English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is said to be the beginning of all lavender and this is why it is called ‘old English lavender’.
But even today the appealing colorful flowers and fragrant foliage make this plant very popular.
However, one must ask how to grow and care for English lavender to make sure it flowers and lives long!
English lavender is very hardy (tolerating USDA zones 5 to 8) making it very popular in all climates. Minimal watering, maximum sunlight, and well-draining poor soils are among the best growing tips for growing English lavender.
English Lavender Caring and Growing Tips
English lavender is not fussy or hard to grow. Just give it what it wants! In case you don’t know what that is, here are some tips for caring for this plant.
1. Long Hours Of Sunlight Are Important
English lavender should be planted in full sun without anything blocking the sun’s path to the plant. These plants are greedy for sunlight and don’t tolerate full shade at all.
Semi-shade locations will not be acceptable. They will likely impact your lavender’s ability to flower. More sun than shade can also induce leggy growth which is unappealing.
But, a little bit of shade is acceptable in locations that experience scorching temperatures.
English lavender does best with between 6 and 8 hours of sunlight. This is in sync with the natural climate in its native Mediterranean origin.
Lavender plants that fail to get a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight won’t grow or flower to their capacity.
2. Avoid High Humidity
Since English lavender is not much of a fan of water, it becomes obvious that it does not like moisture in the air as well.
High humidity is a condition that is likely to compromise lavender health. If it continues long enough your plants could even die!
A contributing factor to humidity is the spacing between two plants. All lavenders prefer to have constant air currents flowing between each plant.
This is because it carries away any remaining moisture lingering between congested spaces.
A lavender variant like English Lavender should be spaced at a distance of 3 feet from each other.
Do you have a lavender variant that is large? If so, then more spacing may be necessary. It will keep moisture levels between plants at bay.
Moisture levels may be high between plants or in the air in general. But it can cause a lot of plant damage. It can cause fungal infections among your plants.
This is because these organisms grow and flourish in areas of high humidity conditions.
3. What Soil Does English Lavender Like?
English lavender likes soils that are well-draining with relatively low nutrient values.
When we talk about soils that are extremely well-draining there are a few components that come to mind.
But what if you add low to medium nutrient levels to the equation? There is one clear winner, sand!
Sandy soils are highly porous without exhibiting an overly rich nutrient profile. These soils are definitely ideal for planting this lavender.
Especially since they also mimic the natural sand found in lavender’s native homeland, the Mediterranean.
Anything other than sandy soils will prove to be too damp or water-retaining for lavender. This increased moisture in the soil can cause root rot. A condition that damages roots and their ability to function.
Also, avoid nutrient-rich soils as these are not likely to help your plant despite what you think.
It actually may lead to your plant becoming leggy and not producing any flowers at all!
Unsure if your soil is rich or not? You can use a test kit to determine the nutrient value of your garden soil.
4. Overwatering Is The Leading Cause of Lavender Death!
A plant needs water to survive. But when its natural habitat is almost like a rocky desert. The plant probably won’t need a lot of water.
So, this is true for all lavender plants which are commonly termed drought-tolerant plants.
English lavender and all lavender for that matter are not water-dependent plants. These plants survive well with one watering every 2 weeks.
You must abide by this watering schedule. Anything more frequent than this could possibly be overwatering your lavender.
Of course, the season will affect watering efforts. But, in all circumstances watering should be decreased not increased.
Also, the phase of growth (new transplant, mature lavender, old lavender) will dictate if special watering routines should be followed.
Young newly transplanted lavender plants require water more often. But just until their root system fully develops and is capable of storage.
Older plants will require the same watering efforts as established lavender plants. Sticking to this will be crucial to avoid overwatering.
Giving your lavender plants excessive water will result in saturation of moisture in the soil. This can cause root rot followed by the softening and eventual death of the roots.
5. Temperature Requirements of English Lavender
Cold climates are not suitable for most lavenders. All lavender takes a natural liking to temperatures similar to those in Spain and France.
But English lavender is unique from most lavenders since it is very tolerant to cold. English lavender is the most cold-hardy lavender. It can tolerate USDA zones 5 to 9.
It survives winter by becoming dormant and ceasing all growing attempts. After winter, temperatures will start to climb and the plants will start to grow again.
In spring, lavender will start shooting. It is from these shoots that flowers will emerge.
Colder states in the USA that experience more winter and fall weather may be better off growing this particular lavender variant.
The fact that this plant tolerates the cold means that it does not need to be brought indoors in winter. So, it doesn’t need to be planted in a pot either.
