Munstead lavender is a popular cultivar of the most widely-grown lavender species, English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia). Munstead lavender is compact and grows slowly so it fits nicely into small gardens and can be grown in containers. The plant is characterized by its narrow gray-green foliage that mounds in a dense and aromatic woody perennial. Delicate purple flowers surround the spiky stem tips in summer.
It blooms earlier than other English lavenders and, unlike French lavender, it is cold hardy. This means it can also be grown in climates where the thermometer falls below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Its sweet scent makes it one of the best lavenders for both potpourris and sachets as well as for cooking. Dried sprigs can be used for wreath-making and other crafts. Keep in mind, however, that Munstead lavender is toxic to cats, dogs, and horses.
|Common Name||Munstead lavender|
|Botanical Name||Lavandua angustifolia ‘Munstead’|
|Plant Type||Herbaceous, perennial|
|Mature Size||1 to 1.5 ft. tall, 1 to 1.5 ft. wide|
|Soil Type||Sandy, well-drained|
|Flower Color||Blue, lavender, purple|
|Hardiness Zones||5-9 (USDA)|
|Toxicity||Toxic to pets|
Munstead Lavender Care
Other than weeding around the plant and regularly pruning it, there is not much maintenance to be done once 'Munstead 'lavender is established. Unlike some other lavenders, this one is a long-lived variety that can last for up to 15 years with proper care.
As a native of the Mediterranean, English lavender needs full sun, six to eight hours per day. Insufficient sun makes it leggy and leads to reduced flowering. In warmer climates, some afternoon shade is acceptable.
Ideally, English lavender should be grown in sandy somewhat less fertile soil that provides excellent drainage, such as shallow rocky soil. Avoid any soil that is too rich, damp or, even worse, soggy.
'Munstead' lavender is fairly drought-tolerant once established. After you plant it, keep the soil evenly moist during the first growing season by watering it regularly. After that, there is generally no need to provide supplemental water to this plant. The only exception is if there is drought during the time when the flower buds form. Water as needed so the buds won’t shrivel and the blooms can develop to their full beauty.
Because lavender is so sensitive to excess water, when mulching around these plants the goal, unlike with most other plants, is to keep the area dry, which is just the opposite effect of most organic mulches. Thus, to mulch around lavender plants, it is best to use rocks or gravel instead of mulch that absorbs water, such as shredded leaves or bark.
Temperature and Humidity
Lavender likes it warm but not overly hot, and it does not do well in humid climates. While Munstead lavender is hardy to USDA hardiness zone 5, it does not always make it through a very cold winter when temperatures fall below -10 degrees Fahrenheit.
As a precaution, it is recommended that you either grow it in a container so you can bring it in during the winter or take some root cuttings in the fall and grow them indoors, and then replant them in the garden in the spring.
Lavender does not need fertilization. In fact, overly rich soil and fertilizer can kill the plant.
A hard prune after flowering is finished can help this plant come back stronger in the next season. Never cut into woody stems; prune only new growth to shape the plant into a mounded form.
Propagating Munstead Lavender
To increase your supply of lavender plants, it's easy to propagate from an existing plant. Here's how:
- With clean, sharp shears, cut healthy shoots of about six inches in length.
- Remove the lower leaves and dip the cut ends in rooting hormone powder.
- Plant the cuttings in a pot filled with potting soil and keep them well-watered in a partially shady location until you see new growth.
How to Grow 'Munstead' Lavender From Seed
To start 'Munstead' lavender from seed, sow the seeds indoors about ten weeks before the average final frost date of the spring. Sow the seeds on top of moistened good-quality seed-starting mix. Press them lightly into the soil so they can receive plenty of light. Keep them warm indoors until the threat of frost has passed in the spring. At that point, they should be ready for planting outdoors.
Potting and Repotting Munstead Lavender
Growing lavender in a container is a good option because it’s a compact plant and you will have the freedom to move it around during the day to follow the sun. In cooler climates, you can also bring it indoors for the winter.
Choose a pot that is about 12 inches in diameter and has several drainage holes. Plant the lavender in a sandy potting mix with the crown about one inch above the soil. Water the plant thoroughly and then cover the soil with a few inches of rock or gravel mulch. Make sure the plant receives at least six to eight hours of sunlight per day.
To help plants through the winter, provide a thick layer of mulch. In their cold hardiness zones, this should be enough to help them get through the cold months. Remove the mulch when the weather begins to warm in the spring. If your lavender is being grown in a pot, move the pot indoors, perhaps to an unheated garage, to protect it from harsh winter winds and cold temperatures.
Common Pests and Plant Diseases
Root rot is by far the most common disease affecting lavender. It is caused by oomycetes which are fungus-like microorganisms. The disease occurs especially in cold and wet soils. It leads to wilting and/or yellow leaves that eventually die and discoloring of the root tissue. The way to prevent root rot is to avoid over-watering and plant Munstead lavender in soil that has excellent drainage.
How to Get 'Munstead' Lavender to Bloom
To encourage more blooms, prune the flower stems as soon as the flowers begin to fade. If you intend to use the plant for medicinal or spa purposes, remove the flowers as they are beginning to bloom; this will encourage more blooms to form.
How do I harvest 'Munstead' lavender?
To harvest your lavender, cut the stalks when only about half or one-third of the florets (the tiny flowers that form the flower head) have opened, and hang the stalks upside down to dry in a well-ventilated room.
How long can Munstead lavender live?
This plant can give you 15 years of faithful service if given the proper conditions.
Where should I place 'Munstead' lavender in my home?
If you intend to grow lavender in your home year-round, make sure it gets plenty of direct sunlight. The plant needs at least six to eight hours of sunlight each day, so choose your brightest windowsill.