Why lavender?
Lavender is an incredible plant. It's a hardy
perennial, actually more like a semi-shrub,
and it's one of the most versatile as well as one
of the most beautiful plants there is - a virtual
feast for the eyes and the other senses as well.
Soil: Lavender needs loose, well draining soil. If your soil is heavy and contains clay,
you will need to amend it with some sand and organic matter. The biggest destroyer of
lavender plants is moisture - if the roots stay wet, they can rot, so it is imperative that
where you plant your lavender gets good drainage.
Sun: Lavender grows best and it flowers best in full sun, although it can be grown in
partial sun.
Water: Lavender plants that are newly transplanted will need some attentive
watering, like any perennial. However once established, lavender is very drought
tolerant and during the summer months we rarely water our lavender plants.
Fertilizer: Lavender is very sensitive to over fertilization. Do not fertilize with those
granuals that you can normally toss out around the perennial/herb garden - they will
burn up your lavender! When we establish a new bed, we will work some kind of organic
fertilizer into the soil, like llama, sheep, rabbit and best -
chicken - manure. (Although
we are not "organic," we farm organically - we do not use any chemicals on our plants)
Vermiculture (worm compost) is also very good for lavender beds. In the fall we will top
dress around the lavender again with loose, dried manure. Lavender does prefer a
sweeter soil, so you can amend with lime.
Mulch: Do not mulch lavender! Those traditional mulches will hold too much
moisture at the base of the plant. We use a mixture of 50% sand/50% limestone sand to
top dress our lavender beds.
Weeding: Like any plant it's important to keep weeds under control, because they
rob the plants of vital water and nutrients. I hand weed, which is tedious, but also keeps
the gardens looking their best.
Pests: The only insects I have seen on our lavender plants are spittlebugs, which are
harmless and only lay their eggs in early spring under certain weather conditions. They
do not eat the plants.
Disease: Lavender is very disease resistant and very hardy. Plants can live 10 years
in full production - I've even seen an "Old English" lavandin plant that is over 25 years
Pruning: Pruning the lavender once a year is very important. I prune in early spring
before new growth starts. Take 1/3 of the entire plant off, reshaping into a nice mound
shape. Some lavender plants can get very "leggy" and they may need more attention to
keep them in a nice shape. If you don't prune lavender it will develop a woody center
and new growth will stop. The lavender will then sprawl and flower only on the outside
edges, not in the center. Think of lavender as a semi-shrub and treat it that way and you
will be happier with the look of the plants.
Harvesting: Harvest the flowers for their end use. For a fresh bouquet, pick when
in full color and scent. For dried bundles, the stems must be harvested before the florets
completely open. If you wait too long, they will just fall off when they are dried. If you
pick them too soon, they will not have obtained good color. I check the gardens daily in
the summer and harvest from each plant variety as it is ready. Pruning shears and
scissors work, as do sheep shears. I take a handful of stems and cut them off at their
base on the plant and wrap with rubber bands. If they are going to be dried, I then hang
them upside down. Drying takes about 2 weeks, but is dependent upon humidity. Keep
good air circulation and store your bundles out of direct sunlight.
Certification: Our nursery stock and perennial beds are inspected and certified by
the USDA.
Lavender Products
available from
The Lavender Fleece.
In our display gardens and our field rows, we are growing hardy angustifolias and many
lavandins as well. We are in growing zone 5 here in mid-Michigan and have found that - for
the most part - lavender does very well in our climate. Below is a list of lavenders we have
had in the garden over the years.
Angustifolias: Ashdown Forest, Betty's Blue, Buena Vista, Bowles Early, Compacta, Croxton's Wild,
Folgate, Graves, Grey Lady, Hidcote, Hidcote Pink, Irene Doyle, Jean Davis, Lady, Loddon Blue, Maillette,
Martha Roderick, Melissa, Munstead, Nana, Nana Alba, Rosea, Royal Purple, Royal Velvet, Sachet, Seals
Seven Oaks, Skylark, Susan Belsinger, Twickle Purple, Victorian Amethyst, Wyckoff
Lavandins: Abriallii, Cathy Blanc, Dutch, Dutch Mill, Fred Boutin, Giant Hidcote, Grappenhall,
Grosso, Lullingstone Castle, Old English, Provence, Sawyers, Seal, Silver Edge, Super and White Spike.
Lavender Essential Oil
We do not distill lavender at our farm. It takes 500 lbs.
of lavender flowers to distill
1 1/2 lbs. (24 oz.) of
essential oil. Our small farm cannot produce that much
lavender. Lavender oils are produced in England,
France, Bulgaria, Hungary, Tasmania, New Zealand
and Australia. Very limited oil production is being done
on the west coast of the United States. Over 86,000
acres of lavender are now being farmed world wide.
The lavender oils that we use in our soaps and
products are the very best quality pure essential oil. Be
careful not to purchase lavender "products" made out
of chemical derivatives, i.e. fragrance oils.
oils do not have the aromatherapy benefits that the
pure essential oils do.
Primary Properties and Applications
Skin Care:  Lavender oil has antiseptic/bactericidal,
anti-inflammatory and cicatrizant (wound healing)
properties. Uses include first-aid remedies for minor
cuts, bites, burns and stings. As a deodorant and
antiseborrhoeic, lavender oil is also used to combat
acne, eczema, seborrhoea and spots.
Soothing Remedy/Pain Relief:  Lavender is also an
analgesic, muscle decontractant and anti-spasmodic
agent and can be used in conditions that involve
spasms or pain such as rheumatism, arthritis, muscle
aches and pains, cramps, toothaches, earache, period
pains or indigestion.
Stress Relief:  Lavender has a regulating effect on the
nervous system with its balancing and harmonizing
nature. Being an extreme adaptogen, it can have a
restorative effect in cases of listlessness or weakness,
but conversely has a calming effect on hyperactivity or
agitation. It's one of the best stress relievers known
and also helps with insomnia.
Secondary Applications:
Lavender has fungicidal qualities and is a prophylactic
agent and immuno-stimulant. It is useful as a
preventative agent protecting against colds, flu, etc.
Lavender also has anti-toxic, anti-venomous, vermifuge
and parasiticidal properties as well as being an effective
insecticide and moth repellant.
For more information about how to use lavender
essential oil, please read Julia Lawless's book
"Lavender Oil: Nature's Soothing Remedy" from which
this information was gleaned.
"Tho' an old man,
I am but a young gardener."
                      --Thomas Jefferson