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Marie Iannotti

Lavender Growing

By June 13, 2011

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My lavender plants have started putting on such a wonderful show,† I make excuses to walk by them. Is there a more evocative plant than lavender? Lavender says summer and the south of France. So why do those of us in climates very unlike the south of France continue to try to grow this wonderful herb? Well that's easy to answer; even if you have to grow lavender as an annual, it's worth it to have that fragrance in your garden.

There are many new lavenders in nurseries this year. Take a hint from their names. If the lavender is called something like "Provence" or "Spanish", it's not going to be hardy below USDA Zone 6. But don't lose heart. There are plenty of lavenders anyone can grow. Dry heat, cold, wet winters, smothering humidity - no problem. Choose your lavender wisely, treat it well and you can bring the south of France to your garden.

But why stop there. Lavender is an edible flower, after all.† Celebrate the start of summer with one of the chill out lavender recipes .


June 14, 2006 at 2:52 pm
(1) Maude says:

I have lavender “Munstead” growing on either side of the steps going up to my front door in southwestern Ohio. They bloom profusely every year and of course the bees and the butterflies love it!
I was told by a very experienced gardener that lavender “hates to have its feet wet.” Therefore, it should be planted on a hill or terrace. It must be true because mine is planted on a steep hill. She also suggested that I cover the roots in the fall with leaves to protect them since the roots remain close to the surface.

June 15, 2006 at 7:35 am
(2) naturegirl says:

I love lavender and have it growing throughout the garden! I am in a zone 6 and many of my lavender plants I continually harvest all summer! My first harvest coming soon.. I will then cut back and again the flowers blossom!I love planting roses and lavender together..see post..”formal entry.” I would grow fields of lavender if I had the space!! Munstead the variety I grow.

June 15, 2006 at 11:55 am
(3) gardening says:

It’s true lavender, like most Mediterranean herbs, doesn’t like wet feet. The hillside tip is good. I also like the advice to mulch lavender with gravel. I know that’s not always practical, but it does seem to make a difference in my Zone 5 climate. Besides being well draining, it throws the heat back up toward the plant, in any season, while keeping the roots cool.

July 4, 2006 at 7:10 am
(4) Benita says:

I am privileged to live in the Mediterranean Southwestern part of South Africa. My lavender plants shed their seeds and supply me with quite a number of small plants close to the mother plant. The older plants become quite dry and stalky during our harsh summers. I cut them back and right now – during our winter- they are already in bloom.

June 13, 2008 at 5:29 pm
(5) cheryl says:

i planted lavendar last year in my yard. i planted it in the front where it didn’t get much sun. it grew, but never bloomed. this year i dug it up and moved it to my back yard and i have never seen so many blooms. i live in zone 7. i hope it will continue to grow. i love the smell. it is right by my back door.

June 14, 2008 at 8:42 pm
(6) Amy McIntosh says:

My lavender in western Ct. doesn’t winter well. I think it is in well-drained soil by the side of a pool but it doesn’t thrive. I have to treat it like an annual because I love it. Is there anything anyone would suggest over the winter to give me a better chance?

June 15, 2008 at 5:24 pm
(7) Kary says:

To Amy in CT. I live north of you in Maine and have had no problem growing Munstead Lavender as a perennial for 25 years so it should be able to handle your winters. When the snow melts it always looks dead or nearly, but I patiently watch as the climate heats things up and eventually a few sprigs come to life, thatís when I prune it down and quickly get lots of new growth. Some years takes more patients then others, wondering if that dead looking lavender will make it that year or not but it always has, and flourished. I suggest never pruning the lavender in the fall because it’s too tender to survive the truama just before dormancey. Good luck.

June 17, 2008 at 4:37 am
(8) SHY says:

refering to lavender in colder states,I live in north eastern Mo.we have notorius ice storms and temps in single digits.I have a lavender that is 3 years old, It survives being civered in ice and very cold temps and always in the spring ,in may usually, I cut it back and have glorious blooms all summer, its amazing and such a wonderful thing to see every spring!

June 24, 2008 at 2:45 am
(9) Lynn says:

What kind of lavender should I plant? I live in zone 3 (Alberta, Canada).

