The cultivation of lavender

The cultivation of lavender

The term lavender derives from the verb “to wash”, the plant it owes its name to its good perfume: being used in soaps or to perfume drawers, it is typically associated with an idea of ​​good and clean. When it blooms in the garden it is an explosion of color and this delicious aroma spreads in the air.

The lavender bush it beautifies the environment but is not simply ornamental: it is a very useful plant and brings many benefits to the garden, attracting beneficial insects and lending itself to various uses, from cooking to scented decoration.

The reasons for start a lavender crop they are therefore multiple:

  • Ornamental plant. With its splendid purple flowers it perfumes and embellishes the environment
  • Attracts beneficial insects. With its flowering in the garden it attracts bees, valuable insects for pollination.
  • Medicinal properties. Lavender is also a medicinal plant with positive properties for well-being.
  • Aromatic useful in the kitchen. Although little used in recipes, the plant also has interesting culinary applications.
  • Use of dried flowers. Its dried flowers can form garlands or be used to perfume linen
  • Lavender honey. For beekeepers, lavender is also excellent as a melliferous plant, from which to obtain a very precious honey.

The plant of lavender officinalis

In gardening, lavender (lavender officinalis) is widespread for its aesthetic qualities: her bushes remain fairly tidy, generally remaining within 50 cm in height and filling the space of the flowerbed dedicated to her with dense colored vegetation grey green. with long and narrow leaves.

It's about a perennial herbaceous plant that does not require much maintenance, in particular it is satisfied with little water and is not afraid of drought.

THE lavender flowers are the classic purple ears, very decorative and appreciated for the aforementioned perfume.

Exist many varieties of lavender, there are no substantial differences in the cultivation of one or the other.

Climate and soil suitable for lavender

Climate. Lavender is a great plant resistant to heat and dryness, withstands dry summers, thrives well in sunny locations and likes the wind. There are varieties that also have good resistance to cold and are therefore suitable for cultivation throughout Italy, both in Mediterranean areas and in the north.

Soil and fertilization. This plant looks for light soils and without water stagnation, also lives well on arid and stony soil, mainly calcareous and not very acid. It is a very modest herbaceous plant in terms of the demand for nutritional elements, therefore fertilization can be avoided at the time of planting. Being perennial, it is however good practice to renew the organic substance with periodic and moderate contributions of compost or mature manure.

Propagation of lavender

To start cultivating you need to get the lavender seedlings: we can do it starting from the seed, with a cutting from an existing plant, or obviously by buying the seedlings ready in the nursery to be transplanted.

Sow the lavender seeds

Propagating lavender from seed is not very simple: it is a cultivation that requires special conditions to germinate, it has seeds that are difficult to germinate. For this reason, the advice is to avoid the seed crop and buy a seedling already formed or reproduce it by cuttings.

With a little patience, you can still choose to look for lavender seeds or reproduce them on your own. The best method is to put the seeds for two months in the refrigerator, in order to simulate a winter, starting from the end of February we can then proceed with the sowing in the seedbed, remembering that the germination times are long.

Propagation by cuttings

Cutting is a technique that allows you to reproduce the plant starting from the branch of a mother plant, it is better to do it in spring (approximately in April).

Lavender is very simple to take root in cuttings: the branch to choose must be at least 10 cm long and with at least three leaves (better 5), chosen from the side ones without flowers.

After cutting the sprig you need to peel the leaves of all its lower part and put it in a jar with mixed sand soil. It is necessary to water regularly, since good humidity is needed to root. Within a year, a lavender plant is ready for transplanting.

Plant the lavender

After having bought or reproduced the lavender plant it is time to plant it in the field, a very simple operation.

Sixth of implant. There is no real planting layout for lavender, it depends on the type of flower bed you want to create. In any case, we must keep in mind that it is a plant that expands and therefore it is advisable to keep a minimum of half a meter between the plants.

Cultural care

Lavender is a very simple species to grow on the ground

Irrigation

Lavender is a plant that is not particularly afraid of drought. For this reason you need to wet only when the ground is very dry and in any case do not overdo it with watering. In most climates, lavender plants can stay in the vegetable garden or garden even without ever being irrigated, contenting themselves with seasonal rains.

Management of weeds

The lavender plant does not need mulching, being herbaceous easily colonizes the entire flower bed dedicated and its dense vegetation does not leave much room for weeds. For this reason, the control of weeds on already formed lavender bushes is simple and requires very rare interventions.

Delimit the cultivation bed

It may be convenient to delimit the lavender bed with barriers (wooden planks, bricks or stones), in order to safeguard the rest of the garden from the expansion of lavender and not having to eradicate it periodically.

How and when to prune lavender

Lavender must be cut every year, pruning is the only really important cultivation operation if you want to keep this aromatic in the garden.

The purpose of pruning lavender is manifold:

  • Keep the bush tidy.
  • Keep the plant young, preventing it from going to lignify
  • Stimulate flower production.

The correct time to prune this medicinal plant is the end of summer, once flowering is complete. If necessary, to adjust the flower bed, you can also intervene in early spring (by the end of March) with a second cut.

When pruning this officinal, the first operation to do is a topping by cutting just below the flower, in this way the bush is kept at a regular height. We then proceed by thinning the stems to promote ventilation and eliminating the parts of the plant that expand outside their borders at the base.

Cultivation of lavender in pots

Lavender is a flower that can also be kept in a vase, as long as you have one available very sunny position.

The pot indicated for growing it can have any shape but it must be large, especially in width. The soil to be used must be fairly basic and it is better to mix it with river sand.

During cultivation it is necessary wet regularly but in moderation, with targeted interventions when the soil begins to dry out, too much water can cause the plant to die. In this regard it is also very important that there is a drainage at the bottom of the container, expanded clay balls are perfect but gravel can also work.

Lavender harvesting and drying

Collection. It is very easy to understand when to harvest lavender: since the flowers are used for this aromatic, the right time is when the flowering spikes begin to form, which happens in the summer. To pluck the stems are cut, preferably using scissors and without tearing. The long stem is convenient for making bouquets that can also be used to hang the flowers to be dried.

Drying. The time of drying is important for keep the scent of the flowers. As with many other medicinal herbs, lavender also dries in a shady and windy place, traditionally bunches of lavender are hung under the arcades of the farmhouses.

Uses of lavender

Lavender is typically used for perfume, mostly in the drawers of clothing and linen: you can make small bags by putting dried flowers in small canvas bags. It can be a great way to recycle the bags of confetti that accompany the favors.

For the medicinal uses, cosmetics and in general to extract the perfume, the essential oil is obtained from lavender, due to the complexity and the need for specific equipment, it is a procedure that is implemented by those who cultivate by profession. Lavender is attributed with disinfectant and beneficial properties for the respiratory system, while in aromatherapy it is used against stress and to relax.

Cooking with lavender

Although it is not often used as an aromatic herb, lavender has many culinary applications, we find it especially present in the blends of dried Provencal aromas. Dried flowers can be used in desserts, cheese sauces, jams and risottos. By mixing lavender and coarse salt, a flavored salt is obtained that goes well with meat. An interesting application is insert the lavender into the baked product mixture, to obtain scented loaves or biscuits. You can too aromatize vinegar and wine.


Video: Grow Lavender from Cuttings