Lavender, with its vibrant purple blooms and soothing scent, is a wonderful addition to any garden. This versatile plant doesn’t just serve an aesthetic purpose; it’s also renowned for its essential oil, which is used in myriad products, including lavender bath salts.
Growing lavender, however, might seem daunting to many. Fortunately, with the right care and nurturing, you can easily enjoy a thriving lavender garden.
Choose the Right Variety
Firstly, it’s essential to choose the right variety of lavender for your garden. There are dozens of species to choose from, each with slightly different care requirements. English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is one of the most common varieties for home gardens, due to its hardiness and rich aroma.
Optimum Planting Conditions
Lavender plants prefer full sun and well-drained soil. Choose a spot in your garden that gets at least six hours of direct sunlight daily. The plants can tolerate a range of soil types, but they don’t do well in overly moist conditions – a slightly alkaline, sandy or gravelly soil is optimal. If your soil is clayey or tends to retain water, consider planting your lavender in raised beds or pots to prevent root rot.
You can start lavender from seeds, cuttings, or young plants. Seeds can be a bit tricky and slow to germinate, while cuttings and young plants provide a quicker and more reliable route to a flourishing lavender bush.
You should plant lavender in the spring, after the last frost, or in early fall. Dig a hole that’s deep and wide enough for the plant’s root ball, place the lavender in the hole, and fill it in with soil, firming it gently around the base. Space the plants about 18 to 24 inches apart to allow for air circulation and growth.
Care & Maintenance
Once established, lavender plants require minimal care. Water them infrequently, as they’re drought-tolerant and susceptible to root diseases if overwatered. In the first year, water the plants once or twice a week until they’re established. After that, you can cut back to watering every two to three weeks, or even less in rainy seasons.
Fertilisation isn’t usually necessary for lavender plants. However, a light application of compost in the spring can help stimulate growth. Prune your plants lightly in the early spring to encourage bushiness and heavy blooming, and then again after flowering to maintain shape.
Lavender blooms from late spring to early summer, depending on the variety and climate. Harvest flowers just as they open for the most intense aroma – you can use the fresh flowers immediately or dry them for later use. The flowers are excellent for making soothing, aromatic lavender bath salts, while the leaves can be used in teas, cooking, and potpourri.
Keep an eye out for common pests such as aphids, whiteflies, and lavender shab disease. If you notice any discolouration, wilting, or deformities in your plants, these could be signs of pest infestation or disease. A good preventative measure is to ensure your plants have good air circulation and aren’t overwatered.
Growing lavender in your garden can be a rewarding experience
Not only does it add a beautiful splash of colour and a soothing aroma, but it also offers you the chance to create an array of homemade products, from teas to lavender bath salts – enjoy!