Expert tips to grow five different varieties like a pro
By Lisa Watters-Lain, Arizona’s Garden Gal
Lavenders can be overwhelming, with more than 17 mountain hardy varieties sold here at Watters Garden Center. Follow this simple guide to become a garden expert on this fragrant mountain herb.
Purple an Expert Can Spot
Lavenders grown in the mountains of Arizona are grouped into six main types: English, French, Spanish, Sweet, Fern leaf, and Lavandin. There are others, but these are the most robust and popular varieties found seasonally at Watters. You will find many types at Watters now, but more detail, photos, and purchase options are linked to each variety.
English Lavender is the wonderfully fragrant lavender commonly dried for sachets and decorations. English Lavender forms a mounding shrub from 8 inches to 2 feet tall, with gray-green, smooth-edged foliage. The bloom period is from late spring to mid-summer.
French Lavender. In sunny Arizona gardens, French Lavender, an irregular shrub reaching three feet tall and up to four feet wide, blooms most of the growing season. The leaves are toothed in green or gray. The flowers are purple, with two little “rabbit ear” petals on top. Goodwin Creek is the most popular hybrid at the garden center, with lightly toothed, very silver leaves and dark, violet-blue flowers that bloom continually.
Spanish Lavender has small, silver-green leaves and chubby flowers with pronounced “rabbit ear” petals. Many new varieties have large and prominently contrasting “ears” (two to four) of purple, black-purple, cream, and white. Plants mound from 18 inches to about knee-high and equally wide. As pretty as it is fragrant.
Sweet Lavender enjoys the hottest parts of the landscape. Very, very heat tolerant, these lavenders have flowers on tall, wiry stems. Most flowers are bright, violet-blue, thin, and narrow. Shrubs can reach just above knee height and wide and bloom all summer. The fragrance is mustier than English Lavender.
Fern-leaf Lavender. This unique variety has cut and divided leaves, hence the name. It has brighter green foliage than others, and the flowers are branched and held very high on tall stalks that dance in the mountain breeze. This lavender blooms the entire growing season from spring through autumn. Shrubs reach two feet tall by three feet wide and require little pruning. This variety looks great planted in containers where the fragrance greets their gardener upon each return.
Growing Better Lavender
All lavenders like growing in the sunny parts of Prescott and the surrounding cities with well-drained soil. This is one of the few herbs that stay green through winter with the added benefit of being extremely animal resistant. Containers filled with Watters Potting Soil produce picture-perfect Lavenders.
The right food brings out the color and fragrance. Feed this plant twice monthly with Watters Flower Power for a never-ending fragrance.
Most varieties do not like a lot of water or clay soil, for that matter. These guys are tough. It is the main reason they make such good container plants. Too much water kills more lavenders than not enough, so err on the side neglect rather than loving this plant to death. Cut lavenders back by shearing foliage by a third right after flowering to keep them tidy and neat.
There! Wasn’t that easy? You are now an expert on all things lavender. We have a bunch of varieties here at Watters Garden Center, and a bunch of herbal experts who can help further.
Until next month, I’ll be helping gardeners grow better Lavenders here at Watters Garden Center.
Lisa Watters-Lain can be found throughout the week at Watters Garden Center, 1815 Iron Springs Road in Prescott, or contacted through her website at WattersGardenCenter.com or Top10Vegetables.com