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With its distinctive fragrance and stunning purple blooms, lavender has the magical touch to transform any garden into a fragrant sanctuary. To master the art of growing this beloved herb, you need to understand its needs, from proper soil conditions to pruning techniques. 


Choosing An Ideal Place And Preparing The Soil


When it comes to growing lavender, the axiom “location, location” is especially relevant. This hardy and fragrant plant needs a sunny place where it can bask in the sun’s rays for at least six hours a day. The importance of adequate sunlight cannot be overstated; it’s a vital component for lavender, allowing it to flourish and create vibrant purple hues and heady aromas. Therefore, the first step is to look around your garden to find a place that receives generous sunlight during the day.


The search for the perfect place does not end with sunlight. The condition of the soil plays an equally crucial role in the health and vitality of your lavender plants. Lavender is adapted to survive in the dry, well-drained soils of the Mediterranean region from which it originates. It does not tolerate wet feet well, which means that heavy, wet, and clay-rich soils can lead to the death of these plants. To mimic local growing conditions and ensure lavender thrives, focus on improving soil drainage in your garden.


How To Make Your Garden Smell Amazing With Lavender
If your garden soil has heavy or clay soil, adding sand or gravel can greatly improve its structure and drainage properties. This amendment creates pathways that allow water to flow more freely through the soil, avoiding unwanted water pooling around the roots. Well-drained soil ensures that lavender roots stay dry enough to prevent rotting, but moist enough to promote healthy growth.


Another aspect to pay attention to is the level of soil fertility. Lavender’s hardiness means it prefers soil that isn’t too rich in organic matter. Overly fertile soil can lead to excessive leaf growth, which reduces the plant’s ability to produce the oils that give lavender its characteristic aroma. Instead, aim for slightly alkaline soil with a pH level of about 6.5 to 7.5. If you are unsure of your soil’s pH, test kits are widely available that can provide you with this information. If your soil is too acidic, add some lime to raise the pH to a level more conducive to lavender growth.


It is important to ensure that the location you choose will not be prone to waterlogging during rainy periods. Lavender does not do well in wet conditions, which can lead to root diseases. Assessing your garden drainage after a rainstorm can give you an idea of ​​potential problem areas. In areas where drainage may not be optimal, consider raising your beds or creating mounds. Planting lavender in these raised beds improves drainage and provides the roots with ideal growing conditions.


Planting And Caring For Lavender


If you are starting in nurseries, choose a day that is cool and overcast to make the transition easier for your plant. Dig a hole the same depth as the root ball, but twice as wide to allow enough room for the roots to spread. Before placing the plant in the hole, gently loosen the roots as this will encourage them to grow outwards rather than circle in the shape they are used to in their pot. Fill the hole with soil mixed with sand or gravel to ensure good drainage and water the plant thoroughly. This initial deep watering helps settle the soil around the roots and eliminate air pockets, providing a good start for the plant in its new location.


Sow lavender seeds in well-drained soil under a thin layer of soil, as they need light to germinate. Keep the moisture level constant without overwatering and you should see sprouts in two to six weeks, although it may take longer. Lavender grows slowly at first, so don’t be discouraged if progress seems slow.


Watering practices for lavender plants change as they transition from the planting stage to established growth. While young plants need constant moisture to develop a strong root system, mature lavender thrives with less water. Avoid overhead watering so that moisture does not settle on the leaves and cause mold. Instead, water near the base of the plant in the early afternoon to allow excess moisture to evaporate. Lavender tolerates drought well, so allow the soil to dry out between waterings. This drought stress prompts the plant to produce the oils that give lavender its fragrance.


Pruning is critical not only to maintain the shape and attractiveness of your lavender plants but also to promote vigorous growth and prevent them from becoming woody. At the end of summer, after the main flowering, cut the plants, reducing the growth by a third. It may seem extreme, but lavender is hardy and responds well to cutting. However, it is important not to cut the woody base of the plant, as this can damage it. Pruning encourages the plant to focus its energy on producing dense, fragrant foliage and prevents it from becoming leggy and sparse.


Fertilizer is another aspect of care but should be approached with care. Lavender does not require a lot of nutrients, and over-fertilizing can result in poor flowering and poor growth. If you do decide to fertilize, choose a slow-release, low-nitrogen fertilizer in early spring to give your plants a little boost without overwhelming them.


Fighting Challenges


Pests are a common challenge for lavender plants, with aphids, mealybugs, and whiteflies being the most common culprits. These small insects feed on plant sap, weakening them and potentially spreading disease. A strong spray of water from a hose can remove pests from the plant, a simple and environmentally friendly first line of defense. If infestations persist, introducing natural predators such as ladybugs or applying neem oil can provide effective control without resorting to harsh chemical pesticides that can disrupt the beneficial insect population in your garden.


Fungal diseases are another serious problem, especially in regions with high humidity. Root rot caused by excess moisture around the roots and powdery mildew are common problems. Ensuring proper soil drainage and air circulation around your plants is essential to preventing these conditions. If you are planting lavender in an area prone to these diseases, spacing the plants well can promote better airflow and reduce moisture retention on the leaves. Gardens with persistent fungal problems may require a fungicide application, although choosing a product that is safe for edible plants is paramount if you plan to use lavender for culinary purposes.


Environmental conditions such as extreme temperatures and improper soil pH can also cause problems. Lavender thrives in a soil pH range of 6.5 to 7.5, so testing the soil and adding lime or sulfur if necessary can create an optimal growing environment. In regions with harsh winters, protecting lavender with mulch can help insulate the roots from cold temperatures. In contrast, in very hot climates, ensuring your plants get enough water without overwatering is a delicate balance to maintain.


Dealing with challenges in your lavender garden also involves recognizing when a plant may not be suited to its current location or general climate. Lavender is adaptable to many conditions, but may not thrive in extreme conditions. Consulting local garden centers or agricultural extension services can provide insight into the best lavender varieties for your area and any specific care practices to overcome local gardening challenges.


Finally, regular inspections of lavender plants can be key to spotting problems early. By taking a proactive approach—detecting signs of disease or adverse environmental impacts due to pest activity—you can address problems before they escalate, ensuring that your lavender continues to grow healthy and happy.

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