If you REALLY want to grow lavender plants (Lavendula) in Houston, you will need a therapist to help you through this difficult decision.
Besides that, you will need to accept the fact that you will lose a number of your plants even under PERFECT growing conditions. You may give them all they need, but you cannot wish away our boatloads of HUMIDITY which this species strongly dislikes. (Hey, let's all move to southern France and grow lavender! LOL)
Lavendula is worth the effort. Its alluring fragrance, its charming growth habit, its irresistible blue flowers, and most of all, its silvery gray foliage are all reasons to love this plant.
So, if you MUST attempt this insane gardening challenge, here are some vital facts.
#1...Use almost pure sand in clay pots if you want to grow them in containers. Add a generous handful of compost or leaf mold for nutrients. Add a tablespoon of dolomitic limestone to make the soil a bit alkaline (not entirely necessary, but lavender will love you for it).
#2...Do NOT over fertilize lavender. They like a lean soil.
#3...Water at the base of the plant and leave the foliage dry whenever possible.
#4...Give it a half day of morning sun and some afternoon shade.
#5...Use raised beds if you are planting it in your garden.
#6...Leave a generous space between plants for air circulation.
#7...MOST IMPORTANTLY, choose the right variety!
If you find these conditions too overwhelming, I can boil them down to one simple rule:
PRETEND THIS PLANT IS A CACTUS! (except that it needs a bit of water every other day)
If you want some inspiration, get this book! It's out of print, so enjoy the hunt!
Amazon used books is your best bet. I stumbled upon this rare copy at Half Price Books in Rice Village.
The most reliable lavender for the Houston area would be Sweet Lavender. You can find it at Whole Foods Market, Buchanan's Native Plants, and from a few other sources.
My second favorite would be Lavender 'Fred Boutin'. It has by far the most beautiful foliage. However, poor Fred is falling apart on me after 3 short years. Also, it never seems to bloom, which means I will not be growing Fred in the future.
On the other hand, if blooms are all you want, try 'Ellagance Purple'. Since I'm a retired school teacher, the misspelling of the name drives me crazy. Here in Houston, the foliage turns an ugly gray after you cut the blooms, then regenerates to a lovely shade of green afterwards.
Here's one last homage to Fred before he passes away to that great Lavender Garden in the Sky.
The smaller Sweet Lavender is off to the left and will take over as Queen of the Lavender next year.
I could also recommend Lavender "Provence", but 5 out of the 6 plants I purchased have died. That's not very good odds. If you find 'Provence' and 'Sweet' side by side at a local nursery, do yourself a favor and choose 'Sweet'. You'll be glad you did.
All for now! Happy Gardening!
The Front Garden ~ July 2017
Pictured in the front is a 'fake' lavender. More on that in a future post.