Fertilizer for lavender plants

Fertilizer For Lavender: When To Feed Lavender In Gardens

Lavender is a fantastic plant to have around – it looks good, it smells amazing, and it can be harvested for use in cooking and making sachets. It’s also extremely easy to care for, as long as you know how to do it. Keep reading to learn more about when and how to fertilize lavender plants.

Fertilizing Lavender Plants

Lavender is a tricky plant to grow, though its needs are actually very simple. But time and again gardeners find theirs dying on them. Why is this? More often than not, the plants have actually been cared for to death.

Lavender needs very little water to survive, and it’s frequently drowned by well-intentioned gardeners who think they’re doing it a favor. And the very same thing goes for fertilizer.

How and When to Feed Lavender

Lavender plants really prefer nutrient poor soil. Fertilizing lavender too heavily may cause it to grow excess foliage and never flower (particular if the fertilizer for lavender is rich in nitrogen) or it may flat out kill it.

This isn’t to say that lavender plant feeding is completely out of the question – it’s all just a matter of doing it right. The best (and only) time for fertilizing lavender is in the springtime at the start of the growing season. The easiest and best thing to do is to put down an inch (2.5 cm.) of good compost around the plant. This should provide plenty of nutrients for the year to come.

Alternatively, you can feed your lavender with a small amount of slow-release fertilizer. Once you’ve done this, leave it alone. Fertilizing lavender too much can hurt it. Don’t fertilize in the fall, either. This will make the plant produce tender new growth that will only get damaged or killed in the winter.

With lavender plant feeding, a little really does go a long way.

How to fertilize Lavender Plants

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Step #1: Select the appropriate type and size of growing pot. Be sure to know the mature diameter of the lavender and choose an appropriate container. Lavender is shallow rooted, so the pot does not need to be a tall one.

Step #2: Check out for the pots’ drainage hole which should be at the bottom of the pot.

Step #3: Fill the pot with well-draining soil or organic potting mix at almost the ¾ mark of the pot.

Step #4: Place the lavender in the pot ensuring that the crown is placed slightly above the potting mix. (Approximately 2 cm)

Step #5: Using the remaining potting mix, fill up to few centimetres to the top of the pot.

Step #6: Firm the mix to remove any air pockets and water lightly

Step #7: Use a thin layer of mulch for moisture retention.

​Lavender plant care: How to take care of your pot lavender

Water your lavender whenever necessary

Water your lavender when the soil is dry to touch and drench so that water flows freely out the bottom of pots.

Carry out deep watering every 7–10 days for the first two years and as your lavender continues to develop, watering will be required if there is a drought.

Tip: Lavender is drought resistant so take caution not to over water as this may lead to root rot.

Learn how to water your potted plants and keep them healthy.

Expose your lavender to as much sunlight as possible

Lavender requires up to six hours of direct sunlight per day (full sun).

These hours can either be continuous or broken. The more hours your lavender receives light the better it is for its enhanced blooming and oil production.

To maximize the exposure move your plants around during the day and prune back any trees surrounding your landscape.

You can also use a bright/ white colored mulching material e.g. straw, to reflect sunlight up to your lavender.

Apply mulch to conserve moisture

Apply light mulch up to the plant crown for moisture retention as well as to suppress weeds.

Getting a bright white colored mulch is good for rapid growth and air circulation so your plants dry out fast after watering or rain.

There are several types of such mulches including turkey grit, shells or gravel and straw all at pocket friendly cost.

Remove the weeds regularly

Remove any weed or creeping ground cover regularly to avoid competition for nutrients. Regular weeding also allows good air circulation hence better crop performance.

Apply an appropriate fertilizer

Feed your lavender every week with a balanced water-soluble slow release fertilizer alternatively, you can use fish meal emulsion or compost tea.

Some gardeners use alfalfa pellets (slow-release organic food with triacontanol – a growth stimulant) and do work well too.

Fertilizing lavender too much can hurt it. Don’t over-fertilize lavender as this will only cause harm rather than good to it.

Avoid fertilizer application during the fall because this will make the plant produce tender new growth that will die in the winter.

Tip: Make sure to read the instructions on the label before anything else.

Renew your lavender by pruning

Remove all bud shoots as soon as the little green buds start to form in the first growing season of a newly planted lavender plant.

