Here in Mitcham Surrey we know how to grow lavender! It`s like a sweet caviar to the bees and opium to us that no herb garden is complete without it. Me! I love it! I take the trip with family and friends between June and August to the nearest lavender fields to view the sea of purple hues, walk along the long rows amongst buzzing insects and just drink in the heady scent-filled air. Makes me kind of woozy!
But maybe it`s because Mitcham in Surrey where I live, used to be famous in the 1700`s for their lavender. By the 18th century the surrounding areas were cultivated with other herb crops as well as lavender and distilleries sprang up everywhere producing essential oils for world wide distribution.
There are several cultivars of Lavandula Angustifolia (English Lavender) to choose from here in the UK. Take your pick of Folgate, Maillette, Grosso, Hidcote, Munstead, to name but a few. I chose Hidcote and Munstead dwarf plants to line the inside of a small herb garden wall. I received them as tiny plugs rooted in a vermiculite compost mix from a nursery. Thought I had struck gold when the shiny particles of vermiculite glinted in the sunlight. Anyway, here are 3 growing methods you can try.
The following is quite simple really. After ordering and receiving the plugs plant them into individual pots using a compost mix for seeds and seedlings. In the earlier months like February and March keep the plugs indoors or in a warmed green house until any likelihood of frost has passed..
Next step is to get the plants used to the cooler climate outdoors by moving them outside during the day and bringing them in again during the colder night temperatures. This is called “hardening off” Do this for about 2 weeks and then plant them in a sunny or semi-shaded location.
Lavender likes sandy, grainy soil that is not too rich so don`t use any feed, in fact don`t do much at all but only water in for the first few days until the plant is established in its new ground. Then step back and watch those hardy little plants take off.
Don`t worry about protecting against pests either! Snails hate it, aphids avoid it, and moulds can`t touch it as long as your lavener is in the sun and not overwatered. The only real problem pests they seem to have are the rosemary beetle and people who like to pick flowers from other peoples` gardens.
Dealing with the beetles is easy. All you need to do is watch out for green metalic coloured beetles with purple stripes, get yourself a paper bag and shake them off. As for the “free-flowers-for-all” pickers.. .just pop the bag through their letterbox with a note saying, "I thought you were collecting beetles from my garden so I picked these off for you!"
This is mainly for the enthusiast! It is quite difficult but extremely satisfying if you succeed.
Keep the seeds in the fridge for a month! A lot of people swear by it. They say that will give them a better chance of sprouting. I have yet to try it. Watch this space!
Don`t expect them to sprout at this stage, they will need to be subjected to the cold for a period from 1 to 1 ½ months. Make room in your fridge for that. After this period take the seeds out and wait patiently until they sprout.
When eventually they do, get the pots ready with wetted compost. Place the seeds on top and lightly cover with more compost. Keep it damp until the leaves start to grow then cut down on the watering.
You can also try rooting a new shoot.
Before a lavender plant develops flower buds, cut a new 10cm shoot just below a set of leaves and cut off those leaves from the stem.
Put the cut end of the cutting into a hole made with a dibber or a thin pencil in moist compost, firm gently around it, and cover the pot with a clear bag. A food bag will do.
Keep it in a warm light place but not in direct sunlight. The shoot should develop roots eventually.
Continue to inspect the plant and never let the compost get too dry. When the plant looks fresh and begins to grow new leaves you know the roots of the cutting are established.
From June through to
August lavender is in bloom. Do you have an allotment or field
near you where lavender is being grown as a crop. It`s a beautiful
sight and smells divine. Why not ask permission to walk in the fields or if the owners are sports like ours, they probably
have pick-your-own days at a small cost per bunch.
Whatever is on offer, you'll find it's a great day out not only for a relaxing layed back time, if you take along children, they get the chance to experience what harvesting is all about.
I took my grandchildren down to Carshalton Allotments where they have a large field of lavender. We went to help bring the harvest in and got an extra bonus by being coached on how lavender is distilled. What did the kids think of it? Awesome!
Make some lavender wands as homemade gifts when it`s harvesting time!
Why is there a revival in growing lavender crops? Let`s face it! Truth is, a lot of us just love lavender. Joining in on growing or harvesting this lovely herb has its highlights. What was yours? We`d love to read about it.
The Encyclopedia of Gardening by Stanley Russell pg 52. Propagation/ Pre-chilling
The Encyclopedia of Gardening by Stanley Russell pg. 55 Raising plants vegetatively/ Cuttings
Hint of Herbs is where you will get to know me a whole lot better as I busy about in my daily life. Read short snippets of herb garden related topics. Little interesting things that don`t normally find their way onto my pages.
All the ads on this page click through to a product and if bought by you will generate a small fee helping to keep my site running.