Most of us associate lavender with laundry products and fabric softeners. What we may not have known is that it has disinfectant, soothing, antiseptic and digestive properties.
In addition, it brings an aroma to your garden that you cannot miss. If you are interested in learning about lavender care , keep reading.
PARTICULAR DETAILS OF LAVENDER
Lavender is an endemic plant in the Mediterranean area that we can see growing wild. It is also commonly known as lavender (it is difficult to recognize at the common name level if there are differences or not) and it is cultivated both for its medicinal properties and for its ornamental and aromatic value for the garden.
In general, when we talk about this aromatic plant, we can refer to a large number of species since, as such, Lavandula is a genus of up to 60 species. Generally, when referring to lavender, scientifically it is classified as Lavandula angustifolia.
The most common Lavandula species cultivated in the Iberian Peninsula as an aromatic plant are the following:
- Lavandula angustifolia
- Lavandula angustifolia pyrenaica
- Lavandula dentata
- Lavandula lanata
- Lavandula latifolia
- Lavandula multifida
- Lavandula pedunculata
- Lavandula stoechas
- Lavandula stoechas subsp. luisieri
- Lavandula stoechas subsp. stoechas
- Lavandula viridis
- Lavandula angustifolia angustifolia × latifolia
- Lavandula angustifolia pyrenaica × latifolia
- avandula angustifolia × dentata
- Lavandula dentata × lanata
- Lavandula dentata × latifolia
- Lavandula lanata × latifolia
- Lavandula pedunculata × stoechas
- Lavandula pedunculata × viridis
- Lavandula stoechas × viridis
Lavender is generally creeping, although as a Mediterranean shrub, it can exceed a meter in height. The most valued of this aromatic plant is the production of its flowers , which, in addition to being of great ornamental interest, contain active ingredients valued in perfumery and pharmacy.
The inflorescence it produces is in the shape of a spadix (elongated cone), which can measure up to 9 cm. The lower part, the calyx, is made up of villi and has a darker purple color. The upper part is made up of bracts of a somewhat lighter color.
It is this mixture of purplish colors of different shades that really offers a really impressive landscape when we see a field of lavender.
The flowering period of this plant occurs from mid-spring to late summer.
Lavender has small, hairy, fleshy leaves. By brushing our hand with them, we are impregnated with their essential oils. It has grayish green tones and is very resistant.
This aromatic plant is commonly found in Mediterranean mountains throughout the Iberian Peninsula, Southern Europe (including half of France, famous for the cultivation of aromatic plants for perfumery), Croatia and Italy.
In addition to growing spontaneously in Mediterranean scrub and coastal environments, its cultivation for production and distillation of its active principles has also been extended.
The usual life cycle of this aromatic plant extends to 10 years , although hybrid species in production is reduced to achieve greater production of essential oils.
LAVENDER MAIN CARE
CLIMATOLOGY AND LOCATION
To speak of lavender is to think of Mediterranean climates with mild winters and hot, dry summers. This is the ideal climate for any aromatic plant of the Lavandula genus . Under these conditions, it can be grown both in direct soil and in pots.
Warm temperatures for most of the year, although it tolerates cold conditions and even light frosts in winter.
It can grow under any humidity situation, although it prefers dry environments .
As for lighting , it is grown in very well lit areas, in full sun. I take into account if you want to grow your lavender in pots.
SOIL OR SUBSTRATE CONDITIONS
As for the soil, lavender is a rustic species that adapts very well to any soil texture . To achieve optimal development, it prefers light, sandy or sandy loam soils with a medium organic matter content.
It is not a demanding species in terms of fertility , as it tends to grow in stony environments. However, in the first years of life it greatly values that we incorporate organic matter or decomposed compost mixed with the soil. Especially to develop your root system.
A very important fact about lavender soil is drainage . We must avoid at all costs excess water accumulated in the soil or substrate, since it is quite sensitive to rotting of its roots .
Ideal substrate for growing lavender in pots
The universal substrate that we can buy in any garden center is enough, although we can get an extra if we improve the drainage even more .
Getting an ideal substrate for aromatic plants consists of mixing, in equal parts, said universal substrate with another 50% much more porous. We are talking about coconut fiber , vermiculite or even perlite .
