavender germination period, with careful soil spraying in the morning and ventilation in the “greenhouse”.
Over-watering is very dangerous, but without consistent moisture, good germination is difficult to achieve.
It usually takes a long time for lavender to germinate. The first sprouts may appear within 2 weeks and usually take about a month to appear.
Planting of lavender
Remove the glass or film from the container as soon as possible after the lavender sprouts, but keep the soil lightly moistened.
Sprouts should be planted in the brightest spot (preferably on a sunny southern windowsill). If sunlight is insufficient, supplement lavender by increasing sunlight hours to 8-10 hours.
Sprouting and care of lavender seedlings
Lavender should only be harvested when it has a pair of true leaves and has developed its third to fourth full leaf. Generally, even young lavender shoots will sprout roots first. At this stage, its roots are already strong and there is no more space in shallow pots.
Lavender should be transplanted gently, but quite tolerant. It should be placed in individual pots or containers of 5-6cm (1.96-2.36inch) diameter, but large boxes can also be used, with a similar distance between plants.
Lavender seedlings can be grown using a peat-sand mixture or a light indoor plant substrate of perlite and sand. A long-lasting fertilizer can be added to the substrate.
Replace lavender into new containers, taking care not to damage the root ball, and carefully work the soil around the seedlings to improve rooting rates.
Acclimatization period of lavender seedlings
Lavender seedlings require at least a 1-week acclimation period to adapt to their new environment. Gradually take the plants outside, starting with 1 hour per day and increasing the time spent outside each day.
Planting of lavender seedlings
After sowing, lavender does not begin to flower until the second year after sowing. The plant does not develop quickly the first year: only roots and then buds.
However, once it takes root, it grows very fast the next year and its beautiful and fragrant flowers will be appreciated.
To grow lavender seedlings, choose a sunny place with light soil and add organic fertilizer. Stony, sandy loam soils are better for this perennial plant.
The optimum pH for this plant is 6.5 to 7.5. It is best to prepare a special soil mixture for planting by mixing soil taken from the planting hole with sand, mulch, and mineral fertilizer, or by replacing the soil entirely with a mixture of leafy soil, sand, and mulch in a ratio of 3:1:2.
Planting distance of 30-40 cm (11.8-15.7inch) is appropriate. Planting should be done in a single adequately sized planting hole about 30cm (11.8inch) deep and 30cm (11.8inch) in diameter.
Lavender will not only respond well to adequate moisture, but will also mulch immediately after planting (preferably keeping the mulch layer intact, but never below the base of the plant).
During the first year of seedling or sowing into the ground, lavender should be watered regularly despite its drought tolerance.
Watering should only be done in times of drought. However, regular weeding and weed control should be done in the first year. In the first year of flowering, there is no need to allow the lavender to bloom, much less produce seeds.
In the second year of flowering, as soon as a third of the flowers are open and about a third remain on the plant, they should be cut back. This trick will not be necessary for subsequent years.
During the first winter that seed lavender is in the ground, it should be covered with dry leaves or with other protective equipment.
In areas with warm winters, it is best to sow lavender seeds directly into the ground.
This is done in October. After preparing the soil for the site, peat is introduced under the excavation, and if the soil is too wet, fine gravel or sand is added to increase moisture and air permeability.
The sowing depth is 3-4cm (1.18-1.57inch) and the soil surface is slightly compacted after sowing. If the fall is dry, water the crop, but not too much, and with the first snowfall, throw small snowflakes on the plot.
CARE OF LAVENDER
The first inflorescence on lavender seedlings should be removed as soon as it appears so that the young plants grow robustly and have a well-developed root system, and do not waste their energy on flowering.
The first year lavender grows very slowly in the garden, so weed control is needed to avoid choking the seedlings. How do I grow lavender? How do I need to care for lavender in the garden?
You need to water regularly and heavily, and in extreme heat, watering should become frequent.
After watering or rain, you need to loosen and weed between the shrubs, but if you want to save time and effort, you can cover the soil between the shrubs with peat after planting.
Old trees should be pruned in spring and autumn, which will promote the formation of new shoots on old wood.
In addition to the above procedures, you will have to prune and fertilize the lavender, preferably with potassium fertilizer, as manure and nitrogen fertilizers only promote green growth but hinder the flowering growth of the lavender.
When the shrub reaches 10 years of age, it is advisable to prune it by cutting back all branches by 5cm (1.96inch). The same can be done if the young shrubs are not in full bloom.
Propagation: In addition to propagation by seed, lavender can also be propagated by division, cuttings, and cuttings. If you already have a lavender shrub, or if you can get hold of a woody annual, cuttings are very useful.
Cut cuttings 8-10cm (3.14-3.93inch) long from the scion, plant in moist, light soil, cut about 2-3cm (0.78-1.18inch) below the bottom, and cover with a glass jar. The jar can be removed once the cuttings have rooted.
To divide the lavender bush, you need to prepare it well. After flowering in autumn, prune the large bush to 10cm (3.93inch) high, then dig it down and fill all the space between the shoots with soil.
Repeat the soaking in the spring. In the summer, the shrubs will send out abundant shoots. In the fall, the shrub can be dug up and divided into sections with well-developed root systems and shoots for transplanting.
To propagate by transplanting in spring, bend a few shoots, place them in a 3-4cm (1.18-1.57inch) deep groove, fix them in this position and cover them with soil and water.
Keep the soil above the shoots moist throughout the summer, and the following spring separate the rooted shoots from the bush, divide them into several parts and transplant them to a permanent location.
Pests and Diseases
Outdoor lavender is extremely resistant to pests and diseases, but it is not immune to problems.
Sometimes, lavender is affected by cicadas, or weeping nose insects, and iridescent beetles, and among diseases, lavender can be affected by gray rot.
Cicadas and iridescent beetles should be picked up by hand, and then be sure to replace the mulch in the area.
Gray rot usually occurs during wet, rainy summers or if the soil has been overwatered frequently for a long period of time, a condition that cannot be treated, but you can remove and burn the diseased parts of your lavender so that the infection is not transmitted to all of your plants.
Of course, you will also need to reconsider your lavender watering regimen.
Caring for lavender after it blooms
Overwintering If winter temperatures in your area drop below 25°C (77°F), you should protect your lavender under heavy frosts, but do not use fallen leaves as insulation, as they will prevent lavender from rotting in winter. It is best to mulch with lavender after fall pruning.