How to Grow Lavender in the Pacific Northwest
Many people think of Lavender as a challenging plant to grow in the Pacific Northwest due to the region's cooler and wetter climate, but it can actually thrive with the right care. Here are some tips for growing lavender in the Pacific Northwest:
Choose a well-draining site: Lavender does not tolerate wet soil (it hates wet feet!), so it is important to choose a site with good drainage. If your soil tends to retain water, consider building a raised bed or amending the soil with compost and/or gravel to improve drainage. Contrary to popular belief, it is not a good idea to add sand to our often clay based PNW soils! Sand and clay makes concrete! I always say that compost fixes everything!
Plant in full sun: Lavender thrives in full sun, so choose a site that gets at least six hours of direct sunlight per day.
Plant in an area that gets good air flow. Fungal diseases are a problem for lavender and good air flow will help prevent them taking hold.
Use a well-draining soil mix: Lavender grows best in a soil mix that is slightly alkaline and well-draining. A combination of equal parts potting soil, sand, and perlite or vermiculite can provide the necessary drainage and pH balance to get your plants started.
Water sparingly: Lavender is drought-tolerant and does not require frequent watering. Water the plant deeply once or twice a week, making sure the soil dries out between waterings. Overwatering can lead to root rot, so be careful not to overdo it. For the same reason that lavender needs good air flow, don't use a sprinkler to water lavender from overhead. Instead use a soaker hose or drip emitters to help lavender get established. After it is established, it shoudl not need watering except in extreme drought.
Prune regularly: Pruning helps to maintain the shape of the plant and encourages new growth. Prune your lavender plants in the Fall by removing any dead or damaged branches and trimming back any overgrown areas. In Provence, rows are often pruned into neat balls for the winter.
With proper care, lavender can thrive in the Pacific Northwest. It is a beautiful and fragrant addition to any garden, and it can also be used in cooking, crafts, and aromatherapy.
Here at Sherwood Lavender Farm, we've taught people how to grow flowers, herbs, vegetables, and other plants for many years. Erika completed the Oregon State University Master Gardener program in 2008, and volunteered hundreds of hours teaching others, including how to grow Lavender.