When asked why he loved lavender so much, he answered,
"Because, Nana, it makes me feel so happy in my heart..."
--Quote from our grandson, Gabe, at age 6
In 2001, when we planted our first 100 plants, we knew little about growing lavender in Indiana. During the many years before, we had grown it successfully along with other perennials we loved. However, we never really studied why some did well and others didn't. We continued to buy varieties from nurseries that really weren't hardy to our Zone 5, resulting often in lavender that did not thrive in our garden.
Now, as we learn more each year, it is our commitment to inform our visitors of the varieties that do and don't grow well here in the Midwest, as well as share the individual subtleties of the varieties we offer.
We welcome your comments or questions about your experience with growing lavender--in any climate--and with your permission, we will share our discussions with our visitors.
We look forward to hearing from you.
How to Grow Lavender
Lavender should be planted in full sun! It is our recommendation that you plant it in an area that will get 8 hours of the hottest sun of the day. Plants with less sun will not thrive as well.
Lavender needs sandy, well-drained, amended soil! Prepare your soil with good garden soil dug 8 to 12 inches deep. Add sand, gravel, or stone for drainage. Lavender does not like to have wet feet as it promotes root rot. On our farm, we have clay-like soil as is common in Indiana. Because of the need for good drainage, lavender does not grow in clay. Lavender thrives in a well-amended soil mixture composed of 1/3 garden soil, 1/3 sand and/or pea gravel, and 1/3 organic compost. Lavender likes alkaline soil with a pH of 7 to 8. IMPORTANT! Adding lime when planting, as well as a yearly application in the spring, will help to ‘sweeten the soil.’ We fertilize with organic compost in the initial planting. Our beds are mounded for even better drainage. A south-facing slope is ideal for growing lavender.
Lavender wants regular watering until the roots are established! In the first year of growth, lavender should be watered when it becomes dry to the touch. After its roots are established, mature plants become drought tolerant and do well on their own.
Think, wet and dry!
Lavender likes room to grow! In multiple planting, keep enough space for your young plants to mature as air around the base of the plant discourages mold, an enemy of lavender. Also, lavender roots do not like to compete with other plants.
Think, island in the sun!
Lavender should be mulched with non-organic material! Lavender is susceptible to mold and mildew at its base. To eliminate this possibility, we ONLY use gravel or rock as mulch instead of the more popular wood mulch products. Organic material such as wood mulch holds moisture that promotes the growth of mold. Another benefit in using stone mulch is the reflective heat it generates at the base of the plant. Some growers using white stone believe that this reflective heat produces more blooms.
Lavender can be planted in early spring into late fall! The optimum planting for lavender is spring. This allows the plant to experience a full growing season. However, lavender can be planted up until late fall. The only consideration in planting late in the season in the Midwest is that plants may not be anchored well and are in danger of heaving as a result of the ground freezing and thawing. If heaving occurs, a gentle push back into the soil will help. Mulching properly may also help.
Think, the early bird catches the worm!
Lavender wants to be pruned, pinched back, and harvested! As a rule-of-thumb, true lavenders (angustifolias) can be pruned in spring or fall while hybrid lavenders (lavandins) should only be pruned in the fall. Pruning a hybrid in the spring will strip it of its flowers for that season. We have found that diligent harvesting of our lavenders promotes new growth and bushy habits. It also keeps the plants from sprawling and becoming leggy. Also, in the first year plants, we recommend pinching back any bud formation to allow the energy to go into root production. The second year plant will be larger and produce many times the bloom as a result.
Think, the more, the better!
-- Final thoughts --
As in most gardens, soil preparation and prudent watering are key. Please remember, think about what is best for your plants. You will be richly rewarded.
We sincerely hope that our growing guidelines will help you to establish your own beautiful garden of lavender...