F&F member Alan Horton blogs on a cheap and surprisingly easy way to grow lavender.
Lavenders are popular perennial garden plants found around the world. The varieties found most commonly in the UK are the Lavandula stoechas (commonly referred to as French lavender) and the Lavandula x intermedia or English lavender. Both make ideal rockery plants. Usually lavenders are grown from cuttings rather than from seeds. This method is considerably quicker and has a high success rate. Some people do still grow lavender from seeds which, although much slower, can be immensely rewarding.
Choose your Variety
Timing is important when growing lavender. Both the Lavandulas stoechas and Lavandula X intermediate can be grown at any time however the best time to sow would be early spring when the soil temperatures are starting to rise.
Asides from the personal satisfaction that can be gained from growing your lavender plants from seed, it can also be a lesson in frugality as growing from seed is considerably cheaper than buying cuttings when you first start out growing lavender. Seeds can be purchased from garden centres, supermarkets and online so are easy to get hold of.
Tips and advice
Despite lavender being hardy perennial garden plants they need to be well tended during their first few weeks. Ensure you follow these steps and take care of your seedlings and you will have your own home grown first harvest ready to add to the garden alongside your other rockery plants.
• Prepare some seed cell trays, bearing in mind that these trays will later need to be transported to the garden so that the plants can find their permanent home.
• Fill the seed containers with a growing soil that is not too unlike that which can be found where the plants will be put outdoors. Lavender plants take better to their outside area when the soil is similar to that which they have germinated in.
• Moisten the soil until it is damp, not wet, and place the seeds one at a time just an either or an inch below the surface. Remember not to pack the soil down on top of the seed but to cover it lightly.
• Once the seeds are sown it is essential that they are kept moist, as fully grown plants lavenders are fairly self-maintaining perennial gardening plants but they do need extra attention at this stage. Striking the balance right between over watering the seedlings and under watering will make all the difference to the success of your plantings. Using a spray bottle is the best way to achieve the right balance.
• It can take from between twelve and twenty-one days for your seeds to germinate and until they do they need to be kept protected, damp, warm and in a well-lit area. Ideally the seedlings will get a minimum of ten hours’ good light a day, although fourteen to sixteen hours would be the optimum amount.
This is a simple process but one that needs to be done carefully so that you can grow your plants to be a strong and long lasting addition to your garden.
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