OT Roses and Lavender

poorbutroserich(Nashville 7a)March 3, 2014

Hi. It's freezing here too. Have a question. I know roses and lavender are frequently suggested as companions but I thought lavender needed much sharper drainage than roses....
Since my roses are so young I really stay on top of them and watering...I drowned some of my salvias last year.
Is there a way to plant lavender with sharp drainage near a rose where the soil should be kept moist?
Wonder if we will have a long cool spring this year or just jump into the 80s?
I'm supposed to pick up some 1Gs own root at the vendor night for the NRS tomorrow. Don't see that happening as the expected low is 18...
Susan

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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

You don't have the right soil for lavender. It requires a pH over 7. If you have that, you can't drown it. Trust me. The Year It Rained, the lavender didn't even squeak. The balloonflowers rotted, and a few other things I didn't even know could rot, but the lavender smiled through it all.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 6:37PM
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lavender_lass(4b)

English roses and English lavender...match the climate to your other plants. If you use a Spanish or French lavender, it might get overly watered, but English lavenders like water. Hidcote is wonderful and stays smaller (my favorite) but Munstead works well, too :)

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 6:43PM
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pat_bamaz7

I would agree with mad_gallica. I've finally given up on trying to grow lavender in our soil after many, many frustrating attempts. No matter how much I amended the soil, it was never happy for long. Spanish lavender varieties did much better for me than the others, but even those eventually kicked the bucket. I now only grow lavender in pots.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 6:49PM
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bluegirl_gw

It thrives in our dry alkaline caliche (calcium carbonate). Grosso, Provence & Goodwin Creek have made big shrubs.

When I lived on the humid coast, what finally worked was to plant in a raised bed or a clay pot with oyster shell & very coarse sand. Otherwise it would rot in the summer. It's so divine it's worth some experimenting to keep it happy.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 7:07PM
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AquaEyes 7a New Jersey

I, too, was looking into using lavender here, but decided against putting it in the garden beds. Instead, I'm going to pick a few of the smaller varieties and grow them in pots, allowing me to keep them in a soil that works for them. For a similar look, try planting Nepeta and various Salvia.

:-)

~Christopher

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 7:58PM
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mauvegirl8(Texas)

Salvia 'May Night' or 'East Friesland' are a beautiful backdrop to my roses.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 9:41PM
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Kippy(SoCal zone 10. Sunset Zone 24)

My Goodwin Gray seems to have no issue with too much water

I was just enjoy the busy bees in it yesterday

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 10:24PM
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AquaEyes 7a New Jersey

I think the "too much water" term has a regional bias. Our "normal" precipitation here is about 4" per month, year-round (3" is our "driest month" -- February -- and 5" is our "wettest month -- July -- but the rest of the months average 4"). When the soil is acid-leaning clay, I think it becomes a bit too much for most lavenders to take without soil amendments. If you have faster-draining soil on the alkaline side, lots of rain doesn't hang around the stems long enough to cause them to rot. I do want a few, but I'm going to keep them in large pots placed near walkways for brushing past. It's easier to give them the soil they want in containers than to try and change conditions in a bed.

:-)

~Christopher

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 11:08PM
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cath41(6a)

The main problem with lavender and wet is the crown remaining wet and rotting, especially in winter. Here with heavy clay and a nearly neutral soil with limestone bedrock lavenders do survive. They will die eventually if they are not divided or layered, say after 4-6 years. We did find that mulching them with gravel (limestone type) seemed to make them happier. The gravel would help with drainage around the crown and might sweeten the soil a little.

Cath

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 11:32PM
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bluegirl_gw

Go to a feed store & get a sack of oyster shell chicken grit (some grits are granite). It's cheap & you can use it as an amendment for the many other herbs (rosemary, sage, et.al) that love alkalinity & a coarse, well-draining media.

Cactus growers use an instant-draining mix formula, "Al's gritty mix": granite grit, Turface (or use Napa FloorDri #8822) & pine fines ( I use Lowe's HapiGro landscape mix). You can literally water the stuff every day without rotting cacti. But it doesn't have the alkalinity of oyster shell/coarse sand mix--& the lavenders seem to actually like alkalinity

This post was edited by bluegirl on Mon, Mar 3, 14 at 23:54

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 11:48PM
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AquaEyes 7a New Jersey

I think amending an entire bed for plants which like similar conditions would be much more effective than amending planting holes in a mixed bed. I spent the Autumn and Winter poring over as much information as possible about plants I wanted to use here, and whittled down the ones which were too specific about soil to do well in a mixed bed. I want a "spilling into each other" look, and that will become annoying to maintain with picky plants. Those which I still wanted will be featured in containers with soil mixed to their liking. If you want to try amending a planting hole, give it a shot. I just don't think it would work well for me here.

