If you are planning on buying lavender plants this year here are a few tips which might help you grow them just that little bit better.
1. Don’t buy your lavender until towards the end of May. Lavender is a funny old thing – the angustifolia varieties such as Hidcote and Munstead are as tough as old boots once they are established. They ought to be by now as they have been grown in the UK since the Romans were here. However they take a minute or two to establish and they are decidedly fussy while settling in. Risk number one, especially this year given the weather we have been having, is frost. The first half of May often seen freezing weather and, while it should not kill the plants it will nip their flower buds. So plant in the second half of May at the earliest.
2. The soil is warmer and drier by the end of May as well. Lavender can grow in soil that more resembles dust than anything else and despite its small size its roots can go down several feet to find moisture. So miss out on April showers as you won’t get any May flowers anyway and your plants can drown in the process.
3. If you have not done so already, prepare the ground where they will be planted. This is all about drainage – lavender does not need feeding now. Incorporate sand, grit or anything else that will open up the soil and make it drain more easily. If you are on heavy soil, recognise that conditions are not ideal for lavender and that they never will be. Open the soil as much as possible, and make a ridge about 15cms (6″) high and twice as wide. When planting time comes plant your lavender into the top of the ridge which will remain well drained in all weathers. Once they have established, the lavender will cover the ridge and you will never see it.
4. Buy good sized plants in a sensible pot. It is a false economy to buy seemingly cheap plants, usually in P9 or P11 pots (there are 9 or 11 cm square pots. Go for buy 2 year old lavender plants in 1.5 litre pots. They will have much bigger root systems and will carry far more flower in their first year. In our experience they also establish better.
5. Blue is the colour. The hardy lavender is Lavandula angustifolia. It is the ONLY truly hardy lavender. And the hardiest angustifolias are Hidcote and Munstead. Both are blue and I strongly advise you to stick with one of these. Nothing is quite as depressing as a lavender hedge with great gaps in it caused by plant loss due to frost or wet. French lavenders and (almost) all of the integrifolia and stoechas varieties would have hated the conditions of this winter and will have been decimated. Buy British….
6. Oh yes, and order early as most reputable growers tend to sell out fairly quickly.
If you think we are reputable, these are our lavender plants for sale