We're in zone 4 so it's a little cooler here but this is a great time to plant. We still have several weeks for the roots to get well established. I planted a climbing hydrangia in mid October last year and it survived the harsh winter with mulch. Even after a hard freeze plants will continue to take root. My favorite time to plant is in the rain (if soil not waterlogged). But only if rain isn't dripping off my nose and it isn't lightening. Hope you're feeling better.
I do have a question about Lavandula, the 6 plants that I got were brown I don't want to think that they are dead, they came in a the new pots that Bluestone Perennial went to. Everything else is nice a green yet. What do you think?
Is Lavandula hard to grow?
I really like these new pots that Bluestone Perennials went to.
Brown is definitely not a good sign--if I were you I'd take some pictures and contact Bluestone about it. I've seen other people post about having trouble with plants in those new pots of theirs arriving really dried out & not in good shape, but knowing Bluestone they'll make things right if you contact them. And if that's how they expected them to look they'll also tell you that and let you know what you need to do. Lavender can be a bit fussy--in a climate like yours where you get a decent amount of rainfall you'll probably have the best luck if you plant it in a raised bed (key is excellent drainage).
Lavender is almost always an annual here. Munstead is suppose to be a hardy strain but that has died for me as well. There is one other that is suppose to be "built" for cooler climates - hidcote? I would say the color brown is not a good color to receive almost any plant, but maybe others would disagree. I am looking for a home for my fern leaf lavender pinnata. We travel the winter and my daughter cared for my plants indoors and lost half. So this year to find homes is wiser. Also have a huge citronella up for grabs (trimmed). Must like heat n' humidty.
I don't think I've ever heard of a lavender that was supposed to be hardy in zone 3. But in zone 5a where GoldenEagle is there are several types that would be hardy, and since Bluestone is in northern OH I expect the ones they sell are probably hardy to zone 5.
Most of WI is either in zone 4 or 5, and there are a few that are hardy in zone 4 and several for zone 5, so it could be that it was one that was hardy there anyway. If mulch was really piled up around them that wouldn't necessarily be good for them--could cause them to rot. Since it's a commercial planting it's also possible that they just planted it for the season and weren't expecting it to winter over--did you see it there multiple years in a row or just once?
I only saw the lavender in mulch just that one time. And I have no doubt they didn't care to overwinter them. I was surprised to see the lavender growing that way. I've tried both hidcote and munstead and only had 1 overwinter so they grow as an annual here.
The main problem I have had in the past with lavender is rotting over the winter. They have to have lots of good drainage. I often mix my soil with about a third sand. I have clay soil. I am in zone 6, however. I have to say I really love the lavenders. I have a few different species, but my favorite is Lavender Lady. It is an All American Winner. I have tried to buy more of it, but find it difficult to find. It is not offered locally, and it's hard to get via mail order. They are always sold out.
GE: There are a few that work in zone 5:
Lavendula agustifolia "Hidcote"
Lavendula intermedia "Lavender Lady"
Lavendula agustifolia "Elagance"
Lavendula agustifolia 'Munstead"
You might want to try putting pea gravel heavily around the Lavender to see if that would help it winter over. Or, I certainly recommend trying the above Lavenders as they are suppose to be hardy to zone 5. It also might be possible to keep these pretty, fragrant flowers alive during the winter if it is near a sidewalk or house for warmth.
The biggest reason Lavenders don't make it over the winter is not due to freezing, but due to poor drainage.
Good Luck--I hope you can get some to grow. Keep us posted!
GE: A couple more things: When you receive the Lavender, the leaves should be a pretty blue grey color. You might turn the plant out of its pot and check the roots to see if they look dead. If they don't look nice and fleshy, maybe scraping a little bit of the root could tell you if its still alive. Certainly contact Bluestone P.
I know I am repeating myself here a bit, but try thoroughly mixing about one third sand with your soil with one of the above mentioned plants. Keep them watered to develop a healthy root system. If that doesn't work, then try planting pea gravel or close to brick or cement. Of course this needs to be done in Spring.
Lavender can definitely be hardy at least down to zone 3. I've had the same old plants of Lavendula angustifolia 'Munstead' for over 10 years now, and they have seeded around to produce more plants. I think it can be concluded that drainage and moisture are the keys... this is a dry (16" total precipitation per year), low humidity area, so even though they are planted in pure compost (in an old rose bed), the drainage is sufficient, given the low moisture, to prevent rotting off. In an area with much higher precipitation or high snowfall such that there is standing water in spring, the drainage would have to be that much better, for example, raised rock garden beds that will prevent soggy soil around the roots.
Lavender Lady is easy to grow from seed. I did some this spring WS and also in the house with great success. The plants from both methods are still smallish but healthy. They were a little late to get in the ground so didn't flower this year as the literature promised, but I have high hopes for next year. I do love lavender!