Growing Lavender: Tips and Tricks for a Flourishing Herb

Lemonade with lemons and lavender on stone table over nature background

Lavender offers many benefits, making it easy to stand out in your garden. It’s an excellent informal hedge, honey bee attractant and home fragrance. Learn more about growing lavender with these tips and tricks for a flourishing herb.

Choose A Healthy Plant

It might be a good idea to buy a starter plant instead of buying lavender seed. It can take some time for lavender to mature to its full size of two feet tall and wide. Start on the right track by choosing a healthy plant. It should have plenty of firm green leaves, and the young plants shouldn’t have any purple blooms yet. Avoid plants with brown spots where the lavender has suffered from overwatering.

You may notice there are a few variations of lavender available. French and Spanish varieties are better for humid areas and are grown as annuals. We recommend English Lavender for most of the Grand Canyon State because of its ability to thrive in a wide range of conditions.

Select A Sunny Spot

Lavender originates from the Mediterranean region and loves hot sun and dry soil. This makes it perfect for any Arizona garden. Choose a spot in the garden where the plant will have full access to sun as well as enough room to spread and grow to maturity. Place the starters 12 to 18 inches apart to encourage the plants to develop together to form a hedge. Lavender prefers to be in well-drained soil that gets good air circulation. Sloped areas are a favorite for this plant since it can establish in even the most precarious locations.

Consider mixing sand or gravel into the soil to help with draining issues. Lavender doesn’t do well in acidic soil so make sure to test your soil before planting. Similar to maintaining your lawn, the right fertilizer, like lime, will create an ideal condition for strong growth. Keep in mind the plant is a natural honey bee attractant. That could cause problems if planted too close to a central walkway.

Limit Water Once Established

It may take a few weeks for new lavender plants to establish. During this time, make sure to water the plants daily to help the roots grow into the new soil. Once the plants have had some time in the garden, limit watering to create the dry and arid conditions the plant needs. You may feel the need to water it often, but lavender does prefer less water than most other plants.

Prune When Necessary

You’ll notice many blooms in the summer which create a bed of gorgeous silver-purple color. Clip back any flowers that have died or faded to encourage the plant to grow more. It’s common to have a bare center spot in lavender plants that have grown too large. Prune the stems about halfway down during the spring to encourage new growth every year.

Experiment with Usage

A mature lavender plant can have between 300 to 400 blooms. So there are plenty of opportunities to experiment. Some people use the flowers as a fragrance in a potpourri or essential oils. Others use it for recipes and medicinal purposes. Many gardeners leave the plants alone throughout the year and allow the blooms to become a food source for the birds and bees. There’s no end to the ways you can use this fragrant and multi-purpose herb in your home.

Growing lavender in the garden is a great way to add beautiful color to your outdoor living areas. Consider these tips and tricks when growing lavender as a flourishing herb. –Nanette Walker

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