Any luck with Lavendar as a perennial?

daffodil33April 28, 2014

Hi All, I have very unsuccessfully tried for the past 3 years to grow English lavendar (from home depot) as a perennial. It just won't come back. I think the first year I under watered it, with all the hype about lavendar not liking wet feet... The next couple of years it did ok, but did not come back the following year. Have you had any success making it come back, what type? Any tips? Thanks.

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persimmons(6b Southern Mass)

I'm in zone 6b in Narragansett area. I grew my lavender from seed that I bought at Lowe's. In the winter, I covered the plant with a pile of leaves. The stalks survived through the winter as well as plenty of green growth.


    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 12:38AM
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My luck growing lavender can best be described as hit or miss. I grew mine from seed via winter sowing. I had good germination and the seedlings thrived for a few years but never bloomed. I potted up seedlings to grow on and have one or two that are still alive but have never grown big enough to be planted out.

While I regret it for personal reasons, my opinion, based on experience, is the New England climate, at least where I am, isn't consistently favorable for lavender to be what I would say is a reliable perennial.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 7:01AM
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we offer 5 types of lavender on our farm

French grows to 36" annual for our area
Goodwin Creek grows to 36" annual for our area
Provence grows to 24" perennial for our area
Munstead grows to 12" to 18" perennial for our area
Grosso grows to 4 foot perennial for our area

I try to tell people if possible plant next to the house. soil tends to stay wormer next to the foundation. also plant early in the season to get roots well established.

I see a lot of people don't buy lavender till mid to late summer and they ask why there lavender didn't over winter.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 7:07AM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

Munstead and Lady have been quite reliable for me. Hidcote not so much. Given time it gets quite woody, and dies off. It likes alkaline soil, and at least reasonable amounts of water.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 7:51AM
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bill_ri_z6b(Zone 6B)

I've grown it for several years. I don't know the variety, but it grows around 16
inches, and self-seeds all over the garden. It is totally hardy as a perennial here in Providence, RI.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 11:29AM
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I've grown a pink hidcote for years just fine in 5A. I think the drainage issue is the big thing. I think I had some munstead too, but it was in an out of the way spot, so I'm not sure. (have since moved).

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 11:37AM
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I'm in a warmer climate, so you may have more problems with lavender than I do; my garden is FULL of it, mainly Grosso and other Provence relatives, since I really love lavender and want big sweeps of these dramatic, fragrant plants.

Drainage is really important, so dig deep and wide, plant a bit higher than the surrounding soil, and make sure there's nothing blocking the flow of water out of the planting hole.

Second, lav is really a sub-shrub, not a perennial, even though the stems may not be hardy for you. As such, and despite what anyone says, it's preferable to leave the plant standing over the winter. You can allow some leaves to collect around the spent plants - I try not to remove them before late February. When you see some green starting to emerge in spring, you can cut the plants back, but you should leave some of that new growth on the plant - don't cut it to the ground. Sometimes all the new growth is at the base, but sometimes it's at the ends of the old stems.

I know at least one lavender farmer here on the Cape who cuts her plants back in fall, but she's not going for longevity, she has to replant fairly often. And others on this forum have said that they cut back in fall, but I'm sticking with my policy of waiting until spring, because it's worked well for me for many years.

Oh, one more thing! I buy tiny plants in early spring - sometimes I luck out and find them in 6-packs, before the nursery has a chance to pot them on. This, and careful soil prep, seems to work every time.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 12:59PM
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I usually get 2 years out of them then they look too ratty to bother with the following spring. This year, I removed the 2 old woody stems left after this harsh winter and have 2 new plants ready to go into the ground in their place. I also like to plant lavender alongside the patio where it gets pretty hot from radiant heat off the pavers - when the dogs run by and brush it, it smells heavenly!! Gotta remember to buy a few more plants for the patio this year. they look nice interspersed with annuals for color.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 1:06PM
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Thanks all, I got mine again this year at home depot, they have them for $2/pot, can't beat that price. I transplanted them into larger pots, and perhhaps I will bring them in the house over the winer to see if they survive that way. The smell is soo intoxicating!

