UPDATE 2018 – Hydro lavenders ! Journal below soil based plants.
Just like rosemary, the consensus is to “love it less”!
Do not over-water.
There were gardeners who grew Lavender very well in Singapore. Thanks to these gardeners who shared tips on plant care since 2016, more people (including myself) enjoyed lavenders in our gardens today. These sharing may not be in chronicle order as permission to use their stories (or pictures) came at different time as I wrote this post.
Henry Lim’s lavender journey (2015) –
Lavandula Angustifolia variety, from seeds
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.
He customized his own lavender soil :
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 took patience. Erin sowed her seeds in July 2015 and they took 2 months to see tiny sprouts. These seedlings were frail and grew very slowly.
September 17 2015 – 2 weeks old lavender
November 2015 – 2 months old lavender seedlings
Erin watered her lavender every 2 days and only when top soil felt dry. Lavenders love the sun.
2016 January 26
Feb 21 2016 – Erin’s “heart” work paid off ! 🙂
Shirley Ooi’s , 2015 :
Started her lavenders journey on August 11 2015 from seeds. In the daytime, while she worked, they were indoors and watered with ice cubes instead of water.
Aug 11 2015
Lee Michael, January 2017 – collected different varieties of lavender. In the earlier days before 2018, not many places stock lavenders. It was considered a great find if we chanced upon different types of lavenders in our local (Singapore) nurseries (plant centers).
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, the topmost part of lavender plant were trimmed off after the cutting had established itself.
KELVIN HO, 2016
It was Kelvin Ho‘s dream to start a lavender garden along his corridor in 2015. He read all he could and visited actual lavender fields.
In 2016, he decided to put his learning into action. His first attempt at germinating lavender seeds was a huge success. The first trial yield 75 seedlings total.
The first seed sprout was spotted in 2 weeks, on May 16 2016, and subsequently more seeds also germinated. 🙂 A lavender fan, his hard work and research paid off. He continued to advise beginners and share his experiences today.
May 15 2016 – germinated 75 seeds
Kelvin’s lavender seedlings!
He experimented with various soil mixes to find the best one to germinate lavender seeds better. These were some of his wild exploration !
Recipe 1 – Cactus potting soil, perlite, Florabella soil, seed compost (all mixed together).
2016 May 22 – The above recipe did not work well. Perlite and Florabella soil were not suitable for lavenders. Seeds did not germinate in them.
Soil with neutral PH work better for them.
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 was his update –
Lavenders grew better where there was ample sun. He also observed that plants in cooling units grew faster.
D.I.Y. cool beds (blue boxes)
In addition to seeds grown plants, he started rooting from nursery purchases as well.
Rooting more cutting in cups
Roots spotted on a cutting!!
Ultimate reward for lavender gardeners were their flowers.
Cher Keng Heng (2016) experimented widely for germinating, rooting and growing lavenders in his “laboratory”. He utilized hydroponic systems, Kratky methods as well as soil to study them.
At that time, his methods yield the fastest germination results of 2 weeks instead of 2 months. We thought it was his laboratory’s environment which was cool and dry, at 22 degree Celsius, 24/7. Lavenders’ ideal conditions .
GERMINATION Method – Maximum Humidity for seeds
Used covered container
Seeds sprouted first seed leaves 2 weeks later. It was astonishing to see this result in 2016 as most other experiences were 2 months.
April 12 2016
May 3 2016 – Lavender updates
In 2016, Cher Keng Heng suggested a way to hasten seedlings growth with LED grow lights by putting them closer and extend beyond our local daylight hours.
May 3 2016 – To grow faster
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. This is what is known now as roots rot. Stress, humidity, excessive watering or unsuitable medium (coco peat) can caused this to happen. Once this occurred, the damage was irreversible. Better chance with rooting a new cutting than tried to revive it. The browning stems would spread upwards and plants usually die.
May 10 – Newly bought lavender in distress!
Regarding roots rot, more than a few gardeners had shared the same tale since 2016. Lavender plants would wane and started dying one week after purchase. The main reason found was roots rot causing plants to fail.
The above purchased plant was green-housed in a plastic covering in an attempt to stabilize it. Flies emerged from the soil and it was suspected that rot had already set in.
Initially we thought that changing the soil immediately may prevent this from happening but if the rot had already set in, it did not help the plant recover.
2019 NURSERY LAVENDER PURCHASE
The lavender scent of sweetness which reminded one of light French perfume attracted me to this pot. Its a rare impulse as I normally do not buy plants. I checked for soft brown stems at the base of the plant, as this may be indicative of rot. Plants with roots rot ailment do not recover. Another visual check is for web with tiny red moving dots, this would be spider mites, an unpleasant persistent pests which spread easily in any garden.
