Lavender is a Mediterranean evergreen shrub, cultivated for its fragrant leaves and bee-friendly flowers. There are hardy, semi-hardy and tender varieties of lavender to choose from. Lavenders work in a variety of situations, from wildlife gardens to cottage gardens and even formal gardens, such as planted under bush roses or used as a low-growing lavender hedge. Many lavenders thrive in pots. But how can gardeners cope with the UK’s harsh winter conditions?
Mark Bennett, a professional horticulturist with over 10 years of experience, shared how gardeners can implement a few steps to ensure their lavender is cared for over the winter so that it delivers beautiful, strongly scented blooms next growing season.
He said: “To prepare your lavenders for winter, the two most important things you can do are tidy up any fallen leaves that have accumulated around the lavender and prune the lavender into a dense, sturdy mound shape, as this it will more effectively resist the effects of winter. weather.”
Arrangement of fallen leaves
Fallen leaves can act as useful mulch for some plants, but lavender prefers soil that drains well and doesn’t hold too much moisture, according to Mark.
He explained: “This is because lavender is native to the Mediterranean region of Europe, where it thrives in sandy soils that have relatively low fertility.”
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The leaves have an excellent ability to retain water, which will create unfavorable conditions that could lead to the fungal disease root rot, which usually occurs in wet soils.
So in the fall, the expert advised, “Make sure you remove (or use a leaf blower) and clean up all the rotting organic matter around your lavender and place it in the compost pile.
“At this time of year you can put in some sand or gravel to act as a mulch to suppress weeds. Sand in particular will leach into the soil over time and improve soil drainage by creating a more porous structure.”
Pruning lavender before winter
Mark said: “Lavenders should be pruned every year as this will slow the formation of woody growth, increase longevity, maintain an attractive shape and stimulate more flower production.”
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“The golden rule of lavender pruning is to never cut the woody material back as the wood does not regenerate and the wood is the weakest least durable part of the plant.”
At this time of year, gardeners should not remove too much foliage from lavender. The professional gardener explained: “The most you should cut back is a third of the green growth, the most important factor is to mound the lavender so it is more robust.
“A mound shape will prevent and divert snow, ice or excess water from entering the lavender and damaging the more vulnerable woody base of the lavender plant.”
Watering lavender in winter
Lavenders go into hibernation and do not need any water during the winter. Lavender is also a drought tolerant shrub, so winter watering is very low maintenance.
According to Mark, established lavenders will not need extra water during the winter. He said: “The problem with lavender is usually too much water during the winter, thanks to the higher winter rainfall in most climates.”
Lavenders in their first year of growth may benefit from water once every four to six weeks in the winter if no significant rainfall has occurred, but they will likely get enough water in the winter without watering thanks to the lower rate of evaporation in cold weather.
You may need to bring potted, non-English lavenders indoors during the winter to protect them from frost. In these cases, the lavender will need a moderate amount of water during the winter to stop it from drying out completely.
This should be done once every four to six weeks, however, if the soil feels remotely moist to the touch (when tested to the depth of the finger), then you should stop watering for the time being.
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