- Cold Hardy Lavender Plants: Tips On Growing Lavender In Zone 4 Gardens
- Tips for Growing Lavender in Zone 4
- Lavender Varieties for Cold Climates
- Vermont Garden Journal: Rosemary And Lavender
- The power of essential oils and how they work
- History & usage
- Buying Lavender Plants
- A Guide On Buying Healthy Lavender Plants
- Buying Lavender Plants via the Internet or Mail
- Grow Lavender
- How to Grow Lavender
- Lingering lavender
- I am interested in starting a small lavender farm. Can you recommend which…
Cold Hardy Lavender Plants: Tips On Growing Lavender In Zone 4 Gardens
Love lavenderbut you live in a cooler region? Some types of lavender will only grow as annuals in the cooler USDA zones, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up on growing your own. Cold hardy lavender might need a little more TLC if you don’t have a reliable snow pack, but there are still lavender plants for zone 4 growers available. Read on to find out about lavender varieties for cold climates and information about growing lavender in zone 4.
Tips for Growing Lavender in Zone 4
Lavender requires plenty of sun, well-draining soil and excellent air circulation. Prepare the soil by tilling down 6-8 inches and working in some compost and potash. Plant the lavender out when all danger of frost has passed for your area.
Lavender does not need lots of water. Water and then allow the soil to dry out before watering again. In the winter, prune back the herb’s new growth by 2/3 of the stem length, avoiding cutting into the old wood.
If you don’t get a good reliable snow cover, cover your plants with
straw or dry leaves and then with burlap. This will protect cold hardy lavender from drying winds and chilly temps. In the spring, when temperatures have warmed, remove the burlap and mulch.
Lavender Varieties for Cold Climates
There are basically three lavender plants suitable for zone 4. Be sure to check that the variety has been tagged a zone 4 lavender plant; otherwise, you will be growing an annual.
Munstead is hardy from USDA zones 4-9 and has lovely lavender-blue flowers with narrow, green leafed foliage. It can be propagated via seed, stem cuttings or get plant starts from the nursery. This variety of lavender will grow from 12-18 inches in height and, once established, requires very little care with the exception of some winter protection.
Hidicote lavender is another variety suited to zone 4 that, like Munstead, can even be grown in zone 3 with reliable snow cover or winter protection. Hidicote’s foliage is grey and the flowers are more purple than blue. It is a shorter variety than Munstead and will only get to about a foot in height.
Phenomenal is a new hybrid cold hardy lavender that thrives from zone 4-8. It grows much taller than either Hidicote or Munstead at 24-34 inches, with the taller flower spikes typical of hybrid lavender. Phenomenal is true to its name and sports silver foliage with lavender-blue blossoms and a mounding habit much like the French lavenders. It has the highest amount of essential oil of any lavender variety and makes an excellent ornamental specimen as well as for use in fresh or dried floral arrangements. While Phenomenal thrives in hot, humid summers, it is still very hardy with a reliable snow cover; otherwise, cover the plant as above.
For a truly eye popping display, plant all three of these varieties, placing Phenomenal at the back with Munstead in the middle and Hidicote at the front of the garden. Space Phenomenal plants 36 inches apart, Munstead 18 inches apart, and Hidicote a foot apart for a glorious assemblage of blue to purple blossoms.
Vermont Garden Journal: Rosemary And Lavender
These two common Herbs de Provence are both perennials in the mint family and have a multitude of uses as food and medicine. And rosemary and lavender are both hard to grow in Vermont.
Rosemary is one of those essential herbs for cooking. I love rosemary roasted potatoes with garlic and olive oil. Lavender certainly is also used in foods, but mostly is known as a perfume. If you’ve every traveled in a Mediterranean region, you’ll also see these plants used in landscapes as shrubs and even low hedges.
But let’s get more practical. Here in Vermont both can be difficult to grow. These heat lovers need a well-drained soil. Clay won’t cut it, so either plant in raised beds or in containers. It isn’t just the absolute cold that can kill them. Poorly drained soil stays consistently cool and damp and is a sure recipe for disaster. The English varieties, such as ‘Hidcote’ and ‘Munstead’, are the most reliably hardy to zone 5. Lavenders also like an alkaline or chalky soil, as they English say, so add some lime to the beds. In November, cover lavender with bark mulch or wood chips to insulate it from the cold and wind.