2019 March 06
I observed that lavenders with no flower buds had a stronger scent. Thus after careful checks, I chose this plant for their strong scent.
On hindsight, I should paid more attention to the blue tint on leaves. The color likely comes from Neem spray, a natural pesticide, indicating presence of pests already.
Blue smear on leaves
BUYERS BEWARE, especially new gardeners. What looked and smell good, may not be the most healthy plants. As gardeners in this post advised, made cutting for rooting while the plant is healthy is a good insurance. Followed the advice on how to root cutting below with this added input.
Cutting rooting in progress
As we made the cutting. please check the leaves condition as well.
Pests in the folds of leaves
In the folds, underneath and top of leaves, if white, green, black or lightly colored moving dots such as these are found, they are pests. In my case, there was an infestation of well fed aphids in only the middle section of the plant. Left alone, they would have spread to my other plants indoor. Thus a good rule of thumb is to check in the daylight and isolate any new buys until all is clear.
Ants protect and tend to aphids for their honeydew secretions. When one part of the plant became weak due to these sap sucking pests, guess who ferried them to other parts of the plant? Reducing ants presence will greatly reduced aphids and other pests presence. TIP – Use Diatomaceous Earth (DE) to kill ants, add to soil and water down. It is effective against spider mites too. Google for more information.
Ants host pests
Both parent and cutting plants must be checked. Affected leaves removed, bagged and discard immediately. They cannot be used for culinary because of pesticide or dried for potpourri (in case the eggs hatched). Aphids and their eggs are extremely hardy, they would not die easily. To treat this plant, sulfur soap solution was used. However please note that sulfur reacts with light (sun or growlight) and would caused leaf burn. Thus only apply this solution at night or in the shade.
Very Wet Medium
When the plant was removed from its pot, its roots was tightly coiled in a very moist coco peat medium. This can lead to roots rotting because lavender plants are dry-loving.
Rot setting in in mid section
As much as possible this medium should be removed to avoid future decline of the plant. Soaked to soften the tight coil and gently remove the peat. The last rinse in Epsom Salt solution to reduce transplant shock before planting in the right medium. Tips on customized mix below or consider cactus mix for well draining soil.
STEPS FOR NURSERY BUYS
- Check for presence of ants
- Prepare cutting – remove lower based leaves
- Check main plant and cutting leaves for pests
- Remove remaining nursery plant from pot
- Remove coco peat base as much as possible, soak to soften tight coil
- Last rinse in Epsom salt solution (for transplant shock)
- Prepare new medium (cactus soil or add 50 – 70% sand to soil for well draining media)
- Continue to monitor cutting and parent plant for pests and ants
- Isolate until all is clear before adding new buy in the garden
Heavy Pruned Plant
HOW TO ROOT LAVENDER CUTTING
The easiest method to grow lavenders was from cutting of mature plants than germinating from seeds. However from the latter, we could enjoy broader range of varieties than what was available locally.
Propagating from cutting was relatively easy to clone from nursery buys by selecting clean (not brown or black part) stems for rooting. This had become the standard “play-safe” after buying lavenders from our nurseries. By rooting green cutting ahead of time instead of waiting till browning appeared allowed gardeners to enjoy their purchased plants longer. For some seasoned gardeners, they also re-potted in well draining cactus-like soil instead of keeping them in nursery’s soil mix.
STEP 1 – CHOSE HEALTHY GREEN STEMS, REMOVE LOWER LEAVES
May 11 2016 – Clean stem cutting work better (right) vs. the brown stems.
STEP 2 – GREENHOUSE For HUMIDITY
May 11 2016 – Sit the stem in water, mist the leaves and cover (to prevent water loss)
STEP 3 – OBSERVE FOR BROWNING STEMS
May 11 2016 – Seems ok, stem did not turned brown.
STEP 4 – CHANGE WATER IF MURKY
Day 4 – The water is not murky, stem is not brown, no sign of root rot. Remained same on May 19 2016!
May 22 2016 – Rooted!!!!
Helen Tan advised to change water every 3 days or when water is murky to prevent root rot during propagation. Best individually rooted in its own reservoir.
TIPS – Don’t root brown stems
TIPS – Short stems do not root well. Choose longer stems for rooting. Use a netcup as a rooting guide for best result.
May 19 2016 – Soft tips may mean rot has set in
TIPS – If rooting hormone is used, applied it on cutting’s end
May 11 -Choose green stem for rooting
Rooting hormone cutting was also green-housed to prevent evaporation.
May 11 2016 – Green house
Upright firm stem and non droopy leaves were good signs.
Sthh (Trevor) Sthh‘s is another lavender expert. I chanced on his lavender cutting success on May 17 2016 from Urban Farmers (Singapore) group and very kindly, he agreed to share his tips again :
3 weeks old lavender from 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.
