For the Love of Lavender!
Caring for lavender...
We have over 1500 mature Lavender plants, consisting of a variety of Munstead, Hidicote, and Mini Blue. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about growing your own!
You can grow lavender from seed, but we decided to start with plugs.
Since the plugs are so small, you don't need a large hole. We found that using the end of a broom or stick works well.
Lavender does best in sandy soil that is well drained. Lavender hates "wet feet". You'll stand to have issues with rot if the soil isn't well drained . The ideal PH level is around 7- 7.5--around neutral. You can buy PH testers at your local garden store. Once the lavender is planted you will not need to water unless the soil is very dry as it’s very drought tolerant. In 5 years we have yet to water. The bushes will grow to be up to 5' in diameter, so make sure there is lots of space between plants. They may small now but they won't be!
Trimming lavender is one of the most important aspects of caring for it. Although it isn't quite so vital in the first year, as the plant ages it will benefit increasingly from an annual haircut. Ideally the pruning should involve taking off 1/3 of the plant. This
will ensure that your plants don't have hollow centers and that they remain well
rounded and full. However, be careful to avoid the woody stems or you will damage the integrity of the plant.
By the end of the whole process, about 2-3 inches of green should remain.
We found the best tool to use is a scythe, or alternatively a hedge trimmer. It is definitely a two person job; one gathers the stems and the other snips.
In our situation, our main objective to to harvest our plants to make bundles and bouquets. We typically harvest just as the flower buds start to open up. For us in Eastern Ontario, that usually falls around the middle of July. However, if your focus is primarily on the aesthetic, we advise leaving your plants until as late as October.
We have found that covering our plants in the winter reduces loss and increases the yield for the following year.
You can purchase row cover from most garden stores, but we ordered ours online considering the larger plot that we had to accommodate.
Don't dance with Mother Nature on this one or you WILL lose plants!
Dry the lavender by hanging it in a dark, dry, and cool place. Make sure to use elastic bands over top of the string, as when the stems start to dry they will shrink and fall out.
For us this is not a feasible option as we have so many plants, instead we have 4' x 8' racks with chicken wire to dry them. We have a drying barn with fans and a humidity monitor. Watch for high humidity as they will start to mold if the fans are not running.
There are countless ways to use lavender. It has health benefits, culinary uses, and it promotes relaxation--not to mention it is one of the prettiest additions to your garden!
Check out our blog for recipes, and our e-store or Etsy.ca store for bundles and products we make right here on the farm.