Lavender is originally a plant from the Mediterranean region. It is one of the species from the mint family. A lavender plant usually grows up to a height of around 40cms – 80cms.
It has oval-shaped leaves structured in an opposite facing manner. All of its features make it a gorgeous herb, and fields of lavender are a true sight of beauty in nature.
As these plants naturally belong to the Mediterranean region, they have to be provided with those familiar weather conditions in order to cultivate.
Temperate climates are the best to grow these herbs. Lavender has a lot of uses and is generally grown as an ornamental plant at homes and gardens. It is also used as an herb in the culinary and is a popular aromatic plant enriched with a variety of benefits.
Lavender is one of the successful and profitable agricultural plants grown in India. Lavender farming is considered a major commercial crop in cultivation. Many places in India grow lavenders for their herb, culinary, cosmetic, and medicinal value.
Lavender cultivation in India:
As these plants grow in a temperate climate, thus, in India, lavender is grown colder regions with low rainfall rates. Hilly slopes and mountainous regions in northern India are a common region for lavender growth. India is a cultivator of 4 major lavender varieties. Lavender farms and fields are often appealing tourist destinations as well.
Lavender is an easy herb to grow. They are mainly grown in large-scale fields for commercial purposes. Lavender can also be grown at houses and gardens as potted ornamental plants with beautiful and scented flowers and attractive foliage.
Hill slopes of Himachal Pradesh and various states of Uttar Pradesh are major growing centers of the lavender herb. Kashmir valley region is also a picturesque destination that has lavender fields and invests in cultivation.
Southern parts of India do not make up for suitable growing conditions that are needed to cultivate lavender. Yet there are a few farms that engage in this venture to cultivate this precious and rich herb.
Srinagar is a famous location with beautiful fields of lavender cultivated for marketing purposes.
Lavender farming in India is also carried out using Hydroponic and Aeroponic technologies where the crops are grown in water or air, respectively.
These mediums do not make use of soil and are carried out in greenhouses and indoor systems. Lavenders grown using such methods are efficiently cultivated using new and advanced technologies and this results in better quality and higher yields.
Types of Lavender grown in India:
Among the various available lavender varieties, India focuses on cultivating 4 types of this herb. They are:
The True Lavender variety
This species of the lavender family is the most popular one and is the original Mediterranean type. These comfortably grow in high land areas like hilly regions.
These lavender species grow up to a height of 20 – 40cms and they have a dull green shade of leaves. These varieties have an oil content of about 0.5 percent – 0.1 percent.
The Spike Lavender variety
This variety of lavender is also a native Mediterranean one. The leaves in this type of lavender are comparatively broader. This type of lavender herb is grown best in lower altitudes of about 250 – 700meters above sea levels.
The Lavandin variety
This variety of lavender is a hybrid one. It is obtained from the hybridization of the true lavender and the spike lavender variety. These grow in altitudes of around 800 – 1000 meters above the sea level.
The height of this lavender plant variety reaches approximately a meter. The lavandin variety has higher essential oil contents than the true lavender variety.
The Sher-e-Kashmir variety
This one is also a laboratory-produced variety. It was introduced by the CIMAP of Lucknow. This lavender variety is a commercially beneficial one as it has a lot of essential oil content compared to the other 3 varieties.
Growing Lavender in India:
It takes some amount of research and knowledge to successfully farm and cultivate lavenders. If planted properly, lavender can be a very profitable crop to be grown in fields. Efficient lavender growth even in small-scales can bring a lot of profit. Let us look into detailed methods of efficiently growing lavender, be it in fields, or your home gardens.
Soil requirements for lavender farming:
Lavenders are usually grown in higher altitudes and slope regions. They prefer light soils with good aeration. Drier soils are more suitable for lavender growths. Soil rich in calcium carbonates and organic matter is best for lavender farming. Lavenders do not like acidic soils.
To grow lavender plants that produce higher amounts of essential oils, they must be grown in soils with a pH level of around 7.0 – 8.3. Growing lavender is not a very difficult task as it can grow well even in infertile, eroded, and low-quality soils.
It is advisable to check the soil and experiment in a smaller area by growing the plants to test the soil and check its properties. This is essential in cases of large scale commercial farms.
When growing in homes, terracotta or clay pots as they facilitate good aeration that is necessary for the plant. Hydroponic and aeroponic systems are also used to grow lavender without the use of soil.
Climatic conditions required for growing Lavender:
Lavenders prefer cooler climates and that is the reason for growing lavender in northern and hilly parts of India. Cool winters and mild summers are suitable for plant growth.
This plant can also tolerate drought and frost conditions as they belong to temperate climatic zones. In houses, lavender planting can be carried out during the winter months to support the plant’s temperature needs.
Preparing the land for planting Lavender:
Preparing the soil before planting the seeds helps to nourish the soil and facilitate good growth. Plowing the soil helps to remove weeds from it and makes it airy and light.
Manure and nutrients can be added to the soil before sowing seeds to make the land fertile.
Propagating the lavender:
Lavender propagation can be carried out through seeds, root cutting, tissue culture as well as layering.
