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A Guide to Successfully Growing Lavender in Missouri

Introduction

Growing lavender in Missouri takes some patience and dedication. With the right technique and proper care, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of Missouri-grown lavender each season.

Best Lavender Plant for Missouri

Lavender (Lavandula) is a woody perennial herb. It belongs to the mint family. The genus contains over 39 species. To determine the best lavender to grow in Missouri, you’ll need to consider the plant’s hardiness zone and soil type. The most popular lavender varieties for Missouri include:


Lavandula angustifolia (English lavender): English lavender is a compact shrub with deep-purple flowers that turn pale purple as they age. This variety is hardy in USDA zones 5 through 9 and prefers full sun.


Lavandula x intermedia (French lavender): This hybrid has a sweeter scent than English lavender. Its flowers range from purple to pinkish-white. French lavender is also hardy in USDA zones 5 through 9. You should grow them in well-drained soil.


Lavandula stoechas (Spanish lavender): It has fragrant pink, purple and white flowers that bloom in spring and summer. Spanish lavender is hardy in USDA zones 8 through 11 and prefers full sun to partial shade.

Choosing the Right Location

Sunlight Requirements: Lavender thrives in at least 8 hours of direct sun a day. You should select an area that gets morning sun and afternoon shade. This can prevent the plants from becoming stressed, or damaged from too much heat.


Soil Requirements: Lavender prefers sandy or rocky soils that are well drained. To test your soil's drainage, take a handful of damp soil and squeeze it in your hand. If it forms a tight ball when squeezed, then it has too much clay content and will likely require amendments.


Soil pH is also important for optimal growth. You can purchase a soil testing kit to test the pH level. Lavender prefers slightly acidic soils with a pH between 6 and 7. Too much alkaline content in the soil can affect mineral absorption. This also reduces the amount of nutrients available to the plants.


Soil Amendments: You should amend your soil with organic materials if it has a high clay content. For example, compost or aged manure. This will reduce compaction and improve drainage. You can also add sand, perlite, vermiculite or manure to the soil for additional drainage.


Lavender has shallow roots and requires adequate aeration. Over-tilling or cultivating the soil too deeply can damage the plant’s root system. So take your time when preparing the area for planting. You can also add a slow-release fertilizer to the soil before growing lavender in Missouri.

How to Grow Lavender in Missouri?

When to Plant Lavender in Missouri? The best time to plant lavender in Missouri is either in spring or early fall. It depends on the variety you're growing. Most varieties prefer cool temperatures. They will thrive when you plant them in early spring before the heat of summer sets in.


For fall planting, the lavender variety should handle temperatures as low as 15-20 degrees Fahrenheit. Planting in mid-September is best. They will have time to establish before winter sets in.


How Much Space Should You Allow Between Plants? When planting lavender in Missouri, you should provide enough space between plants. This ensures proper air circulation and growth. Generally, you should leave about a foot of spacing between each plant. You can increase the distance up to 18 inches apart for larger varieties.


Instructions for Growing Lavender in Missouri: Dig a hole twice as wide and the same depth as the container. You should break your garden soil up a bit if it is hard or compacted. Gently remove your lavender from the container. Place it in the hole. The base should be level with the soil surface.


Fill soil around the root system. Be careful not to compress or compact it too much. Water lightly to settle the soil and give your lavender a much needed drink. Spread mulch around the plants. This helps maintain moisture levels in the soil. Place stakes or cages around each plant if necessary. Provide support for stems and flowers when they grow taller.

growing lavender in missouri

Essential Care and Maintenance

Watering: You should water carefully because too much or too little water can damage the plants. During the first year of growth, it is especially important to water regularly and deeply. Water lavender plants with 1-2 inches of water two or three times a week during hot weather.


Fertilizer: Not over-fertilize lavender because excess fertilizer can cause inhibit the growth of lavenders. You can use natural fertilizers to boost the nutrient levels in lavender beds. For example, compost teas, fish emulsion and cow manure. They are excellent alternatives to chemical fertilizers. They can slowly release nutrients over time.


