Growing lavender

Written by Charlotte West

Not only prized for its fragrance, lavender—with it showy, colorful, purple flowers—is sure to be a showstopper. Its blossom spikes are prized for their perfume and aromatic oils. It is often used as a hedge if left to grow wild.

Lavender thrives well amongst rosemary and verbena, creating an intoxicating smell. Bees are extremely attracted to lavender.

Soil-wise, you will need soil that is well-drained and little or no fertilizer. We do not tend to have a problem with humidity in this region, so root rot is rare. Do not over-water lavender. You will find that it’s quite forgiving of this desert heat. Even if you miss a watering, it will come back from the root twice as strong. Make sure not to pack soil too firmly when planting. Lavender benefits from air circulation.

If you choose to mulch due to your landscaping preferences, make sure to use pea gravel or decomposed granite. Cedar or other wood chips retain too much moisture.

It you wish to keep lavender as a compact plant rather than a hedge, prune it back to one-third at the end of the summer season, immediately after it blooms.

Your lavender plant may become woody in the center. It is important that you remove a few of the oldest plants to make more room for the new growth.

People often use dried lavender for sachets, but lavender ice cream is a little slice of heaven. If you’re using it for this purpose, infuse the fresh flowers in your homemade ice cream as you would use rose water. It’s sure to impress your friends at the next dinner party or reunion. For swags, wands, and wreathes you simply need to dry and bind the cuttings and store them in a cool, dry place. There are many hybrids that have arisen over the years. Have fun. Go to your local nursery and try them all. If all else fails, you will surely enjoy a wonderful, exotic lavender bath or foot soak. Have fun, as always when gardening, and best of luck.

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