Lavender Growing Tips
Lavender wants three things:
Blazing 6-8 hours sunlight per day
Well drained soil
Lavender is a tough plant and is extremely drought resistant, once established. However, when first starting your lavender plants, don't be afraid to give them a handful of compost in the planting hole and to keep them regularly watered during their first growing season.
Lavender likes full sun. An hour or two of shade is ok but too much will cause the plants to be leggy, bloom poorly and more susceptible to fungal disease.
Lavender needs a very well drained, gritty, alkaline soil (ph 6.5-7.5 or even higher). They do not tolerate heavy, wet, or poorly drained soils. To improve drainage, plant on raised mounds or beds to drain away excess water. Avoid planting at the bottom of a slope or in a low depression that may collect run-off water.
To mulch or not to mulch?
Use pea gravel, decomposed granite or oyster shells to deflect water that may splash up on the base of the plant. Hardwood mulches (like pine bark) may be helpful during extreme droughty times and may reduce fungal disease problems but excessive mulch around the base of the plant can hold in too much moisture during wet periods. Mulch in between plants in a row but avoid having the bark close to the base of the plant stalk.
Lavender wants to be dry and needs little water once established. During the first year, if there is no rainfall, water regularly (once every week or two) when the soil is dry down to the root zone. A drip irrigation system is helpful to control the amount of water applied and is a more even method. Place emitters 4"–6" away from the stem. Avoid overhead sprinkler systems, this causes the plant to "splay" open and it promotes fungal disease. Once established, water during times of drought, especially prior to blooming, to help promote flowering and improve oil yield.
Trim plants back lightly just after blooming. Cut back by 1/3 to 1/2 in early spring to promote new and vigorous growth. Your plant will be healthier and live longer with yearly pruning practices.
The most important factor to get right with lavender is drainage. Soggy areas should definitely be avoided.
Harvesting lavender is one of the most enjoyable pleasures any gardener can have. Enjoy!