Lavender is an incredible plant. It's a hardy perennial, actually more like a semi-shrub, and it's one of the most versatile as well as one of the most beautiful plants there is - a virtual feast for the eyes and the other senses as well.
Soil: Lavender needs loose, well draining soil. If your soil is heavy and contains clay, you will need to amend it with some sand and organic matter. The biggest destroyer of lavender plants is moisture - if the roots stay wet, they can rot, so it is imperative that where you plant your lavender gets good drainage.
Sun: Lavender grows best and it flowers best in full sun, although it can be grown in partial sun.
Water: Lavender plants that are newly transplanted will need some attentive watering, like any perennial. However once established, lavender is very drought tolerant and during the summer months we rarely water our lavender plants.
Fertilizer: Lavender is very sensitive to over fertilization. Do not fertilize with those granuals that you can normally toss out around the perennial/herb garden - they will burn up your lavender! When we establish a new bed, we will work some kind of organic fertilizer into the soil, like llama, sheep, rabbit and best - chicken - manure. (Although we are not "organic," we farm organically - we do not use any chemicals on our plants) Vermiculture (worm compost) is also very good for lavender beds. In the fall we will top dress around the lavender again with loose, dried manure. Lavender does prefer a sweeter soil, so you can amend with lime.
Mulch: Do not mulch lavender! Those traditional mulches will hold too much moisture at the base of the plant. We use a mixture of 50% sand/50% limestone sand to top dress our lavender beds.
Weeding: Like any plant it's important to keep weeds under control, because they rob the plants of vital water and nutrients. I hand weed, which is tedious, but also keeps the gardens looking their best.
Pests: The only insects I have seen on our lavender plants are spittlebugs, which are harmless and only lay their eggs in early spring under certain weather conditions. They do not eat the plants.
Disease: Lavender is very disease resistant and very hardy. Plants can live 10 years in full production - I've even seen an "Old English" lavandin plant that is over 25 years old.
Pruning: Pruning the lavender once a year is very important. I prune in early spring before new growth starts. Take 1/3 of the entire plant off, reshaping into a nice mound shape. Some lavender plants can get very "leggy" and they may need more attention to keep them in a nice shape. If you don't prune lavender it will develop a woody center and new growth will stop. The lavender will then sprawl and flower only on the outside edges, not in the center. Think of lavender as a semi-shrub and treat it that way and you will be happier with the look of the plants.
Harvesting: Harvest the flowers for their end use. For a fresh bouquet, pick when in full color and scent. For dried bundles, the stems must be harvested before the florets completely open. If you wait too long, they will just fall off when they are dried. If you pick them too soon, they will not have obtained good color. I check the gardens daily in the summer and harvest from each plant variety as it is ready. Pruning shears and scissors work, as do sheep shears. I take a handful of stems and cut them off at their base on the plant and wrap with rubber bands. If they are going to be dried, I then hang them upside down. Drying takes about 2 weeks, but is dependent upon humidity. Keep good air circulation and store your bundles out of direct sunlight.
Certification: Our nursery stock and perennial beds are inspected and certified by the USDA.
|Lavender Products available from The Lavender Fleece.|
|In our display gardens and our field rows, we are growing hardy angustifolias and many lavandins as well. We are in growing zone 5 here in mid-Michigan and have found that - for the most part - lavender does very well in our climate.
Angustifolias: Ashdown Forest, Betty's Blue, Buena Vista, Bowles Early, Compacta, Croxton's Wild, Folgate, Graves, Grey Lady, Hidcote, Hidcote Pink, Irene Doyle, Jean Davis, Lady, Loddon Blue, Maillette, Martha Roderick, Melissa, Munstead, Nana, Nana Alba, Rosea, Royal Purple, Royal Velvet, Sachet, Seals Seven Oaks, Skylark, Susan Belsinger, Twickle Purple, Victorian Amethyst, Wyckoff
Lavandins: Abriallii, Cathy Blanc, Dutch, Dutch Mill, Fred Boutin, Giant Hidcote, Grappenhall, Grosso, Lullingstone Castle, Old English, Provence, Sawyers, Seal, Silver Edge, Super and White Spike.
|Lavender Essential Oil
We do not distill lavender at our farm. It takes 500 lbs. of lavender flowers to distill 1 1/2 lbs. (24 oz.) of essential oil. Our small farm cannot produce that much lavender. Lavender oils are produced in England, France, Bulgaria, Hungary, Tasmania, New Zealand and Australia. Very limited oil production is being done on the west coast of the United States. Over 86,000 acres of lavender are now being farmed world wide. The lavender oils that we use in our soaps and products are the very best quality pure essential oil. Be careful not to purchase lavender "products" made out of chemical derivatives, i.e. fragrance oils. Fragrance oils do not have the aromatherapy benefits that the pure essential oils do.
Primary Properties and Applications
Skin Care: Lavender oil has antiseptic/bactericidal, anti-inflammatory and cicatrizant (wound healing) properties. Uses include first-aid remedies for minor cuts, bites, burns and stings. As a deodorant and antiseborrhoeic, lavender oil is also used to combat acne, eczema, seborrhoea and spots.
Soothing Remedy/Pain Relief: Lavender is also an analgesic, muscle decontractant and anti-spasmodic agent and can be used in conditions that involve spasms or pain such as rheumatism, arthritis, muscle aches and pains, cramps, toothaches, earache, period pains or indigestion.
Stress Relief: Lavender has a regulating effect on the nervous system with its balancing and harmonizing nature. Being an extreme adaptogen, it can have a restorative effect in cases of listlessness or weakness, but conversely has a calming effect on hyperactivity or agitation. It's one of the best stress relievers known and also helps with insomnia.
Lavender has fungicidal qualities and is a prophylactic agent and immuno-stimulant. It is useful as a preventative agent protecting against colds, flu, etc. Lavender also has anti-toxic, anti-venomous, vermifuge and parasiticidal properties as well as being an effective insecticide and moth repellant.
For more information about how to use lavender essential oil, please read Julia Lawless's book "Lavender Oil: Nature's Soothing Remedy" from which this information was gleaned.