How to Grow and Care for Lavender ‘Munstead’


English Lavender Munstead

Lavender ‘Munstead’ (Lavandula angustifolia) is a perennial, woody subshrub that is popular with both gardeners and commercial growers. Lavender ‘Munstead’ is one of the hardiest varieties of lavender, capable of tolerating cold and hot climates, and produces fine fragrance all year round.

Munstead’s compact size lends itself well for decorative hedging, container planting, and as an attractive border plant.

Keep reading for more details on where to grow and how to care for lavender Munstead…

Plant profile:

Care/requirementsLavender Munstead
Flowering:Flowers are usually in mid-June and last for 4 weeks.
Fragrance:Exudes a strong, sweet fragrance all year round from the foliage and from the flowers in summer.
Size at maturity:12 inches (30 cm) tall and 18 inches (45 cm) wide.
Longevity:Lives up 15 years with good care.
Light requirements:Full sun.
Preferred soil:Well-draining, sandy soil with low to medium fertility.
Pruning:Hard prune once at the start of spring. Deadheading in the summer will promote more flowers.
Watering:Water once every 2 weeks in the growing season if there has been no rainfall. Do not water in winter.
Soil pH:Will grow in slightly acidic soil but prefers alkaline pH. Grows in soils with a pH of 6.5-8.
Hardiness:Tolerates frost, snow, and ice through winter in cold temperate climates. Hardy in USDA zones 5-9. Munstead also tolerates high heat and is resistant to drought.
Pots and containers:Grow very well in pots and containers thanks to the preferable draining conditions, and its proportionate size.
Best time for planting:Spring is the best time to plant, although munstead can be successfully planted throughout the growing season up until the fall.
Spacing:Plant Munstead lavenders 2 feet apart for good airflow to reduce the chance of fungal disease.

Where will Lavender ‘Munstead’ grow?

  • Locations with full sun
  • Cold hardy (hardy to USDA zones 5-9)
  • Tolerates heat and drought and will live in higher rainfall areas as long as there is good soil drainage.

Lavender Munstead is a perennial plant that is valued for its cold hardiness and can live in a variety of climates. Munstead can tolerate snow, ice, and cold temperatures during winter and live for many years. This is in contrast to French lavenders which will die in the first frost without winter protection.

Munstead is also drought resistant and can grow in hot climates with little rainfall, thanks to its adaptations to its native Mediterranean climate.

Munstead will grow in areas of high rainfall. It is cultivated extensively from California all the way up to the Pacific Northwest, with commercial lavender growers in Washington where the climate has higher rainfall and is popular in England.

If you live in a climate with high rainfall then it is essential that you have very well-draining soil and you know how and when to water the lavender, which is detailed further down this article.

The lavender will grow, flower, and produce oil and fragrance in many climates as long as it receives full sun. Like all lavenders, ‘Munstead’ does not grow well in the shade.

The number of flowers your lavender produces and the amount of fragrance is correlated with the amount of sun, so always choose a sunny location.

Munstead can also grow well in open and windy locations as this mimics their native environment in coastal areas of southern France, Italy, and Spain.

Unfortunately, there is not a lavender species or variety that grows well in areas of high humidity. Climates with high humidity increase the chance of lavenders developing the fungal disease root rot.

Flowering and Fragrance

Lavender instead is not only cultivated for gardeners because of its hardy qualities but also commercially for its oils and fine fragrance.

English lavenders have the sweetest aroma of any lavender and the smell is more pronounced than French varieties. The scent is exuded all year round from the foliage, particularly when the flowers are in bloom in the summer.

Flowering will depend on climate and specific weather conditions but ‘Munstead’ often flowers in the middle of June and blooms for around four weeks.

Regular deadheading of faded flowers will encourage more to be produced and keep the lavender tidy.

Longevity

English lavenders are the longest-living lavender species by a significant amount. Whilst French lavenders may flower for longer, they only live for 4 to 5 years even with good care.

English lavenders such as ‘Munstead’ are the hardiest and the longest-lived. With good care and the right conditions lavender ‘Munstead’ can live up to 15 years.

Therefore lavender ‘Munstead’ represents excellent value for money and will waft its sweet aroma through the garden for many years.

The most important practices to ensure lavender munstead lives a long time are, regular pruning, well-draining soil, and full sun. Pruning the lavender every year is essential to slow down the lavender’s woody base from growing.

Read my article for more ways to increase a lavender’s life span.

How to care for lavender Munstead

Lavender Munstead
Lavender Munstead variety of English lavender

Although ‘Munstead’ is a variety of English lavender, it originates in the Mediterranean region of Europe as with all lavender species.

