BY LISA DOSS AND DENISE HEIDEL
An herb from the mint family is often used for its medicinal properties or aromatic qualities. While lavender is a hardy perennial, the beautiful, bushy shrub is often featured in locations among rock gardens as a landscape feature or in well-drained soil to complement flowers or compatible herbs and vegetables. Additionally, lavender thrives in sturdy containers. With all the wonderful purposes lavender offers, you, too, can reap the rewards of growing this diverse perennial.
Patience is the first step in growing lavender. Don’t give up when the seed does not begin to grow. It may take up to one month to germinate; therefore, mark your calendar from the day of planting. To ensure proper drainage, use a light potting soil such as Miracle Grow. Once the seed is planted, cover with a mere 1/8 inch of potting mix. This allows the seed to remain protected and provides ample sunlight to encourage growth. Choose a location that maintains 70 degrees in temperature. Seeds should be watered in the morning to allow the soil to drain. If the seeds remain wet by evening, it could result in fungus forming, killing the seed. Once the seeds sprout true leaves, containers can be placed in a location that receives direct sunlight. Once leaves have fully matured, congratulations, it is time to transplant.
To grow a successful lavender plant requires well-drained soil. Gardeners can consider tilling the location or digging a wide hole. If using a container, wash and dry thoroughly before dusting the edges with baking soda. (This is a healthy way to start all of your potted plants.) Whether the container is the ground or a pot, place a handful of rocks at the bottom. And, surrounding the plant, mix crushed eggshells and coffee grounds, if available, to your light potting soil. (Compostable items boost minerals and vitamins to your soil, improving the vitality of your plant.) Remember, lavender can expand; so space each plant at a minimum of 18 inches apart. Observe plants, especially the first year, and water only when dry. Expect lavender to grow slowly the first year; yet, by year two you will start to enjoy this amazing herb!
Benefits of Lavender
Now that you know how to grow lavender, you’ll be amazed at all the benefits from this humble little plant. Of course, lavender is well known for its relaxation benefits. It’s been used to help treat insomnia, stress and even depression.
Scientists have used lavender to protect against diabetes symptoms and improve brain function. Lavender is noted for its anti-inflammatory properties and can help with bug bites, minor burns, pain and even helps alleviate headaches.
Lavender is also great for the skin and can help reduce acne and treat eczema.
Ways to Use Lavender
Lavender can be used in a number of ways. From culinary uses to household cleaning to laundry to the aforementioned health benefits, lavender may be the most useful and versatile herb in your garden. Some favorite uses include:
- Use Lavender Essential Oil after shaving to help minimize the effects of razor burn.
- Pregnant moms-to-be will love lavender oil to help with itchy baby bumps and help prevent stretch marks.
- Mix eight drops of lavender oil with a quarter cup of oatmeal for a great (and relaxing) facial scrub.
- Help the kiddos (or yourself) get some sleep by making a small pillow of lavender buds, or even rub lavender oil on the bottoms of feet.
- Add up to six drops of lavender to a bottle of white vinegar for natural cleaning.
- Culinary lavender is a delicious add-on to a latte, and it makes wonderful tea!
- Baking with lavender is a great way to add a touch of elegance and sophistication to your cooking.
- And, in addition to all these ideas, if you’re crafty, you’ll have a ton of fun making soaps, sachets, candles, wreaths and more!
Lavender is a highly popular herb for many reasons. Relax and enjoy this easy-to-grow plant, and take advantage of its many uses!