May 01, 2014 11:18PM
By Shaun Mercer, Lavender Fields Herb Farm
Lavender, with its classic scent and appealing bloom color, makes a versatile addition to any garden. However, it does come with its nuances that are best addressed before you plant it.
Lavender loves the sun and will survive cold winters, but is easily defeated by clay soil, erratic seasons, wet soil, mulch and high humidity. Noting these challenges, it is easy to think lavender is too hard to grow. Do not switch to something easier like rosemary or nandina just yet; with some well-planned preparation, you may be pleasantly surprised.
Lavender thrives in full sun and well-drained soil. It also grows well in slightly “sweet,” or alkaline, soil (with a ph of 7.5) in a mounded planting area or row so the water drains away from the crown. Select a variety suited to the growing area, as lavender plants range from 18 inches to 5 feet around upon full maturity, which usually takes three years. Another vital step is to prune the lavender plant at least once a year, a task that can be quite enjoyable, as the smell is reward enough.
Prune the top one-third of the “green” foliage at the start of September to ready the plant for winter. This will also teach the lavender to branch and bush so it is not as susceptible to splitting. Lavender does not transplant well, so think ahead and save the trouble of having to relocate that gorgeous plant and worry if it will recover.
In addition to its aesthetic qualities, lavender has many wonderful uses. Dried, it can be used in teas, as a natural air freshener, as a moth repellent and to promote relaxation and sleep.
Location: 11300 Winfrey Road, Glen Allen. Lavender Fields Herb Farm is Virginia’s largest grower of USDA organic herb and vegetable plants. For additional information, call 804-262-7167 or visit LavenderFieldsFarm.com.