Is it possible to grow lavender in tropics? Is there any tropical lavender variety available that grows in hot and humid climate? The answer is yes! I grow lavender in tropical Thailand as a short lived perennial and an annual herb but need to care it more often, especially in summer.
I had the need to experiment, went to local nurseries in Isan ( North-East Thailand ) but could not find any lavender plant growing here in this rural part of the country, so I asked my brother ( living in France ) to bring some seeds.
French lavender (Lavandula dentata) does well in warm climate.
Growing to 60 cm tall, it has gray-green, linear or lance-shaped leaves with toothed edges and a lightly woolly texture. The long-lasting, narrow spikes of purple flowers, topped with pale violet bracts, first appear in late spring. The whole plant is strongly aromatic with the typical lavender fragrance.
Its native habitat includes low hills with limestone substrates amidst other shrubs. It is present on Madeira and the Canary Islands.
One of several species known by the English common name French lavender (see also Lavandula stoechas), it is commonly grown as an ornamental plant and its essential oil is used in perfumes. Like other lavenders, it is particularly associated with dry, sunny, well-drained conditions in alkaline soil. But it will tolerate a range of conditions, though it may be short-lived. The cultivar L. dentata var. dentata ‘Royal Crown’ has gained the Royal Horticultural Society‘s Award of Garden Merit. It requires some shelter in frost-prone areas.
Common Spanish names include: alhucema inglesa, alhucema rizada, cantueso, cantueso dentado, cantueso rizado, espliego dentado, and garlanda.
In colder zones Lavender should be planted in spring or summer but in tropics growing conditions are different. Sun is more intense in summer and afterwards it rains, which increases the humidity level and makes intolerable for the plant to thrive that is why winter is the best month to plant lavender in tropics.
Finding Right Location
I grow lavender in pots, so that I can change its location during heavy rain or when the temperature rises up. Some I’m growing on ground, and had to take care to plant it in a location where it’ll be saved from wind, heavy rain and heat, not receiving full sun, especially in afternoon as the sun in tropics shine more intensely and it can scorch your plant. Planting under some trees is a good idea.
Planting and Care
Since I’m growing lavender from seeds, I had to sow seeds in early winter and had to place the seed-tray in full sun. Seedlings will germinate in two to three weeks; transplant them in a favorable location in a well drained potting mix using compost with bonemeal and lime both of equal amount in a total of half cup. Also add sand if your soil is heavy and clay rich.
Before transplanting I made a 50 cm. mound of soil to plant lavender in it. This is the best technique to restrict soggy and water logged soil and improve air circulation. I have to take care about watering, and water only when soil becomes dry. I don’t need to fertilize lavender but if I want, occasionally add some compost in the growing season.