Lavender is one of the most fragrant herbs and is easy to grow as long as it has good drainage and lots of sunshine. This plant will grow to about 2-3 feet around and will have tall violet to soft lavender flower spikes that reach up 2 feet high. The flowers are the most fragrant part of the plant and they are used in cooking instead of the leaves. We sell a variety called “Provence” which is a cross between “Spike” lavender and English lavender. We find that it is a fairly hardy plant and does well in most areas.
The main reason so many people find this difficult to grow is because they over water or do not allow the soil to dry in -between watering. If you plant Lavender in the ground and rainfall is plentiful you must plant in soil that drains away the water fairly quickly. Raised beds are helpful or plant in large containers with potting soil.
Keeping in mind that Lavender is not cold hardy all areas, if you live in a northern climate and want to try to overwinter your plant, the best thing to do is to mulch heavily with some good heavy mulch and then mulch on top of that with pine straw or leaves. On very cold, windy nights it is a good idea to place an old pillow case or sheet on top of it. Snow actually protects the lavender from the wind so you should be ok if there is good snow cover. Your biggest problem will be when the snow melts and the ground is sopping wet and muddy. Lavender plants can actually drown in those conditions which is why drainage is so important.
To harvest Lavender flowers or leaves, cut the stalks at the base of the plant just as the flowers are open. They dry very easily by just laying them in a basket in a single layer.
To use Lavender in cooking, many people use the flowers in baking to add fragrance or add it to fresh to vinegars for salad dressings.