Lavender – Questions & Answers
When you are a lavender lover and have a memorable experience strolling in a lavender field, you want to recreate that beauty and magic at home. Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions about growing your own lavender.
IN WHAT CLIMATE SHOULD LAVENDER BE PLANTED?
True Lavender (Angustifolia) can adapt almost anywhere, but you will need a variety that is right for your region. Bleu Lavande, for instance, is located in Zones 4 and 5.
DO I NEED TO PROTECT MY LAVENDER FOR THE WINTER?
If your area usually receives a good layer of snow, that will suffice – snow is an excellent insulator. However, if you are uncertain, as our winters are often unpredictable, we recommend that you cover your lavender plants with straw, pine or spruce branches. Make sure that the plant is entirely covered with about 3 or 4 inches of mulch (10 cm). Do not use Styrofoam or dead leaves. This will ensure adequate protection for the entire winter.
WHAT VARIETY IS BEST?
The best variety is the one you like the most! Everything depends on your personal taste, as there are lots of factors to consider when choosing lavender: smell, flowering, shape, size, leaves, adaptation to the earth, etc. In our experience, we find the following varieties are best suited for the Canadian climate: Munstead, TrueEnglish, Hidcote, Twickle Purple, Rosea, Provence and Grosso.
WHAT SOIL IS NEEDED?
Almost any kind of soil can suit lavender, except rich soils that will produce a beautiful ball of green lavender without flowers. The ideal earth is light and well drained, even rocky. If your soil is heavy and humid, build a little hill and add gravel and sand to allow water to drain easily. Don’t forget that lavender likes to keep its feet dry!
DOES LAVENDER NEED WATERING?
In the first summer, when you plant young lavender plants, it’s important to water them well to make sure they develop good roots. Be sure to let the earth dry between each watering. In subsequent years, let Mother Nature do her work. In a long dry spell, it may be necessary to water the plants well around the base of the roots.
CAN LAVENDER BE MIXED WITH OTHER FLOWERS?
Lavender only likes lavender – if you have other perennials close by, they’ll inevitably suffocate your lavender. If you really want lavender in your garden, we recommend that you not plant anything else in a radius of 24 inches (60 cm), as your lavender will need all that space within three years. If you plant several lavender plants in a group, keep a distance of 24 inches (60 cm) between each plant.
DOES LAVENDER FLOWER ALL SUMMER?
Lavender flowers for six to eight weeks, depending on the type. Minstead and Hidcote flower early in July and stop at the beginning of August, while English, Grosso and Provence varieties flower most often in the third week of July and continue to the end of August or beginning of September.
DO YOU TRIM LAVENDER? WHEN, AND HOW MUCH?
Once the flowering season is over and the flowers have dried, you should trim the plant with scissors, cut all the stems and shape the plant into a ball. Generally speaking, we remove about a third of the lavender plant: the entire flower stem down to the foliage. It is very important to disinfect your scissors before cutting to prevent the spread of disease. The cut should take place at the end of August. If not, you should wait for spring. In the spring, lightly trim your plant just before vegetation starts growing to remove all the dried parts.
Lavender seeds germinate slowly. They usually take between 2 and 4 weeks to germinate, although the latecomers can wait until 2 or 3 months before germinating. The number of seeds which germinate can vary. Several factors influence the time and the rate of germination, of which the culture conditions. The seeds of lavender need a damp and warm environment to germinate but also special care, love and patience.
SOAKING SEEDS & PREPARATION
Soaking the seeds during 24 hours into a small bowl of warm water can accelerate their germination.
Use a 10 cm pot (4 inches). Your pot must be new or disinfected and provided with several drainage holes. Fill the pot with the growing media or sowing compost of your choice. Put aside 15 ml (1 tablespoon) of growing media or dry compost. Dip the pot or planter into warm water, until its content is wet.
Place the seeds in the palm of your hand. Take a few seeds at the time with a small spatula or your fingers and scatter them on your growing media’s surface. Cover the seeds with 15 ml of the growing media that you put aside. Tap the surface with your fingertips to make sure that seeds are mixed with the compost or growing media. Write down the sowing date on a stick or on your pot. Cover with a wet newspaper or a dark plastic bag.
Install your pot or planter in a warm place 20 °C day and night. You can also place it directly on a source of heat which will warm it from under. Uncover the pot every morning and every evening to aerate and verify the evolution of the seeds. If the compost is dry, spray warm water on it. As soon as the first plants appear, remove the newspaper or bag permanently and place it in light position – 12 hours a day.
When the first two real leaves appear – over the cotyledons which grew first – transplant carefully in individual pots. Wait in June to transplant outside your 12 to 16 weeks old plantation.