Lavender for Edging

marcindy(z5b, Indianapolis, IN)August 22, 2011

I would like to edge a perennial bed with lavender. Does anyone have any suggestion for a lavender variety that doesn't sprawl so much and is more compact or tight growing for a decent edging "hedge", even when not in bloom? I am in zone 5, so that somewhat limits my choices. Also, it would be best if the lavender stayed around a foot or so. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance!!

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

based on my experience with lavender in z5 ann arbor area .. my best advice is to find something else ...

its short lived... not fully winter hardy ... and as such.. not going to be a great border plant ...

i suggest 1 or 3 as a small grouping.. to see if you have any success with them .. before you go lining out 50 of them as a border ...

good luck


    Bookmark   August 23, 2011 at 9:37AM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

I did this with Lady many years ago. It lasted about ten years before a particularly lavender unfriendly winter took it out, and at that time I was ready for something else. It's not hard to grow it from seed, and end up with a lot of plants very cheaply.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2011 at 9:56AM
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sharoncl(z5 WI)

I've had good results with 'ellagance sky'. I started them from seed a few years ago and they made nice sized mounds (and bloomed) the first year. They are now each 10 - 12" tall and wide and very sturdy little plants. I have them in raised beds to help with drainage, which is especially important in Wisconsin winters to prevent crown rot.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2011 at 10:18AM
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marcindy(z5b, Indianapolis, IN)

Great advice... I have experimented with Munstead, Hidcote, and Mitcham Gray for the past five years, just to see which one stands up best to our wet and cold winters and heavy soils. So far Munstead and Mitcham Gray have made it through just fine, Hidcote gave out after the first winter. Mitcham Gray is a very long bloomer with very dark purple blooms, but it's habit is too open and sprawling for a edging plant. Munstead would fill the bill, but it does tend to get pretty large and it's flowers are a pale blue. It might look great massed (it wouldn't be 50, but about 10 in each of the four quadrants). It does bloom early, and than sporadic throughout the summer. From that perspective Mitcham Gray is great as it fills in the long summer months while other lavenders are already done. Maybe with a summer pruning its form could be improved... hmmm...

I looked at Lady and Ellagance Sky online, and I like them both... plus they can be grown from seed, so for once it wouldn't blow my budget to go big in the
How far apart would you plant them to make a nice edging but not too close to crowd them too much? I am going for that nice "pillow-y"

    Bookmark   August 23, 2011 at 11:25AM
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Nevermore44 - 6a

I started from seed the standard type you can get from the big box stores.. i think it's just english lavender. We are in the same zone and it has held up great for the past 6 years. It does seed down a little, so it has spread nicely in the bed. You do have to hack it back so that it doesn't become leggy after each boom cycle. It's in cruddy fill dirt that came with the house and loves it. So not a rich soil, and it stays drier.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2011 at 12:05PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i figured all i had to do was say its an impossible dream .. for everyone else to tell us its the easiest plant in the world to grow ... lol ...

i seem to recall soil drainage as important in its ability to winter over .... and where i failed.. was too good a soil.. taking them into dormancy too damp.. leading to root and stem rot ... perhaps you peeps who won this battle have just the right soil ...


    Bookmark   August 23, 2011 at 1:04PM
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marcindy(z5b, Indianapolis, IN)

Hmmm.... Ken, I think you just deflated my bubble... the places I have grown my lavender successfully were close to the house (extra protection) with probably a lot of builder sand mixed in with the home construction (great drainage)... of course the spot I have in mind has neither of those... great...

Ok, what else instead of lavender? LOL Tidy, blueish purple flowers, low growing, full sun... great edger? :-)

    Bookmark   August 23, 2011 at 1:17PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

Nah. My lavender is in heavy, amended clay soil. It's handled The Year It Rained, and this year without any trouble at all. The Year It Rained, the Albany station of the National Weather Service reported measurable rain for more than 25 days in December. I had honestly forgotten what sunshine looked like. It totally freaked me out one day when it appeared in my rear view window when driving. Balloonflower rotted, which I didn't know could happen. The lavender just sat there and looked fine.

What the issue probably is, is that lavender doesn't like acidic soil. Since high rainfall and acidic soil tend to occur in the same places, it's easy to confuse the effects of the two. It's only from places like here, which combines a pH of over 7 and an annual rainfall of more than 40" a year, that you can tease the two apart.

I seem to remember planting the Lady on 12" centers, as per the seed packet instructions.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2011 at 1:27PM
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marcindy(z5b, Indianapolis, IN)

Thanks mad_gallica... I think I will go ahead with my plan and try the lavender option. My soil is definitely not acidic, although it is on the heavy side (gotta love the Indiana clay soils). And since I can get my plants from seed I may even try several varieties to see which ones are better suited or look better. I think I will order that seed

Thanks everyone for your suggestions. Btw, I did look at Highcountry Gardens and their Thumbelina Leigh lavender looks great... I might get a few and give them a try.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2011 at 3:45PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5


i can just give you info.. that surely doesnt mean it should stop you ...

it would tickle me to hear back in 3 years that you failed wildly.. lol

but it would not bother me that you succeeded wildly either ...

all we can do is share knowledge.. the rest is up to you and your garden..



    Bookmark   August 23, 2011 at 3:56PM
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Does anyone know lavender can live at zone 7? Atlanta area? thanks.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2011 at 10:03PM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

Although our climate is ideal for lavender, and I do have several hedges of it, I still replace it after 5 years. I prune it back every year, to keep it in shape and looking healthy and trim. By five years it gets too woody looking and I start taking it out. It is easy to start from cuttings and I try to always have new plants up to gallon size ready to plant. Al

    Bookmark   August 24, 2011 at 9:49AM
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marcindy(z5b, Indianapolis, IN)

Ken trust me, it won't take three years to report that something went It all makes so much sense in the winter... and than comes spring and reality sets in...

