Lots To Learn about Lavender
Updated: Mar 29
There's so much to learn about lavender! Let's start with the basics by answering some of the most often asked questions from our friends, guests, and customers.
How frequently do I need to water my lavender?
It’s best to water more often as your plants establish themselves, and then each subsequent year, you can decrease the amount of water they receive. Lavender HATES soggy “feet” and will end up with root rot if left too wet. Also, for your first year, remember to nip any young buds off the plant so that it can put more of its efforts and energy into the roots!
Which lavender can be used for culinary purposes?
Surprisingly, most lavender can be used in cooking and baking. However, some types of lavender, like x intermedia, or hybrid lavenders, can be more camphoric (think, strong and woody) than other lavenders. However, Provence is a hybrid (x intermedia) cultivar that is used often in culinary pursuits. Typically, most lavender used/grown for culinary purposes are true lavenders, or lavandula angustifolia species as it is less camphoric and has more floral notes. There are some types of lavender, however, that are too strong for culinary usage: Lavandula stoechas, lavendula dentata, and lavandula lanata are highly camphoric and will give you the impression that you are eating soap, so stay clear of these types of lavenders for cooking.
What type of lavender will grow in my yard?
That totally depends on your climate (think, Climate Zones), your garden’s micro-climate, and the type of lavender you are looking to grow. First off, lavender needs to be planted in sandy, well-draining soil. Clay soils will need to be amended to grow lavender. You’ll also need to find a sunny and warm area for your new plants. Lavender needs at least six hours of full sun! Think about where you plan on planting your young lavender before putting it in the ground!
What’s the deal with bees and lavender?
Yes, it seems to be a bit trendy these days: Bees and Lavender… well, bees are just so important that we SHOULD be talking about them all the time. Without bees, there is no food. So, why NOT make the bees buzz in your yard? Buzzing bees means happy bees. Bees need both nectar and pollen to be truly happy and healthy. Lavender produces both nectar and pollen. Why is this important? Well, nectar gives bees energy to flit from flower to flower. Pollen is typically fed to the hive’s larvae because it provides protein and nutrients to keep the whole hive strong and healthy. Pollen is also dispersed between the flowers as a bee goes from flower to flower. Without both, a bee colony can weaken and ultimately succumb to starvation and disease. It is always important to choose plants that provide both nectar and pollen. Lavender provides both AND it is a true dazzler!
To be organic or not to be?
We should want to know where our food comes from and if any dangerous chemicals have been used in the growing of our food. The “USDA Certified Organic” label helps guide us in our choices. “Organic” labeled food is important for people to consider what went into the process from soil to fork. Lavender is a resistant and sustainable plant that really needs no pesticides nor herbicides for its growth. Many smaller lavender farmers, like myself, have not become Certified Organic due to the costs involved and the lengthy certification process. We understand the desire for organic products and this will be something we continue to monitor as our business grows.
Do I have to prune my lavender every year?
Simply…yes. You want to make sure that your plants are prepared for the winter by cutting back the material so that your plant doesn’t waste valuable energy when it should be dormant. If you don’t, expect more woody undergrowth and shorter stems as the plant matures. Be careful in your pruning, though. You never want to cut into the “woody” part (about an inch below the last leaf on the stem). If you do, you will probably mortally wound your lavender baby. Also, make sure you keep your trimmers clean…Plants, like humans, can pass disease on to other plants. You can keep them clean by spraying your shears with a organic disinfectant (like a water and white vinegar solution or simply isopropyl alcohol).