Archive for April, 2010

Pruning Lavender – Is it too early?

April 13, 2010

In southern Ontario, Canada, where I live, the daffodils are about one week into their blooms. Tulips are just starting to open and the Forsythia is blooming – it is still what I would consider early – mid spring. Some of my lavender plants look great – they have come through the winter beautifully. Others are still such a dull grey I am not sure they survived.

I’ve had a few phone calls from friends saying they are sure they have lost some plants and they are going to dig them out. Sometimes you have to wait until the end of May to really be sure, so please be patient!

For the plants you know are alive, and they are at least 3 years old, if you want to cut them back 1/3 now, go ahead however, I’m going to wait until into May before pruning mine.

Dates for the Sequim Lavender Festival this year are July 16, 17, 18 2010. I went a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it. There is a huge craft fair in town as well as farms on a tour to enjoy. They run shuttle busses to the farms and you simply hop on the bus, get off at the farm you want and whenever you are ready hop on another bus. If you want to drive to the farms you can. Try to go for the three days and you will have more time at each place. As well as the farms on the tour, there are other lavender farms in the area.

Next time I’ll put in a bit more about my festival experience, but for now – be I really wanted to warn you not to remove any plants that look dead.

My website –
I will be updating it in the next week. If you want any of the info, please print it off as I’m going to make some changes to the site. I’m going to update where my book ‘Growing Lavender, A Guide for Cooler Climates’ is available and put some copies up on ebay – but probably in bundles of 3 to 5 copies.

To purchase a copy on-line your best bet is Vesey’s seeds – they also sell some different lavender seeds. Their address is

All for now – Enjoy your spring gardens!


Lavender seedlings

April 4, 2010

French Perfume seedlings

Lady Seedlings

Lavender Seedlings

At the end of January, I started a few lavender seeds:
L. angustifolia ‘Lady’ and L. angustifolia ‘French Perfume’

I placed the seed containers into plastic bags to create little greenhouses. Doing this stops the soil from drying out and I was hoping to encourage all the seeds to germinate. The little greenhouses worked beautifully, but I did not open the bag quickly enough and lost a few seedlings. (Also, I have THE most wonderful cat but I was worried that she might nibble on the seedlings. Lavender does not have a very nice taste and I haven’t noticed her bothering them. ) Then when I went to the Philadelphia show, I closed the bags up again and lost a couple more. The air gets too humid the plants may die from a fungal disease called “Damping Off’.

About ‘Damping Off’
This can kill seedlings overnight. Oe day you have nice looking seedlings, the next day you have shriveled corpses. You can prevent it by keeping the air moving around the seedlings and by using a sterile potting mix – although this is no guarantee. There used to be a anti-fungal chemical you could purchase, add to the water you used to water the seedlings and keep the disease at bay. However, due to many chemicals being removed from the market, it is hard to find. One nursery told me to water with chamomile tea! There probably would be anti-fungal properties in chamomile, so it makes sense, but I have not tried it. To be quite honest, I have rarely had trouble with ‘damping off’. One more thing I’ve noticed is that more directions for starting seeds this year include putting a fine layer of vermiculite over the seeds. Not soil. I think this is because vermiculite would indeed be sterile and probably would not easily support the fungus. I haven’t seen that written anywhere, that is just my thought on the subject.

Back to the seedlings.

The seedlings are now approaching 8 weeks old and you can see how small they still are. If I had started tomatos, I would have serious tomato plants by 8 weeks. This shows how slow growing they are and why you need to start lavender early indoors.

Having said that, I have had lavender plants seed themselves from plants in the garden. If I haven’t harvested all the flowers and I look very closely in May or June the following year, I’ll find seedlings popping up. If you have ‘Grosso’, ‘Provence’ or any other L. x intermedias, you will not find seedlings because intermedias are sterile!

These seeds are going to stay put for another month and then they might be ready to transplant. Stay tuned!