Lavender, the most beloved plant world-wide, is a beautiful addition to any garden. Growing it in Indiana’s Zone 5 requires some special considerations. Lavender is a native plant of the Mediterranean and needs dry, sunny, rocky habitats. Consider these growing requirements when deciding where you want to plant your lavender garden. Lavender loves warm, well-drained soil in a very sunny location with at least 6 hours of direct sunlight (preferably from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.). We recommend that you prepare your soil in a base of lime stone for drainage and to sweeten the soil. Typically, lavender likes a ph of 6.5 to 8.0. Fertilizing the plants the first year is also recommended. Lavender is a drought-tolerant plant but needs regularwatering initially until the roots are established in that first growing season. Space your plants at least two feet apart for proper air movement around the plants. This will keep them from holding moisture at the base of the plant which can result in stem rot and even root rot.
Pruning, Harvesting, and/or Grooming
Harvesting the lavender can be also be considered pruning. However, in the spring, you can prune Angustifolias (true or ‘English’ lavenders) a bit to keep plants well shaped and to encourage new growth. Hybrid lavenders, such as Grosso and Provence, should be pruned in late fall as they will set their buds over winter. As a general rule, cut back by approximately one-third the height of the plant.
Protect plants in the event of an unusual weather event for the region; i.e., ice storm or temperatures falling below -20 degrees F. Only cover them thru the event, however. You can also mulch lavender after the ground initially freezes. This mulch should be removed during the summer growing season as it can hold too much moisture.
Planting in Containers
Lavender should grow in containers that are only an inch or two larger than the root ball. The plant likes growing in a tight space, therefore will need to be re-potted as it gets larger. Water it when the soil (not the plant) appears dry and also at the base of the plant (not on the foliage).
Lavender Benefits & Usage
There are many studies being done about the benefits of Lavender oil. Lavender is one of the most versatile oils there is. Lavender is analgesic, anti-microbial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and has for centuries been used for its beneficial effect on skin, soothing burns and healing wounds, stimulating the growth of skin cells, treating eczema and psoriasis. Lavender is used as an anti-depressant and the high linalool and linalyl acetates in Lavender have been demonstrated to have anti-anxiety, stress reducing effects. Diffused Lavender oil has also been reported to relieve tension headaches. Lavender oil is a bug repellent as well. We have personally used it for headaches, sleeplessness and more. In choosing an oil, we recommend using any ‘Angustifolia’ variety, mainly because hybrid oils, which are much higher in camphor, can actually be stimulating rather than calming.