Lavender from seeds: choose and grow
The Mediterranean beauty lavender has long won the hearts of gardeners around the world. To obtain a sufficient amount of planting material for lavender compositions, flower growers resort to seed propagation of the plant.
Choosing lavender seeds
Going for seeds, you need to remember that under the name «lavender» different types of this culture are combined, but only holly, or English lavender has sufficient winter hardiness. It is she who should be preferred if you want to grow this plant in the open field in a cold climate. English lavender winters well at temperatures down to -25 degrees, and under snow it can withstand 30-degree frosts.
Other species (in particular, extravagant French lavender) are used as potted plants, because they cannot tolerate even relatively low temperatures. You can grow this lavender on a balcony or terrace, and put it indoors for the winter.
The varieties of this plant differ mainly in shades of inflorescences and the size of the bush, the height of which varies from 30 to 60 cm (rarely up to 70-80 cm). There are varieties with purple-blue, dark purple, lilac-pink, bluish-lilac, light blue, pale pink, white inflorescences. Most of them are bred in the UK and other countries with a rather mild climate, however, many foreign varieties are successfully grown in our country, for example:
Coloring of inflorescences
good frost resistance; height about 30 cm; well suited for urban environments
height 20-25 cm; long flowering period
Height 0.4-0.6 m, has a pastel color of flowers
bush about 50 cm high with snow-white inflorescences
Height from 0.5 to 1.0 m, famous for its drought resistance and frost resistance down to -25˚С
How to grow lavender seedlings from seeds
Lavender seeds need to be “awakened”, without prior preparation they do not sprout. Flower growers use two methods for this: stratification (prolonged exposure to cold) and heating. Let’s consider both options.
Stratification of lavender seeds
This is a long procedure — the seeds are kept at a low temperature for up to 1.5 months (depending on the variety), so you need to start preparing in January.
Sometimes natural stratification is used: lavender is sown on a seedling bed before winter, but in regions with a harsh climate or unpredictable winter (with strong temperature fluctuations, prolonged thaws, frosts without snow), such an experiment can lead to seed death. Therefore, more often they are still stratified at home.
Seeds are mixed with wet sand or peat, or wrapped in damp gauze (cloth napkin) and put in the refrigerator. It is important to ensure that they are constantly in a humid environment — overdrying is unacceptable. However, excess moisture is also harmful: if air exchange is disturbed, the seeds suffocate or rot.
After the period allotted for stratification, the seeds are sown in a loose soil substrate to a depth of 1-1.5 cm, moisten it well and cover with a film or glass, which is removed after germination.
Warming up lavender seeds
Seed treatment in this way does not require much time and often gives even better results than stratification. However, if you are planting lavender for the first time, it is advisable not to limit yourself to one method: each grower, as a result of his own practice, chooses the option that gives optimal results in his conditions.
Warming up the seeds is very simple: they are kept for 10-15 minutes in water with a temperature of +45 … +50 degrees, after which they are sown. It is good if the soil for sowing is also spilled with hot water — this can improve germination. As a rule, lavender seedlings from heated seeds appear within a few days.
Lavender does not tolerate waterlogging at all, so seedlings should be watered very carefully, avoiding water on the stems and preventing it from accumulating in a pot or pan. Good lighting is very important — this plant is exceptionally photophilous, therefore, with a lack of natural light (which often happens in winter in the northern regions), it is necessary to illuminate the seedlings.
Benefits of growing seedlings from seeds
Seed propagation allows you to quickly get a large amount of planting material for any landscape compositions. At the same time, the costs will be many times less than when buying the same number of seedlings.
It is also important that lavender grown from seeds is better adapted to local conditions, more durable, resistant to adverse environmental factors. Such plants form a strong, well-branched root system, they take root faster after planting in the ground.
And of course, varietal diversity plays a significant role: the assortment of lavender seeds is quite wide, and you can constantly replenish your collection with new samples.
Article author: Oksana Vysochanska