English lavender is a perennial herbaceous flower native to the Mediterranean region of North America. Prized for its aromatic flowers, lavender is used for medicinal and culinary purposes around the world. It can be grown in the home garden, but requires special care to start. Once established, English lavender is easy to care for; one plant will produce flowers for up to 10 years. Lavender-coloured flowers bloom in early to late summer, borne on upright flower stalks which rise above the foliage.
Plant English lavender seeds in a planting container and barely cover with potting soil. Seeds are slow to germinate, but should begin to emerge in 1 to 3 months. Keep the container in a bright, humid place until seedlings are large enough to handle. Water once per week to provide adequate moisture.
Transfer the English lavender seedlings to individual 4-inch containers and allow them to grow indoors in a bright, warm location through their first winter. Continue watering seedlings once per week. Don't over water, but don't allow the soil to dry out completely.
Choose a planting site outdoors with full sun and well-drained, alkaline soil in late spring, after all danger of frost has passed. Transplant seedlings outdoors, spacing them 24 to 36 inches apart. English lavender can become quite bushy and needs plenty of room for growth.
Water English lavender plants immediately after planting to compact the soil. Water once every two weeks to provide moisture. Lavender is drought tolerant and will not thrive in heavy, wet soil. Increase watering to once per week in very dry periods or hot climates.
Spread a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch around the base of English lavender plants in late fall. This will insulate the roots throughout winter and help conserve moisture in the soil. Remove the mulch layer in spring, after the last expected frost.
Remove spent flowers after the first bloom to encourage more flowers. Use pruning shears to cut back English lavender to about 6 inches in height every 2 or 3 years. This will prevent the plant from becoming legging and scraggly, and promote a compact growth habit.
Bark mulch is best for use with English lavender, but pine needles, hay or grass clippings may also be used. English lavender may also be grown from cuttings or divisions, which should be grown indoors during the first winter and planted outdoors in spring after the threat of frost is over. English lavender performs best in soil with a pH below 6.4 or above 8.2. Ask your local county extension office for a soil test to determine the soil pH at the planting site. Lime can be added to raise alkalinity, and sulphur to raise acidity. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for proper application, or the suggestions of your county extension office.
Replace lavender plants once every 10 years, as they will become woody, produce less flowers and generally decline after reaching this age.