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Greer, South Carolina
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Growing & Pruning Lavender

How do you grow lavender?

Planting day watering

Planting day watering

Growing conditions for lavender include full sun, excellent drainage, and breathing room for the plant if you’re in the South! Lavender originally comes from dry Mediterranean conditions and does not like humidity. That may make you think it can’t be grown in our area, but it can! We just have to take some extra steps. First make sure wherever you plan to plant your lovely lavender, it has plenty of breathing room. Don’t pack it tight into other plants. And if you’re close to the coast, you may even want to plant it in a container so it stands by itself. Next, make sure the soil in the area has excellent drainage. To achieve this, you can build up new soil (that allows drainage) to create a raised area and also include pea gravel or small rock in the planting area. When lavender is young, water it 1 inch every 7-10 days. When it hasn’t rained in a while, give it a big drink and let it dry out between waterings. If young lavender starts to wilt, give it a good drink. Once lavender is established in its’ second year, you’ll only need to water it like you would a cactus and in severe drought. The number one killer of lavender is loving it with too much water! Another thing to consider is that lavender likes soil with a pH of 6.5 to 7.5. You may not need to worry about this, but if you are planting near plants that tolerate acidic soil – blueberries, roses – you may want to add lime to the planting hole and once a year around the base of the plant. You can buy dolomitic lime (it’s a white powder or pellets) at your local garden store. When planning to plant your lavender, consider planting it along pathways or near seating areas so you can easily smell it or brush against it!

Grass shears

Grass shears

Growing lavender successfully means pruning. Pruning is different from harvesting and it’s needed to keep the shape of the plant. Without pruning, lavender can start to sprawl and become woody, separate, and reduce bloom. In our area, pruning would happen in the fall, several weeks before the first frost. As your plant matures, you will see that the main body has a natural mound shape. After you have harvested any stems and buds, you’ll have a ball of leaves. This ball needs to be cut back to within 1-2 inches of green growth. This means you’ll be cutting back more than you’d expect, but it’s okay! As long as you don’t cut back to the older woody part, the lavender will surprise you and come back just fine!

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