This is my all time favourite “herb”, although technically not a herb I’ve put it in our Herb section because it’s used so often in herby preparations! It feels right! I always have a compulsion to cut Lavender and hang it but I confess it mostly stays hung forever and never used! Hopefully, with this years batch I’ll actually put it to good use!
First introduced to the UK by the Romans it’s said to get it’s name from the latin ‘lavare’ which means to cleanse and it was (as it is now) a popular addition to their baths. It’s also still highly regarded for it’s soothing effects. Even thought to promote sleepiness at bedtime it has also been used to soothe aches and skin conditions.
Uses and theories aside this beautiful plant adds a splash of purples and pinks to your garden and we particularly love it on the plot to keep the cats at bay….not entirely sure it’s the lavender or cat scarer that can take the credit for this but we’re not chancing removing either of them!
It also does an amazing job attracting pollinators to the plot, so if you are using it on the allotment put it near plants that need insect pollinators for a bumper crop!
It’s a great plant for beginners, it’s so low maintenance and doesn’t mind a bit of neglect, aside from a good strong prune, it’ll give you fabulous flowers every year.
Here’s our guide to healthy fragrant, gorgeous lavender in your space:
Where to Grow
Whilst it can be low maintenance, Lavender loves full sun with well draining alkaline soil. Making it also perfect for pots on the patio! They will struggle if they get bogged down in wet soil so don’t worry about watering every day unless you’re dealing with a really hot dry spell.
Not all lavenders are created equal and some are more hardy than others. If you are worried about keeping it alive go for ‘Hidcote’ which will give you beautiful deep purples that will come back every year.
Others are half hardy or tender such as French lavender (Lavandula stoechas) and they are much easier to grow in pots that you can move to more sheltered spots in winter to protect it from frost.
How to Plant
Plant your new lavenders from March to May especially if they are tender. To make sure you give it the best start add some grit for drainage and a bit of bone meal (or vegan alternative) to give it a boost!
Don’t go for general purpose compost if you don’t have to as it can be a bit claggy, John innes no 2 or 3 would work better if you are planting in pots and try and choose terracotta pots for better drainage (and there’s something lovely about old pots we love these!).
Growing and Care
Lavender grows robustly for several years but as the years pass you’ll notice fewer flowers and more woody growth as the plant matures. To keep your lavender in good shape give it a good cut back in spring….but be warned don’t go right down to the woody growth. If you cut down into the woody area it won’t regenerate and that could be the beginning of the end for that plant especially if you’ve cut to much of it down to the wood!
Also it does like a trim after it has finished flowering, but this bit isn’t so bad as you’ll be cutting flowers usually anyway if you are growing to harvest as you just cut it back to the leaves.
That should help keep the shape longer!
Got a particularly loved bush that you want to reproduce…go for cuttings. Take these from non flowering stems or softwood in May. If you do take cuttings make sure you overwinter undercover once they have rooted before planting out in the spring!
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