The following piece was written by Master Gardener Phyllis Jachowski, who has received training through Colorado State University Extension’s Master Gardener program and is a Master Gardener volunteer for Larimer County.
Dreaming of lavendar
Since visiting in the south of France, I’ve had lavender dreams. Now that I’m retired and living in Fort Collins, our property offered several possibilities. The most curious, unusual and courageous choice is along our driveway—an abandoned road with a sloping barrow pit. When I dug into the area last year, I found gravely, hard soil. To make the soil more garden-friendly, I tilled in compost.
According to the soil sample report from CSU, we have “sandy loam” soil with a pH of 8.0. Translation: without adding anything, we have fast-draining soil and good growing potential for lavender. Lavender likes 6-8 hours of sun, infrequent water and low humidity. My barrow pit gets 7-8 hours of sun. It’s not the Mediterranean, but it will work.
Each lavender plant needs 24” to 36” of space without competition of other plants to reach mature size. We made a terrace three feet wide, edged with salvaged lumber from pallets and projects. In addition to the compost, native topsoil was mixed with existing soil to fill-in the new bed.
Lavender cultivars are hardy in zones 4 or 5 and will survive most winters in Colorado. Plant the cultivars so the crown is slightly above the soil, and surround with gravel to keep the crown dry. We installed drip irrigation, which will aid in plant establishment and allow for irrigation during dry periods.
We top-dressed with very small (smaller than pea gravel) stone, which will help with drainage and keep maintenance easy. In a few years, I hope the lavender will enhance our property as I had dreamed!
For more information on growing lavender in Colorado, refer to CSU Extension Fact Sheet #7.245
CSU Extension in Larimer County is a county-based outreach of Colorado State University Extension that provides information you can trust to deal with current issues in agriculture, horticulture, nutrition and food safety, 4-H, small acreage, money management and parenting. For more information about CSU Extension in Larimer County, call (970) 498-6000 or visit www.larimer.org/ext
Looking for additional gardening information? Check out the CSU Extension Horticulture Agent blog at www.csuhort.blogspot.com for timely updates about gardening around the state.
Visit PlantTalk Colorado for fast answers to your gardening questions. PlantTalk is a cooperation between Colorado State University Extension, GreenCo and Denver Botanic Gardens.