:-)

~Christopher

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 12:03AM
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melissa_thefarm(NItaly)

There are many factors involved: here's my two bits worth. I grow hybrid and English lavenders in heavy clay that is probably close to neutral, in full sun. We get heavy rain in winter. The lavender is fine. My experience has been that the gray-leaved Mediterranean subshrubs like lavender and rosemary can handle clay and rain IN THE WINTER, as long as they get a dry summer. I suspect that the summer humidity and rain of the eastern and central U.S. are a large part of the problem. None of this is in contradiction with what anybody else says here.
Melissa

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 1:49AM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

That hasn't been my experience. Given a pH over 7, English lavender (specifically Lady and Munstead) can handle heavy clay and a lot of rain during the summer. A lot of rain by our standards is about 5 or 6 inches a month.

Most of the east has very acidic soil. A pH around 5 is fairly normal. A lot of experienced people consider a natural pH over 6 to be very high. Mine is 7.2. I had to get into the soil surveys, and talk to Soil & Water to find people who did not freak out at that information. It is interesting because there are things like lavender that apparently don't have any problems with the climate, so long as the soil is to their liking.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 6:47AM
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melissa_thefarm(NItaly)

What I mean is, that different sets of conditions can work for a plant. Neutral soil, clay, and dry summers (with cooler nights) work--in my experience; so do alkaline soil, clay, and summer rain--in yours. I've never had my soil tested, but am resting my belief in its neutral ph on how rare chlorosis is in my garden.
Melissa

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 7:37AM
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diane_nj 6b/7a

What works for me with regard to the different water requirements is to have the roses on drip irrigation, so that they receive targeted watering. Once established (second year), the lavender and the huge sage only receive rain as their water (unless totally dry, but then not much water).

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 8:27AM
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pat_bamaz7

I have seen lavender grown successfully here in raised beds, by itself with gravel mulch. Some varieties also do well in pots here. If you want to grow it in a mixed bed, it will be a challenge…one that I have stubbornly tried and failed at many times with many different varieties. Between our acidic, clay soil, soggy winters, high humidity (our humidity was at 95% this morning and it’s not even summer yet…assuming yours was at a similar range, too), etc., it just seems to steadily decline for me. I’ve sometimes been able to keep it alive for several years by digging a huge hole, filling it with only cacti mix and limestone and mulching its base with gravel, but even then, it never looked very good after the first season and eventually melted away. Christopher’s suggestion of salvia and nepeta as substitutes would be much easier on you. Walker’s Low nepeta is a wonderful plant here. I also love agastache for a similar effect as lavender. It has highly aromatic foliage, attracts bees, butterflies and hummers and blooms all season. My favorites are Tutti Frutti and Apricot Sprite, but there are several lovely purple varieties, as well. This year I’m adding the dwarf butterfly bushes Buzz Lavender and Buzz Sky Blue. They are supposed to stay around 3-4 ft by 2-3 ft at maturity and might make a good substitute in your beds if you decide against trying lavender. Lavender may work for you, but I do think it will be difficult to keep it happy with our climate and soil conditions. I've thrown in the towel and only grow it in pots. Some varieties won't tolerate our humidity even in pots, though.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 12:33PM
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bluegirl_gw

The difficulty of growing lavender in my old zone (coastal Tx, black clay) was exactly as Melissa described.

It did fine as a winter annual but just rotted in the humidity, heat & rain of summer. I tried it constantly, for years & did eventually get it to survive in raised beds with the oyster shell & coarse (blasting) sand media. Culinary sages were the same.

The first plants that I carried over a year were in big unglazed clay pots (maybe 2-3 gallon) with that mix--and even gravel-mulched on top like Pat mentioned. I believe they were the dentata type--had the lacy leaves. I rarely watered them, especially in summer--that area got ~39" annually.

Maybe it seems like a ridiculous amount of trouble to carry a plant so poorly adapted to your zone--but it was an interesting challenge to me because I love that camphor/floral scent that is unique to the lavenders & it was satisfying to finally luck onto the right niche for it.

Here (desert zone 8, NW of San Antonio area)--heck, it's grown commercially & there are several lavender festivals.