July 1, 2008 at 3:46 pm
(10) gardening says:

Lynn, Zone 3 is really pushing it for Lavender. Lavandula angustifolia is about the hardiest variety for cold climates, but it’s only listed to Zone 5. I’ve known Zone 4 gardeners who protect it well in the winter with burlap and mulch, but Zone 3 is a question mark. If you have a sheltered site that gets lots of sun and has good drainage AND you’re willing to cover it once the ground freezes, you could give it a try. But I think I’d rather recommend you grow it in a pot and bring it indoors for the winter.

September 24, 2008 at 11:28 am
(11) Steve says:

I live in Michigan, zone 5, and planted 500 Grosso last year. It was a brutal winter in 07/08 and I lost approx. 50% of my plants. I have planted an additional 1,100 Grosso this year. I am planning on putting up wind fence around the rows as it seems that wind is a real killer of these plants. Does anyone have suggestions on the success of wind fence or other ideas to protect the plants? Thanks

July 27, 2009 at 4:29 pm
(12) Christina says:

I have grown munstead lavender in my year now 4 years (zone 3 Calgary AB Canada) and last year I made the mistake of cutting it back in the fall, and the plant died, however from all the blooms I had but inorder to dry them (not really that much, just for fun) lots of seeds fell onto the gravel path and this spring I notices 4 little plants, which I then planted in a pot for on the deck,…well they grew like crazy, and bloomed nicely !
So I can bring them in in September right and keep them in a sunny location and do I need to trim them often or only trim them back in the spring when i start putting them back on the deck again? (I did put 40 % sand in the soil as suggested on various sites, plus rocks in the bottom of the pot
Any other suggestions?

July 31, 2009 at 5:13 pm
(13) gardening says:

Christina, lucky you. That’s great that you can grow lavender in Zone 3 and that it re-seeded.

Definitely bring the plants in by September. They’ll need a lot of light to grow strong, but if they’re happy, you shouldn’t need to prune them until after the bloom in the spring.

The gravel and sand sound like great ideas. It sure sounds like you should be successful. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

August 15, 2009 at 1:50 pm
(14) Colette says:

I have successfully wintered the same lavendar plants in my southwest Calgary flower bed for at least 15 years. The bed is on the east side of my house and gets quite a lot of sun. I do not prune or do anything to the plants to overwinter. Sorry I don’t remember the variety.

June 22, 2010 at 9:35 am
(15) Lauren Vicker says:

I live in upstate New York and my lavender rings the circular front of my garden alternating with coral bells–it looks wonderful. If you want to take the time to dry the blooms, mix with a little lavender oil, and make a lavender sachet, they make great gifts. Under your pillow, lavender helps you sleep and in your drawers, it makes your clothes smell great. JoAnn’s has several great fabrics with herb motifs and you can really personalize your gifts.
And this is one plant the snails don’t seem to like!
Happy Gardening, everyone!

January 27, 2011 at 7:25 pm
(16) Cathie says:

Like my fellow Calgary gardeners above (zone 3), I grew Lavender ‘Hidcote’ for 3 years in an area exposed to north winds. It’s only protection was a light covering of leaves. I lost them to a late cold spell one spring. Some varieties are extremely hardy so give them a try in a sheltered spot with some sort of protection and see if they come back for you!

May 29, 2011 at 11:15 am
(17) Nicky Hunter says:

When does one prune lavendaers?

May 31, 2011 at 1:31 pm
(18) Marie Iannotti says:

They are usually pruned lightly in the spring, after new growth has started. Prune lightly to remove any winter damage. You can prune again after flowering or just cut the flowers, while they are in bloom. There is more on pruning in the article mentioned on growing lavender.

November 8, 2011 at 6:58 am
(19) Bharti says:

Can any one tell me if lavender can be grown in India as perrinial or as annual? what zone is India ?

November 9, 2011 at 7:33 am
(20) gardening says:

India doesn’t seem to have been mapped yet, for hardiness zones. I haven’t seen a map for any of southeast Asia and I’m sure it would cover several zones.

However, I did find this article from Richter’s Herbs, that discusses research by the Institute for Himalyan Bioresource Technology (IHBT), Palampur, in collaboration with the CSK Agricultural University and the luck they are having with a variety of lavender they developed for their area called ‘Akash’. They seem to say they have lavender growing info available.

March 20, 2012 at 3:12 pm
(21) Alex Benzar says:

I live in Portland Oregon. I have plenty space to grove some Lavender.
Is there any specific type of lavender that will do well in north west.

