Among the different varieties of lavender, Spanish Lavender is one of the most versatile and beautiful choices. It is known for its strong scent, use in lavender oil production, high medicinal values, and vinegar. The Spanish lavender is distinguishable from other lavender varieties by its unique, long, upright petals at the top of every flower head, giving the flower a pineapple-like appearance or similar to rabbit ears. Spanish lavender is alluring to the garden, attracting beneficial insects such as butterflies and bees while deterring unwanted pests like moths and mosquitoes. Ready to make the plant a part of your garden? Here is the ultimate guide to growing and caring for Spanish lavender.
What Is Spanish Lavender?
Spanish lavender, scientifically known as Lavandula stoechas, is a beautiful fragrant flowering plant with dark purple flower heads and gray-green leaves. The plant is native to the Mediterranean countries, including; Portugal, Spain, North Africa, and Turkey, and has spread globally, thanks to its fragrant scent and multiple useful properties. The variety grows taller than most lavender types, commonly growing over 3 feet tall. The flowers mostly bloom from early May to late summer and early fall and might be purple, white, or pink, depending on the cultivar.
Spanish Lavender Care
Spanish lavender plant is easy to care for and grow. It enjoys plenty of sunlight, tolerates more heat, and does not need a lot of watering. Once established, it does not need much attention.
All lavender varieties thrive well in light, and Spanish lavender is no exception. Spanish lavender needs full sunlight to thrive and produce fragrant blooms. Spanish lavender doesn’t thrive in shady zones and needs plenty of sunlight for the masses of purple flower bracts to blossom, which makes Spanish Lavender an elegant addition to the garden. Ultimately, Spanish Lavender grows best in full-sun areas with a minimum of 6-8 hours of sunlight daily.
Spanish lavender requires gravelly sandy and well-drained soil to grow well. According to Gardening Know How, the best soils include; gritty soil or sandy loam that easily drains excess water. The plants like slightly moist soil but slow-draining or standing water might spell disaster for your lavender plant. They can only withstand ponded water for short periods and don’t thrive well in wet conditions. Therefore, if your soil has clay, ensure to mix it with gravel or sand before you plant the Spanish lavender. Spanish Lavender tolerates a range of soil acidity values but thrives best in slightly alkaline or neutral soils.
Spanish lavender does not need much watering and can endure drought relatively when well established. However, these plants thrive best in slightly moist soil hence water the soil before it completely dries. Watering frequently is essential for the first month after transplanting. According to the Garden Magazine, water the plant at soil level to avoid getting the leaves wet, which could result in fungal diseases, and observe if the soil is draining well.
Temperature and Humidity
Spanish lavender grows well in dry and hot climates. According to Morning Chores, Spanish lavender does well in zones 7 to 10 and is a better choice for warmer temperature and higher humidity zones than other lavender varieties. On the other hand, Spanish lavender cannot thrive well in the cold compared to other lavender varieties and should be grown in a zone where winter temperatures don’t drop below 10 degrees Fahrenheit. So, if you live in colder regions, you should consider growing the English lavender instead.
Spanish lavender is native to regions with poor-quality, sandy soil and likes soil that is poor in nutrients. Due to this, Spanish lavender does not need fertilizer and often does best without adding fertilizer. So, it’s advisable only to use fertilizer at the start when you first plant the Spanish lavender. Applying a one-inch-thick layer of homemade compost as an organic mulch over the soil surface is also recommended. The mulch will help keep the soil moisture and temperature levels consistent, keep the weeds down, and offer a slow release of naturally sourced plant nutrients. After that, you just need to check how moist the soil is and add water appropriately.
Pruning Spanish Lavender
Spanish lavender should be pruned once or twice a year to prevent excess woody growth from developing at the plant base. Big, woody plants split as they age and aren’t long-lived. Therefore, you should prune the Spanish lavender plant once every year to avoid the development of a sprawling woody base. Spanish lavender plants should be pruned after flowering and in the early autumn before the frosty weather. The first pruning after flowering should be light to avoid triggering the plant to generate many more flowers in a reblooming attempt. The yearly hard pruning is normally done in mid-autumn. Avoid pruning the plant after the end of the glowing season in the fall to ensure the plant keeps protected during winter.
Propagating Spanish Lavender
Spanish lavender can be propagated from seeds or cuttings.
Growing Spanish Lavender from Seed
Here is the way to produce Spanish lavender from seed:
- Spanish lavender has the highest success rate when sowed indoors. Sow the seeds into well-drained soil in small pots and cover them lightly with soil.
- Keep them in a cool place and check the soil regularly, ensuring it is moist.
- The seeds will germinate in about two weeks.
- Once they germinate, keep the seedlings in a sunny location.
- When seedlings get big enough to handle, transfer them to their own pots or plant the seedlings in the garden in the spring.
Remember that while Spanish lavender can be grown from lavender seeds, germinating them can be tricky, and it is easier to buy small Spanish lavender plants from a nursery.
Propagation with Cuttings
It is easy to propagate Spanish Lavender through cuttings. You will require a small pot, sharp garden snip, a plastic bag, well-drained soil, and a rubber band. Follow these instructions to propagate the Spanish lavender cuttings.
- It is best to take the cuttings in the spring or fall when the plant grows vigorously. Cut a stem that is approximately six inches long. Cut where the new stem meets the old and one with no flowers.
