The ABCs of growing lavender
You do not have to be a master gardener to grow lavender. This hardy perennial herb with a shrub-like appearance is a member of the mint family and has narrow spikey leaves. And, it is infamous for its small purple blooms and sweet aroma.
In recent years, Lavender farms in the Texas Hill Country have been sprouting up and thriving. But you don’t need a farm to grow lavender. One, two, or just three plants in your Travisso garden or in a pot on your deck will provide you with beauty and an incredible scent.
There are over 400 varieties of lavender that can be grouped into three main categories: English, Non-English, or English hybrids. Choosing the right variety for your soil and climate is key. In some southern states the French or Spanish varieties thrive because of their tolerance to higher humidity levels.
And, it is no surprise that Texas Hill Country soil and climate is ideal for growing this beautiful aromatic purple plant. Here, in Central Texas there are two common varieties of hybrids known as lavandins—Grosso and Provence. Grosso blooms from the middle of April to June. The most common variety is Provence. It blooms from late July through October. Most Hill Country farmers grow Provence because of its adaptability to our rocky soil. Also, since Provence is an English hybrid, it is able to adapt to the heat and humidity.
Lavender is easy to grow
For those who claim they do not have a green thumb, you are in luck. Lavender is easy to grow and requires very little maintenance. In fact, very little water is needed for it to thrive. Lavender also likes to bask in the sun requiring six hours of sunlight a day. For foolproof beautiful purple blooms every year, follow these tips and tricks:
- Plant in rocky soil that is mounded up or in raised beds.
- If you are planting lavender in a pot just be sure you choose a large pot. Lavender can grow quite large. You may have to replant in the ground in the future if your lavender is going to survive.
- Lavender prefers a high soil pH and quick drainage.
- Use caution when watering. Water immediately after planting. However, after your plant is established, watering once a month is fine. Or, better yet, monitor the amount of rainfall. You may not need to water at all if a sufficient amount of rain has fallen.
- Plant in fall or spring with November being the optimal month. Planting in spring could be risky since the opportunity exists for an over-abundance of rainfall.
- Do not fertilize.
- Do not use a sprinkler system.
Lavender and its many uses
In addition to its beautiful blooms and sweet smell, lavender has many popular uses and therapeutic properties. It is a natural antiseptic, therefore, the essentials oils heal burns, cuts and infections and relieves stress. Products made from lavender include candles, sprays, sachets, teas, and soaps. In recipes, use sparingly, its strong flavors of mint and rosemary can overwhelm in desserts and savory dishes.
Learn all about lavender and explore the Texas Hill Country during Blanco’s annual festival this weekend, June 9-11. Experience three days of food, music, a market, informative speakers, a wine tent, arts and crafts, and more.
Want to learn more? Visit the KLRU Central Texas Gardener website for more information.