Lavender is a versatile and aromatic plant loved by gardeners. It has beautiful flowers and a soothing fragrance but requires proper care and attention at each stage of its growth. But what are the growth stages of this herb?
Lavender growing stages include planting, germination, sprouting, seedling appearance, budding, flower production, harvesting, and fruit production.
Herein is a detailed explanation of each stage and valuable insights to help you cultivate this remarkable herb successfully.
- 1 Preparation and Planting
- 2 Seed Germination
- 3 Sprouting
- 4 Appearance of Seedlings
- 5 Budding
- 6 Production of Flowers
- 7 Harvesting
- 8 Producing Fruit
- 9 Wrapping Up
Preparation and Planting
When embarking on the journey of growing lavender, begin with proper preparation and planning.
Selecting the Planting Site
Choose a location for your lavender plants that receives full sun exposure for 6 to 8 hours daily. Lavender thrives in warm and sunny conditions. Ensure the chosen spot has good air circulation as well.
Lavender thrives in well-drained soil with a pH level between 6.5 and 7.5. Clear the area of rocks, weeds, or debris before planting.
Loosen the soil to a 12-inch depth using a garden fork or tiller. This helps promote good root development and prevents waterlogging.
Organic Matter and Soil Amendments
Incorporating organic matter can improve drainage and nutrient content if your soil is heavy or clay-like.
Add compost, well-rotted manure, or old leaf mold to the soil and mix it thoroughly. This enhances soil structure, moisture retention, and nutrient availability.
Soil pH Adjustment
Lavender thrives in slightly alkaline soil. If your soil pH is below 6.5, you can raise it by adding agricultural lime according to the recommended rates.
Perform a soil test beforehand to determine the exact amount of lime required.
Lavender plants grow from seeds, cuttings, or purchased seedlings. Dig a hole larger than the plant’s root ball.
Place the lavender plant in the hole. Ensure its crown is level with or slightly above the soil surface.
Space lavender plants at least 12 – 18 inches apart to facilitate good air circulation and future growth. Proper spacing prevents overcrowding, which can lead to disease and pest issues.
After planting, water the lavender thoroughly to settle the soil around the roots. Water the plants deeply but infrequently, allowing the soil to dry out between watering sessions.
Choose high-quality lavender seeds from a reputable source. Fresh seeds have a higher germination rate, so try to obtain them from a reliable supplier.
Before sowing, you can enhance germination by stratifying the seeds. This involves chilling them in the refrigerator for about 1 to 2 weeks to simulate the winter conditions that lavender seeds naturally experience.
Select a well-draining seed-starting mix or create one by mixing peat moss and perlite. Fill a seed tray or tiny pots with the mixture, leaving a little space at the top for watering.
Sow lavender seeds on the soil surface, lightly pressing them into the mix without burying them too deep. Lavender seeds require exposure to light for optimal germination, so avoid covering them entirely with soil.
After sowing, keep the seeds consistently moist but not overly saturated. Use a spray bottle or a mist setting on a watering can to gently moisten the soil surface whenever it starts to dry out.
Place the lavender seed tray or pots in a warm location with temperatures between 70-75°F (21-24°C). You can cover the containers with a clear plastic dome to create a greenhouse effect that retains moisture and heat.
Germination is among the lavender growing stages. Lavender seeds take 2-3 months to germinate, although some varieties may germinate sooner. Be patient and maintain consistent moisture levels throughout this period.
Check the soil moisture daily and adjust the watering accordingly to prevent the seeds from drying out or becoming waterlogged.
Once the seeds germinate, tiny lavender seedlings will emerge from the soil. At this stage, provide them with ample sunlight, ideally 6-8 hours a day, and ensure proper air circulation. Water the seedlings sparingly to avoid overwatering.
Appearance of Seedlings
As the seedlings continue to mature, their leaves will undergo noticeable changes. Initially, the seedlings will have small, rounded cotyledon leaves, the first to emerge.
However, as they develop further, you’ll observe the growth of elongated leaves with a grayish-green hue. These characteristic leaves are one of the defining features of lavender plants.
