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Author Topic: lavender  (Read 4726 times)
Damonh
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« on: February 24, 2009, 01:54:22 PM »

I am looking to plant some lavender around the house for my honey bees. Is there a type the bees really like or will any do?
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MrILoveTheAnts
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« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2009, 04:17:46 PM »

I don't know of any Lavender that the bees don't like, but I believe it's a little hard to grow. I think it requires well drained semi-sandy soil. Do some research first because I'm not certain on this. There are annual varieties and perennials too so watch what you get.
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KONASDAD
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« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2009, 04:35:37 PM »

They like all varieties. I think lavender is easy to grow. They need to get established and then they are almost carefre. I must have about twebty going in my yard. make nice edging plant if trimmed in early spring so it dienst get leggy. I really like "blue cushion" and provence. But any variety is a bee attractant
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Natalie
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« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2009, 05:06:59 PM »

They do like sandy soil and good drainage, I mix small pebbles into the soil to help with the drainage and I have most of mine growing on a slope so I think that helps. As Konasdad says trimming them back is good.
Some people say lavendar in my area is hard to overwinter but I have never had a problem, its been very hardy for me.
I have a few kinds and the bees like them all.
If you like purple and want bees, try hyssops, bees LOVE it!!
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akane
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« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2009, 09:42:17 PM »

Get a lavender that's developed for your area and it grows well.  If your in the warmer climates it's not as much of a problem but here in zone 5 with heavy top soil and clay underneath some lavenders grow like weeds and some I can't keep alive for anything.  I tried so hard to get certain varieties by buying plants and seeds online.  It's darn hard to start them from seed.  I lost all of them from 2 packets and most of the ones I ordered online.  I'd about given up when completely ignoring the variety I bought some started plants labelled for zone 4 and 5 from a local store.  They took over a huge chunk of my garden until I tore that area up and tried to move them.  They didn't like that and died off on me again.  rolleyes  Being stubborn I've got a pack of seeds here I'm direct sowing and I plan to buy some new plants at the same store again.
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fermentedhiker
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« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2009, 09:53:12 PM »

an alternative if you find lavender hard to cultivate would be a "lavender" colored variety of catmint.  Looks similar from a decorative standpoint, the bees love it, and it's easier to grow.
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akane
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« Reply #6 on: February 24, 2009, 10:09:46 PM »

I do have catmint.  It's one of my favorite plants and extremely low maintenance. 
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Damonh
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« Reply #7 on: February 25, 2009, 09:10:21 AM »

Thanx all for the responses.
   I live on Lake Erie and I have sandy soil. I remember my mother growing lavender but I do not know the variety. I will get some seed packets, and when the local nursery's open I will try a couple different kinds of plants. I will also try the catnip.
Damon
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KONASDAD
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« Reply #8 on: February 25, 2009, 12:08:23 PM »

Needs tons of sun and dont over fertilize. I give jst a splash in spring of miracle grow type fertilizer. Its too high in nutrients so just a few spalshes throughout spring is all thats needed. If you give too much, it grow like wild, but has fewer flowers.
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annette
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« Reply #9 on: February 25, 2009, 12:32:13 PM »

We have the English Lavendar growing in hard, clay like soil. It has done extremely well up here.
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akane
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« Reply #10 on: February 26, 2009, 12:00:37 AM »

Catmint and catnip are used to refer to 2 different but closely related plants.  Decide which one your talking about because they have very different flowers.
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BjornBee
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« Reply #11 on: February 26, 2009, 09:57:10 AM »

I have about 5 plants that I bought years ago at one of the garden centers of Lowes or Home Depot. I have no clue the variety. The bees work them whenever they bloom. I have pinks and blues. But compared to other more easily grown plants, I'm not sure the value from the length of bloom. I have mints that seem to bloom forever, and the bees work them much harder. But the lavenders seem to bloom at odd times. So maybe for a nectar source, it's good for certain periods of time. I'll have to pay attention more to the blooming this year.
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Shawn
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« Reply #12 on: February 26, 2009, 11:24:00 AM »

