Growing and caring for lavender flowers is a relatively straightforward process that will add something special to your garden. The beautiful, aromatic flowers of the lavender plant are perennial favorites that typically flower from July to September.
How to Start Lavender
While most lavender is grown from cuttings taken from a mother plant, it is also possible to grow certain varieties from seeds. Growing lavender from seeds is less recommended, however, due to the seeds' low germination rate, short shelf life and slow growth. To ensure the best possible plant, begin with cuttings taken from the tip of healthy, full-grown lavender shoots.
Once you have gathered several cuttings, place them in loose soil and keep the area moist. Compost works well because its loose composition and air pockets give the roots room to take hold. The soil's pH level should hover between 6.5 and 7.5 and proper drainage is crucial to the health of the developing plant. While the soil should stay moist, it should never become soggy.
Caring for Lavender
Once the plants root system is well developed, you can transfer the plant into the ground after ensuring that the area is free of weeds. Mulch and compost can help deter the resurgence of weeds but make sure to leave at least a two inch space between the lavender plant and the mulch. It is also important to leave space between plants for air circulation, especially if you live in a hot or humid area since these conditions may lead to problems such as rot or fungal disease. Lavender planted in very dry areas should be watered regularly. While full-grown plants are very resistant to drought, newly transferred plants will grow larger and healthier with additional watering.
Working in Pots
If you want more control over your plants environment, you can also transplant lavender into a pot filled with coarse potting soil. Adding an organic fertilizer will also help to ensure that your plant gets the proper nutrients. If you choose to plant your lavender in a pot, however, you'll need to remember to transfer the plant into a larger pot every spring. The fresh soil and larger environment will allow the plant to continue to grow and develop, ensuring that you get the best flowers possible.
Whether you plant your lavender in the ground or in pots, it's vital that the plants are placed in an area that receives full sunlight. You should also avoid chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides that may alter the nutrient composition of the surrounding soil.
After the lavender has been transplanted into its permanent home, the plant requires very little maintenance. You should water the plants on a regular basis—being careful not to over water—and prune the plants once a year immediately following their bloom. Proper pruning involves cutting back the flower stems, as well as well as a third of the lavender's gray leaved stems. Don't prune the plant back so far that no leaves are showing, however, as this may cause the plant to die. With proper care, lavender will reach its full height—about 12 to 18 inches—in approximately three years.