When it comes to using the seed medium, the commercially available lavender seeds are to be sown in beds that are prepared beforehand.
The seeds must be sown at a distance of about 1 – 2cms apart from each other. Autumn is a good season to grow this plant and the seeds must be left covered with manure rich soils for further germination.
The ideal germination temperature for the lavender plants is 14 – 15.
When using rooted cuttings for propagating lavender growth, healthy cutting from a host plant must be chosen. The cutting must be around 10cms – 15cms.
The selected cutting must be from young shoots of plants. These cutting must be placed in a supportive growing medium like in seedbeds or trays. Manure and sand can be mixed to obtain a rich and aerated soil medium.
Lavenders that are propagated using Tissue culture are a comparatively costly method. It is used mainly to grow and propagate lavenders in a larger scale.
Using tissue-culture helps to produce lavender plants that are entirely identical to the mother plants and are also disease-free and less vulnerable to damage.
The method of layering makes use of long and healthy stems for propagation. Longer stems are selected and foliage from the bottom part of the stem is removed leaving around 10cms of foliage on the top of the stems.
The bare stemmed area when covered with soil starts growing roots. The new plant area that emerges from the mother plant must be later separated and replanted.
The new offspring plants must be attended to with proper growth conditions and nourishments that are necessary.
Planting and Spacing for cultivation:
Autumn and springtime prove to be suitable for transplanting the seedlings. The rows of lavender must be at a distance of around 30 – 40cms.
Irrigation needs for growing Lavender:
Lavenders are rather time-taking plants. The lavender grown in commercial farms need to be irrigated well for the first two years until the plants are properly established.
Initial periods of plant growth and blossoming must be supported well with water. Drip irrigation facilities can be used and sprinkler irrigation must be avoided as they give rise to diseases.
Over-watering must be avoided as it may clog up the soil and lavenders prefer a well-drained soil medium. Dampness can hamper the growth of lavenders and thus, it must be avoided.
Sunlight requirements for Lavender farming:
Lavender plants although grown in a cooler climate prefer good bring sunlight. 6 hours of sun exposure is a good amount of time for the plants to grow. The plants must receive full sunlight and this assists good growth.
Fertilizing the lavenders:
Lavender plants like a good fertilizing. Nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus are basic chemical requirements that the soil must be enriched with.
Lavenders can be grown well with the addition of organic manure to the soils. In large agricultural farms, lavenders are usually fertilized regularly to ensure good production.
Keeping away pests and diseases from the lavender plants:
Pests and diseases are comparatively less in lavender farms. These plants aren’t too vulnerable to damage. In case of pest or microbial infestations, the horticulture agencies of that area must be contacted. Weeds must be picked regularly and over-watering must be avoided to prevent the roots from rotting.
Harvesting the Lavender:
The appearances and scent of lavender can easily denote when it is time for harvesting. When the bottom-most flowers from the clusters blooming on stems begin to open, the lavender is perfect to be harvested.
If most of the flowers in the cluster have bloomed, then it becomes too late for harvesting for herbal uses. At this time the lavender is also vibrant and very fragrant.
The flowers must be harvested by cutting them along with 10cm of the stem. The flowers should be cut from the base of the stem close to the foliage. This lets the plant to regrow new leaves and establish fresher lavender.
In Kashmir, the lavenders are harvested during August and September. The pruned stems are left to grow into newer plants and fill the farms with scented lavender blooms again.
Benefits of growing Lavender:
Lavender is a highly precious herbal plant and is also expensive. It is rather easy to grow herb and yields more profitable products as compared to other flowering plants.
Flowers of the lavender are used in culinary, cosmetics, medicines, aromatherapies, etc. and thus this plant has a wide variety of uses.
The oil extracted from lavenders is essential and is very important for its medicinal uses.
Lavenders are long-lasting crop. It can be farmed and cultivated for almost 10 years. Therefore, investing in a lavender farm is all in all a win-win situation. It produces a lot of financial benefits and has a high market value.
Uses and Benefits of Lavender:
– Lavender is used extensively as décor elements at home and is a very popular ornamental plant.
– This fragrant flower is often used for its scent and is an important herb for aromatherapies.
– The scent and essence is utilized to manufacture air fresheners.
– It is also used as a natural perfume.
– Lavender oil is useful for massages and therapies.
– It is also good for the skin as it helps to reduce and treat acnes.
– It also has healing properties and is used on wounds and burns.
– Lavender essences help in relaxing muscles, inducing sleep, treating anxiety and depression, etc.
– It is also used as a medicine to cure headaches, digestive problems, nausea, bloating, etc.
– Lavender oils are also used in hair care products.
– The English lavender is used as flavoring agents in foods. It has a sweet and aromatic taste which can be used in both sweet and spicy foods.
With all these great benefits and powers of this easy to grow herb, lavenders are truly a good investment to make in the farming business.
Make sure you keep in mind all the key points and tips for growing and maintain lavenders. With just the right amount of care, tending and maintenance your lavender fields will flourish and so will the ones grown in homes, gardens, on fences, and sidewalks that add an aesthetic touch to the scene.