Phoenix Desert Gardening Tip: Growing Lavender

LavenderI kill lavender.  Or at least I used to.

Turns out I was committing one of the two deadly sins of lavender:  showering them (literally) with love and planting them directly into the compacted clay soil that many of us in the Phoenix desert must contend with.  So I took an “All About Lavender” class at the Desert Botanical Garden to deal with my heinous ways.

Here’s what I learned from Master Gardener Pam Perry:  lavenders are excellent xeriscape plants that like it high and dry.   I’d already planted my lavender on mounds, allowing excess water to easily run off.  Lavenders also have pretty good root systems so you can water around the bottom of the mound (for an already established plant) and their roots will take up the water.  If planting on mounds isn’t a option, try amending your soil with little compost to help with drainage.

For lavender in containers, use a cactus mix.  What???  I know, that’s what I thought, too!  But a cactus mix provides better drainage than regular ‘ol potting soil!   This I will need to try on my surviving-not-thriving lavender in containers.

I suspect that the Desert Botanical Garden will offer the lavender class again next year, but they have an awful lot of good classes in the meantime, so check their website for an up-to-date class schedule….and just go!

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