This helps your lavender to have a vigorous vegetative cycle which encourages a larger, hardy and strong plant ready for surviving the first winter.

Another reason for removing all bud shoots during the first growing season is that you get to enjoy more yield during the second and third year.

You can prune during any season but it’s advisable to prune only during the harvesting of lavender bundles to avoid losing valuable buds.

It also reduces the number of times you need to prune your lavender.

Early spring (March through May) is the best time to prune by removing any dead branches all the way down to the plants bottom.

Early spring pruning encourages vegetative growth especially when followed by nitrogen application.

In case of a harsh winter season, prune the entire lavender bush down to the bare woody hedge. After heavy pruning, the plant is likely to be stressed, make sure you do the following;

  • Keep it well watered
  • Fertilize with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer
  • Keep a close watch for pests or signs of disease

Once you do this, your Lavender plants will be back stronger and healthier and give you a few more years of enjoyment.

How to harvest mature lavender

Harvesting lavender is best done early in the morning as the blossoms will retain most of the perfume oils when dried and its fragrance is the strongest then.

Cut the stems slightly above the first set of leaves when the lowest blossom opens since color will be more vivid when dried.

The more you cut blooming stems the more the growth and the plants can flower up to three times during a summer.

Tie the harvested lavender in bundles and hang them upside down in a warm dark place to dry.

Common Pests and Diseases

Lavenders are not easily affected by diseases but fungal infection may occur due to cold wet soils.

If your plant shows symptoms like; yellow, wilting or dying leaves and discolored root tissue, there is a high chance that your lavender has root rot. This disease is caused by over-watering plants hence can be managed by reducing number of times you water the crop.

Although lavender can tolerate most pests, this doesn’t mean that it is completely invulnerable to pests. White flies are very attracted to lavender plants.

They feed on sap from the underside of the leaves and although the may not kill your plant, they usually cause unattractive damages to your crop.

You can control white flies by hand removal or by use of a strong stream water spray especially for adult white flies.

Use of reflective mulch or aluminium foil for mulching is effective in repelling white flies

Conclusion

You’ve just read how to grow your lavender in pots. Therefore, if you have to forget everything in this article, please keep in mind the following takeaway points;

  • The growing media should be well-drained, low- fertility.
  • Lavender thrives well under full sun (6 hours and more).
  • Pruning should be done annually.
  • Always use light reflecting mulch (brightly colored)
  • Harvest by cutting lavender stems when the lowest blossom opens.

With these tips, growing lavender in pots has never been this easy.

Back to you – have I left out any important information? Let me know in the comments.

Lavender Main Types

Extremely popular, Lavender (Lavandula) includes 39 different species, which are cultivated in temperate climates either as ornamental plants for the landscape or for the extraction of essential oils. Sun lover, this perennial or herb thrives in well-drained soil, is drought tolerant and pest or disease resistant. Colors, flower or leaf shapes, bloom times, hardiness vary across varieties. Since it can be confusing to know which lavender plant is right for your garden, here is a brief summary of the top 5 varieties.

Lavandula angustifolia – English Lavender

  • Also called True Lavender or Common Lavender, this type of lavender is often associated with the famous purple fields of Provence. It is not native to England, but to the Mediterranean.
  • Flower colors vary from blue-purple, lavender, violet-blue, or white-pink, depending upon cultivar
  • Wispy inflorescences adorn the tips of each upright stem from early to mid-summer, creating drifts of “cool” colors that sway in the summer breeze
  • Aromatic when brushed against or crushed
  • Gray-green to green-purple foliage of narrow leaves in the summer and silver-green to gray-bronzed in the winter
  • Forms 2-3 feet (60-90 cm) upright clump of small, semi-woody, semi-evergreen perennial
  • Performs best in poor, sandy soil with good drainage.
  • Hardy from zones 5 – 9
  • Great for formal or informal edging along walkways, raised walls, borders, rock gardens and in mass plantings. This is also the “queen of herbs” for herb gardens.