I guess the rambling point is: yeah, you CAN grow it in a poor zone for it if you are willing to play around with making it happy.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 1:31PM
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nanadollZ7 SWIdaho(Zone 7 Boise SW Idaho)

Lavender grows beautifully on its own here with no care at all and even reseeds itself. I wish everything were that easy. Diane

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 2:27PM
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poorbutroserich(Nashville 7a)

Thanks everyone for the experience and advice. I greatly appreciate it! And I was wondering where to find "grit" and "oyster shell". Gotta love the farm co-op.
I wanted to create a lavender hedge with Grosso and grow pinks etc with it. I think I'll make a sharp drainage area and see how it does...the rest I will grow in pots and just scatter around.
I love Nepeta and have ordered 72 plugs of Walker's Low....will use that for a hedge too. And creeping thymes for ground cover ....
Love the fragrant stuff. Perhaps after the spring frenzy calms down I can experiment. I have a dry hot bed where rosemary does well.
Thanks again. It's good to hear from everybody!
Susan

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 2:40PM
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shopshops

I'm a bit late to the dance. Just to say that lavender does really well here in Texas. I grow Spanish Lavender in a raised bed with Carefree Beauty. The bed is full of miracle grow garden soil therefore it's loose and friable. The two look gorgeous together. The lavender gets scraggly in the winter,but re overs with a good trimming in the Spring

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 6:03PM
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JoshTx(8a)

Since we're on the topic of lavenders, I need some help.

I have 4 French lavender in pots, which were a quite happy until the ice happened. They froze, and now they look dead as a door nail. They've gotten water thrown at them here and there, but other than that I've left them alone. A local nursery guy said they will come back from the roots but I'm suspicious.

Any ideas?

Josh

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 9:08PM
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melissa_thefarm(NItaly)

Well, local nurserymen are worth listening to, but I've never know lavender to come back from the roots. It won't cost you anything to give them some time, however.
Melissa

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 11:27PM
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bluegirl_gw

I've had one come back, think it was a French lavender. It was very shrubby & in the ground, so it probably didn't get totally frozen to the ground. But it has never been as shrubby again, either.

The very best, in my limited experience of this zone, are the plain old English (augustifolia) lavenders--they haven't frozen at all & do fine in caliche with no water. Before I actually moved in I planted 2 or 3 & now they are so big--3-4' across & 3'tall--I can't find their tags. Lots of flower wands, during the growing season.

Some of the Goodwin Creek, Provence & Grossos have been top-burned a bit some winters but do fine otherwise.

Hidcote is looking good--been in the ground ~year, but not so huge as the plain English.

Spanish "Otto Quast" hasn't frozen, but hasn't been as robust yet.

The other Spanish I planted last fall disappeared.

The dentatas seem more tender here, the lacy leaved lavenders got killed.

Just my limited observations, for this area. Keep in mind, I buy most from Lowe's trash pile, at .50 each, when they junk them after blooming. i now just stomp them in the ground--"root, hog, or die"--since they don't have to be babied, as in my old zone :-p

    Bookmark   March 6, 2014 at 10:30AM
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AquaEyes 7a New Jersey

Speaking of Goodwin Creek, that nursery's website has a nice introduction article to growing Lavandula.

:-)

~Christopher

Here is a link that might be useful: Goodwin Creek Gardens' article on Lavandula

    Bookmark   March 6, 2014 at 11:03AM
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nanadollZ7 SWIdaho(Zone 7 Boise SW Idaho)

My lavender are all volunteer seedlings of Hidcotes, passed along by a friend, plus one Munstead. They all get huge, and the less coddling the better. Diane

    Bookmark   March 6, 2014 at 3:33PM
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cath41(6a)

Lavendula stoeches does not survive its first winter here. Lavendula dentata dies here due to winter cold although you may be lucky enough to have it limp along for a year or two. L. 'Hidcote' is my favorite, smaller than L. angustifolia but with more intensely blue flowers. It is also a survivor. 'Munstead' is as good a survivor but the flowers are lighter colored and it is smaller still. 'Twilight' is an even more intense blue than 'Hidcote' but it is not as durable here. 'Jean Davis' is an insipid pink (not bad really) and smaller than 'Munstead' but has the unusual property of having leaves that are more fragrant dried than fresh which is good for linens and pot pourri. These four are all cultivars of L. angustifolia. L.x intermedia 'Provence' is taller and I like it better than L.x intermedia 'Grosso' but 'Grosso' has longer flower wands. The L. angustifolias have the best scent while the L.x intermedias have the longer flower spikes. I have tried variegated and white flowered lavenders but these are novelties and neither flower nor grow as well as the others mentioned.

