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How to help your Lavender plant thrive

Plant ABC

Words by Ben Earl

Illustrations by Elena Boils

Latin Name: Lavandula 

Family: Mint

Native to:  Europe, Africa, Asia and North America

Spotted in: Queen Elizabeth’s favourite jam

Life Cycle: Perennial  

Soil: Well-drained, slightly alkaline soil

Special Power: Helps us to trust others

More to offer besides its lovely scent

From insect bites to insomnia, its many medicinal properties have got your back. Throughout history, it has been used in this pursuit. In 1922 it was found in Tutankhamen’s tomb, and after 3000 years it still smelled great. Lavender also has many culinary perks. It can be used fresh, dried or have its oil extracted to flavour drinks and food. The oils are also used in cosmetic and medicinal products for its aroma which are said to aid sleep, give healthier skin, and improve digestion.

Sun is Lavender’s best friend

So it’s best planted between the months of April and May just as the soil starts to warm up and the danger of frost has passed. For us Europeans, a species called English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is suited to cooler climates. That said, you should still be wary about leaving your Lavender to the harsh winter elements, so find somewhere that provides a small amount of shelter during the colder months.

A drought-tolerant plant

This comes in handy given its love of the sun. This can be both a blessing and a curse. Its ability to survive without a lot of water makes lavender very low-maintenance. Just make sure there’s a way for excess water to drain away otherwise your plant could become waterlogged. To improve drainage, mix some sand or gravel into the soil to provide a way for excess water to escape. If you can’t avoid dense soil, it’s best to grow the lavender in a container.

It's happiest at 20 degrees

If you’re planting outdoors there’s not much you can do to control the temperature but knowing your environment helps. Lavender thrives at about 20 degrees but can survive temperatures as low as -20. Any colder than this might cause some issues.