Gardening tips: Expert on how to grow lavender at home
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There’s nothing like lavender plants thriving in full bloom. This classic herb has been used for thousands of years for bouquets, culinary flavourings, herbal remedies, and bee-magnetising ornamental gardens. Yet, in spite of its effortless perfume, lavender isn’t always the easiest herb to grow. This Mediterranean perennial can cause a few issues for beginner gardeners who are unfamiliar with its growth habit, pruning requirements, or soil preferences.
Despite its elegant appearance and decadent aroma, lavender is a surprisingly easy herb to grow.
This perennial herb is native to the Mediterranean, where it thrives on arid, rocky slopes beneath the hot sun.
As you can imagine, growing it in other climates requires a bit of adaptation to keep it happy.
But once established, harvesting and pruning are the only real maintenance required. If you study these common pitfalls, you can set your lavender garden up for success from the beginning.
To help Logan Haley, gardening expert at All About Gardening, has shared several common mistakes gardeners make when it comes to growing lavender.
Accidentally cutting woody parts
If gardeners cut back the woody parts of their lavender, the plant will not rejuvenate or produce new growth that will bloom.
Logan said: “The golden rule for pruning lavender is to only cut green growing plant parts and never cut into the woody growth.
“This can damage or even kill the plant with shock.”
Lavender is an evergreen perennial, which means it keeps and needs its leaves throughout the winter.
When gardeners cut into the woody base, they’re cutting off the leaves that lavender needs to sustain itself through the winter.
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Forgetting to prune
As a herbaceous perennial, lavender requires regular pruning to stay “aesthetically pleasing and healthy”, says the gardening pro.
Most gardeners prefer lavender’s signature elegant domed shape with lovely long-stemmed flowers that look beautiful in bouquets and arrangements.
Logan advised: “Lavender should be pruned twice a year. After that, it won’t need too much maintenance.
“But just like your gym workouts, maintaining an ideal lavender physique takes a bit of work.
“If you forget to prune lavender, the growth can quickly become woody, spindly, or awkwardly misshapen.”
Gardeners will want to avoid this, or it can create other problems down the road.
Growing in poorly drained soil
According to Logan, the “number one” mistake gardeners make when growing lavender is planting it in soil that doesn’t drain.
She explained: “This Mediterranean herb absolutely hates soggy or waterlogged soils and becomes increasingly susceptible to root rot and fungal diseases when its roots are too wet.”
Lavender plants grown in soil with reliable drainage will usually have a lifespan of at least twice those in heavier and more unsuitable growing conditions.
If the soil is poor you may like to add a little garden compost or well-rotted manure to improve it but do be sparing, and mix it well with the surrounding soil.
Unlike our common garden veggies, too much fertiliser isn’t the best for lavender.
The gardening expert said: “Over-fertilising, especially with nitrogen, results in an excess of foliage and reduced bloom production.
“I assume you want to grow lavender for its alluring fragrant blossoms, so be careful how you amend the soil surrounding this herb.”
While fertilising lavender too heavily may cause it to grow excess foliage, the plant may never flower or could flat-out die.
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