Straw Mulch for Lavender
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Mary Dever Ford
Posted on: December 8, 1998

A number of the lavender varieties I selected suggest "straw mulch in winter". I have a nice bale of straw ready to go but am not sure how much to use, and how to weigh it down so it doesn’t blow away before the snow arrives.

The amount of mulch needed depends on the climatic zone you are in and how much snow you get and how soon it arrives. The warmer your winters and the sooner the snow comes, the less mulch the plants need to make it through the winter.

Lavenders originate from Mediterranean regions where summer and winter temperatures are moderated by the proximity of the ocean and the warm Gulf stream.

In our zone 5 area, winters vary greatly in severity, because several zones are very close together here and seem to shift north or south a bit every year resulting in relatively large fluctuations. Also we often have heavy frosts in early winter with little or no snow cover. Therefore a 15 to 30 centimeter high mulch for lavenders is almost a must to stop the soil temperature from fluctuating as rapidly and as much as the air temperature.

Work the straw in around the base of the plants and build it up to as high as is advisable up to about 30 centimeters. Spread some evergreen branches over the mulched plants to hold down the mulch and provide some further wind protection. Remove branches and all but about 5 centimeters of mulch in spring after no more hard frosts are expected in your area.

If you cannot get any evergreen branches or have to wait until after Christmas and the recycling of Christmas trees, try using any other branches you can get a hold of or even lengths of scrap wood. Any planks would have to be carefully positioned to lie between and not on the plants. In a pinch you could use old newspapers spread between the plants over the mulch and held down with rocks. Just make sure the soil is moist before you put down the papers, because the papers will inhibit water from reaching the soil, as well as keep what is there from evaporating as quickly.

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