I really appreciate all your input and suggestions. I love ya'll... and speaking of ya'll I was in Atlanta last week and seem to recall having seen lavender. I stayed downtown a few blocks from centennial park, so not sure if the lavender was part of the annual flower display, or if it is a true perennial. I would think that your humidity is a real challenge for lavender... it might be best to check out your botanical garden and ask someone there. Last time I visited the botanical garden it was in very early spring and I was ready to dig up entire magnolia trees in full bloom and bring them back home with me! But, like Ken said, why not give it a try... maybe we will succeed.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2011 at 10:09AM
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I had mine growing along my walk,I loved it but now after 3 years I lost half of them so now debated of getting more or forgetting about it.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2011 at 7:54PM
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flora2b(z6a bc)

I love lavendar as an edging.....I think this is Hidcote

Have taken cuttings to make other hedges, but that is still a work in progress.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2011 at 2:23AM
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marcindy(z5b, Indianapolis, IN)

Wow! That is so cool looking, and just what I had in mind. Thanks for sharing the picture, flora. What is the small yellow spiky plant behind the hedge? Perennial foxgloves?

I find that my eye is always drawn to the slight curve in the hedge a little further in the background. Funny how movement captures the gaze. Great looking little hedge. Thanks again!

    Bookmark   August 29, 2011 at 9:22AM
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nancyd(5/Rochester, NY)

Seems you've decided to go forth with your idea, so I wish you much success. Personally, I would try something else, too. While I love lavender and could not have a garden without it, it's slow to bloom and is done by mid-August for me. I've seen those great catalog pictures, but it's not a look I could replicate with lavender. I'd try longer bloomers. For instance, as I'm looking out my window, the one plant that is still going strong is "Moonbeam" coreopsis. Not saying you should go that direction, but lavender gets large and woody and as I mentioned doesn't stay in bloom from spring to frost. I don't think it's the best option for edging. I personally would want a stronger performer.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2011 at 10:19AM
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I've had Lavendar 'Pink Hidcote' for 10 years going strong. It is at the front entry way, south-facing, average soil. I prune it very early spring to about 8" and it triples in size come summer. The pink is kinda dull, but the fragrance is the big draw.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2011 at 5:21PM
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marcindy(z5b, Indianapolis, IN)

Well, I tried the lavender option, and it was a spectacular failure. By the end of the 2011/12 winter only half the plants were alive due to very mild weather and lots of rain, instead of the usual snow and frost we get. I removed the remaining plants yesterday and am left with a blank slate once more. Another option I am currently considering is Stachys Hummelo... it stayed nice and green through our summer heat and drought, bloomed reasonably well and seems generally well behaved, neither sprawling nor flopping. I am also hoping for a dwarf Walker Low catmint, but that may be a few years away... oh and I have had good success growing calaminta nepetoides... great plant, long blooming period and a great billowy look to it...

Anyways, thought I shared the results of my experiment. Ken, you were right. :-)

    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 5:14PM
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Lavender Munstead works for me, I trim them in October and they were still blooming. I have slightly alkaline soil
and I don't fertilize ...just a top dressing of compost once a year. They don't like to be wet, prefer a dry soil.
Hope this helps

    Bookmark   November 22, 2012 at 11:22AM
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I am also hoping for a dwarf Walker Low catmint,

"Walker's Low" is not a dwarf. I have heard good reports for this relatively new variety of Nepeta known as "Joanna Reed".

Here is a link that might be useful: Joanna Reed Nepeta

    Bookmark   November 22, 2012 at 2:34PM
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dsb22(z7 VA)

Marcindy, I just wanted to say that I also tried lavender last year and it didn't work out for me either. In my case, I started five different varieties from seed but they just grew at the most glacial pace and looked terribly scraggly. I think I didn't water them enough, out of fear of over-watering. Anyway, I ended up using Stachys Helen Von Stein as an edger. It's in our front yard and blasted by the sun every day from 2 pm on. I've seen websites that say it can't take humidity but it looked wonderful all summer and never had to be cut back. I gifted a friend with some of the plants because they got fuller than I expected and I needed to thin them out. But it's stayed in a neat row. It's planted in front of autumn joy sedum, agastache and caryopteris.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 10:06AM
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marcindy(z5b, Indianapolis, IN)

Rouge21 and dsb22 thanks so much for your feedback and suggestions. I will look into the Joanna Reed variety. When I said I was looking for a dwarf Walker Low variety I meant similar to the large Walker Low, just smaller. Believe me, I quickly learned how much of a misnomer that catmint

I have not seen Helen von Stein stachys used here in my area, but I see the regular variety quite a bit. Thanks for the suggestion, I will consider it. Just out of curiosity, how tall and wide does your Helen von Stein row get?

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 12:39PM
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marcindy(z5b, Indianapolis, IN)

Well, I looked into Joanna Reed nepeta and it is advertised as growing between 36" and 48" tall, so it is a tad bit large for the front of the bed or as edging...

I also checked out calamintha and stachys Helen von Stein and saw some pictures where it was used in combination. Why didn't I think of that sooner. The gray of the substantial stachys leaves and the airy white flowers of calamintha looked stunning together... I think I will try that combo as an elegant edger for a bed of colorful roses.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 1:16PM
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I have tried to grow lavender many times and failed every time. I am tempted to try thumbelina Leigh in the Spring but might change my mind by next month.

My suggestion for a high impact purple edging plant is Rokey's Purple Aubrieta. I think that there is also a variegated Aubrieta. Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 7, 2013 at 12:51AM
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