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Lavender hardiness.

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It's very hardy, provided you do things right.

Years ago, I used to buy 1-2 lavender plants every spring, and plop them into the best spot in my garden: a southern slope in front of a wall, with lots and lots of horse shit underneath.

They died, every year, sometimes even before winter hit.

Then one year I got an extra lavender after I'd planted my usual ones. As I had no other spot to put that into, I put it on a shady north slope, in a spot where there used to be a sandbox, decades earlier.

This one survived many winters and flowered profusely.

I didn't water it, gave it no fertilizer whatsoever, just left it alone - all I did was pick its flowers, in high summer. Very pretty, nice scent: a large lavender in full flower is simply lovely.

So lavender needs sand, in our climate. In top-quality soil the plants get too leggy and can't handle any adversity - like a night of mild frost, or too much rain.

If all you have is top-quality soil: add a few wheelbarrows of sand and plant your lavender at the top of your new sand heap.

Also, lavender can't take wet feet. At all.
If all you have is clay: add a few wheelbarrows of sand to that, too, and put the lavender into the top spot.

It'll thank you for it.


i've been trying and trying with lavender too, and i'd have to guess i might even be south of you, though i'm north of nearly everyone else. (central vermont. if i'm *not* actually south of you, then the vikings weren't as tough as i thought! ;) )

so when you say you left it alone - really truly alone? did you do anything to it in the winter, mulch or anything?

cause wow - i'm going to try that!
-katja, who's been trying every year with lavender...

No mulch, no coverings in winter. Of course, the north slope has snow for quite a long time, taking care of the "all the snow is gone while the ground is still frozen and the sun is just blazing down" death by thirst of a lot of evergreens.
Not that lavender actually is evergreen, at least up here ...


For what it's worth, it seems like I can't kill my lavender bush. I've trimmed it back WELL beyond the green and it filled in within a year. Granted, the thing is also huge.

I ought to send pictures.

Granted, i also don't get frosts, so it's a rather different clime.

That's californy for you. But, JR, is it in sandy soil?

Actually? No.

The soil out here is fairly odd. It's very rich, with a tendency to become hard as clay in the drier months. The nice bit on that is that it keeps underground moisture locked beneath the hardpack. Honestly, if you can keep a plant alive long enough for the roots to find that layer, it's practically impossible to kill it.

My bet is that it's not so much the sand that as the roots being able to grow. Sand works where you are because it's less prone to freezing, but I'm betting well tilled ground or earth mixed with peat would probably work equally well.

Peat might work, but might be too acidic. Dunno ...

i have found lavender likes sandy & poor soil. i am growing some from seed right now under a light. i prefer angustifolia for the completely intoxicating scent.
a use for nettle tea leftovers, alternative to composting: i use second hand nettle tea on my plants, the root growth spurt is near immediate. the stalks become thicker within a couple days. mints in paticular really seem to like nettle.

We have a large lavender farm here in Tasmania around 120 acres/48 hectares. The lavender is grown on ridges. The soil is fairly poor quality up around Bridestowe, but is well-drained due to the undulating to hilly topography.

The Bridestow folks supply to a world market, but it is still a largely cottage level of industry.

Hmm, i am starting to sound like an advert.

It's at home in the Mediterranean mountains. Sand and stone, and lots of sun. You figure out if that fits your location or not.