Instructions for overwintering rosemary are easy. You can’t. Since no varieties are hardier than zone 6 treat them as an annual, or pot up plants to bring indoors in fall. Grow small varieties such as ‘Arp’ or the trailing ‘Prostrate’, if growing in a pot. In September, place the container in a shady outdoor spot for a week or two to get acclimated to low light, then bring it into the house. Keep the soil moist and place in the sunniest spot possible.
And now for this week’s tip, check broadleaved evergreens, such as rhododendron and holly, that have dead leaves on them. If the stem is still green when cut, leave the shrub a few more weeks to see if it will leaf out. If not, replace it.
Next week on the Vermont Garden Journal, I’ll be talking about companion planting. Until then, I’ll be seeing you in the garden.
- Growing Rosemary
- Growing and Using Lavender
Lavender is known for its antiseptic, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. True Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is the best variety to use for healing and aromatherapy, as the hybrid oils are much higher in camphor, and are more stimulating than calming. Lavender essential oil has been a prominent and important part of history, bringing clarity, peace of mind, emotional balance as well as healing and overall wellness to the body. Lavender is one of the most versatile essentials oils.
The power of essential oils and how they work
It’s more than just a fragrance
Essential oils are made from plant materials through an extraction process, often steam distillation. Essentials oils are very powerful and should be diluted for safe application. One drop of essential oil is equivalent to 3-4 cups of plant matter! Essential oils used for wellness and aromatherapy are most commonly applied topically or inhaled gently through the nasal passages.
Applying products made with essential oils to our skin—our largest organ—is a very effective way to experience the holistic benefits of the oil. When using the inhalation method, the vapors stimulate your olfactory nerve, thereby signaling your limbic system and your brain, specifically the amygdala and hippocampus, which all then respond by releasing serotonin, which is known as the “happy hormone.” Serotonin is what calms us and makes us feel good. Inhaling essential oils also directly strengthens and helps to support our immune system.
All products made by Lavender Essentials of Vermont contain a 2% dilution rate
This means we add the highest level of quality therapeutic grade essential oils to each of our products, to give you the safest, maximum holistic benefits that we can.
History & usage
Lavender has been grown and used throughout the centuries. The botanical name for lavender is ‘Lavandula’. The genus name stems from Latin ‘lavandus’, meaning to be washed, or ‘lavare’, to wash. Most believe lavender originated in the Mediterranean, and the Romans were known to have used lavender oil to perfume baths and linens. Their soldiers dressed the injured men’s wounds with lavender oil in order to soothe burns, and stimulate the growth of skin cells.
In the middle ages, lavender was used in aromatherapies, aiding in things such as grief, fatigue, faintness, and helping with relaxation and sleep. Lavender has been used throughout the years as an insect repellent, for sunburns, and as a skin healing aid. It is even thought to help ward off evil spirits. Lavender has been used in culinary delicacies, and for internal herbal remedies. Lavender is also used to treat acne, earaches, aching muscles, depression, eczema, stress, psoriasis, and tension headaches.
Buying Lavender Plants
Pruning Lavender – What You Need To Know
A Guide On Buying Healthy Lavender Plants
How to buy lavender plants and what to look for is a guide to use when you’re at the garden center, on the internet or ordering via mail order.
When handling plants for inspection at a garden center ask an attendant to help you inspect the plant. This will prevent plant damage for the next buyer and business owner’s plant inventory.
- Is it healthy?
The leaves should be a nice dark green color with no brown spots or dead leaves. Lavender is similar to the rosemary plant. If there’s any sign of brown or crispy leaves then the plant maybe dying and should not be purchased. This is caused by nutrient deficiency, over watering or caused by insect damage.
- Is it root bound?
The plant should not have its root growing in a ball or around and around on the bottom of the pot. If the roots are tangled and growing in circles then its root bound. Take the plant gently from its pot container and inspect the bottom. If you see roots growing outside the pot through the little air/water holes then it’s crowded and overgrown.