March 21, 2012 at 12:41 pm
(22) gardening says:

Alex, lavender does great in the Northwest. Just be sure it’s in a spot that drains.

The English lavenders (Lavandula angustifolia) are a good choice. The classic ‘Hidcote’ and ‘Munstead’ would grow nicely. There are also a lot of new ones, like ‘Croxton’s Wild’, that were developed for your type of climate.

You should also be able to grow French lavender (Lavandula x intermedia), like ‘Provence’. It’s a little larger and more fragrant, but more sensitive to wet winters.

March 26, 2012 at 6:00 am
(23) silvia says:

I have a lovely big leaf lavendar and it has never flowered ….. is there a variety that does not flower, or what am I doing wrong ?

March 26, 2012 at 6:37 am
(24) Marie Iannotti says:

Silvia, I’m not familiar with a big leaf lavender, but all of them should flower. Have you been pruning yours? Does it get at least 6 hours of sun and is it healthy otherwise?

June 25, 2012 at 5:21 pm
(25) Tessa says:

I live in East Central Wisconsin. I have a 1/2 year old Grosso Lavender plant. I got it on a trip to Oklahoma. Can anyone give me care advice for it for our climate? When should I prune it and how much? How do I winter it over? When should it bloom? How often should I water it? I’m new at this so any and all advice is welcome. Thanks!

July 19, 2012 at 12:02 pm
(26) gardening says:

Tessa, I was hoping someone from your area would chime in, but I guess they haven’t noticed yet.

‘Grosso’ is a beautiful lavender. You should see flowers in midsummer – maybe not the first year, but in subsequent years.

Unfortunately it is only reliably hardy to Zone 5 and most of Central Wisconsin is Zone 4. So you’ll need to give it some winter protection, like mulching it with evergreen boughs or a thick layer of leaves.

You will probably still get some winter die back. Those of us with harsh winters need to wait until we see signs of new, green growth on the plants in the spring, before we start pruning. Then, just remove any branches that have died and shape the plant to your liking.

I hope this helps.

May 10, 2013 at 2:55 pm
(27) Mary Elizabeth says:

I am in Toront area, Southern Ontario Zone 6. I have grown beautiful lavender years ago but do not remember what kind it was. It used to grow around 18-20 inches high with silvery green leaves and tender stems. It used to flower profusely for most of the spring and summer. Unfortunately I sold the house years ago and have since tried Munstead and English lavender which grow nice the first year then I end up with a lot of woody plants in the spring and not much blooms. I wish I knew what type I used to grow years ago, any ideas?

May 10, 2013 at 3:06 pm
(28) Marie Iannotti says:

Mary Elizabeth, the only lavenders that I’m sure will do well in Zone 6 are the English lavenders. Maybe your plants just needed a good trimming in the spring? I cut mine back to about – 6 4 inches, as soon as I see green growth in the spring.

May 25, 2013 at 7:13 pm
(29) Joneta says:

Will Lavender still grow with 3-4 hours of sun a day? I have many tall trees in the yard and when the leaves are in bloom they cover the garden area.

May 26, 2013 at 5:36 am
(30) Marie Iannotti says:

Joneta, lavender doesn’t usually do well in partial shade, unless you live in a very hot climate. The plants may grow, but you won’t get many flowers.You’d be better off growing it in a container and finding your sunniest spot.

September 1, 2013 at 6:15 pm
(31) Evolutionary says:

Does anyone here know whether lavender grows in South America? I was thinking of making up little gift bags for there, but wouldn’t do that if lavender is common.
Thanks :)

September 2, 2013 at 2:54 am
(32) gardening says:

Lavender does grow in South America, but I don’t know if it’s common. But who wouldn’t appreciate more lavender?

March 13, 2014 at 10:31 pm
(33) Stephanie may says:

I have tried growing lavender before and failed.I live in eastern Tennessee. Do you have any suggestions.I brought it indoors. It is an established plant from a nursery. I am just not sure of the right soil mixture

March 14, 2014 at 3:30 pm
(34) gardening says:

Stephanie, lavender really isn’t a houseplant. It needs warm sunshine.

The key to soil for lavender is that it must be well draining. It like a slightly alkaline soil, so some lime might help if you mix is full of peat. But in general the only demand it makes is that its roots not remain wet. You have to allow the soil to dry out between waterings.

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