Just like rosemary, the consensus is to “love it less”!
Do not over-water.
There are gardeners who grew Lavender very well in Singapore. They shared tips on how to germinate and customized soil mixes so that this plant can thrive here.
Henry Lim’s lavender journey :
Began in September 2015 with a Paris Garden kit.
His lavender seeds did not germinate for a long time and Henry initially gave up on the project and re-purposed the soil for other plants.
Henry said germination can take up to 2 months and he was lucky to spot lavender shoots growing in the pots with the other plants and quickly transplant them.
Henry Lim ‘s customized lavender soil recipe :
His formula consisted of 1:1 pebbles and compost, mixed in with crushed egg shells (boiled, dried and egg membrane removed). He did not used the medium that came with Paris Garden kit. He said lavender soil need to be well drained, a customized mix of aqua-clay, compost and crushed boil egg shells work for his plants.
Erin Lee’s Lavender Journey :
Germinating lavender seeds need patience, they may take up to 2 months to see tiny sprouts and then seedlings grew very slowly as well.
Erin watered her lavender every 2 days and only when top soil felt dry. They love the sun.
Shirley Ooi’s lavender journey:
Lee Michael’s lavender varieties (January 2017) –
Michael had successfully rooted and grew various types of lavenders from cutting. He used cactus soil mix and advised NOT to add fertilizers for these plants. To encourage a bushier lavender plant, he cut off the top of lavender after the cutting had established itself.
Kelvin Ho‘s first attempt at germinating lavender seeds yielded 75 seedlings! First sprout spotted in 14 days (2 weeks) and subsequently more seeds also germinated. 🙂 A lavender fan, Kelvin was determined to have lavender lined his corridor and has done extensive research and experiment to enjoy this success story to share.
He experimented with various soil mix to find the best one to germinate lavender seeds better. This is his recipe –
Kelvin Ho is no longer a novice where lavender plants are concerned! 🙂 Slowly his lavender corridor garden dream is a reality in 2017. This is his update –
Other Observation – Perlite with peat moss did not work well for lavender seeds. None of his seeds have germinated in this mix so far (May22 2016, Kelvin Ho) . In addition, Florabella soil is not suitable for lavender.
Cher Keng Heng‘s Lavender Germination method yield results in 2 weeks instead of 2 months! The lab where Cher Keng Heng grew his plants are 22 degree Celsius, 24/7, very ideal cool temperate environment ! 🙂
May 10 2016 – As Cher Keng Heng grew (and experiment) most of his temperate plants in ideally cool controlled environment, I was completely shocked when he shared pictures of his lavender plant from a local nursery –
More than a few gardeners had shared the same tale. Lavender plants will wane and start dying one week after purchase. On closer examination, the source of the problem seem to be root rot.
Initially we thought that changing the soil immediately may prevent this from happening but if the rot had already set in, it may not helped the plant much.
The best solution seem to be starting afresh with propagating clean (not brown or black part) stems for rooting. For nursery plants, do prepare cutting ahead instead of waiting till problems appeared.
Helen Tan advised to change water every 3 days or when water is murky to prevent root rot during propagation.
Second method (rooting in soil) –
I chanced upon Sthh Sthh‘s lavender cutting success on May 17 2016 from Urban Farmers (Singapore) group and very kindly, he agreed to share his tips again :
Sthh Sthh’s method –
- Cut 3 to 4 inches of green soft stems, just below leaf nodes
- Remove lower 1 inch of leaves
- Plant in well drained sterile soil (no compost or organic stuff)
- Water deeply once, check how he does it in the rosemary post!
- Place under morning sun
- Observe for one week
- Soil base is same for rosemary and thyme ( or use Cactus soil)
Sthh Sthh think that his variety is Goodwin Creek Grey, (Lavandula dentata x L. lanata) and this variety is more hardy as they are able to withstand a bit more humidity and heat. Characteristics are silvery-grey, toothed-edged leaves, and long flowering stalks.
Once the stems have roots and for future lavender plant care, Regina Fok suggested the following guidelines for lavender plants in the tropics.
Tips on Lavender Plants Care in the Tropics – ( advice from REGINA FOK, USA)
- Water once every 3 to 4 days, only when top soil felt really dry or when the whole pot felt really light weight. This is how to tell when its time to water lavender plant.
- Use a syringe, filled with maximum 30 ml of water for lavender plant. Around the sides of the pot, dispense 5ml dose in 6 parts.
- Exposed to morning sun only
- Air-conditioned nights if possible
- DO not use ice
- Do not let lavender pot sit near where it can be rained on
- Cactus soil mixed with perlite and some compost can be considered as an ideal medium
Where Regina lived in the States, her summer time can be as warm as 38 degree celsius, with high humidity. At night, the temperature will slipped to 25 degree celsius (our normal air- conditioning environment).
Disclaimer – While the solutions above suggested by Regina Fok, work for most lavenders suffering from heat shock or transplant, it may not be a solution that cured all ills for lavenders in Singapore. After all, there are many reasons why lavenders failed in Singapore. An example is fungus from our high humidity which also adversely affect its well being. There is no cure for this, gardeners can only try to prevent this from occurring.
For a comparative study of how lavender seeds germinated in a cooler climate versus Singapore based data, Regina Fok has once again volunteered her time and data with us.
Regina Fok (USA) decided to test how young lavender seedlings fared in the natural outdoor environment. She planted one pot outdoors and one pot indoors. Her temperature outdoor ranged from 29 degree Celsius daytime and 15C at night. From the observation here, it seem lavender grow better outdoors than protected from all elements indoors :
Regina Fok, based in USA, shared how lavender thrived in their natural environment. Hopefully, this knowledge from a hands on gardener, will helped us adapt our environment for these lovely plants.
4 Tips to grow lavender well (Regina Fok) –
1. Lavender hates high humidity but love the sun and heat.
2. Soil should be sandy, loamy and well drained. PH level needs to be neutral to alkaline.
3. If possible keep the plant within 20C to grow well. With a lower temperature, the plant can tolerate drought and the chill keeps the humidity out.
4. Its very important to keep the top soil dry to prevent root rot. Water only when top soil feel dry to touch.
My 2 cents worth of advice, do consider rosemary soil and care for lavender as well. In addition, to line the pots’ base with rocks or pebbles to drain water out quickly.
Terence Low from Naked Greens and Sharon Eng advised to add more sand to soil. This aid drainage.
Guanster Guan‘s tip on how to choose healthy lavender from nursery and customize ideal soil mixes.
As lavender germination and growth are very slow in our weather, many gardeners do give up after a few months. For lavender fans, its never a question if they are willing to wait and try numerous times until they learned how to grow lavender in Singapore.
Its a quest worth seeking, as lavender smells wonderful, and if we get to harvest fresh ones at doorstep, in spite of the many challenges, why not? 🙂