Growing lavender from seed

In the past I have always bought into the common wisdom that lavender should be grown from cuttings. And, I have to admit, I never questioned the wisdom of this very much.

A few years ago, I started a field scale demonstration of lavender with plug plants bought from Kernock Nurseries in Cornwall. The plants grew well; we had nearly 100% success rate after transplanting and they have continued to thrive.

However this year, I was given some lavender seeds to trial. I read around the subject a little, and could find no real reason, other than simplicity and speed, for using plug plants. I understand issues about cross pollination and plants not coming true etc. But with stable varieties and the right management during production, that doesn’t need to be an overwhelming problem. And, I’m only growing for ornamental purposes anyway, so some variation between plants is not going to be an issue for me. And from an ecological perspective that genetic variety is a definite good thing.

It’s early days yet, but I am happy to report that the seeds had 100% germination and 100% emergence. The first seedling emerged only five days after sowing (and took me completely by surprise). Thereafter, for the next month seedlings continued to emerge:  the bulk of them between days 10 and 20 after sowing.

I initially sowed the seed into trays, placed on a heat mat, in a mix of roughly 75% seed compost with 25% perlite (by volume). As soon as a few seedlings in each tray had emerged, I took them off the heat and kept them outside in the daytime (and it is still pretty cold here, <10C), but put them under cover at night.

I had way too many plants for my need – having paid too much heed to the doom mongers who talk about poor germination etc – so the excess seedlings have been “planted” out of doors to see how they fair (i.e. I tipped them onto a bare patch of earth, trying to keep as many as possible the right way up!).

As I said, it is early days, but fingers crossed, I should have lots of replacement plants later in the year.

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