Growing Lavender from Seed in Malaysia
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Christopher
Posted on: September 16, 2005

I do love your website. I am 22 years old from Malaysia.

As I have noticed that 6 pots live plants costs a lot for international freight.

Unfortunately the cost of international shipping of live plants is very expensive, and getting more expensive as the price of oil rises. The problem is that live plants must not travel for more than 3-4 days otherwise they suffer from the lack of light and from rotting. Mail is not quick enough in most cases, so we are forced to use the more expensive air couriers. Seeds and other goods are safe to ship by less expensive mail.

I read about ‘Subject: Lavender in Indonesia’ which is very informative but I am not from Indonesia. Yes, you know how our weather is: as a tropical country, we receive full sun all year long.

If my knowledge serves me correctly, plants will suit their environment best if grown from seeds, is it not true? I have heard many say that live plants will likely to suffer from elemental transitions. Fortunately their seeds will adapt them to their environment. As though they were modified to their survival environment. Please correct me if I am wrong.

It is true that plants taken from one climatic zone and planted in another completely different climatic zone will often suffer and perish. But the reasons for this are many and varied, and very much dependent on the species and varieties involved.

The "elemental transitions" theory has perhaps a limited use as a kind of shorthand for explaining what are, in reality, more complex reasons why plants fail. For me "elemental transitions" are too vague and practically useless for understanding what is really happening to plants.

Some of the many reasons why plants fail when transplanted from a temperate climate to a tropical climate are:

* excess rain and humidity causing the onset of fungal diseases

* inadequate rainfall

* too much heat causing a slow down or stoppage of the growth rate

* pests and diseases that are common in tropics can be lethal to plants not accustomed to defending against the same -- for example many temperate herbs are damaged badly by termites and locusts

* lack of a winter season when plants normally die back and withdraw to the roots -- many temperate plants need a dormant winter season and if they don’t get one they can languish and exhibit almost no vigour

* soil composition differences where the nutrients, drainage characteristics, pH, etc. are dramatically different from what the plants are accustomed to

* differences in beneficial and harmful bacterial and fungal populations -- some plants have important symbiotic relationships with soil fungi and those fungi may be absent in the tropics

* differences in the light quality and quantity can affect some plants also

It is important to note that these are just some reasons why temperate plants may fail in the tropics -- there are more.

Would plants started from seeds have a better chance in the tropics than transplants? It is possible, but there is no way to predict that, and it is impossible to generalize. Indeed the opposite is possible too: for example, certain seeds need to go through one or more freezing winters in the ground before they will germinate. In the case of lavender, seed dormancy is not a significant barrier to germination success so if seed grown plants have a better survival rate in the tropics it may be because the older tissue of transplants is not adjusted for the more intense light, especially in the UV portion of the spectrum.

I, too, wish to grow my very own ‘true’ lavender. Seeds is what I could afford, it seems.

Is the English Lavender the best of all lavenders? The best fragrance, top quality oil and with the best medicinal properties?

Lavender varieties from the english group (Lavandula angustifolia) produce some of the very best oils. The yield is generally lower than the yields of the lavandin varieties (L. x intermedia). The lavandins are the varieties of choice for many commercial growers because of the higher yields and greater disease resistance, but cannot be grown from seeds.

I am not a business person or the like. I just want to get and know the best as I could.

We hope that this helps.

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