Mulching: Mulch is also an important part of caring for your lavender plants in Missouri. Applying a 2-3 inch layer of mulch around the base of the plant can retain moisture and suppress weeds. Mulch can protect the lavender plants from extreme temperatures and reduce the incidence of fungal diseases.


Pruning: The best time to prune lavender plants in Missouri is during the late winter or early spring. The new growth will have enough time to develop before summer. Prune beyond the spent flower head can encourage more blooming throughout the season. You should prune the stems and foliage. Gently remove any weak or dead growth.

Managing Missouri's Climate Challenges

Humidity: Humidity can lead to fungal and bacterial diseases. They can damage or even kill lavender plants. Raised beds and proper irrigation techniques can help with this. Make sure the soil should have good drainage and does not retain too much moisture.


Winter Protection: While many lavender varieties are frost-hardy, they can still be damaged if temperatures dip too low. You should provide winter protection in the form of row covers or mulch. Choose varieties that are suited to the climate. You should plant your lavender on well-drained soil. Because overly wet soil can freeze and damage roots.

Dealing with Common Pests and Diseases

Common Pests: Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects that suck the sap out of plants. They can cause discoloration and stunting. You can use natural methods to prevent aphid infestation. For example, planting companion plants to attract beneficial insects or spraying with neem oil.


Spider mites feed on plant sap. They cause yellow or white spots on leaves, webbing and wilting of new growth. Increase ventilation around your lavender plants. Keep this area free of weeds and debris. You can also spray with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil. Remove any affected leaves.


Common Diseases: Powdery mildew is a fungal disease. It causes white to gray powdery spots on the surface of plant foliage and stems. Your lavender plants should have plenty of air circulation. You can use sulfur-based spray as a preventative measure.


Excessive moisture and poor drainage in the soil can cause root rot. Signs of root rot include wilting leaves, yellowing foliage and a bad odor from the roots. Your lavender plants should have well-draining soil and are not overwatered. If you notice any signs of root rot, remove them immediately. This prevents further damage.


Fungal leaf spots can cause small, circular spots on leaves. Avoid overhead watering and provide adequate air circulation around your lavender plants. If you notice any affected foliage, remove it immediately. Apply a fungicide as needed.


Prevent Methods: Inspect frequently for any signs of disease or pests. If you notice any of these, take immediate action. Gently pruning off affected leaves and stems. Treat the plants with an organic pesticide or insecticide. For diseases, you may need to spray the plant with a fungicide as recommended by your local nursery or agricultural extension office.


You should practice good garden hygiene. Remove any dead or diseased leaves and stems from the plants. You should rake mulch up regularly in your garden. Because this can provide a breeding ground for pests and diseases.

Harvesting and Utilizing Lavender

When does lavender bloom in Missouri? Lavender blooms in Missouri from May to June. You can harvest lavender blooms for various uses. For example, essential oils, sachets, teas and baths.


Harvesting Time: The ideal time to snip off the blooms is when they are just beginning to open up with some of their petals visible. Using pruning shears, snip off the entire stem with flowers and leaves. You can also pick individual blooms by hand if desired. Use sharp, clean pruning shears or scissors. This avoids damage to the stems or surrounding foliage.


Drying Lavender: Start by lightly bundling the stems together and tying them with a rubber band or string at the top. Hang upside down in a cool, dry environment for up to two weeks until fully dry.


Using Lavender: Once dried, you can use lavender in many ways. For example, crafting, cooking, sachets and potpourri. Add lavender to herbal teas and make essential oils. Culinary-wise, it can be used for flavoring jams, jellies and ice cream, as well as making lavender sugar.

Conclusion

You should understand the specific requirements of this crop if you want to grow lavender in Missouri. For example, irrigation techniques, soil types and pest control methods. Then, you will harvest fragrant lavender flowers in no time.

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