Therefore to care for Munstead in your garden you have to recreate some of the conditions of the plant’s native Mediterranean environment. This is particularly important for soil preference, watering, and access to sunlight.

However, you do not need a Mediterranean climate to grow ‘Munstead’ thanks to its hardiness and adaptability to cold temperatures.

Creating the optimal conditions for growing ‘Munstead’ is easy and once you recreate the conditions, the plant is very low maintenance.

Soil preference

The most important aspect when it comes to caring for lavender ‘Munstead’ is the soil type.

‘Munstead’ requires the soil to have a porous texture that allows water to drain away from the roots quickly. Lavenders are hardy, disease-resistant plants, however, they are susceptible to root rot which is caused by persistently wet soil, hence the need for quick drainage.

The sandy and stony soils of the lavender native Mediterranean not only drain quickly but also do not absorb and hold onto water as rich organic soils do.

Lavender ‘Munstead’ is a great choice for colder temperate climates thanks to its cold hardiness. In cold climates that experience high rainfall, sharp draining soil is essential to ensuring that the plant survives winter when evaporation is lower and the lavender is in a state of dormancy.

When planting lavender ‘Munstead’ it is essential to amend the soil with sand or gravel to replicate the soil conditions in the lavender’s native environment. Read my guide to learn more about how to create the optimal soil mix for lavenders.

Soil fertility: Contrary to what you may think, lavender ‘Munstead’ actually thrives in nutrient-poor soils. If the lavender is planted straight into rich, organic soils with lots of nutrients this will promote, leggy foliage growth which will be at the expense of flowers.

‘Munstead’ needs a low to medium fertility soil to grow healthy, produce flowers and fragrance, and live for many years.

Avoid using enriched compost, manure, or fertilizer when preparing the soil for lavenders. All that is needed is a general potting soil mix, amended with around a third, of course, builders sand or gravel. Soil mix for lavenders.

This will create the right soil structure and the sand does not contribute nutrients to the soil and therefore balances the fertility of the soil so that it’s the right conditions for lavender.

Soil pH: Hardy English lavenders such as lavender Munstead and Hidcote can cope with mildly acidic soils with a pH of around 6.5 (pH 7 is neutral) better than French lavender varieties. However, all lavenders prefer slightly alkaline soils, up to pH 8.

Overly acidic soils (with a pH lower than 6.5) will cause the lavender stress as it will not be able to access certain nutrients with this level of soil acidity. If you are unsure of your garden soil pH then read my article on lavenders and acidic soils which explains how to easily measure soil pH and how easy it is to amend acidic soils.

Watering Munstead lavender

One of the most important aspects of caring for munstead lavenders is watering them correctly.

Always bear in mind that lavenders originate in a hot, dry climate with blazing sunshine and little rainfall.

Therefore lavender will only need watering infrequently.

  • Established English lavender ‘Munstead’ only needs to be watered once every two weeks in the spring and summer months and only if there has been no rainfall.
  • Skip watering for a few days if there has been significant rainfall within the two weeks since you last watered the lavender. Test the soil that immediately surrounds the plant. If you can detect any moisture then leave the soil to dry out before watering again.
  • Newly planted lavenders require more care and attention to avoid transplant shock. Water the plant once every two days for the first week. After the first week water every three or four days for the first month. After three months resume a normal watering schedule of once every two weeks.
  • Do not water ‘Munstead’ in winter during its dormancy as this is the time lavenders are most susceptible to root rot. The plant will attain enough moisture from the environment.

All lavenders are drought resistant so more problems occur with over watering than they ever do from under watering.

Signs of an overwatered lavender are a drooping appearance with brown foliage, which superficially looks how you would perceive an underwatered plant to look, so don’t be fooled. (Read my article for the solutions for dying lavender).

Lavenders grow best with a ‘soak and dry’ style of watering where they receive a generous amount of water in one go. This will encourage the roots to grow and establish in the soil which further ensures the plant’s resistance to drought.

Pruning

All lavender varieties benefit greatly from a hard prune once per year.

The benefits of pruning lavenders are:

  1. Pruning increases the lavender’s longevity by slowing down unproductive growth at the woody base.
  2. A yearly prune maintains a nice compact mound shape to the lavender which helps to resist harmful weather (snow and ice) and looks more tidy.
  3. Lavenders only produce blooms on the new season’s growth. Pruning stimulates the growth of new stems to support more flowers.

Opinion among experts and commercial growers is divided as to whether to prune in the Spring or Fall.

I personally have seen the best results from pruning English lavenders in the Spring as this helps to stimulate new growth which produces the most flowers.

The right time to prune is when new green growth is beginning to show at the base of the plant.

