If your lavender plant is not flowering, don't give up on growing lavender just yet. These herbaceous perennials are a joy in the garden and it's actually quite easy to learn how to grow lavender and enjoy your plant for many years to come. Like all plants, though, lavender requires you to understand where it comes from and what it needs to thrive.
These are the top three reasons why your lavender bush isn't flowering – and what you can do to get those fragrant blooms.
1. You're not pruning it
This is nearly always the reason why a lavender plant isn't flowering. Without annual pruning, lavender bushes get leggy and woody very quickly and produce little or no flowers. Learning how to prune lavender is very easy and differs only slightly for different types of lavender. Gardening presenter Alan Titchmarsh advises in The Express to give English lavender (the type that blossoms in June and July) 'a light, all-over clipping as soon as the flowers are over – avoid cutting back into old wood if you possibly can.'
Lavandula stoechas plants, commonly known as French lavender, 'only want regular deadheading – removing each of the big knobbly dead flowers complete with a short stalk as soon as they go over, but leaving the rest of the plant untouched.'
2. You have the wrong soil type
Lavender has quite specific soil requirements – alkaline, infertile, and free-draining. You can learn more about soil acidity in our guide to soil types, but if you have chalky, thin soil, it's perfect for lavender. The mistake people often make is adding organic matter or synthetic fertilizer to the soil where they grow their lavender. The lavender doesn't need it and won't produce flowers in overly rich soil – or, if it does, the flowers will be sickly and not fragrant.
Likewise, you won't get flowers from a lavender bush that's waterlogged, so heavy, wet clay soil won't be suitable for growing this plant. If you don't have the right soil type for lavender, grow it in a container with well-draining soil. 'Lavenders love really excellent drainage,' Carol Klein says in an episode of Gardeners' World: 'you can hardly add too much grit' to the container soil mixture.
3. Your lavender is in the wrong spot in the garden
Lavender originates in the sunny Mediterranean and needs at least six hours a day of sunlight to produce its fragrant blooms. Don't plant your lavender under a tree – it will not flower. A very windy location is also not great, as lavender is used to still, hot summers.
It works best as part of Mediterranean garden ideas that typically include some kind of an enclosure. Plant it in a sunny, sheltered spot, preferably against a sunny wall or in a border that really gets baked throughout the day.
Anna's background is in academic research – she is the author of London Writing of the 1930s, published by Edinburgh University Press. She is a keen urban gardener and has an impressive collection of house plants.
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