‘Nana Alba’

‘Hidcote’

‘Little Lottie’

Lavandula dentata – French Lavender

  • Also called Fringed Lavender, this evergreen shrub is native to Eastern and Southern Spain and derives its name from the toothed (dentate) leaves which have a richly, aromatic lavender-rosemary scent.
  • Showy compact flower heads with light purple bracts on top. Corollas a light lavender blue, sterile bracts a slightly deeper color.
  • Blooms nonstop from early summer to fall and nearly all year if given enough light and warmth.
  • Not as fragrant as other lavenders but the spikes are very colorful.
  • Bright gray-green leaves with toothed leaf margins and a strong camphor-lavender or rosemary-like scent.
  • Forms a 12-36 inches (30-90 cm) upright, medium-sized shrub with medium length spikes
  • Has an inflorescence (spike) that has reduced sterile bracts
  • Hardy from zones 8 – 9

Lavandula x intermedia – Lavandin

  • Lavandin (Lavandula x intermedia) is a popular hybrid lavender combining the cold-hardiness of the English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) and the heat tolerance of the Portuguese Lavender (Lavandula latifolia), therefore providing an answer to the many gardeners’ worldwide quest for a Provencal atmosphere in their gardens.
  • Long spikes of highly fragrant flowers, from dark violet to white
  • Profuse blooming from mid to late summer
  • Both gray-green foliage and flowers are extremely aromatic
  • Grows in a shrubby compact mound up to 30 inches tall (75 cm)
  • Hardy from zones 5 – 9
  • Great candidate for mass planting, hedges, herb gardens, borders, rock gardens or as accent plants.

‘Provence’

‘Phenomenal’

‘Grosso’

Lavandula latifolia – Portuguese Lavender

  • Also called Spike Lavender, this lavender is native to the western Mediterranean region. Its scent is stronger and more pungent than Lavandula Angustifolia scent.
  • Pale lilac flowers on long stems
  • Bloom occurs profusely from late spring to late summer
  • Broad coarse evergreen leaves.
  • Strongly aromatic shrub growing to 1-3 feet tall (30–90 cm)
  • Hardy from zones 6-8

Lavandula stoechas – Spanish Lavender

  • Also called French Lavender or Butterfly Lavender, this type of lavender is native to the Mediterranean and Northern Africa. Grown for its silvery aromatic leaves, it is used extensively for essential oils or potpourris. The very distinctive flowers, however, steal the show with their “ears” sprouting from each flower head.
  • Distinctive deep purple flower with a pinecone shape and upright flower petals.
  • Bloom occurs profusely, almost continuously, from mid spring to late summer
  • Flowers are not fragrant but the silvery foliage is very aromatic.
  • Forms a 18-24 in. (45-60 cm) bushy evergreen mound
  • Hardy from zones 8 – 9
  • Tolerates higher levels of humidity than English lavenders.
  • Great in mass planting, as ground cover, in containers.

‘Royal Splendour’

‘Ballerina’

pedunculata subs. pedunculata

Soil
Lavender plants and rosemary plants require well-drained neutral to alkaline soil, although Lavandula stoechas subsp. stoechas (which always grows in acid soil in the wild) and to a lesser extent Lavandula x intermedia, can thrive in slightly acid soil. If your soil is naturally good for growing rhododendrons and heathers add lime to raise the pH. About a handful per square metre in early spring should be sufficient. In heavy soil mix in grit when planting to improve drainage and plant on a slight mound. Wet soil in winter can have a terrible effect on half-hardy and frost hardy lavenders and it is wet soil, rather than frost that is more likely to kill these plants.

Site
Plant lavender and rosemary in a sunny position or at least where they are in the sun for most of the day. Don‘t grow them under a leaf canopy. Many can be grown in pots (see below).

Spacing
For informal plantings we recommend 45cm-90cm (18in-36in) between plants, depending on their eventual size. Planting in groups of three is very effective. For hedging, lavenders to 60cm (24in) and rosemaries may be planted 40-45cm (15-18in) apart. For a formal lavender hedge use one type – the effect is stunning! Any of the angustifolia and x intermedia lavenders make a fine hedge as do all upright rosemaries.

Planting in the Garden
Ensure the soil and site are as described above. Moisten the plant compost, but do not waterlog. Dig a hole and add a dusting of bonemeal to the hole, and the soil removed from it, and mix in. Fill the hole with water and allow to drain away. Place the plant in the hole and fill to the level of the compost around the plant and firm in. In dry conditions water the soil around the plant, but do not over water. It‘s easier to add water than to dry out the soil! Be attentive in the first few weeks after planting, especially if the weather is dry.

