Growing Lavender in zone 5 garden - advice needed

Waterford, WI(Zone 5b)

This spring I have been successful in starting a couple of flats of lavender seedlings (mostly Lady) in my little greenhouse. I am wondering if anyone can give me specific advice for creating an optimum planting bed to give them the best chance of surviving a zone 5 winter (with low temps to -20F or so) and wet springs and falls. For example, we recently had a 3 inch rainfall in 24 hours; the last two years we have had 18 inch floods. My soil is very rich which I have read is not exactly what a lavender wants.

I am wondering if I have to be drastic and make a raised bed to simulate growing conditions that are not natural to my area: for example, do I need to make a mixture of pea gravel and soil? or sand and limestone gravel? Add drain tiles? Special winter care to protect the roots but not collect water?

Any advice and comments are greatly appreciated! Right now the little seedlings are perfect and I hate to think that they are destined to doom by my lack of knowledge.

Carson City, NV(Zone 6b)

I'm not a lavender expert but I know it hates to have wet feet, especially during winter. Is there a place your could put a short raised bed along your foundation? Even six inches will help. The ideal spot for them would be along a south wall under an eave where they will stay drier and the house will keep the soil warmer in winter. If you have snow cover during the really cold parts of the winter the plants should be fine with minimal mulch, but if the soil is exposed during very cold weather you'll need some kind of fluffy mulch that willprovide air pockets for insulation but not hold too much water. Maybe something like wood chips would work.

If you're really worried, you could grow them in large pots or dig them up in the fall. Then they could be kept inside a shed or garage where it won't get quite so cold and wet during the winter.

Panama, NY(Zone 5a)

I have both "Munstead" lavender, one of the "Hidcotes", and 'rosea', all English lavenders that have been surviving our zone 5a winters for several years. They are in raised beds that we worked sand and compost into when we made them. I don't give them any winter protection, other than the rather heavy snow cover, but I do have to trim them up a bit to get rid of the winter kill, although they don't want to be pruned very hard.

Waterford, WI(Zone 5b)

Thanks for the advice - it has given me hope that I can figure this out for my situation. I am wondering - do you amend the pH of the soil?

Kathleen - when you added compost and sand - did you add to the existing soil or is it only compost and sand. Can you describe the consistency or give a rough estimate of the ratio of sand to compost to soil. I am thinking even distribution? 1part sand to 1part compost to 1part existing soil in my case (it is not heavy soil; we have loamy in the area that I am thinking of.)

My idea is to make a raised bed in the manner of making an alpine garden but I am thinking that may be too drastic for lavender (too alkaline? too much drainage? too lean?)

Panama, NY(Zone 5a)

Um, we dumped in some sand and some well-rotted cow manure and mixed it well with the existing soil - there was no measuring. Our ground is clay, and I mean heavy clay. If your ground is loamy, you are probably set. My lavender is in this bed, right by the rock wall

Thumbnail by Kathleen
Panama, NY(Zone 5a)

just to the right of the steps - it looks like sticks in this pic

This message was edited Jun 22, 2009 6:04 PM

Thumbnail by Kathleen
Waterford, WI(Zone 5b)

Beautiful Kathleen - inspiring for me. We also have a huge pile of well - rotted cow manure that we use for all our gardening. So I am thinking that your system will work for me. All we can do is experiment and keep our fingers crossed!

Panama, NY(Zone 5a)

lol, my 'system' should be listed under benign neglect. I think they should do well as long as they don't sit with their roots wet for any period of time.

I have a friend who is having a difficult time keeping lavender, but her childrens 5 dogs seem to enjoy sleeping on it, so I think that's most of the problem.

Ozone, AR(Zone 6a)

Kathleen, Think you hit jackpot with benign neglect. I've had one for years and it is by large rocks which i think helps with cold temps. It is in red clay too. It is Province sp. Which i read was more cold hardy than most.

Galesburg, IL(Zone 5a)

I planted province lavander in a pot this past spring. It has done very well and i am wondering what should i do with it for the winter since it is in a clay pot? We have had our first freeze about 4 days ago. It can get very cold here in the winter, as we live in Galesburg Illinois. Temps can get to below 15-30 degree windchills. I have a screened in back porch, and i am considering setting the pot of Lavander in the East area where it would get sunlight through a screen until midday. Would it be better to keep my lavander on the screened in porch in the pot or put it against the house outside where it would get more sunlight? I am new gardner and i am trying to figure out what to do with my perennials i planted for the winter. All are in the ground except the Lavander which i started in a pot and will put in the ground in the Spring. Also is there anything i need to do with my Perennials that are in the ground for the winter. Everything i planted did great, and i so enjoyed my first year of flower gardening. I am sad to see the way things look since we got our first frost and not quite sure what to do with all the things i planted during to prepare them for winter. Some being annuals and some being perennials. I am assuming i need to pull the annuals up or cut them back since they will all die off. My concern is does the perennials need any kind of care to survive our winters? I am doing my homework to learn about my flowers and caring for them for winter, but any tips would also be appreciated. You can see the pot of Lavander in the picture below and get a glimpse of some of my flowers. I was very proud of how well my first attempt at gardening went. I learned so much. Thanks so much. This looks like a great forum.

Thumbnail by twohassles43
Woodhull, IL(Zone 5a)

Hi twohassles, and welcome

I live in Woodhull worked in Galesburg 30 years. I have never grown lavender and a newbie myself at most things. I have had perennials in pots and it got to late to plant them and what I done was put them in my garage for the winter and once in my basement an just let them go dormant. Took them out in the spring and planted. Have had good luck doing that myself.

Maybe someone else will have a better answer.

Galesburg, IL(Zone 5a)

Hello jjsgramma, thanks for the reply. I am loving this sight, and happy to see people from our area. Your advice is good. I am thinking my lavander will be ok on our screened in porch and wont need too much attention. I also thought about putting it in the garage as your saying, but i was worried about it getting sunlight. From what i am reading i have a hearty lavander plant, but it does need sunlight through the winter. So where is it you work at. We may just know each other. My name is Joyce, i am 47 yrs old, and have lived in
Galesburg all my life. I know lots of people from this area, as i have usually always worked with the public. I presently work at Rosewood Care Center in Medical records. I have been to Woodhull many times, and i grew up in a town about like Woodhull, probably even smaller. I was raised in Wataga, and we always played ball against Woodhull. Small world huh! Great to meet u btw. Would love to see pictures of your flowers. I really got into this past summer, and i am already wondering what i am going to do to keep me busy all winter. I hate seeing my flowers looking so sad now. :( Here is my last picture taken this year of my impatients. As you can see the blooms are starting to die off from the colder weather in this picture a couple of weeks ago. Dont look at the stuff around it that is also dieing. I mainly want you to see how TALL my impatients got. I planted them around a huge mushroom that is carved from wood, and they got nearly as tall as that mushroom. You can barely see the mushroom sticking up in the center of the impatients. They were sure pretty though all summer. It amazes me too look at the pictures from when i first planted up until the end of Sept. and see how much they grew.

Thumbnail by twohassles43
Woodhull, IL(Zone 5a)

Great looking impatients. they sure got tall
I use to work at maytag, luckily I got to retire.
Now I mostly watch grandkids.

You will enjoy this site, wonderful people here. And so knowledgeable.
If you ask a question you will most certainly get an answer.
My flowers also are very sad right now and I have had enough winter all ready.

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