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How to Grow Lavender

 

One of the most beloved herbs for garden color, fragrance gardens, and harvested herbal use, lavender is a must-have in any organic garden. Grown as a full, flowering perennial, lavender can stand alone as a landscape shrub or serve as part of a more varied bed or landscaping plot.

Growing Lavender

Native to the Mediterranean, you can imagine the kind of climate that lavender favors. Temperate with warm to hot summers and not a lot of rainfall, lavender plants don’t like having “wet feet.” Although it’s hardy to zones 5-9, lots of rainfall dictates a container or raised bed garden with good drainage.

Lavender is extremely easygoing once it has been established, but it can take awhile to get there from seed. If you do want to give it a shot, start them in a cold frame early in the spring. Or, where winters are very mild, you can start in the fall to give them quite awhile to grow.

Starting from a root cutting or organic potted plant is the easiest way to start lavender.
Once you have an established plant, you can share root cuttings with others, too.

Average lavender plants will grow to around 2 ft tall, but look for varieties that range from much lower plants good for ground cover or much taller as a standalone, unkempt shrub that will be full and beautiful without much effort.

At the end of the summer, prune lavender’s woody stems back about 2/3rds of the way. This will help it keep its shrub shape and encourage prolific flowering next season.

Lavender in the Perennial Garden

Having an established perennial garden means you have cultivated reliable results that will come back year after year. But more than convenience, a perennial garden cultivates a micro ecosystem. With waning bee populations and butterflies just now making a comeback, a perennial garden is good for your whole region.
With the ability to spread several feet wide and a couple of feet tall, lavender is great as a main focal point, especially if you want to let the space go without much tending.

Try planting lavender around fruit trees. This will keep grass and weeds away from the tree, and the scent helps to deter some of the pests that would enjoy your foliage and fruits.

Lavender in the Edible Landscape

Of course, lavender is a great addition to the edible landscape for its full flowers, but there are loads of reasons to plant lavender beyond the purple-grey blooms. Lavender’s drought tolerance, long season of visual interest, and beautiful foliage give it a place in any landscape.

The colors and fine texture of lavender foliage make it excellent for texture contrast. Planting it around broad foliage and deeper greens makes each plant stand out even more.

Where lavender really shines in the edible landscape is when you need to fill a low maintenance space. In Gardening Like a Ninja, I laid out a plan for planting around a mailbox, including lavender. They can grow uninhibited without looking unruly.

Plus, lavender looks great all throughout the season. Enjoy early spring foliage, summer-long flowers, and even some winter interest. When you’ve got perennials filling up space all year long, constant attractive appearance is important. As far north as zone 3, lavender remains throughout the winter.

Harvesting and Using Lavender

When lavender blooms are fresh and just opened, they are excellent for harvesting. It makes a great addition to teas and lemonades, but overall, lavender isn’t used much as a culinary herb. Still, lavender has plenty of uses for regular harvest.

Its fragrance is its best quality. Lavender dried can be a foundational part of potpourri, or the harvested spikes can be woven into lavender wands. Use them to freshen drawers and linen closets or create magical playtime for little ones.

A little lavender in a satchel under a pillow is said to help promote restful sleep, and some in tea is used for its calming abilities.Infuse lavender into white vinegar for a floral scented DIY cleaning or air freshening spray.
Lavender grows so prolifically that you can harvest it regularly all year long, and it’s a gentle and safe herb. So enjoy lavender in your garden year after year, and have fun experimenting with the many ways you can enjoy it after harvest.



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Lifestyle Magazine: How to Grow Lavender
How to Grow Lavender
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