Lavender in Containers
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: David James

I wish to purchase lavender, but before doing so need some advice on which variety is best for my conditions and how I should then best proceed. I live in an eighth floor apartment which has a very sunny south & west exposure. I wish to raise lavender in containers. I have smallish terra cotta containers as well as large ones e.g. a few feet long and a foot or so deep. They are covered with snow during the winter. How should I best proceed...via starting some in doors now, wait till the snow & ice disappears and then plant seeds or plant plants; what variety would be best -- Hidcote?;

Plants grown in containers outside must be a lot frost hardier than plants grown in the soil because the container will not stop the roots from cooling to air temperature. In the soil, heat is always rising slowly from below and only the most porous medium such as rocks will allow the roots to grow as cold as the air. You can mulch your containers heavily to establish a link between them and the warmer soil and in this way improve the survival of marginally frost hardy plants. English lavender is hardy in Zones 5-8 with Hidcote and Munstead being the hardiest selections. You might wish to try Lady lavender since it will bloom the first year from seed, even if it does not survive cold winters.

Whatever variety you decide to choose, it would be a good idea to start seeds as soon as possible indoors or start with purchased plants. If you start your English lavender plants from seeds chill or lightly freeze the sown seedflat for about a month to increase germination.

We also have very dry sunny land in Prince Edward County, Ontario south of Belleville, not far from Picton, Ontario. We are not there very often but would like to grow some lavender. Is this would it be best to proceed - with plants?;

Since you would not be there to water the young plants religiously, you will have to plant out fairly big plants. You could of course start these from seed at home and move them when they are a respectable size and a few days of rain are expected at their permanent location. It would also be a good idea to time your visits to the site to coincide with prolonged droughts (often occuring in June in Southern Ontario) to water the plants. A winter mulch will give you peace of mind!

I noted that you had a book which deals with lavender but frankly I am not interested in a chapter on sachets, but rather the growing care and maintenance of lavender.

It is difficult to write a book that only deals with one aspect of a subject plant. The book "Lavender" by Tessa Eveleigh #B6177 deals with culture as well as uses of lavender such as in sachets. You must admit that lavender moth sachets smell much better than moth balls and are much better for your health-if not for that of the moths! After growing lavender successfully for a few years you might get interested in using some of the flowers one or the other of the ways suggested in the book.

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