Any of the 3 is equally valid, although we have a preference for coconut fiber, given its price and mix with other substrates.
LAVENDER WATERING CONSIDERATIONS
The Lavender is an aromatic plant that s Oporta periods of drought well , typical of the Mediterranean climate where sometimes there are months without rain.
In these cases, the lavender that grows wild only has the contribution of the rain and survives. In fact, it is common to grow in mountains and meadows that receive only 300 mm (liters) of water per year.
However, to give it a better cultivated life in our garden, we cannot depend on rainwater alone. It is common to place a drip irrigation system with one emitter per plant.
1 watering per week, 2 in cases of very hot summers, are enough to get a perfectly developed lavender.
We are talking about an irrigation time for a drip system of between 40 and 50 minutes for usual emitters of 4 L / h.
WATERING FOR POTS
In pots, the approach is even simpler, since we can check the humidity of the substrate simply by feeling it manually.
We must leave the substrate practically dry between watering and watering. In fact, lavender is the typical plant, like rosemary and other succulents, that we tend to overwater.
We will water with a volume of 1/3 of the volume of the pot, draining between 10-20% of the water through the holes in the pot and with a sufficient frequency to allow the substrate to dry.
If 15 days pass and the soil is still wet, please do not water .
TIPS FOR MULTIPLYING LAVENDER
It is a generally very multiplied species . It is common to take small stems from gardens with lavender or even in pots to try to reproduce them on our own.
In this case, there are several ways to multiply the lavender.
WHAT FERTILIZER TO APPLY
Despite being a rustic species and growing in poor soils, it appreciates the contribution of organic and mineral fertilizer in full budding, at the beginning of spring.
It is advisable to give a little affection to the soil and the plant by providing organic matter (2 to 3 kg per plant) in autumn, and in spring, providing mineral fertilizers.
One recommended for lavender is to apply granular solid fertilizers. We consider an ideal ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium NPK 12-8-16 fertilizer , which also contains magnesium and micronutrients.
It has been shown how the contribution of these micronutrients favors the concentration of its essential oils.
In general, any of the solid fertilizers you can choose, consider adding between 100 and 200 grams per plant , around the main stem and at the beginning of spring, reapplying once more in the middle of summer.
If you enjoy this aromatic plant grown in pots, you can also pay without problems, but reduce the amount by 30-50 grams, since they are generally smaller plants.
This will be more than enough to achieve a healthy and strong plant.
LAVENDER MULTIPLICATION BY SEEDS
Germinating lavender seeds is an easy but slow technique to reproduce. It is easy to buy seeds of this aromatic plant in any garden center or even online.
However, it requires patience that not everyone manages to have. We speak of between 1 and 3 months of germination . Yes, it is quite slow.
Sometimes it happens in 15 days, but it all depends on the plant subspecies and storage conditions.
For its sowing, it requires a slightly warm temperature (15-20 ºC), conditions of constant humidity in the substrate and with very good lighting.
There is an area where at the beginning of spring we already obtain these direct sowing conditions . If this is not your case, you can use a seedbed or even germinate lavender in pots indoors, near windows to allow light to enter.
If you decide to obtain seeds on your own and at zero cost, you can collect them by squeezing the flowers directly when their production ends, at the end of summer .
We will keep them in a cool and dry place (a glass jar is usually the usual thing), to plant them at the beginning of spring, when there is a minimum and stable temperature of 15 ºC.
Here you can get some lavender seeds .
MULTIPLICATION BY CUTTINGS OR CUTTING
The cutting technique is an easier system to accelerate the reproduction of lavender, obtaining the identical qualities to the mother plant where we have selected the stem.
The selection of the cutting will be carried out at the end of summer, when the flowering ends. For this, we will choose a stem between 10 and 15 cm in length, of semi-woody consistency (sprouting of the same year).
On this stem we make a diagonal cut (we increase the root production surface) and we plant it directly in small pots with universal substrate and coconut fiber, in equal parts.
It is important to keep the humidity in the substrate at all times, in a warm and light environment. Likewise, it is grateful that there is environmental humidity, so we can improvise a greenhouse by covering the pot with perforated plastic or a broken bottle.
