In southern Europe, there are whole plantations of lavender, mainly for cosmetic purposes. Lavender narrow-leaved (Lavandula angustifolia), also known as English lavender, is a frost-tolerant, undemanding plant that grows happily in poor soil.
As a result, more and more of us can see lavender in our backyards these days. In this article, I’ll tell you how to take care of lavender plant.
The lavender scent is not a traditional houseplant, but many growers have successfully grown it indoors. There are over 40 species in the cultural genus, but two plants are best suited to domestic conditions – broadleaf and Frenchman, but Frenchman is not as demanding in appearance.
The main problem with indoor lavender care is the lack of light and fresh air, which is why most plants grow poorly and do not flower.
If cultivation in an open field can survive in partial shade and inadequate watering, lavender at home requires more careful care and as close to natural growing conditions as possible.
THE SUBTLETIES OF CULTIVATION
This crop is native to the Mediterranean, which means that it needs plenty of sunlight and heat.
The best locations in the house for exposure are the east and south-west facing windows, but from autumn to mid-spring it is best to move the pots to the south, as the plants need extra light in winter when standard plant grow lights can be used.
Your green pet should have at least six light hours. If there is a lack of light, flowering is sparse or non-existent and the flowers and foliage fragrance are quite faint.
From mid-April onwards, it is advisable to place the pots on the balcony or terrace. However, gradually get used to the open air and bring the flowers inside for the first time at night.
The plant prefers an environment with good air circulation, so it is important to ventilate the room all year round. However, if the windows are opened in winter, move the plant out of the room.
During the summer months, the plant does not need to be kept in high temperatures, but in the winter months, its beauty can stay at a cooler temperature of 15-17°C (59-62.6°F).
HOW TO WATER
Caring for your lavender at home includes proper watering. During the warm period between vegetation and flowering (May to September), water with soft water 2-3 times a week as the topsoil dries out, and less frequently in winter, about once every 7-10 days, but only if the house is cool.
Plants tolerate a lack of water better than their excess, which leads to the development of root rot and shoots yellowing.
If the pot is located near a heating appliance, it is recommended that a container filled with water and small pebbles is placed nearby.
REPOTTING AND FERTILIZING
When transplanting lavender in early spring, be sure to put a layer of well-draining expanded soil or small gravel in the bottom of the pot. The pots themselves should preferably be terracotta and 2-3cm (0.78-1.18inch) larger than the root ball of the shrub.
Mediterranean cultures are sensitive to the acidity of the soil and its composition. Therefore, a little lime (1-2 teaspoons) or wood ash, peat, and sand should be added to the universal flower soil.
Plants respond very well to potash, for example, when growing lavender, crush eggshells and add them to the soil. Nitrogen fertilizer will stimulate green growth but has a detrimental effect on flowering.
A liquid compound fertilizer can be applied fortnightly from mid-spring to late summer.
Another way to care for your indoor lavender is to cut it back each year. This will rejuvenate the plant and help it to form beautiful, lush flower clusters.
Make your first small pruning at the end of the flowering period, shorten the shoots by a third before the dormant period in late autumn and thin the bush slightly, leaving a few green stems.
This will encourage the growth of new stems. Life expectancy at home is the same as 6 years in open spaces.
THINGS WORTH KNOWING MORE ABOUT
Pruning lavender in autumn
In autumn, around mid-October, make sure you prune your lavender. In spring it is for hygienic purposes and only dry and broken branches need to be removed, but in autumn I must shorten it for decorative purposes and to prevent it from breaking off in winter. If the bush is old, it is also a rejuvenation process.
I don’t prune very young lavender bushes in the autumn. Only when they reach 2 years old.
The bottom of any mature lavender bush is woody and dry and the top is green.
I cut the branches about 5cm (1.96inch) from the woody part. The bush looks very modest after such a haircut but will be lush and heavily flowered next year.
You can cut it even higher, especially if you feel sorry for the bush. But bear in mind that over time the green parts will also become stumpy and the bush will look untidy.
Instead of being a ball shape, it will spread out. The bush will then have to be trimmed along the woody stems to a distance of 5-10cm (1.96-3.93inch) from the ground, which is not a good way to handle it.
I use pruning shears, but many people use garden shears.
Leftover lavender branches are not thrown away. Their scent is almost as strong as the flowers, so they can be used. I dry them.
They can be used to make wood flowers. And if you put them in a little bag and put them in a cupboard, they won’t get moths.
Looking after the soil
The next thing to look after before the lavender hibernates is the soil it grows in. Lavender prefers slightly alkaline or neutral soil that is loose and well-drained.
Lavender does not tolerate too much moisture and will get sick and die. So it is important to prepare the soil when planting. If the soil is acidic then ash, lime, or dolomite must be added.
To prepare the lavender for the winter I add a little compost under each shrub. This is enough for her.
The fact is that lavender is used to growing in poor, stony soil. And it really doesn’t like too much nitrogen.
On the other hand, fertilizer is still needed during the heavy flowering period. So the golden mean needs to be observed here. Instead of compost, you can add ash or a small amount of phosphate and potash in the autumn.
As lavender does not like nitrogen, it should not be mulched with plant material. The best mulch is pebbles. In my case, it was some river pebbles.
When pruning, to spread the compost, I move them around and then spread them again. This is both mulch and drainage, and it also heats up the lavender. After all, the stones get hot in the sun.
Mulching lavender for the winter
English narrow-leaved lavender is quite frost-tolerant, especially as an adult shrub. They will overwinter uncovered.
And can calmly withstand frosts of up to -25°C (-13°F). The root system of lavender is rod-shaped and deep, where it does not freeze.
Under mulch, on the other hand, there is a risk that the lavender will become ill because it cannot tolerate the excess moisture that can form there.
For this reason, I do not mulch mature plants, but only 1-2-year-old bushes, whose root systems are not yet as developed and therefore need protection.
To cover such lavender bushes you can use spruce rapnik (or luthier or something similar) which will create a warm air buffer for them.
If you get a lot of snow throughout the winter, you can cover them with snow and you’ll be fine for the winter.
I only mulch young lavender bushes for a few days when it will definitely be around 0°C (32°F), but not before. I use spruce branches for my tent and tie them down with string so they don’t fall apart.