September 27, 2008

Lavender Planting and Care

The last few years have been difficult for growing lavender. Last year, we had a long drought, but I didn't lose any lavender. All of my Spanish Lavender put on a spectacular display this past April.

However, this summer has been very wet and I've actually lost a few of my lavender plants. The drought tolerant plants such as lavender, nepeta, stachys and echinops are finally starting to look better again, much to my relief.

I rely upon my email subscription to Sunshine Lavender Farm for reminders about when to prune or plant lavender. This week, I received my fall reminder that NOW is the time to plant new lavender and to trim existing lavender before the first hard frost. For us in zone 7, that means to carry out the task before Halloween. Rather than try to reiterate the instructions, I'm including the links to the instructions on the Sunshine Lavender Farm website:

Instructions for planting
Instructions for pruning

If you've not grown lavender before, the best advice that I can give you is to plant it high and dry, with well-draining soil. It will need water to get established, but it is best to water at the base of the plant to keep water off of the foliage. The Spanish Lavender that I grow blooms in spring, but Hidcote, Munstead and Provence bloom in the summer.

When I prune my lavender, I put the clippings around plants that are of interest to rabbits. The fragrance of lavender deters the little critters for awhile. Lavender is deer resistant, so it is a wonderful plant to use in a full sun garden.

There's another benefit to growing lavender. Here on our property, we have a natural stream in the woods as well as a manmade water feature. We do not have a problem with mosquitoes, houseflies or gnats. Until proven otherwise, we believe that growing lavender helps to repel these insects. We encourage birds, dragonflies, toads and frogs in our garden. These creatures also help with the insect control. We enjoy outdoor living without having to use insect repellants. We sit outside, eat outside, play and garden without any problem.

Given this belief, as well as the beauty and fragrance of lavender, I am going to replace the lavender that I lost to rain this summer. I may even add a few extra plants!
Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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