But when considering the conditions that make lavender grow and flower best. Warm temperatures are the most ideal. Warm does not mean scorching hot temperatures.
These could damage your lavender plants instead of doing any good.
6. Give Your English Lavender Enough Space!
Imagine planting two lavender plants too close together. The result will be one well-developed plant and one poorly developed plant.
Or in the worst-case scenario, both plants will end up stunted or dead.
Want to prevent such losses? You must give adequate spacing. In order for you to judge how much space to give them, you must know what to expect.
Knowing the mature size of your lavender will go a long way. Since it helps in determining what spacing to adopt.
English lavender usually reaches a height between 24 inches to 35 inches. While their width span is proportionate to their height.
Given the size of this lavender, a 3 to 4 feet spacing is something you should consider. But do not compromise on providing them with spacing altogether.
These are some of the effects of inadequate spacing between English lavender plants:
- Blockage of the sun due to taller plants
- High humidity
- Entangled plant foliage
- Competition for resources (water, nutrients, air)
- Insufficient space for roots
Lack of space causes problems for your plants. The effects will be noticeable especially when your plant doesn’t flower.
7. Pruning English Lavender- An On-Going Activity
Regardless of how much pruning experience you have, pruning is a basic tip for caring for lavender.
But actually, it is important to prune any lavender you have regardless of variant. Pruning increases the chances of your English lavender living for its full 10/15 years!
Failure to prune your lavender can result in a leggy-looking and bushy-shaped English lavender plant.
But that’s not all pruning helps with. Pruning efforts can help a lavender to become more tolerant to cold by forming a thick woody stem.
Prune your English lavender in such a way that only the top third of green growth is removed.
Under no circumstances should you remove or try to cut into the woody stem. This will weaken the foundation of the lavender.
Pruning in spring stimulates more new growth. Which is good news seeing as flowers only emerge from new growth.
Plus it won’t be long till the plant flower after spring. Early summer to late summer is the time that most lavenders flower.
English lavender flowers in mid-summer with blue to purple colored flowers. Pruning off flowers once faded/dead (deadheading) can stimulate more flowering.
Something many people would love to make possible!
English Lavender Variants
Here are a few options that are very popular in the Lavandula angustifolia category.
– Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote’
This lavender can attain a maximum size of 24 by 30 inches (60 by 75 cm). This makes it close to the size of English lavender. Its silvery foliage is appealing and has very aromatic purple-violet flowers.
‘Hidcote’ lavender growing tips include using light, sandy, soil that has poor nutrient levels. Keep pruning them religiously! Even twice a year as they bloom several times and pruning stimulates better flowering capacity.
– Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote Giant’
As the name suggests, this English lavender type is large, perhaps the largest!
This larger version of the ‘Hidcote’ variant reaches a height of around 36 to 40 inches (90 to 100 cm) when mature. So, it easily towers over other lavender variants.
A growing tip for this English lavender type is that it needs a spacing of 3 feet or more between each plant.
But, misjudging the plant’s ability to spread in height and width could result in high humidity between plants. And limited sunlight as well.
– Lavandula angustifolia ‘Munstead’
The ‘Munstead’ variety of English lavender grows to a size of 12 to 18 inches (30 to 45 cm) in both height and width.
Flowers can be blue, lavender, or purple, making it a great choice for the garden.
Growing tips for the ‘Munstead’ lavender is providing the soil with a neutral pH (pH 6.7 to 7.3).
Also, ensure it does not have to tolerate anything more than a USDA zone 5 in terms of cold hardiness.
English lavender is among one of the easiest lavender plants to grow. We owe this to its high tolerance to cold. It is after all the most hardy lavender capable of surviving USDA zones 5 to 8.
Here is a summary of its growth and care tips.
- Ensure plants have constant air currents circulating between plants to avoid fungal infections
- English lavender should be grown in light porous soils that are well-draining and possess low to medium nutrient profiles
- Minimal watering suits lavender (watering once in two weeks). Overwatering lavender is easy but lethal
- All lavender including English lavender thrives in hot climates. But, English lavender is cold and hardy in zones 5 through 9
- Adequate spacing ensures each plant gets enough resources for optimal growth. Space English lavender plants at a distance of 1 to 4 feet depending on variant size
Providing these conditions should lead to thriving lavender!
English lavender is mostly grown outdoors because of its naturally larger size. But, yes it can be grown indoors if you have a big enough pot!
The English lavender variant is the easiest lavender to care for. That is provided you have the right conditions to grow it.
Particularly, high amounts of sunlight, porous soil with minimal nutrients, alkaline pH, and infrequent watering are the most important care tips.