Perennial lavender

(Question)

Hello,

Lavender is one of my favourite herbs. Is there a variety that is hardy enough to be a perennial in Toronto? What about in the Muskoka region – would love to plant some that will also come back year after year at the cottage.

Thanks!

(Answer)

Lavender (Lavandula cvs.) adds such a special scent and colour to a garden but many gardeners in Toronto find it hard to grow.  It is an herb that originated in the Mediterranean, thus enjoying very hot temperatures.  Canadian Gardening magazine has stepped up to the plate and provided the reader with advice on how to grow lavender in Canada, which cultivars will survive our winters, how to harvest lavender in addition to some history about our love relationship with it.  I am sure you will find the article very helpful.  Here is the link to the article:  https://www.canadiangardening.com/gardens/herb-gardening/a-passion-for-lavender/a/1546

Some Lavender cultivars will grow in zone 4 with some mulch coverage in the winter  and a protected location near a south facing wall.  Toronto is in hardiness zone 6, Muskoka zone 4a.  It is certainly worth trying some of the cultivars listed in the Canadian Gardening article in your cottage garden.  I would recommend thorough mulching and protection.

Here is the list of lavender plants from Canadian Gardening that will grow in zone 4:

‘Hidcote’: Dark violet-purple, 30 to 60 cm; good for culinary uses
‘Jean Davis’: Pale pink, with olive green leaves, 30 to 40 cm
‘Lady’ (a.k.a. ‘Lavender Lady’): Medium lavender-blue, 25 to 38 cm. One of the few seed-grown lavenders that’s reliable and blooms in its first year
‘Maillette’: Dark lavender, 45 to 60 cm. Known for its sweet scent and high essential-oil content, it’s excellent in sachets
‘Munstead’: Pale grey-blue, 30 to 40 cm. Often considered the hardiest of the English types; easy to disbud and good for potpourri
‘Nana Alba’: White, 20 to 38 cm. Good as an edging plant because of its compact growth
‘Royal Velvet’: Dark purple, 60 to 90 cm. A recent cultivar with longer and darker spikes than ‘Hidcote’