When I grew lavender many years ago, they were always very easy plants for me. Because they prefer lean soils, I’d just dig a small hole and plant them with the existing soil from the ground. Most grew very well for years in the garden without any watering or special care.
So it’s a bit frustrating that since putting in a new lavender patch a few years ago, my new lavender plants have been very temperamental. I started with 18 lavender plants in the patch and have lost at least half that many since. This year, despite a mild winter, I expect that I’ll probably need to replace a few more.
I wondered if, because so many different cultivars of lavender are now widely available online, the problem may be that whereas I used to grow the tried-and-tested classics like ‘Munstead’ and ‘Grosso,’ I’m now experimenting with varieties that may not be suitable for the cold and wet winters of Long Island. But then I realized that even the tried-and-tested cultivars have been struggling in the new patch.
The upshot is that because I’m tired of constantly replacing the lavenders in my garden, I’ll eventually replace them with other, more reliable plants. But for now, the lavenders have certainly become one of the most challenging plants that I grow. Generally, I find it to be the case that the evergreen perennials in my garden are the most difficult to get through the winter.
Last year, after winter I thought that many of my lavender plants were toast. But despite the damage to the foliage, many were able to sprout new growth from the woody stems. It can be disconcerting to see the ragged condition of lavender plants after winter, but if you’re patient and willing to prune back hard, many of them can recover their shape by summer.
I thought it might be helpful to document on this page how each of my lavender plants fared over the winter. I’ll post an update on their performance in the summer.
Keep in mind that data from a single growing season, from a single garden might not be reflective on the merits of any single cultivar. For example, I have one plant of Lavandula x intermedia ‘Alba’ that made it through this winter with flying colors, and another growing just a few feet away that took severe winter damage. For a more rigorous evaluation on the cold hardiness of lavender cultivars, I encourage you to check out this report by the Chicago Botanic Garden.
And now, here are the lavenders in my garden with notes on how they fared this winter: