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Joined: Fri Jun 05, 2009 1:10 pm
Location: 5a - Northern IL, WI border

How do I plant Lavender? Laymen terms please

I live in No. IL - It's still pretty cold here. The ground has a lot of clay. (I'm assuming clay by consistency and if I flip the ground and the clay is too wet, when it dries, it dries like cement)

I love lavender and I'd love to plant it but in reading the posts, I get really intimidated.

Well drained soil ... Alklalineaine levels a certain thing - Ratios of 5:8:3:?...huh? Well aerated - add a tblsp of lime ..

Can someone tell me their successful setup? So what do you think is the best way?

The ground or should I plant in a container? If so - how big & deep?

Or is No. IL So.WI not a good place for lavender since they like it hot and dry...

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Location: TN/GA 7b

growing lavender in zone 5

Lavender is usually rated hardy to zone 5. It looks like you are probably in the colder part of zone 5. That means you can probably grow lavender, but recognize that it is at the edge of it's tolerance and if you have a particularly bad winter you will lose some.

Lavender in general doesn't do great in containers. I have some that way, but it doesn't get as big as in the ground. But I'm in zone 6b and you are in 5a. Stuff in containers freezes harder than stuff in the ground. The only way you will have lavender survive in containers is if you bring the containers into the garage or somewhere protected for the winter (and then remember that though dormant, it still will need a little water every once in a while).

It would be better off planted in the ground and mulched heavily for winter. It's really not that fussy about soil and mine does fine in (amended) clay soil. But WELL DRAINING. Lavender was a mediterranean plant. Even worse than the cold, it hates staying wet. Don't over water, don't let it stay wet.

Don't be intimidated! Once established, it is a tough easy care plant that really doesn't need to be fertilized, if you have basically fertile soil and use organic mulch, that doesn't need to be watered, is not prone to pests and is very rewarding to grow.

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Joined: Fri Jul 17, 2009 2:28 am
Location: Florida

Thank you rainbowgardener, a friend of mine was talking about Lavender, I'm sending this to him. Thanks!!

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Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2009 11:56 am
Location: St. Louis, MO

The reason you've heard about the "loose" soil is because lavender is pretty picky about having too much water at the roots. The idea is to have a soil that drains well (hence, the "loose"), so the water doesn't sit in the soil and rot the roots (especially true since you mentioned a lot of clay in the soil).

I definitely would amend the soil before you try lavender. You need to break up the clay clumps, which hold water and also is very hard for roots to move through in order to get the nutrition the plant needs. What you're going for is a balance between what clay does provide (water retention so you're not watering 18 times a day!) and water drainage (so the roots don't get waterlogged. Some plants are a little easier to please in this regard than lavender.

If you live in a city and have access to the larger parks, most municipalities have free compost and mulch piles for residents. You can bag your own and amend (compost) and protect (mulch) your plants for very little money. Or, your local nursery will also be able to help you with things to help your soil. If you live in an area with a high clay content, believe me, the nurseries around are used to helping gardeners with this problem!

If you decide to try container lavender, start out with a variety that's more apt to do well, like Spanish lavender.

Hope this helps,


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