ADD FRAGRANCE TO THE GARDEN WITH THE SUMMER FLOWERING LAVENDERS
If you want to add the combination of fragrance and color to your summer garden, the perennial lavenders are a must! Attractive foliage, showy flowers and fragrance combine to make lavenders a popular addition to any garden. Lavenders are easy to grow, in fact, they thrive on a certain amount of neglect.
Flowers of lavenders vary in shades of lavender to purple, with at least one variety that has pinkish white flowers. The small textured leaves tend to vary in shades of green-gray to gray, to almost white. Both foliage and flowers are aromatic on most varieties.
Uses In The Landscape
Since they are compact growing, lavenders can be used as low border plants, foreground perennials or they can be placed for spot color in the landscape. I think an ideal place to plant them is near the entry area, or on the patio, deck or lanai, where their pleasant fragrance can be fully enjoyed. The grayish foliage color blends well with other plants making them ideal plants to use in just about any sunny garden spot.
Lavenders grow best in full sun, although they will even do well in partial, sun and shade. They must be planted in soil that is well drained. This is one plant that does very well in containers, where drainage is good.
At planting time it is always a good practice to mix plenty of organic hums with the existing soil. Peat moss, compost, processed manure (the sterilized bagged manure) or well-rotted manure are some of the best types of organic humus to use. Mix one third to half of the organic humus with the existing soil.
First, water the container, as this will help keep the plant root intact. Next, gently remove the plant from the pots. If the roots are all matted and overgrown, gently loosen them with your fingertips. (Do not bare-root the plant.) Set the plant into its new planting hole and pull soil in around the root system. Be sure to set the plant in the soil at the same depth as it was previously planted. Then, water-in thoroughly with water and a mild solution of liquid fertilizer.
Lavenders are not heavy feeders, so if the soil is properly prepared prior to planting, there should not be a need to feed them again the first year. A light feeding with a 'rose type' fertilizer in mid-February in future growing seasons will help the plants develop a healthy uniform growth habit.
Once established lavenders do not require any special watering attention. They will do just fine when watered as you would most other types of garden plants.
If the plants should tend to get a little leggy, simply pinch or prune back the tip growth, to encourage bushiness. At the end of the season the plants can be sheared and shaped to help improve their appearance and to remove the unattractive spent flowers.
New plants can be started from seed, cuttings or divisions. The best time to start seeds is in mid-summer, cuttings can be taken in July or August and fall or earliest spring is the best time to divide lavenders.
Here are six of my favorite lavandula varieties:
L. Angustifolia 'Hidcote'. Grows 12 to 18 inches high and about 18 inches wide. Nice silvery gray, evergreen foliage. The deep lilac flowers are fragrant. Flowers in July and August.
L. Angustifolia ' Jean Davis'. Growth habit is the same as 'hidcote', except the flowers are pink to white. Bluish-green leaves are aromatic
L. Angustifolia 'Munstead'. One of the bushier compact growing varieties. May to august flowers are deep lavender. Foliage is grayish green.
L. Dentata candicans 'French Lavender'. Fine textured foliage is gray-green. Fragrant lavender flowers most of the summer. Plants grow 2 to 3 feet high and wide.
L. Stoechas 'Otto Quast' (Spanish Lavender). This one has been a winner in our garden. The 2 feet high spikes of purple flowers have been in bloom since mid-spring and will continue into late summer. Foliage is blue-gray and aromatic.
L. Latifolia 'English Lavender'. This old timer has fragrant spikes of lavender flowers in July and August. It grows 2 to 3 feet in height and width. Evergreen foliage. It is hardier than most varieties.
Needless to say, these are only a few of the outstanding varieties of lavenders. A visit to your local garden outlet may give you an opportunity to become aquatinted with others of special interest.