Today my thoughts and sense of smell is all about lavender! I stopped by the nursery this morning as they were unloading tray after tray of hardened off lavender plants!!! I was drawn to them and their exquisite fragrance. Needless to say I spent far too long selecting my six large plants to fill my wheelbarrow. I got two kinds, munstead which I need to research it seems to have smaller leaves and lower growth (12"-18")... and another that is larger when mature 18"-36". I'll put that in the center of the barrow. Then I decided to try and root some lavender from cuttings of the plants I selected. I followed directions found on several sites (I've included the most common below and this is what I followed.) We shall see what happens... I filled small peat pots with soiless mix and planted 50 sprigs after dipping in water and rooting powder .
IMPORTANT...rooting powder is poisonous, do not use near children. I wore gloves and be very careful about inhaling any. I did this planting outside.
I'm a little confused as to what I should do next, for now they are under plastic cover in my living room with a heat lamp warming them and not adding a lot of light. I'm always open for your suggestions or comments. I will look into that more tomorrow. I'll post the photos I took as well and post again in a month. It may work, may not...regardless I enjoyed the process. It proved to be very meditative. Oh and if they do grow, I have no idea what I'll do with them because one wheelbarrow wouldn't be enough room, pot and give as gifts I guess. : )
You can plant lavender in spring or fall in well-drained, slightly alkaline, sandy soil. Planting on mounds or in raised beds can help to promote good drainage if your soil isn't ideal. Select a sunny location, allow enough space for growth and good air circulation and plant with other plants that have similar water requirements. Add about one-half cup each of bone meal and chicken manure into the soil, mix well; place the plants in the holes; give them some water and watch your lavender plant grow. Water plants regularly the first year to ensure that they root well in their new surroundings and then they will be hardy and drought tolerant and need little or no water. Generally, Mother Nature can take care of the watering. Be careful not to over water since they don't like "wet feet." Depending on the variety and mature size of the lavender plants you choose, the plants should be planted 2-4 feet apart. In general, the use of fertilizers in not necessary and may cause excessive leaf growth and minimal blooms. I do, however, dig-in a small amount of bone meal (1/2 cup each) around my plants each spring. Flower stalks should be cut off the first year to encourage plant development rather than flower production.
Harvesting Your Flowers
Depending on the variety, lavender blooms are usually at their peak from late June through August. Harvest the flower stems on a dry day, in the late morning hours after any dew has evaporated. Fresh bouquets should be cut when about one-third to one-half of the flowers have opened. If you will be drying your lavender for bundles or buds for sachets, pick them when the flowers are about one-half open.
If you will be drying your cut lavender in bundles, each bunch should contain about one hundred stems. Wrap a rubber band around the bottom of the bunches and hang upside down to dry, in a well-ventilated, dry area, out of direct sunlight. When they are completely dry, about two to three weeks, you can either strip the buds from the stems for easier storage, or store them on the stems.
Pruning Your Lavender
Plants should be pruned in early spring or early fall to one-half to two-thirds of their size, leaving about 2-3 inches of green stems. Never cut into the woody part of the plant. The plants respond well to this pruning and it will help them maintain their attractive mounded shape. As summer progresses to fall, it's a good idea to remove all remaining bloom stalks and shape any straggly areas.
It's wise to purchase lavender plants rather than starting them from seed. Plants started from seed usually have a poor survival rate and the process is very slow. Lavender does root well from cuttings taken from mature plants in early spring. Take two to four inch cuttings, remove the bottom leaves, dip the end into water, shake off excess and dip into rooting hormone. Place carefully into pre-moistened potting soil. Water regularly, keep warm (heated from the bottom if possible) and wait about six weeks for the cutting to root.
Another method of propagation is called layering. Bend the lower stems of a mature plant and mound soil over them, leaving only the tip visible. It takes about six months for rooting to take place. You may then cut the rooted plant from the mother plant and transplant in a sunny, well-draining location.