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Ask a Master Gardener: Which lavender is best for your garden?

by Peter Sutter | February 25, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.

Jennifer Schutter, Horticulture Specialist at MU Extension, recently had an interesting article about growing lavender in Missouri, here are some highlights.

A team of MU Extension Field Specialists took on a project to learn which cultivars of lavender are best suited based on flower production, winter hardiness, drought hardiness and overall vigor of the plant, and provide this information to producers and home gardeners.

Plants were covered in late December with row cover for winter protection. Garden staples were used to keep the covers in place.

The covers were removed on March 29 and pruning was done in April to remove dead growth and shape the plants.

The plants started blooming in late May with the first flower harvest of 2022 on June 3.

Flower stems for each cultivar were measured, with "Grosso" and "Provence" having the longest stems. The flowers were weighed and weights were recorded for each harvest.

In 2022, the same cultivars, "Super," "Phenomenal," "Grosso," "Melissa" and "Provence," again out-performed all the other cultivars.

All these, with the exception of "Melissa," had 14-21 inch stems. Stem length is important for floral arranging. "Grosso" was the biggest producer of flowers. "Melissa" is a white flowered cultivar with shorter stems but it is very pretty when arranged in bouquets with the purple cultivars.

Home gardeners should consider growing lavender. It makes a beautiful addition to a garden and there are several benefits to growing it.

Apart from its beautiful color, lavender is known for its soothing scent. It has a relaxing effect and helps relieve stress. Lavender oil is a commonly used ingredient in shampoos, soaps, air fresheners, candles and scented sachets.

Fresh lavender plants will keep a garden fragrant as well as attract a variety of pollinators like bees, butterflies, praying mantis and others. In urban settings where the population of natural pollinators, including bees and butterflies, is on a decline, lavender plants offer an invaluable attraction to these species.

Some insects like fleas, flies and mosquitos do not like lavender. Hence, growing a lavender plant in a garden may be a way to deter these unwanted insect pests. The use of lavender products on skin can serve the purpose of mosquito repellant without damaging your skin.

Lavender plants prefer full sun and a sandy-loam, well-drained soil. Water-logged or soil that is always moist or wet will cause root rot in the plants and may kill them.

For more information on growing lavender, contact the MU Extension Center in Adair County at 660-665-9866 or email [email protected]

Just a reminder, the Callaway County Master Gardeners will be holding a class on starting seeds for cole crops at the Callaway County Library at 6:00 pm on Feb. 28. The class is free and open to the public. See you there.

Happy gardening!

Peter Sutter is a lifelong gardening enthusiast and a participant in the MU Extension's Callaway County Master Gardener program. Gardening questions can be sent to [email protected]

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