Welcome to Growing Lavender

You don’t need to travel to France to enjoy fragrant lavender. Growing this ancient herb of love and devotion can be fun and profitable, even in your own backyard. From aromatherapy to culinary delights, from medicinal treatments to housekeeping tips, the versatility of this herb is unrivaled.

After growing lavender since 2002, and presenting half-day workshops I received many requests for copies of the presentation to be sent across the country. And that’s how Lavender: From Soil to Sachet was born.

Course discussion includes plants to propagation, soil to sachet, and tips on how to start your own lavender-growing business.

During the 6-unit course I answer questions like:

  • When is the best time for planting lavender?
  • Can I grow lavender in a pot?
  • Can I successfully grow lavender as a business?

Growing lavender can be a way to earn extra income from a backyard garden and enjoy a calming landscape at the same time.

Check out the FREE mini-class on growing lavender. It may be all you need to get started!

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Choosing Lavender Plants

Lavender Plants

Wouldn’t you love to learn a foreign language? Why not start with Latin!?

I’m about to chat with you about just a few of the 30 species of Lavandula.

Lavandula angustifolia is the “official” name for one of those species of lavender. When I say “official” I mean the botanical nomenclature, also known as Latin! This way, lavender growers from all over the world can gather and talk about lavender plants without an interpreter. Even then, there may be confusion; you might see labels with Lavandula officinalis or Lavandula vera–these are synonyms for Lavandula angustifolia!

Did you know that there are more than 40 named varieties of Lavandula angustifolia, also known as English lavender? Some of those named varieties can be found at your local nurseries with names like Hidcote Lavender or Munstead Lavender.

Lavandula angustifolia is one of the hardiest species of lavender plants. So, if you’re growing lavender in a colder climate, you’ll have a better chance with this species.

And with the renewed interest in culinary lavender, this species will also be your best candidate when growing lavender as a culinary herb. Any other species will contain too much camphor to be appropriate for using in your favorite shortbread cookie recipe.

The best way to plan your lavender garden is to decide how you want to use the aromatic harvest, then choose your lavender plants.

In the class I discuss the different varieties to choose for many uses and hardiness demands. You’ll learn why Lavandula x intermedia ‘Grosso’ really doesn’t work well for culinary recipes!

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Growing Lavender from Seed

Seed Propagation for Lavandula

The Drawbacks

There are three primary reasons I do not propagate from seed:

  • The resulting plants will vary from the source plant.
  • Difficult to germinate without specialty equipment and chemicals.
  • The effort is beyond my patience!

Additional drawbacks include:

  • Limited seed availability.
  • Seed is being mislabeled as named cultivars such as Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote’ or ‘Munstead’ when the resulting plants will have variations and therefore are not true to the original plant.

Given these challenges, propagating lavender from seed does not meet my goal to provide systems with the highest probability of success for my students.

All of that said, I decided to provide this additional information for those who may be interested in plant variety development where the cross-pollination and therefore seed propagation is necessary.

Starting lavender from seed may also be the most efficient and least expensive way to produce a quantity of plants for oil production when it’s the species you want, not necessarily the individual plant characteristics.

The following information is from coursework I had in plant propagation at a local community college. It is supplemented with information from personal experience, interviews with growers as well as Internet research.

Lavender From Seed

  • Use a sterile seed-starting mix in a tray with bottom heat available.
  • Higher germination rates occur if the seed is fresh.
  • According to Michael A. Dirr in The Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation no pretreatment is necessary before sowing Lavandula angustifolia seed. It has been reported though that seeds soaked in 200ppm GA3 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GA3) and kept at 50˚ to 68˚F for 16 hours and 86˚F for 8 hours germinated greater than 90%.
  • Seeds benefit from light while germinating so only cover lightly when sowing. (You may be interested in Temperature and Light Effects on Germination of Lavandula stoechas Seeds)
  • Germination occurs around 70ºF to 75ºF and will take two or more weeks.
  • Once germination occurs, allow one to three months for root and top growth to develop before transplanting into 3″ to 4″ pots.
  • Adding fertilizer to the sterile seed-starting mix in the tray can help jump-start the plants. However, caution should be taken since it can invite fungus in cool, humid situations.
  • Once transplanted, when the seedlings are approximately 3 inches tall, allow another three months or more before transplanting into a larger pot or into the garden.
  • Be sure to use your Plant Propagation Record to keep track of your process. As you experiment, your records will help you avoid failure and duplicate success.

Are you still with me? I do not actively propagate lavender from seed for reasons already noted. I have potted up several un-named volunteers from several cultivars of L. angustifolias in my garden. None resemble the parents but they provided a few fragrant cups of lavender tea and a few sweet sachets.

The Resources

Plant Propagation

Dirr, Michael A., and Charles W. Heuser, Jr. The Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation. Athens, Georgia: Varsity Press, Inc., 1987.

Hartmann, Hudson T., et al. Plant Propagation: Principles and Practices. 6th ed. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1997

Books on Growing Lavender

Upson, Tim, and Susyn Andrews. The Genus Lavandula. Portland, Oregon: Timber Press, 2004.

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Lavender Uses

Lavender Uses

fresh lavender in a basket
One of the top questions I hear when I’m at the farmers market is, “How can I use lavender?” So often my customers simply buy the bundles for a fresh lavender floral display then toss the stems once they’re dried! What a shame when you consider how many ways you can use lavender in your home. Over the years I’ve been collecting hints and tips for using lavender to help my customers make the most of their fresh lavender bundles throughout the year. So here for you, I present:

Five Wonderful Things You Can Do With Lavender
Without Sewing, Gluing, Nailing or Painting!

Sweet Lavender Tisane
“Tisane” is a tea made from dried fruit, flowers, and/or berries. Be sure to use culinary lavender for this recipe. Place 3 tablespoons of fresh lavender flowers in a teapot (1½ T if using dried). Add 2 cups of boiling water. Allow the flowers to steep for 3 or 4 minutes, strain and serve with a slice of lemon and honey.

Mosquito Repellent
Lavender straw is the leftover stalks and branches from processing the dried buds. It’s quite useful as a fragrant and effective insect repellent. Toss a handful of the straw onto the barbecue or picnic fire. It will repel flies and mosquitoes!

Lavender Sugar
Process 1 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons lavender in a blender just until the flowers are crushed. (Be sure to use only culinary lavender.) Sieve out large pieces and store sugar in a glass jar at least one week before using. Sweeten a cup of tea for a fragrant break from your busy day. This sugar will keep for about three months.

Lavender Hair Rinse
Lavender makes a good hair rinse especially for gray hair. Steep a handful of fresh or dried lavender flowers in a pint of boiling water. When it cools, strain it and use as a final rinse water after shampooing.

Lavender’s on the Loose!
When you change your vacuum cleaner bag, sprinkle 2 tablespoons of dried lavender buds on the floor. Vacuum them up and you will gently freshen the room each time you vacuum.

PLEASE NOTE: We can’t know just what kinds of physical reactions or allergies some individuals might have to substances discussed in this brochure. For this reason, please use caution. Labyrinth Hill cannot assume responsibility for the effects of using the ingredients as described.

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