Planting & growing
Our top tips for growing lavender at home:
Ideally, lavender prefers to be planted in a porous soil, such as sand or chalk. Chalk is ideal as it is slightly alkaline and allows for rain water to permeate through.
Lavender can grow in a non-porous soil, such as clay, if sand or grit or something that allows drainage is mixed in.
Here at the farm, we’re lucky to have ideal growing conditions as the soil is chalky and the slope of our field allows for a high amount of surface run-off, meaning that our lavender doesn’t sit in water for too long.
Lavender likes to be in a place that will get a lot of sun but so long as the plant is well aerated, it will still thrive.
When first planted, lavender needs help to become established in the ground and will need watering for the first seven to ten days or so. Once established, it won’t need any additional watering aside from incidental rainfall. If you’re planning to keep your lavender plant in a pot you will however, need to keep watering it occasionally. It doesn’t necessarily need any extra feed to help it become established.
There can be flexibility when it comes to harvesting your lavender stems. If you’re cutting your plant for fresh flowers, you can cut them whenever you like. For dried lavender, they should ideally be picked just before the petals (corollas) open up.
When pruning, stems should be cut above the greenery, about two inches above the old wood. This will allow for new growth for next season. If the stem is cut too far down into the old wood, it can damage or even kill off a plant. Lavender will survive just as happily if pruned once the lavender heads have lost all their colour.
Which Variety to Pick?
There are 39 species of lavender worldwide and within each species there are hundreds of varieties, meaning that there are many different colours, scents and foliage types to choose from.
We have 2 main species that are farmed at Hitchin Lavender. They are Lavandula Angustifolia and Lavandula x Intermedia, although you’ll be able to see 60 varieties growing in our display field and 10 varieties in our main field.
Angustifolia is a very valuable species of lavender because of the high quality oil that is produced by the plants. The oils can be used in perfume, cosmetics, for aromatherapy and utilised as an antiseptic. Its typical flowering period is from mid-June to late July. It is an extremely hardy plant and fairly forgiving of pruning mistakes! It has a shorter stem than other species and more contained greenery, making it a good option for domestic use.
Intermedia is a hybrid plant which comes from a combination of Angustifolia and Latifolia lavenders. Many varieties of Intermedia are used for producing commercial oil and dried bunches, as the yields from these plants are up to three times greater than Angustifolia. Intermedia is also very hardy with a flowering period from early July through to September.
If you’d like to pick a variety of lavender that can be found in our fields, you’ll find a selection of Angustifolia and Intermedia plants, available in two different pot sizes in our farm shop.