Lavender’s sweet-smelling flowers are open and trumpeting the height of summer. However, it will soon be time to prune, dry and turn into sachets and fragrant recipes.
Lavender has been cultivated for centuries for its beautiful flowers, culinary uses and therapeutic scent. It is a great plant to grow in your yard because research shows that its aroma may soothe feelings of anxiety and depression while boosting mood and alertness. It is beautiful strung around the house to dry and can then be added to closets, self-care items and recipes.
Here are some tips for the care and growth of lavender:
Types of lavender:
- Lavendin – A cross between English and spike lavender, this lighter colored variety is grown across the Provence region in France where they are cultivated for perfumes. They tolerate hot weather better than English varieties but also need to be kept drier.
- English lavender – The most widely grown type in North America, this type doesn’t mind humidity or winter moisture as much as other types. It is also most commonly used in cooking and has a sweet, soft fragrance.
- Spanish lavender – These look totally different than other varieties, with shorter heads with petal-like bracts at the top. While they love hot weather, these flowers cannot tolerate the cold.
How to grow healthy lavender:
- Lavender plants will grow in many places, but do best in full sun and well-drained soil.
- Add compost, some rocks and sand to your soil before planting lavender in order to improve soil drainage.
- While established lavender plants are extremely drought resistant, young plants must still be watered. Be sure not to overwater and let the soil dry between watering times.
- Dampness and humidity are far more threatening to lavender than cold. To prevent this, avoid crowding plants so that air can flow freely between them.
When and how to harvest lavender
Lavender looks much better when pruned regularly. In early fall, cut back growth to within a few inches of the woody mound, leaving several inches of green stems. Make sure never to prune the woody part of the plant. This helps maintain the striking mounded shape of the plant and prevents unsightly woody stalks from forming.