Cindi had posted awhile ago about the bees not going to her lavender, but use to I believe. I think it strange how some years the bees go nuts over a plant one year and nothing the next. Im guessing it depends on what is blooming at the time and what they like better.
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KONASDAD
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« Reply #13 on: February 26, 2009, 03:24:30 PM »

I have noticed certain plants have beees at certain times of the day. Clover is afternoon for example. Vine veggies in the AM. Lavender is good for afternoon and my bees will even go to it when clover is in bloom. Mint is awesome, but invasive. Hyssop and russian sage and levender are my allstar perennials for suburban gardeners. I will be planting catmint this year.
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MrILoveTheAnts
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« Reply #14 on: February 26, 2009, 03:55:46 PM »

As odd as it sounds I believe Catmint is kept under control by cats. I have a couple catmints (Walker's Low and a pink variety) and they've been dying back more and more each year. I want to say it's because several of my cats frequently use them like pillows and roll around in them in a daze.

A Catnip plant I bought for them over the winter has almost completely died. Not just from them knocking the poor thing over but from the cats eating it. It's down to two small stalks now and doesn't look like it will be healthy looking anytime soon.
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DayValleyDahlias
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« Reply #15 on: February 26, 2009, 03:59:00 PM »

I have 3 varieties, Grosso, Abrielii, and Provence...all great and the garden smells like a delicious mix of honey and lavender!  Sweet!
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MustbeeNuts
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« Reply #16 on: February 27, 2009, 07:20:09 AM »

I planted truly 30,000 seeds of lavender, not a one came up. when it comes to growing things, I don't get it.  I can't even grow a decent tomato plant. What is there that I can just thro and grow?  Pure sand here.
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Natalie
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« Reply #17 on: February 27, 2009, 09:47:39 AM »

Although there are some plants that thrive in a sandy soil it sounds like you will most likely have to amend your soil if you want to grow a variety of plants.
You will also be better off going with plants and not seeds, or at least start the seedlings inside.
I grow lavendar and it likes a little sand but I have always started them from 4 inch starts.
Have you thought of doing a raised bed garden? You could throw together some simple wood frames and have some soil brought in and plant some nice bee plants, lavendar, hyssops etc.
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poka-bee
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« Reply #18 on: February 27, 2009, 10:42:41 AM »

You could try like a tomato cage w/bird netting or small chix wire around the catmint plants.  It has to be big enough so they can survive the cats attention.  That way the cats will keep it trimmed for you but can't smush it or eat it to the ground.  J
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akane
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« Reply #19 on: February 27, 2009, 09:22:44 PM »

If you give catmint and catnip a year or 2 start without being damaged by cats it will get so big they won't have a chance.  I fenced mine off the first year and last year they were huge bushes.  If they ate nothing else the 2 cats still wouldn't have been able to eat all of a bush.  The catnip has stayed as individual plants but the catmint like a true mint relative is staging world domination.  I started with one plant 2 years ago and it was 5' down the fenceline last fall.  Luckily it shares the area with 3 other mint varieties so no worry.  If they take over I just won't have to mow that area.  grin  I no longer have to run the weed whacker along the back of the garage due to a single transplanted spearmint plant when I moved here.
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poka-bee
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« Reply #20 on: February 27, 2009, 09:39:05 PM »

I still like to weedwhack the mints...cause it smells sooooo good on a hot summer day! Wink I have pineapple mint, spearmint, peppermint, chocolate mint (it's reeeeallly good in desserts!) apple mint, cat mint. Love those mints cause they are like a timex...take a lickin & keep on tickin!  J
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Shawn
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« Reply #21 on: February 28, 2009, 10:14:07 AM »

Ive never seen apple mint.
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akane
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« Reply #22 on: February 28, 2009, 02:26:12 PM »

I want chocolate mint.  I have orange mint, lemon mint (along with lemon balm which is a different species), and spearmint.  The flavored mints are usually varieties of the peppermint species.
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poka-bee
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« Reply #23 on: February 28, 2009, 02:28:06 PM »

Akane, PM me & I can send you trimmings...If I send a handful I know there will be at least 1 that roots, then look out! J
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« Reply #24 on: March 01, 2009, 05:25:05 PM »

Apple mint makes good tea too! Don't have to dry it just uses it straight from the garden.

