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Lavender

Lavandula spp.

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Lavandula is a genus of aromatic evergreen shrubs in the mint family, Lamiaceae, with 47 accepted species. Also known by the name lavender, there are many widespread and well-known species and a huge range of cultivar have been developed. Species in this genus range in hardiness from H2, tender down to 5 degrees Celsius all the way to H5, hardy to -15 degrees Celsius. Some are well suited for hedging, such as L. angustifolia 'Hidcote'. Others have variegated or silver-coloured foliage or flower in different colours such as pink or white. They are native to the Old World with a wide distribution and have become naturalised in many countries. They have a variety of leaf forms from simple to pinnately-divided, all hairy, and whorls of usually violet tubular flowers. Some species, for example L. angustifolia or English lavender, have long been cultivated as garden herbs for their aroma and for essential oils. The optimal time to plant is between April and May as the soil is warming up. Lavandula plants are well suited to soil in poor to moderately fertile condition, it should be free-draining as they like to be on the dryer side. Copes well with chalky or alkaline soils, when grown in clay or clay loam, they tend to be short-lived and develop woody bases. The addition of organic matter and gravel to clay soil and using elevation by planting in mounds can help prolong the life of lavender plants in clay-heavy sites.

Planning

Difficulty
Easy
Flowering time
Summer

Propagation

Cuttings
Softwood or semi-ripe cuttings from young specimens in early summer. Hardwood cuttings may be taken from new growth following flowering, in late autumn.
Seed
Seed may be collected after flowering, wait for the seedheads to dry out. Germination takes up to 3 months, they require warm temperatures (18-21 degrees Celsius) so may be better germinated indoors. Note many cultivars will not come true from seed.

Special features

Drought resistant
Once estblished, lavender is fairly drought-tolerent.
Pot plant
May be grown in containers, needs a well-draining soil. Tender species are better grown in pots in the UK as they can be moved and covered over the winter easily. Mix a multipurpose or loam-based compost such as John Innes No.3 with coarse grit, to around 30% of the total volume. Controlled release fertiliser may also be added.

Geography

Environment

Light
Full Sun
Soil type
Compost, Sand, Loam, Gravel, Chalk
Soil PH preference
Neutral, Alkaline, Acid
Frost hardiness
Half-Hardy

Personality

Family
Lamiaceae
Flower colour
Purples, Pink, White

Problems

Lavandula are natural repellents of many pest species. May be susceptible to Rosemary beetle, sage and Ligurian leafhoppers. Lavender is prone to ill-health when watered too much, such as root rot and leaf spot. Both can be prevented by letting the lavender bush dry out slightly in between watering. Attack by fungal pathogens is more likely if there is an abundance of water, usually from planting in a poorly draining soil mixture.

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