How to Balance pH for English Lavender: A Comprehensive Guide

English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is a beautiful and fragrant herb that thrives in well-drained soil with a balanced pH level. To ensure your English lavender plants grow healthy and vibrant, it’s essential to maintain the proper soil pH range between 6.5 and 7.5. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the steps to balance pH for English lavender, including soil testing, amending the soil, and ongoing care.

Why is pH Important for English Lavender?

pH is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of the soil. English lavender prefers slightly acidic to neutral soil, with a pH range of 6.5 to 7.5. When the soil pH is outside this range, it can affect the plant’s ability to absorb nutrients, leading to stunted growth, yellowing leaves, and poor flower production.

How to Test Soil pH for English Lavender

English Lavender

Before you start balancing the pH for your English lavender, it’s crucial to determine the current pH level of your soil. You can use a home soil testing kit, available at most garden centers or online, to measure the pH level. Follow these steps:

  1. Collect soil samples from several locations in your lavender bed, digging down to a depth of 4-6 inches.
  2. Mix the soil samples together in a clean container.
  3. Follow the instructions on your soil testing kit to measure the pH level.

If the pH level is below 6.5, your soil is too acidic for English lavender. If the pH level is above 7.5, your soil is too alkaline.

How to Amend Soil pH for English Lavender

Once you’ve determined the current pH level of your soil, you can take steps to amend it to the optimal range for English lavender.

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Raising Soil pH (Acidic Soil)

If your soil pH is below 6.5, you’ll need to raise the pH level to make it more alkaline. Here’s how:

  1. Apply dolomite lime to your soil. Dolomite lime is a slow-release soil amendment that contains calcium and magnesium, which help to raise the pH level gradually over time.
  2. The amount of dolomite lime you’ll need depends on your soil type and current pH level. As a general guide, apply 1 pound of dolomite lime per 50 square feet of soil to raise the pH by 0.5 units.
  3. Mix the dolomite lime into the top 4-8 inches of soil, using a garden fork or tiller.
  4. Water the soil thoroughly after applying the dolomite lime to help it incorporate into the soil.

Lowering Soil pH (Alkaline Soil)

If your soil pH is above 7.5, you’ll need to lower the pH level to make it more acidic. Here’s how:

  1. Apply elemental sulfur to your soil. Elemental sulfur is a soil amendment that slowly converts to sulfuric acid in the soil, lowering the pH level over time.
  2. The amount of elemental sulfur you’ll need depends on your soil type and current pH level. As a general guide, apply 1 pound of elemental sulfur per 100 square feet of soil to lower the pH by 0.5 units.
  3. Mix the elemental sulfur into the top 4-8 inches of soil, using a garden fork or tiller.
  4. Water the soil thoroughly after applying the elemental sulfur to help it incorporate into the soil.

Ongoing Care for English Lavender

English Lavender 2

After amending the soil pH, it’s essential to monitor the pH level regularly and provide proper care for your English lavender plants. Here are some tips:

  1. Test the soil pH every 6-12 months to ensure it remains within the optimal range for English lavender.
  2. Water your lavender plants deeply but infrequently, allowing the soil to dry out between waterings. English lavender is drought-tolerant and prefers well-drained soil.
  3. Provide your lavender plants with full sun exposure, at least 6-8 hours per day.
  4. Prune your lavender plants annually after flowering to maintain their shape and promote healthy growth.
  5. Avoid using high-nitrogen fertilizers, as they can lead to excessive foliage growth at the expense of flower production.
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Home Remedies for Balancing Soil pH

In addition to using dolomite lime or elemental sulfur to amend soil pH, there are some home remedies you can try:

Wood Ash (Raising pH)

  1. Collect wood ash from your fireplace or wood stove.
  2. Apply a thin layer of wood ash (no more than 1/4 inch) to your lavender bed.
  3. Mix the wood ash into the top 4-8 inches of soil.
  4. Water the soil thoroughly after applying the wood ash.

Coffee Grounds (Lowering pH)

  1. Collect used coffee grounds from your daily brew.
  2. Spread a thin layer of coffee grounds (no more than 1/4 inch) around your lavender plants.
  3. Mix the coffee grounds into the top 1-2 inches of soil.
  4. Water the soil thoroughly after applying the coffee grounds.

Note: Home remedies may not be as precise or effective as commercial soil amendments, so it’s essential to monitor the soil pH regularly and adjust as needed.

Conclusion

Balancing the pH for English lavender is crucial for ensuring healthy growth and abundant blooms. By testing your soil pH, amending it to the optimal range, and providing proper care, you can create the ideal growing conditions for your lavender plants. Remember to monitor the soil pH regularly and adjust as needed to keep your English lavender thriving for years to come.

References:
1. https://coloradolavender.org/tips-to-successful-lavender-growing/
2. https://extension.usu.edu/yardandgarden/research/english-lavender-in-the-garden
3. https://www.norwoodlavenderfarm.com/lavender-recipes/how-to-grow-lavender