Prune lavender by cutting away the top third of last season’s green growth and shape it into a mound with either pruners or a pair of shears.

Always make sure that you cut the flexible growth and not into the woody base of the plant. The woody base does not regrow after it has been cut and it is prone to splitting so make sure to just cut the flexible top third of the lavender.

Watch this YouTube video for more information on pruning and a visual guide of how the lavender should look after it has been pruned.

When is the best time to plant?

The best time to plant lavender ‘Munstead’ is in the early spring (April/May) as the soil is heating up.

Planting at this time is optimal because it gives the plant time to adjust to its new surroundings and become established before the time for flowering in June.

It is possible to plant ‘Munstead’ throughout the growing season, however, if planted in June or July, the shock of transplant can reduce the amount the plant blooms and you will have to wait till next year for a good display of flowers.

Planting after flowering in August is another possibility but you will have to be particularly diligent when it comes to watering after planting due to the higher temperatures and lower rainfall.

Planting in the Fall can be more risky as this gives the plant less time for the roots to become established before the lavender winter dormancy.

If the lavender does not have time to establish properly in new soil before winter then it is at much higher risk of root rot as winter soils tend to be cold and wet for long periods.

Munstead can be planted in the Fall in warmer climates that do not experience frost in winter and have lower rainfall as the risk of root rot is not as great.

How far apart to plant

  • Plant ‘Muntsead’ 18 inches apart for decorative hedging and 2-3 feet in borders.

Lavender munstead is a very popular variety of lavender for making decorative hedges thanks to its compact size, fine fragrance, and hardiness.

When in bloom the flowers form an abundant cascade of beautiful purple flowers that makes an attractive statement in any garden.

Plant lavender munstead every 18 inches to 2 feet when planning for a decorative hedge. This is the optimal distance for the lavender to form a seamless display of flowers when in summer bloom whilst still leaving some room for airflow around the foliage.

Each lavender needs some room to allow the occasional breeze through the foliage to reduce the chance of fungal disease.

The closer together lavender ‘Munstead’ is planted the importance of quick-draining soil and low humidity will increase which highlights the importance of amending the soil with sand or grit before planting.

Planting in pots or raised beds is a great way to improve drainage and increase the potential for more airflow around the lavender foliage.

In borders plant ‘Munstead’ every 2-3 feet for best results. This distance ensures that each plant receives enough light.

Growing in pots and containers

Lavender munstead is one of the best lavenders for growing in pots and containers. Pots create favorable drainage conditions that lavenders appreciate and Munstead is a nice compact size so they tend to take great as ornamental plants in pots.

Pots and containers are great ways to grow lavenders if your garden soil is too wet or too acidic as you can customize the soil for the lavender preferences.

Make sure that the pot measures 16 inches across and has drainage holes in the base.

A pot this size will contain enough soil to ensure that the roots will be insulated in the winter theta there are enough nutrients and access to water for the lavender roots. Read my guide for choosing the best pot for lavenders.

The care instructions for growing lavenders in pots and containers are the same as growing in garden soil. However, an advantage of pots and containers is that they will provide better airflow around the lavender foliage which will reduce the chance of fungal disease.

Mulching

There is no need to add organic mulch such as leaf mold or compost to Munstead lavenders as this will promote conditions that are contrary to the lavender preferences.

Munstead lavenders prefer low to medium fertility soils and dry soils so a mulch such as wood bark can help with suppressing weeds.

Some commercial growers use white stone as a mulch to reflect sunlight back onto the lavender which increases the light and reduces moisture so that the lavender stays free of disease.

The increased light will also help with promoting flowers and increasing oil yields, however, this is not always necessary in ornamental gardens.

Key Takeaways:

  • ‘Munstead’ is an English lavender that flowers for four weeks, usually in mid-June, and is popular amongst gardeners and commercial growers for its fragrance.
  • This hardy perennial can grow in cold climates tolerating snow, ice, and frost in winter as well as hot climates and it is resistant to drought. This lavender lives for up to 15 years with the right care.
  • It is a relatively compact lavender at 12 inches (30 cm) tall and 18 inches (45 cm) wide, which makes it appropriate for decorative hedges, pots and containers, and borders.
  • ‘Munstead’ requires full sun with well-draining soil. ‘Munstead’ is adapted to sandy soils with little nutrients and it is under these seemingly harsh conditions that it produces the most flowers.
  • In the growing season, only water-established plants once every two weeks, if there was no rainfall.
  • Prune the lavender once every year in the spring to increase the life span and keep the lavender looking tidy.
  • The best time to plant is in early Spring. Plant ‘Munstead’ 18 inches apart for hedging and 2-3 feet apart in borders for the best results.

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