It’s still a viable plant, but it may take longer to adjust and start growing normally when its planted. If a root bound plant is purchased just spread the roots out gently when planting it into your herb garden. Use either a pencil or your finger to separate the roots. Water well and watch for stress or disease.
- Is there insect damage?
By this I mean take a real look at the plant to see if there are any insects around the roots. Pill bugs love to eat lavender plants.
- Has this been propagated by cuttings and ready for sale?
Check the plant by gently turning the pot over and tap out the plant into your hand. If this is a new transplant you will not see any new root growth. If there are a few roots and you see new leaf growth then this plant is a good choice for purchasing.
- Buy the plant
If none of the above are present then purchase the plant. A good idea is to make a note of this company’s healthy plant practices and staffs attention to plant care.
- If you buy lavender plants from a supermarket, hardware store or big box store they may be priced low for a reason.
They usually are not attended too like garden centers. Ask when these herbs we’re stocked. Refer to 1 through 4 to make sure the plant still meets the buying guidelines. You can ask an attendant for help inspecting the plant too.
Buying Lavender Plants via the Internet or Mail
This one is more challenging because you don’t know whether you have a healthy plant until it’s been delivered. This is what I’ve learned and use as a guide.
- Is this a reputable company regarding their guarantee?
- Do they allow you to receive a credit if the plant has been delivered when it’s been damaged?
- If there’s been insect damage can you get a refund, or can they send you another plant ASAP?
- If you notice there has been damage – a broken stem or insect damage then contact the supplier quickly.
I could actually see the pill bugs around the plant and soil from one company I purchased my lavender plants.
- What type of credit will they give you – either store credit or an actual refund?
- If this happens again next year are you willing to continue to do business with them? Sometimes it may be a mishap that happens and doesn’t happen again. I’ve learned to inspect my purchased plants as soon as they arrive and take them out of the boxes they’ve been shipped in. Water them a little and place them in my garage or sunny spot until I can plant them within a week or so. Sooner is better because these plants are in shock just from being transported long distances.
Lavender’s reputation is derived primarily from its smell. However, the herb is extremely versatile in cooking, cleaning & healing.
Lavandula (common name lavender) is a genus of 39 known species of flowering plants in the mint family, lamiaceae. The most common cultivar of lavender is English lavender (lavandula angustifolia). That is where we got our start with our initial 1200 plants.
Lavenders flourish best in dry, well-drained, sandy or gravelly soils in full sun. The Loess Hills of Iowa were perfect for lavender as the loess dirt on a gentle slope naturally drains water. All types of lavender need good air circulation and little or no fertilizer. In areas of high humidity, root rot due to fungus infection can be a problem.
We originally planted almost all English lavender, with plans to start oil production. English lavender yields an essential oil with sweet overtones, and can be used in balms, salves, perfumes, cosmetics, and topical applications. We use oil only from English Lavender in the production of our bath and skin care products. The winter of 2014 delayed our oil production with the death of so many plants, it takes roughly 3 years for a plant to mature and produce a meaningful amount of oil through distillation.
Lavender essential oil has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. It has been used medically for centuries. Roman soldiers used lavender to dress battle wounds. In 16th century lavender was used as protection against the Plague, and Queen Elisabeth used lavender tea to treat her frequent migraines. Lavender oil is commonly used today as a home remedy for acne, insect bites, burns and head aches. Several studies have attempted to quantify lavender’s relaxing effects and promotion of sleep (I wasn’t able to find any information with conclusive results).
Lavender has many culinary applications as well. A savory flavor, it is most commonly used in flavoring tea and in herbes de Provence. Our most popular culinary application on the farm is in our lavender sugar cookies. Lavender yields abundant nectar and bees in the vicinity of lavender produce a unique and high quality honey. Our bee colony died last winter, we plan to establish a new hive hive next spring.
There are so many great applications for lavender. We encourage you to visit during any one of our many events and explore what lavender has to offer.
How to Grow Lavender
Grow lavender in your home garden! Lavender plants grow best in hot, sunny spots with well-drained soil. Keep your lavender plant happiest with a soil that doesn’t stay wet or soggy for extended periods. If you have a lot of heavy clay, grow lavender in containers or raised beds. Because lavender is a shrub, you should not prune it back to the ground in spring like you do perennials. Trim it back lightly for best results. When cutting lavender flowers, it’s best to cut the steam all the way back, where the leaves come out. Keep these gardening tips in mind when growing lavender plants in your home garden!