Cath

    Bookmark   March 6, 2014 at 11:08PM
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vasue(7A Charlottesville)

Fascinating discussion! Reading through these reports, I'm wondering why my Augustifolia (English) 'Lady' has survived 14 years now (knock on wood) in central Virginia. Average rain/snowfall 72" with precipitation pretty consistent at 6" a month year-round including wet soggy Winters. High clay soil but pretty loamy, considering this was woodland for at least 100 years previously as the woodlot for an old farm, with all those shed leaves composting in place. Haven't pulled out the pH meter in years, but the soil in this area is naturally acidic & recall ranging from 5.5-6.2 on this property.

Grew wonderful lavender in another garden sited between the Atlantic & a river in very sandy free-draining loam. Humid there all year & often salty fog. So I'm thinking it's not the atmospheric water vapor that bothers lavender...

Tried many types in Virginia, often in pots, and none of them prospered regardless of how I fuddled with them. But there's no equivalent to the scent of lavender, leaf or bloom, so stubbornly persisted.

Lady came as a quart from a local nursery which I'm sure didn't propigate it. While wondering where to plant it, it sat on a flagstone next to the hose spigot. Few weeks later, its roots grew into a mass through the drainage holes till they elevated the pot. Checking on that, realized the faucet had a slow leak right above it, dripping through the pot & keeping the stone damp. Sure seemed to really like that steady moisture.

Cut away the pot to keep those happy roots & planted it in a spot recently cleared of turf at the dripline of a tall broad pin oak as the first plant in that new bed. Hose watered it as a new transplant along with a variety that landed in that bed, including roses. It obviously likes that spot, even though it receives only 6 hours of sun from 11-5 in the Summer, shaded by the tree in the morning & the house in the evening.

Living in the shadow of that magnificent oak, it receives generous amounts of leaf mulch as the oak sheds its leaves. I've never disturbed that mulch or cultivated around the lavender in any way, so it composts in place. I've never pruned it besides clipping the flower wands. The needles dry by end of Winter & just run fingers over the stems to remove them before the new leaves appear. That's its total help from me. Over the years it's died out in the middle but extended itself around that circle & appears now as 6 plants evenly spaced as if planned. Very pretty.

Think it's the deep oak leaf mulch that's led to its long life. Believe the leaves have shed the rain away from the crowns in the Winter & probably Summer as well, giving it that slow drip it loved by the faucet. The worms are plentiful in that bed from the natural compost & no doubt aerate the soil. The oak's feeder roots likely drink up any pooling water. But I suspect it's the oak leaves that snuggle around it that's made the difference.

Don't see it offered locally any more, though it was considered a sensation when it first came out for coming true from seed & blooming the year of sowing, promoted as an annual lavender for far North gardens. Searching for a link, see it's still advertized as growing only 10" & sometimes called 'Lavender Lady'. Maybe when grown as an annual that's its first year's growth. This one was 2x3 feet when it grew out from the center & currently the "clump" is 3' high by 6' wide before it blooms. Imagine mine may have reseeded if the leaf mulch weren't so thick. Every once in a while I think of moving part of it & mulching it the same way, but then remember I ought to leave the old Lady alone.

Plan to bring in new Ladies this year & see if I can duplicate the conditions to grow them in other areas. Highly recommend giving this cultivar a try!

Here is a link that might be useful: 'Lady'

This post was edited by vasue on Fri, Mar 7, 14 at 19:07

    Bookmark   March 7, 2014 at 4:25PM
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cath41(6a)

Vasue,

I am guessing that with the center dead and the plants spaced evenly around it that the original plant layered under the oak leaves, forming new plants before the original plant died. Also the oak probably keeps the soil from becoming too waterlogged. In any case, if you can reproduce similar conditions, it should be a great success. Good luck!

Cath

    Bookmark   March 8, 2014 at 12:05AM
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sammy zone 7 Tulsa

The word "lavender" sounds beautiful, and it reminds us of famous paintings of French gardens.

The word "salvia" does not have the elegant sound that lavender has, but salvia loves my beds, and lavender dies. Salvia comes back, and lavender does not make it through the heat.

I am not sure whether it is drainage, soil type or heat, but I have different types of saliva all over my yard, and they are happy. Still this year some lavender will probably jump into my cart when I shop. But salvia loves to grow by my SDLM roses.
Sammy

    Bookmark   March 8, 2014 at 6:31AM
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