by M.L. Wells, Master Gardener Volunteer, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Allegany County
When I gave visitors a tour of my gardens in July during the From the Earth event held by Allegany County Cornell Cooperative Extension, one visitor was amazed by my flourishing lavender plant. She asked, “Mine always dies, why does yours look so great?”
As with most things, knowledge is power! To be a successful gardener you need to understand your plant’s needs, then apply a liberal amount of elbow grease and persistence.
Lavender is a Mediterranean plant. We have been told our winters were too cold to grow this beautiful, fragrant plant, and that is partly true. However, there are some varieties, such as Munstead and Hidcote, which will thrive here if – if! – their feet are kept dry and if the pH of the soil is close to 7.
So here’s the plan. Pick a spot where the rain water doesn’t stand in any season. For one plant, dump a bucket or two of sand and dig the sand into the top 6-8 inches of soil. Plant high. Don’t be afraid if the soil mounds after adding two buckets of sand – that is a good thing. Mulch with 2 inches of pea gravel. Test your soil’s pH and add lime to raise the pH or sulfur to lower it as the test indicates.
My lavender has a home in a 20 x 4 foot raised mound with a southern exposure (sun all day). It shares this space with other herbs and flowers (sage, thyme, pasque flower and thrift) that thrive in a well-drained soil of neutral pH.
If you make your plants happy by attending to their growing needs, then you will be happy too.
Editor’s note: You can plant lavender now!