- Remove the leaves on the lower half of the cutting.
- Plant the lower end into properly drained soil.
- Cover the cutting with a plastic bag to maintain the moisture and secure it with a rubber band around the pot.
- Maintain the soil moist until the plant establishes itself. Gently tugging the cutting can check if the roots have been established. If there is resistance, the roots have developed, and you can get rid of the plastic bag.
- Alternatively, you can place the cutting in a glass of water until the plant is established while ensuring the leaves are not soaked.
- Once they have acclimated and look healthy, you can transplant them somewhere in the garden.
- Water it as required but ensure not to overwater them.
Potting And Repotting Spanish Lavender
Spanish lavender thrives well in pots. When selecting a pot, choose one with multiple drainage holes that drains water freely. Because potted plants have no access to underground water, potted lavender will require more regular watering than one planted in the garden. According to Masterclass.com, Spanish lavender plants require to be repotted to a bigger pot annually to avoid restraining the roots, which can lead to plant death. During repotting, tip the pot onto its side gently and tap around the exterior side of the pot. This will help in loosening the root system. Remove the lavender gently and place it in a slightly bigger new pot. Fill the pot with well-draining, sandy soil and place it somewhere with plenty of sunlight.
Spanish lavender does not need extra attention to survive through the winter season when grown in suitable conditions and growing zones. You just need to add an extra layer of mulch around the plant to help shield the root system. Stop watering the plant regularly and only water the plants if the winter is very dry. For potted Spanish lavender, move it to a protected place away from extreme winds and temperatures. Spanish lavender foliage should be well protected from frost and overwintered indoors, where temperatures often drop below the freezing point.
How To Get Spanish Lavender to Bloom?
Spanish lavender is popular for its unique flower blooms, often described as having rabbit ears or purple pineapples. They have a characteristic elegant lavender fragrance and might appear in two large blooms yearly. Spanish lavender starts blooming in the spring and continues throughout the summer. To encourage blooming, grow the Spanish lavender plant in full sunlight conditions. Also, deadheading the spent blooms throughout the year and pruning the plant twice yearly will encourage blooming.
Harvesting Spanish Lavender and Its Uses
Spanish lavender is normally harvested in the morning when the dew dries but before the temperature becomes very hot. When the whole spikes are required to be dried, the lavender is normally harvested in early summer when just the first two flowers have blossomed. Most flowers that haven’t opened will dry on the spike, resulting in an elegant spire of dried sweet-scented flowers. Spanish lavender flowers are normally harvested for use in the production of potpourri sachets, perfume, oil production, and other effective applications.
According to Home Guides.com, Spanish lavender is often used for its attractive scent. Creams, tinctures, tea, cleaning products, potpourris, and other products have lavender components. After harvesting as the first flowers open, they can be used in fresh flowery preparations and bouquets. Harvesting when most flowers have opened, lavender can be used for lavender potpourri or packets. The Spanish lavender trunks are wood-like and are used to weave beautiful baskets, crowns, wands, and pleasurable flowery things. Individuals also like using lavender in their herb or rock gardens for the aesthetic appeal of the Spanish lavender plant.
Common Problems Affecting Spanish Lavender Foliage
Spanish lavender is relatively handy and is not highly affected by pests and other issues. However, moisture conditions or subpar soil can result in foliage problems by suspecting it to fungal infections. Some of the signs to look out for include:
Yellow, Leggy Foliage, and Few Flowers
Leggy, yellow leaves, and few flowers on Spanish lavender are often a sign of giving the plant excess fertilizer. In this case, you should stop adding fertilizer to the soil. You can either amend the soil with gravel and sand or remove the lavender plant from the rich soil and repot it. Additionally, prune the leggy foliage during the spring or fall to enable the lavender to regain its compact shape.
Drooping, Browning, Yellowing Leaves
These are signs of root rot. Spanish lavender thrives best in well-draining soil and with minimal moisture; hence is susceptible to root rot in wet conditions. If you see signs suggesting your plant has root rot, stop watering it. Remove all the organic material around the plant, like the fallen leaves, and carefully dig up the plant to check the roots. Use a clean pair of snips to remove rotting roots and replant or repot the plant in well-drained soil and full sunlight. Also, ensure to provide the plant with sufficient airflow.
Common Pests Affecting Spanish Lavender
Garden pests can sometimes attack Spanish lavender plants like aphids, mealy bugs, and spittlebugs. You can spray the pests off the plant using a sharp water stream or bug buster if the pests are more established on the plant. Spanish lavender has a strong scent and is hence not commonly attacked by mammals. According to Home for the Harvest, it is a reliable deer-resistant plant with deer completely avoiding the plant, particularly if it has flowers. However, young Spanish lavender plants might be attacked by small burrowing mammals such as rabbits. Rabbits often dig and eat the roots rather than eating the flowers or foliage.
Hopefully, you now know how to grow and care for Spanish lavender. Ensure you provide the Spanish lavender with adequate sunlight, avoid overwatering and overfertilizing it, and use a well-draining soil mix. This way, your plant will thrive best, producing beautiful flowers and fragrances. Spanish lavender is elegant to look at, smells great, and attracts beautiful pollinators in your garden. A point to keep in mind is that Spanish lavender is toxic to pets such as cats, and dogs, so keep an eye on them.