Written on June 7, 2010 at 8:01 am , by Justin W. Hancock
I have a bit of an odd relationship with lavender (Lavandula). On one hand I love it: The plant looks good, smells great, and has attractive foliage that fits in well with just about everything I’ve ever tried to plant around it. Plus you can cook with it; try strawberry-lavender ice cream for a tasty summer treat or lemon-lavender cookies any time of hte year. Yum!
But sometimes lavender annoys me. Why? because it gives so many of you (my readers) trouble. The other BHG garden editors and I get a ton of reader questions through Garden Doctor about this beautiful plant.
The most common mistake most people seem to have when growing lavender is that they grow it too wet. This herb wants full sun and likes to stay on the dry side, especially in winter. I’ve actually had great luck with it on the edge of the rain shadow created by the eaves of my house.
Lavender is also a perfect choice for containers; they give you the advantage of being able to move it around, so if you’re having a party on your deck you can place pots of lavender where your guests can easily brush by to release that wonderful, relaxing fragrance.
Written on December 2, 2009 at 8:02 am , by Justin W. Hancock
If you’re feeling like me and you long for fresh herbs but the weather’s gone cold, don’t despair — try growing herbs indoors. It’s actually pretty easy, as long as you have a bright spot (such as an unobstructed west- or south-facing window) to grow them in.
The key is realizing that most herbs don’t love growing inside — so you really need to consider them short-term plants (especially annual varieties such as basil). You may get a month, maybe two, from most of your plants before they fade away. Don’t feel bad about losing them by spring — herbs are not meant to be long-lived houseplants. And as long as you use them in cooking or baking, or even just to rub the leaves a few times and enjoy that fresh scent as a way of getting over cabin fever, you’ll probably find they’re worth the investment.
Here are some tips if you’d like to try growing herbs in your home this winter.
> They need bright light. If you don’t have a large sunny window, get an inexpensive shop light from your local hardware store and hang it about 8 inches above your plants. They’ll do just as well — if not better — in artificial light.
> Don’t love them too much. Most herbs prefer well-drained soil and would rather be a bit too dry than a bit too wet. Be sure to let the top inch or so of the potting mix dry out before you water them again.
> Give them drainage. It’s important that the roots don’t stand in water, so grow your herbs in a container that has drainage holes so excess moisture can escape.
> Protect them from drafts. Blasts of cold or hot air (from doors, windows, or heating vents) can quickly sap the life from your plants.