REGINA FOK, passionate lavenders collector/grower based in USA
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 (Update 2018 – FULL SUN is okay)
- 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
- Base of Plant should not be wet
Regina Fok used cactus soil and perlite
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
Based in USA, she shared how lavender thrived in their natural environment. Hopefully, this knowledge from a hands on gardener, will helped us adapt our environment for them. Lavender leaves were more silver colored than green in her outdoor gardens.
Oct 30 2015 – Regina ‘s lavender garden in USA.
4 Tips to grow lavender well from 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.
OVER WINTERING Lavenders – still carried the scent lightly outdoor. However it was stronger in the summer heat.
Jan 30 2016
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? 🙂
HYDROPONIC Lavenders in KRATKY (SG STRAWBERRIES’s Journal, 2018)
We sowed our seeds on December 30 2017 using strawberries’ germination method, and most of the seeds sprouted 7 days later.
2018 January 7
These seedlings looked very small and growth were slow, but to my surprise, roots were quite long.
2018 January 16 – 1 week old lavender
One week old lavender seedlings roots were 4 inches long.
We planted half in soil and half using Kratky hydroponic method with our liquid nutrients.
It was observed that hydro seedlings grew faster than soil based plants.
2018 Jan25 – Soil based
More leaves showed on hydro plants than soil based within the same period. They were from the same pack of seeds and germinated at the same time.
2018 Jan25 -Hydro lavender
2 weeks later . . .hydro seedlings began to grow taller while soil based seedlings dragged their feet. Rice husk were mixed in soil medium for aeration. They were all grown in the same area by the window.
2018 Feb07 – Soil Based
Hydro plants were taller than soil based. At this time, we also learned how to grow strawberries in SG natural environment, and thus lavenders were grew the same way, with zero carbon footprint method.
2018 Feb07 – Hydro lavenders
Lavenders are sun loving and can be grown in liquid based medium.
Lavender from seeds
They started with one main stem and would grow side shoots within one month. The leaves were thick and when rubbed, lavender scent was already evident. Our pleasure with these plants begin.
Fuss Free Lavender from seeds
Although lavenders can be easily grown from cutting, the varieties available in our local garden nurseries were not broad. To enjoy the exotic and wider range, like white lavenders, it is only possible from seeds if cutting from a live plant proved difficult.
2018 June 01
Happy in liquid!
Cautionary Notes about Lavenders –
- If nutrients is not right, this is what stressed lavender seedling looked like, with cupped leaves. Healthy lavender leaves were open faced.
Closed up leaves
Once they recovered, the leaves unfolded and open. Do not expect a quick instant recovery, they may took longer than a month to stabilize. Slight browning at the leaf tip was still present. Sign of fully recovered plant showed only when new leaves grow from the topmost mid tip. The bottom leaves growth followed after.
2. Rain – Browning of leaves start at the base of the plant when it was rained on.
Browning starts at the base
It was an amazing discovery that lavenders are nor only easier in liquid base, but they do recover from browning stems and leaves to grow again. In soil, brown leaves or stems are often indicative of roots rot leading to full decline of the plant in Singapore.
New leaves are emerging
Leaves are less brown
2018 June 13
2018 October 28 – (Plant A)
Updates on hydro lavenders – As they matured, their stems thickened and these plants now look like miniature scented trees! Netcups support these plants well, allowing the stems to mature and sealing access to stagnant water in the reservoir below.
2018 Dec 09 – (Plant A)
2018 October 28 – Leaning Lavender
2018 Dec 09 – Leaning Tower, 2 “arms” raise
2018 Dec 09 – Sun Lovers
Uses for Lavender
Lavenders are mostly grown in bedrooms for their scent. However this is not the only way we use them. Example is adding lavender leaves to sugar and used this infused sugar for desserts and tea.
For lavender scented tea!
We also used our own herbs for beauty products such as soothing facial masks, potpourri etc
Girls’ Sleepovers are never boring in our home!
Lavender nutrients, seeds and net cups in SHOP !
Lavender n Mini Netcup
Netcups turned almost every spare bottle or jars into instant self watering pots. Rest easier during time away from our gardens.
Glass Tinted bottles were great for lavenders’ long roots. In my environment, they need not climb windows like strawberries to harness the sun in these wine bottles.
2019 February 15
Access to stagnant water is sealed. Thus there is zero risk of mosquitoes breeding with this method.
Mosquitoes Safe Planting
Our lavenders plants are grown in recycled jars and plastic bottles, alongside with strawberries. Although these plants are frost tolerant, they love the sun too. Our cool seasoned plants, proudly grown in Singapore.
Lavenders in recycled bottles
We love all our lavenders and can’t wait to start more unusual varieties from seeds!
Scented Mini Tree !