marcindy(z5b, Indianapolis, IN)September 8, 2011

Hi, I have never wintersown perennials or annuals before, only native tree seeds like oaks, hornbeams and beaches. I have been fairly successful with those, except for the aftercare protection from squirrels, but that's another story...

I got into this forum accidentally when looking for information about how to sow lavender. I want to edge my formal rose garden with it and need enough plants to cover around 24'. So far I have narrowed it down to either Hidcote Superior or Ellagance Purple. Swallowtail Seeds has both varieties, so I am eager to try sowing to get enough plants for my project without breaking the bank.

I was going to sow in my traditional way, start indoors under grow lights around January or early February and hopefully have plants in late spring early summer to plant out and create my edging. After reading the many very informative threads about WS in general and sowing lavender in particular I am tempted to try it. I am a little skeptic though as to how fast the plants would sprout and grow if I WS versus sowing indoors. I understand the concept of them sprouting outside, but I would think the cooler temps outside would slow them down from developing into good sized plants for transplanting. To be clear, I don't expect them to be gallon-size plants by May when I could plant them out. I was hoping to be able to plant them out around middle to end of June. Is that realistic?

Also, would it help if I bring them into the garage under growing lights once they sprouted outside? I am sorry if these are silly questions, or if I miss something totally obvious. Like I said, I never tried it, but I am excited to give it a try. Let me know what you think, how I should tweak my plan, or any advice you care to give. It will be all very much appreciated. Thanks!!

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phyleux(Z6 WPA)

I winter sowed Hidcote Blue lavender in January of 2005, sprouted in April, planted out probably late May early June. They stayed outside the entire winter/spring, though when it got warmer, I cut the tops off of the containers. The lavender didn't bloom the first year but did the second (pic below), and are still going strong for the most part. Have been laxed in pruning, they are a bit overgrown now, but I still continue to get blooms twice a year. You should definitely wintersow some lavender, did great for me.

By phyleux at 2006-06-05

    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 9:34PM
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Yes do it! :)

After WS'ing for many years I tried Lavendar last year for the 1st time. I was amazed at how easy it is to WS lav. (I don't remember the variety I did). They grew quickly and easily transplanted into the garden. They didn't bloom the 1st year, but this year they did, they are beautiful and fragrant.
I had so many germinate that I was giving them away.

This spring I WS'ed Lavender Lady. It says on the package it blooms the 1st year, mine didn't, but they are strong healthy plants. I was worried about germination bec. at first I had very sparse germination, and I had promised plants to many people! But eventually I had great germination again.
This year I WS'ed Lav on Feb 21st, and had 1st germination on March 12. The later germination was about a month later.

It's become my favorite thing to WS - so reliable - and I say - you can never have too much lavender. :)

Please let us know how you do.
Welcome to the wonderful wacky world of winter sowing.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2011 at 9:00AM
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I WS lavender from seeds I got in trade so I'm not certain of the cultivar but I got excellent germination and the plants are, at this moment, about 8" tall in gallon pots on my breezeway. I can't say the seedlings would be large enough to plant out in June but, all things being equal, should definitely be large enough for fall planting.

As to bringing them inside your garage and under grow lights, it's not a good idea. They do fine and are much stronger plants if they're allowed to grow in whatever light Mother Nature provides. My WS plants get a few hours of direct afternoon sun but are otherwise in shade most of the day.

Sowing enough lavender to edge a 24' bed is going to take a lot of seeds. You might want to check Hazzards Seeds and compare the unit price with the other seed companies you mentioned. They don't always, but generally sell at a lower cost per seed. I checked their website and they sell both Hidcote Superior and Ellegance Purple. They also offer free shipping on orders placed New Year's Eve, which is when I've ordered from them the past two years.

I checked my WS sprout chart and the lavender I sowed on 12/23 sprouted 4/15. I didn't note the germination rate but judging from the plants I've got, I'd say it was pretty high.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2011 at 9:04AM
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meant to add- yes you can easily plant your lavendar out by June, or earlier.
And I do not suggest bringing them in the garage bec. you are changing the environment. And it will be a shock to the plants. Just leave them outside, don't worry about them, and you will be very pleased. :)

also- looking at my notes - the lav. that I WS'd this year DID bloom, I put them in pots not in the garden. Don't know if that makes a difference as to whether they will bloom for you.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2011 at 9:22AM
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marcindy(z5b, Indianapolis, IN)

Wow, you guys are great. THANKS so much for all the advice and encouragement. I will definitely try it and see what happens. Thanks also for the tip on the other seed company, I'll check it out.

Phyleux, your Hidcote Blue looks great next to that wall!

    Bookmark   September 9, 2011 at 11:06AM
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marcindy(z5b, Indianapolis, IN)

I just looked over my order again and saw that one variety of lavender seed is described as "tuned". I looked it up and it means it has been treated so it doesn't need a cold stratification period. Would that affect the seed if I still wintersow it? Or are the seeds done with cold and expect a cozy 65F to 70F climate before germinating? Maybe I am overthinking

    Bookmark   September 9, 2011 at 8:10PM
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kqcrna(z6 SW Oh)

I think that just means you could sow them any time of year since they shouldn't need cold strat. Wintersowing should be fine.

Keep in mind that wintersown ones will start tiny and not put on much of a show that first year. But after that they're gorgeous.

Lavender tends to be a short-lived perennial for me, lasting about 3 years.


    Bookmark   September 10, 2011 at 6:47AM
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spartangardener(z4 MN)

I have found that sometimes germination is not the best with some lavenders, but have ws'ed mustead successfully even here in z4. I also have had great luck with cuttings, and a friend swears by layering as a propagation method.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2011 at 11:56PM
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marcindy(z5b, Indianapolis, IN)

I don't expect flowers or showstopper plants the first year, no matter what the marketers and the labels tell you... been there But in order to get enough plants to edge my formal garden seed starts are my best option. I have tried taking cuttings before, but all died on me. I am usually pretty good in the cutting department, but lavender has stumped me. But that's another thread in a different forum... :-)

Thanks again for all your good advice, tips and experiences. It really helps talking something through with friends.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 8:56AM
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