To guarantee the success of the operation, it is recommended to select several cuttings as some may fail. In addition, we can also use natural rooting agents or hormonal products (indoleacetic acid and cytokinins) to stimulate the emergence of new roots.
LAVANDULA PESTS AND DISEASES
Although we consider this aromatic plant to be resistant or we even think that by containing its essential oils it can ward off insects, the truth is that it also suffers its hardships like any botanical species.
One of the most common pests of Lavandula angustifolia is the cottony mealybug . It can be found both on young stems (just sprouted) and on the more woody ones. It sucks the sap and weakens the plant.
Most of the diseases that lavender suffers are related to excess humidity both in the environment (rainy season) and in the substrate or soil (excess irrigation).
Therefore, we are talking about neck diseases and diseases related to root rot (Septoria, Phytophthora , etc.)
What is lavender sadness?
Although it is not well defined or studied, it is assumed that they are a group of fungi that affect the development of lavender, hindering the movement of sap and slowly drying out the plant. Hence the name.
It is attributed to several conditions, such as fatigued soil, lack of root development and aggressive environmental conditions, just when lavender would need the most water demand.
In the event that you find your lavender dull or weak , it is likely due to overwatering. In general, you can tell if the stems are flaccid and the flower curves under its own weight. It is a clear sign that the roots have lacked oxygen.
On the other hand, a plant that turns brown, with dry and crisp leaves is a sign of dryness, but it will be very difficult for you to find your lavender like that unless you completely ignore it.
USES OF LAVENDER AS A MEDICINAL PLANT
The extract or essential oil of lavender is one of the most used products and with the greatest offer of benefits.
- Antispasmodic, antiseptic, diuretic, healing and analgesic properties.
- Used in the form of an infusion, decoction, tincture, ointment and lotion.
- Anti-inflammatory effects and relief of muscle pain after playing sports.
- Use of essential oil in cosmetics, perfumery and hygiene products (softeners, gels and soaps).
- Improvement of conditions in the respiratory tract.
- Benefit for the control of dizziness, diarrhea, slow digestion, etc.
- Used topically, to control sores, insect bites, relieve burns, eczema on the skin, etc.
- The collected flowers, once dried and placed in small breathable bags, serve to perfume clothes, ward off chickens and other insects and as a relaxing effect to improve sleep.
- Activation of tissue metabolism, applying to the skin.
COMPOSITION OF ITS ESSENTIAL OILS
Although if we grow lavender very soon we will begin to feel the great aroma it produces, the curious thing is that it is only composed of 0.8% of its main essential oil in the fresh plant.
Of that 0.8% of lavender essential oil , it is formed by 30-40% of free terpenic alcohols such as linalol, geraniol, borneol, eucalyptol etc. In addition, it contains terpenic carbides (ocimino, dipentene, camphene, caryophyllene), organic acids (caffeic, chlorogenic, rosmarinic), ursolic acid, tannins, etc.
In high production plantations, 1.2% can be obtained from the stems, so that from every 1,000 kg of them, about 12 kg of essential oil can be obtained.
CRUCIAL IMPORTANCE OF LAVENDER IN THE ECOSYSTEM
Lavender in the vegetable garden or in a garden brings a special color and aroma. The uses of lavender are numerous as aromatic, we know its effectiveness against clothes moths and its essential oil is more than a benchmark in aromatherapy and cosmetics.
What we must also bear in mind is that having lavender in the garden or orchard is a great attraction for pollinators.
Surely you have already heard the importance of bees and pollinators for ecosystems. Its action is essential and phytosanitary products, pollution and the most aggressive agricultural practices are greatly reducing its capacity.
The protection of these little wizards of nature runs from our hand and having lavender in the orchard or in the garden we will contribute that little grain of sand.
You should know that lavender is one of the favorite plants of bees . This will influence the rest of the pollinations in the garden or orchard.
Let’s say that lavender acts as bait and from then on, bees and other pollinators wander through our domains helping pollination, especially in fruit trees. fruit trees. They also attract many ladybugs that as you know are an important ally against aphids, which is called biological fight .