How to plant Lavender
According to David Salaman, founder and chief horticulturist at High Country Gardens, lavenders are some of America’s best herbal shrubs for the Waterwise garden.
They provide us with beautiful spring and summer flowers, are excellent for attracting pollinators, and provide us with the wonderful, relaxing aroma of their flowers and foliage.
The main types of lavenders are the Spanish lavender, the English lavender, and the French hybrid lavender. They all have a place in the garden.
Spanish lavenders are best for mild winter climates. They’re hardy to roughly zone 7, mostly zone 8 and warmer.
French hybrid lavenders are hardy down to zone 6.
How to plant lavender?
Remove the lavender plants from their shipping pots. Start with loosening the root ball from the sides of the pots by just gently squeezing the sides. You can push up from the bottom. Don’t grab them by the hair and pull them out of the pot because that can cause some damage. Instead, gently put your fingers across the top of the soil, turn the pot upside down, and gently lift the pot off. Sometimes you have to push down on the bottom a little bit.
Loosen it a little more and gently lift the pot off of the root ball. Now, to prepare the roots for planting, it’s very important to scratch them out, physically cutting through the roots. Where you cut a root, where there’s one cut, you’ll get two or three new roots so it’s a very beneficial thing to do so don’t be afraid. You can use the corner of a tag or a pocket knife and you want to make a series of vertical, quarter inch deep cuts on the sides of the pots, particularly the corners. Run it right down the corner. Cut those roots. Come to the bottom, you can see a nice mat of roots on the bottom so you want to do a crosshatch because if you don’t do this, the roots are going to hold the shape of the pot and the plant really won’t grow out into the surrounding soil and will tend to be stunted. Now just gently, with your fingertips, rough out the sides of the root ball so it has a fuzzy look.
It’s ready to plant in a previously prepared hole with the equivalent soil amendments. Place the plant down in the hole. In the Western United States or arid climates, plant slightly deeper than the surrounding soil. In moister climates east of the Mississippi, you want to plant level with the surrounding soil. Gently fill in with the amended backfill. With the tips of your fingers or your trowel, just gently firm the soil into place with the additional soil. Make a well, or a saucer, around the plant to hold the irrigation water. Proper watering and irrigation after transplanting is just essential to overall transplanting success. So here we have a nice saucer that will hold a decent amount of water.
The tag is not only good for scratching out the roots but it will identify the plants that you’re putting into the garden so include those in the hole. Just stick it into the side.
The French hybrid lavenders are summer bloomers. The more cold hardy English lavenders, are generally late-spring and early-summer blooming. So by planting both English lavenders and the French hybrids, you can have 8 to 10 weeks of blooming lavender plants out in your garden. Utilize them both.
If you’re in a milder climate, the Spanish lavenders bloom very early and, generally, you won’t use them in most places where you plant the English and French hybrid varieties. In terms of plant care on your lavenders, water regularly. A good, deep soaking. Fill the little saucer, or well, twice every time you water and do this one to three times a week depending on the daytime highs.
Lavender is very sensitive to not enough water so you want to be sure that you soak them thoroughly when you do water and do this right through the first growing season. You can plant lavenders in spring and fall but in zone 5 climates, I generally recommend sticking to a spring schedule for your lavender plantings and when pruning, do not fall prune. You want to let the lavender stand over the winter and then come back in mid-spring. You wait until they start to wake up a little and you see a little bit of green along the stem and then you do your mid-spring pruning. You can deadhead the plants during the summer growing season and that’s desirable but, again, do not prune hard in the fall because that will weaken the lavender plants and might prevent them from coming through the winter in good shape.
The biggest mistake in planting lavenders is basically not watering them enough. So water thoroughly and watch the color of the plants. If they get a little pale and yellow, you may be watering a little too much but, in general, when the weather is hot, they’re a thirsty plant that first growing season.
Some useful links to start with
View or Download the Planting Guide for Perennials & Bulbs (pdf)
Planting Guides: Soil Preparation
I hope you enjoyed this transcript. Thank you for likes, shares and comments.
Let me know your favorite lavender plants, how to plant them and also where you find them. Thank you!
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