Lavender has been a popular cultivated plant for many centuries and is perhaps the most common, and certainly one of the most versatile herbs you could ever consider growing.
It can be grown as a shrub, a tub plant or a hedge; you can keep it cut low or let it grow to over a metre tall, depending on the species.
The flowers and leaves can be used for medicinal, craft, cosmetic and even culinary purposes.
It is sold as ‘bunched lavender’, stripped flowers for crafts and distilled for its essential oil – making it a profitable commodity world-wide.
Commercially lavender is grown in France , England , Spain , Italy , USA , Australia , South Africa , New Zealand and Japan . Each region growing species that are best suited to local conditions – many trials have been conducted world-wide to isolate the best species for specific local conditions. Some well known lavender farms have been operating for decades researching suitable species and refining production, for example Norfolk Lavender Farm in England, Bridstowe Lavender, both in Tasmania (Australia), and the farms around Grasse in Provence, France. Lavender is also popular with gardeners for its flowers, foliage and scent. Some producers grow lavender exclusively to supply this market. (NB: some people can be allergic to the perfumes of certain scented plants, and this can be a severe drawback in using such plants in this way, they are a delight to many people but a horror to others).
LAVENDER GROWING -100 hour DISTANCE EDUCATION COURSE
Opportunities to Work with Lavender
Commercial opportunities exist in a variety of shapes and forms. Here are a few lavender based businesses:
Display Gardens -Lavender themed garden, tea room and craft shop (selling lavender crafts); catering to tourism.
Lavender Farm -May produce and sell oil and or dried flower heads
Lavender Nursery -Producing plants for either use by commercial farms or to bew sold to the public. Business may be limited if a nursery offers only a small range of lavender plants; but with creativity and innovation, many nurseries have been able to build viable businesses dealing exclusively with lavender (eg. Sell a large range of varieties, sell both retail and wholesale, also offer mail order, package the plants in a variety of ways -as topiary, hedge plants, crop plants, feature plants, bonsai etc.)
Perfume and Aromatherapy -Produce a range of lavender products, such as perfumes, massage and bath oils, soaps, sleep pillows, lavender incense, etc.
The Secret of Success.... You need to not only know lavender; but also have a range of business skills and a sense of innovation. If you want to discuss the possibilities more, contact us and use our course counselling service.
Start a Nursery or Herb Farm -If you don't know where to begin; consider reading our principal's book. >>> Click for details >>>
MORE ABOUT LAVENDER
Most lavenders come from the Mediterranean region, with a few extending as far east as India. They will grow in most parts of Australia, however they do grow better in moderately fertile soil with an annual rainfall of around 33 inches (825mm) and a soil pH between 6.4 and 8.2 . Despite Lavender's ability to withstand dry periods, young plants do need soil to remain moist right through the first dry season. Lack of water or excessive heat can discourage flowering.
There are very few pests which trouble Lavender, though occasionally caterpillars can be a problem. This can be controlled easily with a spray of garlic or pyrethrum, or the powdered bacterial spray Dipel. Fungal diseases are only an occasional problem in temperate climates, but can be more prevalent in warm, wet climates, particularly when the plant is mulched. Root rots such as cinnamon fungus can be a particular problem. Other fungal problems can cause die back on part or all of a plant, particularly in over wet conditions.
Pruning is necessary to shape lavender plants and encourage the development of flowers. Lavenders will take very hard pruning in temperate climates and can be cut to less than half their size every year (in late winter).
Lavendula lanata (woolly lavender) is particularly adapted to dry climates, with a woolly layer of hairs on the leaves helping to conserve moisture. This same plant however is more susceptible to fungal diseases and over wet conditions, because of the woolly covering which makes it harder for excess moisture to get away.
Lavendula stoechus (Italian Lavender) is another that does well in dry climates; but be careful –in some inland parts of Australia (eg. North West Victoria) it has become a weed)
This species also does well in wetter and even humid climates (where it is less often a weed). Italian Lavender is one of the few species that grows and flowers well in Brisbane.
Lavendula angustifolia (English Lavender) is however the most popular species; and varieties of this are the one commonly grown in commercial lavender farms. The main reason for L. angustifolia’s popularity, is that its oil is the purest. Other lavenders have a “camphor” like scent or taste mixed with the perfume of lavender. This purity makes English lavender the best choice for lavender crafts or perfumes; and the only palatable choice for making edible delicacies like lavender biscuits or breads.
BUYING LAVENDER PLANTS
When selecting lavender plants for purchase you should always consider the following points:
Choose only plants with a healthy appearance. Plants should have no obvious discolouring, stunted growth, signs of damage, etc.
Reject any plants with obvious signs of pest or disease damage.
Do not choose plants that appear too big for the pot, or have extensive root growth protruding from the container. These plants will often not transplant as readily as smaller ones that are not potbound.
Be wary of very small plants that appear very soft. These may have recently come out of a protected raising area such as a greenhouse and have had insufficient time to 'harden' up before being offered for sale.
Used for adding perfume to cupboards and linen drawers. They may be manufactured in a variety of ways:
Cut cotton fabric into heart shapes. Fill with dried lavender and stitch around the edge.
Sow lace around edge of heart.
Lavender bags may be made in the shape of a circle or square.
Gather together narrow ribbon and lace.
Cut out desired cotton shapes, square or circular, under 10 cm.
Sew around 3 edges, leaving one edge open to stuff filling into bag.
Place dried lavender into bag.
Sew up open edge and sew lace around perimeter of the bag.
Decorate with ribbon.
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