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Lavender Plant Care

    lavender blooms with beesAre you wondering about Lavender Plant Care? Maybe you just moved into a new home and you have lavender landscaping. Or perhaps you just want to know how much work it requires to care for lavender so you can decide whether or not to plant. No matter what are your reasons, here are the basics of caring for lavender.

Watering One of the most common mistakes of lavender plant care is overwatering. It's difficult for many people to realize that lavender does not like to have continually wet roots. The soil needs to be well-drained so that it doesn't hold water. Water only when the soil is dry, but before the plant begins to show signs of stress. How often that turns out to be will depend on your soil and weather conditions.

Fertilizing If your soil has a fair amount of decomposing material, you may not need to fertilize your lavender at all. However, if your soil is poor, fertilizing will definately benefit your lavender plant growth and bloom production. Choose a slow release organic fertilizer such as bone meal or fish emulsion   and follow the directions on the package. Fertilize in the spring when new growth is apparent, and again in early summer during the heavy blossom production period.

Harvesting Some people just want to enjoy their lavender blossoms by leaving them on the plant until the season is completely over. But many others will choose to harvest their lavender blossoms and buds for use in sachets or other crafts. Some may want to harvest their lavender for cooking or even for distilling to obtain the lavender oil. The best time for harvesting depends some on the lavender variety and the intended usage, but in general harvesting can begin after a few blossoms have opened on most stalks. Simply grab a handful of stalks and cut them off with a knife or sharp pair of shears where they protrude from the plant body. It's best to tie the stalks in bundles for convenient handling or to facilitate drying by hanging the bundles upside down.

Pruning One of the most commonly overlooked tasks of lavender plant care is pruning. It is important to cut your plant back each year to keep it healthy and keep its shape. Harvesting LavenderUse garden shears or clippers once a year and cut one third to one half of the plant. The lower part of the branches will become woody over time and you should avoid cutting into that part of the plant. What works best is to trim an individual plant in the shape of a ball, but a lavender hedge can be cut straight on the sides and rounded on top. Prune in the spring or late fall.

Protecting What kind of protection does a lavender plant need for good lavender plant care? Not much! Lavender loves the sun, so protect it from too much shade. The exception may be potted lavender which will dry out more quickly than lavender planted in the ground. Lavender has too strong of a taste to be bothered by most animals. Insects are also rarely a problem. Protect your lavender plant from overwatering by ensuring that the soil and the area where it is planted has good drainage.

Planting Planting lavender in the ground is not difficult. Simply combine sand, soil and compost or peat moss in about equal proportions, dig a hole about twice as deep and three times the diameter of the root ball and plant with your soil mixture. Adding some slow release fertilizer and rooting hormone will give your plant a healthy start. Water more than normal for the first couple of weeks and then back off and follow the guidelines mentioned above.

Transplanting It is crucial to transplant potted lavender regularly until it is mature to ensure that the roots continually have room to grow. Transplanting a mature plant from one location in the garden to another is more difficult. You must assume that the roots extend at least as far as the longest branches and almost as deep. Dig the plant while disturbing the roots as little as possible and follow the planting directions mentioned above for the new location.

Propagating While many lavenders can be propagated with seeds, the easiest way is to take cuttings from a mature plant to start a new one. Cut a soft (not woody) branch about 4 inches (10 cm) from the lower part of the donor plant, peel back the lowest pair of leaves and place in a small pot with a mixture of peat moss and sand or vermiculite. Add some rooting hormone and keep it fairly damp for the first couple of weeks. Transplant to a larger pot in 4-6 weeks.

There are many aspects to lavender plant care, but it is generally very easy. Enjoying the beautiful and aromatic blossoms and buds each year makes it well worth the effort.

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