Planting in Pots
Tender and half-hardy lavenders and dwarf lavender and rosemary are ideal for 30-40cm (12-15in) terracotta pots and look particularly impressive on the patio. Use a mix of one third each of soilless compost, John Innes No.2 or 3 and coarse grit. For feeding, pop in a plug or two of slow release fertilizer, which should last all season. Short plants are great for growing in pots, but watch out for the fibrous roots of all lavender stoechas species and cultivars and the vigorous root systems of all rosemaries. Both will need potting-on regulary.

Watering
This should be unnecessary after establishment, except plants in pots which need frequent watering during summer. See also Overwintering below.

Feeding
Little feeding is required, although a sprinkling of potash around the base of plants will encourage more prolific flowering and improved flower colour. Don‘t add bulky manure or high nitrogen feed as your lavenders in particular, will grow very sappy and flop open.

Harvesting
Most lavender for culinary use is harvested when in full coloured bud before the individual flowers open. They can be added to ingredients while fresh or can be dried first.
To use lavender for drying and pot-pourri, harvest just before full-bloom and hang upside down in bunches in a dry dark room.

Overwintering
Tender and half-hardy lavenders and frost hardy lavenders grown in pots should be given protection in light, airy conditions. These plants need very little water from November to February. Wait until the pot is noticeably lighter or even until plants start to wilt and then water only on top of the compost. Never water over the foliage in winter. These plants find still, moist air rather unpleasant!

Pruning
We field more enquiries on how to prune lavenders than on anything else, so some detail is required. It‘s very important task that demands a strong constitution, because generally the harder the lavenders are pruned, the longer they will last. They require different treatment according to hardiness (see below).

Hardy Lavenders
These normally flower just once, but may have a weak second flush after pruning. To keep them really under control don‘t be frightened to chop them back to just 22cm (9in) or about a third into the foliage immediately after flowering… they love it! It‘s particularly important to be severe with the x intermedia lavenders, even if you have to sacrifice some late flowers. If there‘s a good smattering of small shoots visible below where you cut they‘ll grow strongly even from old wood, but beware, no shoots means no plant next year as your lavender will die. The exception is Dutch lavender, such as Dutch Group, Fragrant Memories and Lullingstone Castle. These flower well into autumn so just remove the flower stems then and prune into the foliage when the sap’s up, usually in March. If pruned at the correct time, new growth should leave lavenders overwintering as lovely leafy hummocks. Expect hardy lavenders to last up to 20 years, half that on a heavy clay soil.

You can even try to save that old gnarledlavender that has an arm‘s length of bare wood topped with a mass of growth. Prune to within a hand‘s width of the bare wood to see if this encourages sprouting further down the plant. If it does sprout, then when you next prune do the same again, until you can‘t see the ground beneath the plant. Of course if it doesn‘t sprout after the first prune put it on the bonfire and enjoy it‘s last lingering smoky perfume… and then buy some more!!

Hardy lavender pruning

Unpruned mid-August Pruned mid-August Prune to expose tiny shoots to light Mid-September leafy fresh growth

Frost Hardy Lavenders
Typically these have ‘ears’ and because they flower from spring to autumn it‘s difficult to know when to take the plunge. A general guide is to prune hard to 22cm (9in) immediately after the first flowering – observing the small shoots rule above under Hardy Lavenders. Dead-head for the rest of the flowering period, with possibly just a light trim to polish off the season, but no later than mid-September. Expect these lavenders to last 5-10 years.

Half-Hardy and Tender Lavenders
These are the toothed and three-headed exotics that flower almost continuously, so there never seems to be an opportunity to get out the secateurs! Generally, dead-head throughout the year with the occasional severe prune, as outlined above, to keep the more vigorous forms in shape. After a severe pruning keep the compost on the dry side until you can see a moderate flush of new growth. Expect these lavenders to last five years… so try some cuttings or save seed.

Lavender use

Culinary
Lavender has long been used for its distinct culinary qualities and this is a growing trend with more adventurous cooking and cosmopolitan tastes. All our lavenders can be used for culinary purposes, but some are more preferable than others!

We don’t have the space here to give complete recipes, but have provided a few hints and tips!