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 10:35PM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

If you had asked me any time in the last 7 years, I would have said yes. And honestly, I guess 7 years out of a few seeds was a good run. But my seed-grown lavender Munstead just couldn't survive this winter, I guess. I was really quite surprised to find that it didn't make it - maybe it knew I was going to move it this year, lol.

But seriously, even though I lost mine this year, I would definitely grow lavender again. I had mine in a dry, sunny, somewhat raised spot, and it really did well until this past winter-that-wouldn't-die (which, by the way, seems to still be hanging on!)



    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 10:53PM
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bill_ri_z6b(Zone 6B)

I was under the impression that you were asking about growing lavender outdoors as a perennial in the ground. I don't know if they will overwinter in pots in the house. Mine are perfectly hardy outdoors. I have the original plants that are over 6 years old, and many more have grown from seeds over the years. I do not give any kind of protection whatsoever, and they bloom in June into July, then again toward September, and if the weather is not too cold, maybe again into November.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 10:55PM
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Bill, yes the intent was to have them in the ground as aperenniql, but have not been successful with it for 5 years, so exploring any other alternatives including brining them in over winter to see if they survive in 5b.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 8:22AM
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mjc_molie(z6 CT)

I live along the CT coast and grow several lavenders. Most of these are planted at the far end of the garden... in a hot, dry spot that gets sun all day. This area slopes down to the river. The soil has been amended with compost, and the plants in this bed are slightly raised. Like other posters, I give them minimal care and only cut back what looks dead in the spring.

The lavender shown is my oldest .... I had it for about 5 years ... this pic is from two years ago. Last year after this became so leggy and woody, I pulled it out, replacing with one of the babies that popped up between the Lychnis.

I've also planted L. 'Provance' and several other varieties in this area. I agree with other posters that lavender needs full sun, good drainage, and I never fertilize.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 12:07PM
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Thanks mjc_molie, you are so lucky. The lavendar is the pic is so wide and beautiful. I wish I was in a higher zone. If I don't have any luck this year I will try Russian sage or nepeta Catarina, both are kinda like lavendar without the heavenly fragrance unfortunately.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 8:04PM
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UHG ! daffolil, you went and did what hasn't worked for you in the past 3 years HOME DEPOT!!!!

as a farmer and a grower of 50 varieties herbs it just kills me when people go to home depot and wall mart and buy crap plants that are not taken care of and if not sold the go in the trash...

so what type of lavender did you get this time? or just it just say lavender on the tag???

plz don't think that I am trying to sell you plants...

This post was edited by boston3381 on Thu, May 1, 14 at 6:19

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 6:16AM
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persimmons(6b Southern Mass)

I never included a photo with my original post, but here's a shot of the lavender from a few weekends ago, looking very healthy (April 21). I've since pulled some of the leaf matte out from the center of the plant and have mulched the material around the outer "base" of the lavender. All of this overwintered from a seed-grown plant!


    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 10:40AM
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bill_ri_z6b(Zone 6B)

I can't really understand all this fuss in caring for lavender. Mine is almost a weed. Plants are many years old, and seedlings are all over the place. I do absolutely nothing to them, except to enjoy the fragrance and colorful flowers for most of the growing season. So am I just really lucky or do these plants thrive on neglect?

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 6:57PM
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Bill - You are a zone warmer that the OP and you have great drainage due to your wonderful stone work and gravel mulch.

I have managed to winter over lavender best in a winter -proof pot tipped over on its side to keep moisture out. I buried it in snow in an area that didn't get sun all winter, so it froze and stayed frozen until spring, when I tipped it back upright and set it in the sun. Most winters my lavender is barely alive come spring and doesn't recover well, so I usually just replace it.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2014 at 6:42AM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

Lavender should survive even in zone 5 if the soil is lean and well drained.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2014 at 6:50AM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

Lavender should survive even in zone 5 if the soil is lean and well drained.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2014 at 6:51AM
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boston3381, the lavendar is English lavendar, actually the plants from homedepot and pretty healthy, it's not like home depot has a greenhouse, these are the "Bonnie herbs" that home depot stocks from Bonnies greenhouses.

They are on sale again if anyone's is interested, $2/plant. I have them in pots this year, which I will bring in th house over the winter, and put them out in spring again, hoping they will make it that way.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 10:23PM
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