As far as Lavender goes, I understand most like a limey soil.  My soil is dry and sandy but I still had trouble for years until someone told me to plant my lavender in a cinderblock. Did it and it worked like a charm.  Most of mine now is in raised beds with a cinder block end cap. When I planted them actually in the block they dried out too quickly.  I have never had much success with the Fringed Lavenders though, they are more tender and never last thru the winter.
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Mariongoose
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« Reply #25 on: May 10, 2009, 09:58:16 AM »

I never met a Lavender I didn't like.  My bees love it and my skipper butterflies can't leave it alone.  Lavender is extremely hard (nearly impossible) to grow from seed.  Of course the seed packets won't tell you that.  The good news is it is one of the easiest to propagate.  If you have rooting hormone (just a little packet from the garden store) you'll have a near 100% success rate.  Cut off a 3-4 inch cutting from your mother plant.  Strip off the bottom leaves leaving just a few leaves at the top.   Dip it in the rooting hormone, shake off the excess (too much hormone and it will inhibit growth) and then plant in a  potting soil leaving your top leaves sticking out.  I like to water from the bottom as it gets the roots to stretch down.  I don't let them sit wet though. I don't look for roots until I see new growth on the plant.  Usually lavender likes the worst soil in your garden as long as it gets sun, and good drainage.  Wet feet will kill them. They usually will need some water the first year, a little the second to help them get established.  The 3rd year unless you're in an extreme hot area, you likely won't have to water again.  I have never fertilized my lavenders, though some people will add bone meal to the plant.  Where I am, I'm unable to overwinter the delicate, spanish lavenders.  Those are the ones with the fluffy flower heads, and foliage that has a pretty, ferny look to them.  There are about a zillion others  I can grow in my area, and I think your Lowes or Home Depot should have them.  One of my favorite sites for lavenders is Goodwin Creek Gardens out of Williams Oregon.  They have an incredible variety, and have even developed thier own.  Their web site as a plethora of knowledge regarding lavenders and other herbs. My favorite treat is to buy one of their plant collections.  The plants are smaller than what you'd pay for at Lowes, but the variety is astounding, and you can get some very special plants here.
And another thing, (sorry I'm so long winded) I LOVE Bee Balm aka Monarda aka Bergomot. The fragrance is lavender and lemony at the same time.  It's vigorous, and next year you'll have twice as many plants.  Hummingbirds love it too.  I good one to plant near a path where people will bump into it.
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Natalie
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« Reply #26 on: May 10, 2009, 06:51:01 PM »

Thank you for the great info.
I have some lavendar that has been doing well for the last couple of years and I just bought some more yesterday to add to it.
I love bee balm, just bought some more today. My kids gave me a gift certificate for my local nursery and I got to go hog wild today.
I bought lots of bee plants today. Smiley
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reinbeau
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« Reply #27 on: May 10, 2009, 08:47:19 PM »

As many have said, lavender doesn't like a heavy, wet soil.  It does prefer a sweet soil, though, or neutral pH.  One trick to keep lavender over the winter in areas that get winters like ours (fluctuating temperatures then extreme cold, which leads to frost heaving, etc.) is to mulch around the base of the plant with one inch of builder's sand in the fall.   As the temps fluctuate and the soil opens around the roots (frost heaves) the sand will fall into the openings, keeping the roots safe from the extremes.  I'd tried to grow lavender for years here until I learned this trick - and now it lives through the winter for me just fine.  I'll never be able to keep those lovely frilly leafed varieties mentioned by another poster, but Munstead, Grosso, Hidcote and other hardy varieties are living well in my garden now!

It takes a lot of lavender to really influence the taste of honey.  My mother brought me some lavender honey from Provence once, it was to die for.  The beek had his hives set in literally acres of lavender, and timed the honey harvest to the peak of the bloom. 
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