Individual flowers, and on stoechas lavender also the ‘ears’, can be used as edible decoration on salads and cold desserts. Use fresh flowers if possible as the colours are more vibrant. Use chopped stoechas lavender leaves in vanilla ice cream to add an extra tang!

The main lavender ingredient in recipes are the calyces (‘flower pockets’ as we call them) or grains of angustifolia and used more sparingly, x intermedia. Use about twice as much fresh lavender as dried. Harvest lavender when the heads are in full colour, but before the flowers come out. Use the grains whole or chopped or bruised to release the flavour. Store in a sealed container for later use if required. Start by using a little and increase quantities according to taste. Adding too much can give a bitter taste, although the flavour mellows once cooked.

One of the easiest ways to transform food, giving it a beautifully floral flavour, is to use lavender sugar in place of plain sugar. Mix it about a month in advance to enable the flavour to infuse. To use directly in scones, biscuits and shortbread mix up to a tablespoon of grains per dozen. We can particularly recommend lavender honey either as it comes or with lavender grains added.

Try mixing lavender with other herbs in a vegetarian pizza or goats cheese tartlets to produce a floral herbal flavour. Chicken, lamb and salmon are also suitable savoury dishes where lavender can be used effectively either as whole flower spikes, grains or as a rub in oil or with other herbs. Add about 1 teaspoon of fresh lavender to boiled or sautéed potatoes. Use lavender stems as skewers to flavour barbecued food.

The latest book we thoroughly recommend for inspirational mouthwatering lavender recipes is Sharon Shipley‘s ‘The Lavender Cookbook’. Lavender can be used in place of rosemary where that herb is commonly used. Just double the amount used.

Medicinally
Lavender is one of the most highly prized plants for medicinal use. It is well known as an antiseptic and anaesthetic and is fantastic for relieving anxiety and stress. A few drops of oil on a pillow will help with sleep. Lavender is commonly and increasingly used as an oil in aromatherapy and is great as a massage oil for relieving muscular tension and rheumatic pain. Lavender oil can be used to soothe burns, insect bites and stings.

Decoratively
Dried lavender is used in bunches, bags and pot-pourri for its scent and as a moth and insect repellant. Around the house dried lavender is better than any canned or plug-in air freshener for getting rid of nasty niffs and giving an air of calm – and being real lavender it smells better too!
It almost goes without saying that lavender is well known in perfumery.

Whether your landscape aesthetic is an English cottage Lawn Service or a minimalist, green landscape with well-placed bursts of purple blooms, lavender (Lavandula) is a house gardener’s favored. This herb is grown because of its grayish-green foliage, flowers and Lawn Care that range in colour from light to its fragrant fragrance and deep purple. And for the gardener who enjoys the benefits of the herb, the oil, petals as well as lavender blooms find their way to living-rooms, the kitchen and bathrooms. However do not neglect to water and feed this multi-use perennial.

Before you Stump Removal lavender blend compost together with the soil. To to add compost, perform the backyard shovel to the indigenous soil until it’s effortlessly manipulated. Add a 2- to 4 inch layer of compost and mix the soils till completely mixed. Although this herb will grow in soil that is weak and is hardy, it is going to thrive and bloom abundantly in a compost- atmosphere that nourishes the plant as well as the root-system. You generate your own or can buy compost at your neighborhood nursery. If it’s easily accessible, farm manure is also an ideal soil modification. Fertilize the plant soon after after planting.

Bone meal and lime combine equal parts of compost in a bucket; and blend before the the weather are mixed in springtime following the frost that was standard.

Scoop out about 1 teaspoon of the mixture, and sprinkle a circle of your home-made fertilizer across the root of the plant. If you don’t want to create your own fertilizer, a total fertilizer or an easy application of lime will also feed this hardy plant; nevertheless, because lavender is vulnerable to over-fertilization, use all fertilizers in moderation

Water the lavender instantly to soak the fertilizer to the soil and until its roots are moist, about 6 to 8″ deep, with respect to the dimensions of the plant. It’s possible for you to insert extended dowel or a chopstick to the earth to decide how deep the soil is moist. Lavender doesn’t like wet feet therefore infrequent — every seven to 10 times soaks are preferred by it.

Add still another program of the compost, fertilizer and bone meal by the end of the subsequent cold temperatures to prepare the crops for spring growth.

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