As the seedlings grow, they will eventually outgrow their initial seed-starting containers. It’s time to transplant lavender seedlings into larger pots or directly into the garden when they develop a strong root system.
Thin out the seedlings by gently removing some of them, creating adequate space between each plant. This process allows the remaining seedlings to receive ample sunlight, nutrients, and airflow, which are crucial for their well-being.
When thinning out the seedlings, aim to provide enough space for each plant to thrive. Lavender plants generally require around 12 to 18 inches (30 to 45 centimeters) of spacing between them.
This spacing allows for proper air circulation, reduces the risk of diseases, and prevents overcrowding, which can lead to stunted growth.
You can also start pruning your lavender seedlings during this stage to encourage bushier growth. Pinch off the topmost pair of leaves or use sharp pruning shears to trim the top portion of the seedlings.
This pruning technique, known as “pinching,” stimulates branching and results in more compact and attractive lavender plants.
As the appearance of the seedlings progresses, it’s crucial to continue providing optimal care. Ensure they receive sufficient sunlight, ideally 6-8 hours a day, to support their growth.
Regularly monitor the moisture levels of the soil and water the seedlings when the top inch of the soil feels dry. Remember to water them sparingly to avoid overwatering.
Budding occurs in the second or third year of your lavender plant’s growth. Lavender is known for its slower growth rate, so it may take patience before you witness this delightful stage. The wait is worthwhile, as the buds will soon become vibrant and aromatic blossoms.
Observe the top portions of the stems carefully, and you will notice small, tight clusters of buds starting to develop.
These buds are the precursors to the beautiful flowers that lavender is renowned for. They may appear as small, rounded structures, and their color can range from pale green to purple.
Regular pruning is still necessary to maintain the plant’s shape and encourage optimal growth. Remove dead or damaged stems, and lightly prune the plant to promote air circulation and sunlight penetration.
As your lavender plants progress through the budding stage, you can look forward to the upcoming bloom of their magnificent flowers.
The buds will gradually open, revealing stunning blossoms with their characteristic fragrance and vibrant colors.
Production of Flowers
The latter part of lavender growing stages involves flower production. Lavender plants start producing flowers in their second or third year of growth, although this can vary depending on the specific lavender variety and growing conditions. Once they enter this stage, you can expect a burst of color and beauty to grace your garden.
Lavender flowers come in various captivating hues, including shades of purple, blue, and even pink. Different lavender varieties exhibit varying flower colors, allowing you to create a diverse and visually appealing garden.
As the blooms open up, they release an aroma that fills the air with a soothing and calming scent. This aromatic quality adds an extra dimension of charm to your garden and can be enjoyed outdoors and indoors.
Lavender flowers play a crucial role in attracting pollinators. This, in turn, promotes biodiversity in your garden and contributes to the overall health of the ecosystem.
To prolong the flowering period, you can employ a few strategies:
Deadheading: Regularly remove faded flowers by snipping them off just above the nearest set of healthy leaves. This process encourages the plant to redirect its energy toward producing new blooms.
Proper Pruning: After the initial bloom, consider lightly pruning the plant to remove spent flower stems. This can stimulate the growth of new buds and potentially trigger a second bloom later in the season.
Adequate Watering: Lavender plants require moderate watering during the blooming stage. Be mindful not to overwater, as excessive moisture can lead to root rot and impact flower production.
Once the lavender flowers have fully bloomed, you can start harvesting them. Harvesting time varies depending on the intended use—whether for culinary purposes or creating fragrant sachets and essential oils.
Harvest the lavender when about half the flowers have opened, cutting the stems just above the foliage.
After the flowering stage, some lavender varieties may develop small fruits, which are actually seed capsules.
These capsules contain seeds you can collect for future propagation. Allow the seed capsules to dry on the plant before harvesting and storing the seeds in a cool, dry place.
Understanding the different lavender growing stages is vital for successful cultivation. Each stage requires care and attention, from the initial preparation and planting to the final harvest. Follow the guidelines provided to enjoy the beauty and fragrance of lavender while creating a thriving garden filled with this beloved herb.