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 Lavandula angustifolia variety, from seeds
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 transplant lavender seedling in customized medium
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.
Henry Lim’s young lavender seedling in his customised medium. Pot placed in area with free flowing air.
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.
September 17 2015 – 2 weeks old lavender (sowed in July 2015)
November 2015 – 2 months old lavender seedlings
Erin watered her lavender every 2 days and only when top soil felt dry. They love the sun.
Jan 29 2016 – Sowed seeds in July 2015, took almost 2 months to germinate
Feb 21 2016 – Erin’s “heart” work paid off ! 🙂
Shirley Ooi’s lavender journey:
Aug 11 2015 – Shirley grew hers in shade and water with 2 large ice cubes at night
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.
May 15 2016 – Kelvin Ho has successfully germinated 75 seeds so far!
Kelvin’s lavender seedlings!
He experimented with various soil mix to find the best one to germinate lavender seeds better. This is his recipe –
Kelvin’s customized soil mix – Cactus potting soil, perlite, Florabella soil, seed compost (all mixed together).
June 16 2016 – Lavender seedlings (one month old)
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 –
Blue boxes are actually cooling units with ice packs inside to keep roots cooler
Rooting more cutting in cups and mature plants are flourishing!
Roots spotted on a cutting!!
Lavender Flowers , a most beautiful sight for lavender fans!
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 ! 🙂
Sowed lavender in seed compost and covered it for maximum humidity which aids germination
April 12 2016 – Germination in 2 weeks instead of 2 months!
May 3 2016 – Lavender updates
May 3 2016 – To speed up growth, lavender seedlings are placed very near to LED lights for 24 hours. Any options can also be considered as long as plants received light and not heat.
May 14 2016 – Lavender from seed
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 –
May 10 – Newly bought lavender in distress!
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.
Suspected the soil (some rot in the soil) as the cause of the problem once fly is seen hovering around the plant!
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.
May 11 2016 – Clean stem cutting work better (right) vs. the brown stems.
May 11 2016 – Sit the stem in water, mist the leaves and cover (to prevent water loss)
May 11 2016 – Seems ok, stem did not turned brown.
Day 4 – The water is not murky, stem is not brown, no sign of root rot. Remained same on May 19 2016! Keeping fingers crossed…
May 22 2016 – Rooted!!!!
Helen Tan advised to change water every 3 days or when water is murky to prevent root rot during propagation.
Day 4 – This is not good. Water is murky, stems are brown. Lesson learned – Best individually rooted.
May 19 2016 – Important to know where to cut the stems for rooting
Second method (rooting in soil) –
May 11 – Rooting powder on stem before planting. Use clean stem
May 11 2016 – Mist leaves, cover ‘pot’ to prevent water loss (Plant in soil, rooting powder used)
One day after – Lavender seems ok, not turning brown or limp.
Day 4 – look ok but …
May 19 2016 – Stem start browning. Not a good sign 🙁
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 3 weeks old lavender cutting
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!
This is how dry Sthh Sthh’s soil gets before he water it deeply!
- 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.
Recovered Lavender Plant!!!
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
Regina Fok’s cactus soil and perlite for her lavender in the USA. Leaves touching soil but not turning brown
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).
Thank you , Regina!!!
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.
March 23 2016 – 2 weeks to see first sprout! Grown indoors as outdoor is still winter, below 0 degree C (USA)
April 8 2016 – lavender is 2 weeks old (USA), looks bigger than Singapore’s seedlings
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 :
June 2016 – Compare – Grown indoor (3 months old) USA
June 2016 – Compare – Grown outdoor (3 months old) in USA
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.
Oct 30 2015 – Regina ‘s lavender garden in USA.
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.
Jan 30 2016 – Regina’s lavender over-wintering outdoors still carried its fragrance, but the scent is stronger in the summer season 🙂
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? 🙂