Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Balcony plants: Care of Lavender

This blog will mainly be about the development of the garden at my house, but every now and then (like now) I will feel compelled to talk about the flowers on our balcony in Paris.

For years, we've paid scant attention to them other than to water them, occasionally prune the roses, and replant dead ones in the Spring. They've done pretty well despite our lack of attention, but now that I'm getting into the whole gardening thing, I'm getting a little more ambitious.

Last year we bought lavender and placed in a pot outside our bedroom window, hoping that our room would become infused with its wonderful, summery fragrance. Didn't really happen that way. We could smell it if we were bending over it, but that's about it. I don't know what we did wrong, but as we did nothing other than water it , I figure it could be just about anything. This year I did a bit of research on care of lavender. Surprise, surprise: in order for it to flourish, it needs to be pruned regularly so that the woody stem part doesn't take over and so that it doesn't develop an open center. Pruning should occur either in early spring, just after the first new growth but before the flowers blossom, or in autumn, before the first frost.

My timing was pretty good: I did my research in early spring, before the flowers developed. But when I looked at my plant, I realized there were lots of woody stems, the center looked open-ish. Was it too late? I don't know - I just quickly got down to business pruning. You prune lavender by cutting the plant back by about 1/3rd. Make sure that you don't cut into the woody part and that you've left green leaves showing. (If you cut too far and/or eliminate the green leaves, the plant may not recover.)

A few weeks have gone by since the pruning. The plant has definitely grown with lots of new green leaves (no flowers yet - too early?). But it looks straggly. The woody part still seems very prominent, and the center still kind of open. So, again I wonder: is it too late?

I've posted a couple of pictures of the plant below (click on the picture to enlarge). If there are any knowledgeable gardeners or gardener-types out there, I'd appreciate your input. Is there anything I can do to improve the look of this plant? If it's worth saving, I plan to re-pot it with fresh soil and maybe a bigger pot.

Any advice would be appreciated. I really want to get it right because I'm envisioning having lavender at our house just beneath the windows to our living room and kitchen. Mmmmmm. Could be heavenly.


  1. Hi. I see that you included me in your "Gardeners Who Know Much More Than I Do" list. I appreciate that (even though it is probably quite undeserved). For instance, here's what I know about Lavender: nothing. Well, practically nothing. What I do know is that I love the look and fragrance of Lavender. I also know that it doesn't like high humidity. So, that pretty much ruins it for me. Nevertheless, I bought a packet of English Lavender seeds (in another of my annual springtime seed buying rampages). I should probably stratify the seeds. I'll look into it. Anyhow, I'm glad that you reminded me about my lavender seeds and you have posted some good pruning advice. I'm adding you to my Blog Roll so that I (and others) can keep up with your posts.

  2. Hello! I am glad you like those pictures I posted. I only begin gardening few years ago and still learning how to be a better gardener ;-) I stay in the tropics hence not able to advice you on your Lavender plant condition. I love the balcony and window planters in Paris. Almost all the building has flower planters. I was visiting as a tourist during spring time but it was more than ten years ago. I recalled that the flower planters made the city look so beautiful and organised. Love to hear more from you. Meanwhile, happy gardening and blogging! BTW, I agree with you that Prospero has a very nice blog. Yours is as nice too!

  3. Prosper - thanks for adding me to your blogroll and thanks for your compliments, Stephanie. I look forward to following your blogs! I'm still at a loss about my lavender - this morning it looked stragglier than ever! I think I'll be putting it in a larger pot sooner rather than later...