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Over the years, the popularity of lavender has been building like the scent itself — in a sweet, subtle way. In fact, the plant, once associated with all things French, has become the second most widely used herb in the United States. (Can you guess what’s No. 1? If you said basil, give yourself a pat on the back.)
Although grown for its unique shape and gray-green color, lavender is most prized for its incredible scent, which is derived from oils within the leaf and flower. When distilled, those oils are used in everything from cosmetics to laundry soaps to sunscreens.
But you don’t have to go to the drugstore to get a whiff of lavender. You can grow your own.
Lavender isn’t difficult to grow, even here in Minnesota. It just requires plenty of sun and well-drained, alkaline soil, said Theresa Mieseler of Shady Acres Herb Farm in Chaska.
But not all lavenders are winter-hardy. Mieseler said that several of the English lavenders (including Lavandula angustifolia, Lavandula angustifolia ‘Munstead’ and Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote’) have proven to be “pretty hardy,” although she does mulch the plants with straw or leaves in mid- to late November.
If you don’t want to bother overwintering lavender or want a plant that blooms profusely the first year, Mieseler recommends planting French lavender.
Most lavenders bloom in late July to early August. If you want to use the blossoms, harvest them early.
“You want to get them when they’re in bud form, before they open up,” said Mieseler.
However, both the leaves and flowers carry the scent, so you can harvest lavender even when it’s not in bloom.
Here are some ways to use lavender:
• Bundle sprigs of lavender in cheesecloth or netting and place them in the linen closet. The fresh scent will linger on pillowcases and bath towels.
• Cut fresh flowers and stems and use them to cloak musty odors in poorly ventilated rooms.
This plant does indeed live up to its name. While most other lavenders have proven to be finicky growers, usually dying back in late winter, Lavender ‘Phenomenal’ (Lavandula x intermedia ‘Phenomenal’) sails through with ease. It is a variation of Lavender ‘Grosso’, itself a cross between two species, and was discovered by Peace Tree Farms of Pennsylvania. The admirable traits that set this new plant apart are disease resistance, vigor, winter hardiness (Zone 5) and tolerance of heat and humidity. In addition, the fragrant flowers are well presented and excellent for fresh cutting or drying. The elegant silver foliage can be used for cooking or oil production. If that weren’t enough, the plant is also deer and rabbit resistant. As with all lavenders, good drainage helps to ensure success. Lavender ‘Phenomenal’ is truly a phenomenal improvement for Midwestern gardens.
Common Name: Lavender
Botanical Name: Lavandula x intermedia
Varieties/Cultivars to Look For: ‘Phenomenal’
Color: Lavender purple
Blooming Period: Late May to July
Type: Perennial herb
Size: 24 to 32 inches
Exposure: Full sun
How to Plant: Combination pots or beds; 24 inches apart
Soil: Very well-drained soil
Watering: Average moisture. Do not overwater.
When to Prune: Cut flowers for fresh or dried arrangements. Prune foliage in spring.
When to Fertilize: Spring and summer only
In Your Landscape: Beds or pots
From Ohio Gardener Volume III Issue III. Top and bottom photos by Chris Baker; Middle Photo by F. D. Richards.
I am interested in starting a small lavender farm. Can you recommend which…
We are sorry to say that lavender is not reliably hardy in Minnesota Zone 4. The varieties hardiest for our area are the Munstead and Hidcote strains, but they often fail to survive our winters. Some gardeners mulch the plants heavily with straw after the ground freezes and then remove it in April as the soil thaws, but they don’t have success every year. Persistent snow cover aids survival and planting in a sheltered location may also tip odds in the plants’ favor. You might over winter lavender in a cold frame or grow it as an annual from seed. Some varieties flower in the first growing season. Most of the larger garden centers have lavender plants for sale in spring. Shady Acres in Chaska is an herb farm and grower that sells Munstead and Hidcote lavender among others. They have display gardens with lavender growing in them too.
Consider joining the Minnesota Herb Society or attending its meetings. Members may be able help you get started and share what they have learned about growing lavender here.
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