Planting Lavender is all about location and condition.
Lavender to me is romantic, fragrant, intense, healing and nostalgic. There are so many uses for lavender, from healing a sunburn to making a favorite recipe or using lavender as a top note in a perfume.
Lavender has been around for centuries and iis very popular today and will be for many years to come. The most frequently asked question is "Can I grow lavender where I live?". The best condition for growing lavender is a region with a dry summer. Too much humidity can cause mildew and fungus. Too much rain can cause root rot. Cold weather regions are also a challange. I believe where there is a will, there is a way!!
In conditions where the weather gets below 32 degrees, it is best to plant in containers so they can be easily moved into the basement, greenhouse or a room protected from winter weather. Also, keep in mind, that lavender loves the sun, so close to a window is the best location inside a home. If you get too much rain, using a container makes moving the plant to a shelter area much easier. When planting lavender in the ground, there are two key elements to remember:
1. Sun: plant your lavender in a location where your lavender gets a least 6 hours of sun.
2. Drainage: draining is important because lavender does not like to have wet roots, so if your soil is rocky that is ideal, if it is not try adding sand.
I live in Washington state and as most people know, we get our fair share of rain. My soil has excellent drainage; it is very rocky. I use sand around my lavender plants about an inch deep. The sand does several jobs, it adds to the drainage, it attracts heat during the day and as I said, lavender loves the sun, it also acts as a mulch to protect my plants during the winter.
Lavender likes an alkaline soil. The amount of hummus in the soil is important too, so chose a spot in your garden this is rich in compost or you can add a compose to your soil.
PRUNING YOUR LAVENDER
Whether in the ground or in containers it is good to prune your lavender. Cutting it back to just above where the green begins is best, but do not cut below the green or you could lose your plant. You should see at least 1 inch of green foliage. Pruning can be done in the spring just before blooming or in fall after summer blooming. While pruning don't forget to give your plants shape. If you don't prune lavender it will become too woody and not attractive with very few spikes of lavender. So remember this, pruning is a good thing...it will stimulates new growth!
HARVESTING YOUR LAVENDER
The harvest is what lavender farms wait for all summer, the pleasure of standing in the middle of your lavender fields is an amazing experience. The smell of lavender, the beautiful colors of the flowers and the feeling of peace that lavender brings fills you with such gratitude. It will reward you for all your hard work. You could easily spend an entire summer day taking in all of its beauty, that is the feeling I have when it's time to harvest.
A good time to harvest is in the early morning, right after the dew is dry on the flowers. The lavender spikes should be cut when most all the flowers have opened or if you want more color to your dried lavender, cut when half of the flowers have opened. Cut where the stems meet the leaves. Tie in bunches using a rubber band, hang upside down in a dry, dark place with good air circulation. Don't be concerned about the droppings from the lavender, those are just dried flowers that fall off, so if drying inside you might want to put something underneath your drying lavender to catch those extra droppings. In two to three weeks you will have preserved your lavender to use as you like.