Lavender is a flowering plant, grown in many gardens, and used as an herb, a medicinal and a fragrance as it gives off a euphoric aroma that has kept it popular for centuries. It has its origins in the Mediterranean regions. For medicinal purpose and in aromatherapy ,lavender provides herbal relief for both headaches and insomnia and also serves as an eco-friendly insect repellant. For culinary purposes lavender is prized for it’s rich oils.
Soil ~ Planting ~ Care
Lavenders are frequently started from cuttings rather than seeds. It is a quick, effective method and will generally produce a replica of the parent plant.
Starting Lavender from seeds works also, it’s cost effective but not without its drawbacks.
Not all varieties of lavender are available to home growers as seeds and those that are frequently have a lower germination rate, and a slower one as well. Seedlings will also take a relatively long time to reach full maturity -up to three months. Many varieties of lavender are also hybrids that do not produce seeds, or produce sterile seeds.
Plant lavender in early spring and enjoy year-round in most regions. It blooms in both spring and summer and has an aromatic foliage as well a flower, which repels mosquitoes and other insect pests.
Lavender is frost tolerant and sends out it’s aroma even in the winter months from its aromatic stems. Lavender is a great choice for any herb / vegetable garden.
Plants should be set out a foot to a foot and a half apart in full sun and adequate air circulation. Well-drained, slightly alkaline soil is best. Soil pH between 6.5 and 7.3 is optimal. Lavender will not tolerate excessive moisture , so added sand or pebbles to increase drainage is advisable but not absolutely essential. Planting lavender in raised beds, or near the top of a mound or hill will also help.
Lavender flowers appear in summer, sometimes in spring, clipping faded blooms to encourage new blooms throughout the season works well. Light pruning will also branching, particularly in the spring once the plants show new growth.
During the growing season Lavender rarely requires added fertilizer so long as a proper ph is maintained, however, Phosphorus rich fertilizer or bone meal will strengthen the plants for over in the fall to enhance its winter hardiness.
Remembering that lavender requires good drainage and air circulation will eliminate most problems you could potentially encounter relative to plant diseases and fungus. Mulching with pebbles or sand near the base of the plant aids in rapid evaporation, leave a collar about two inches wide around the plant when doing this. If you prune the blooms or main plant do so in a way that aids the air circulation in and around the plant.
Harvest And Storage
Lavender flowers should be cut with a lengthy stem still attached. They can be harvested anytime from bloom to pre-dormancy, but pre bloom is best. The flower heads have a blue-gray tone just before the flowers open. . Flowers will keep their aromatic scent for many months if you harvest just before they are entirely open. To dry the flowers, hang a bundle of stems upside-down in a dark, well-ventilated area. The darkness will help preserve the color , the ventilation will ward off mold and fungus.
Fresh flowers are used in the kitchen to make tea, marinades, sauces and desserts. Dried blossoms are also used in potpourri.
See – Harvesting and Drying Lavender – Timber Press August 2013