Lavender is definitely a polarizing shrub, people either love it or hate it. Love it for the wonderful show it puts on through spring and summer, intoxicating fragrance and it’s attractiveness to bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects. Hate because they can get rather tatty and require a bit of maintenance to keep them at their best. But buy finding the right spot and providing the right care you can create a spectacular feature in your garden.
Lavender is relatively easy to grow – with a sunny spot and good drainage it happily thrives for several years. When planting Lavender choose a site in full sun for the best results. Lavender is very tolerant of cold winters provided the soil remains free-draining, waterlogged winter soils are not suitable for lavender.
Like building a house a good foundation is the key to success in your garden. The better the soil, the better your plants will grow. Before planting add compost and other organic goodies like Blood & bone, sheep pellets etc and help them establish quickly by planting with a slow release fertiliser to help roots establish and provide.
Less is more with lavender, choose one variety and mass plant it rather than planting lots of different varieties. If you’re looking to create a hedge, space plants 30-50cm apart.
The best times to plant are early in the morning or late in the day, so the plants aren’t exposed to the hot sun straight away. Always water plants well before and after planting. To lessen translanting shock you can soak the pot in a bucket with seaweed fertiliser before planting.
Feed your plants and they will feed you. Plants use nutrients from the soil as they grow, so replenishing the nutrients ensures your plants grow to their full potential. Lavenders are a particular fan of blood and bone, which can be applied at the beginning of Spring and Autumn.
Pruning is key to maintaining good-looking lavender. The best time to trim lavender to prevent it from becoming “woody” is after flowering. Remove the spent flowers and trim back the foliage by about one third. If they flush and flower again in late summer, after the second flush has finished flowering, trim the plants back and remove spent flower heads. The exception is Stoechas (French, Italian) type lavenders which are frost tender. If there is a second flush of flowering, leave the flowers on the bush until after winter and frosts have past, trim back in early spring.