How to Grow and Care for Lavender ‘Hidcote’


Lavender Hidcote

Lavender Hidcote (Lavandula angustifolia) is an English lavender that is valued for its hardiness, strong fragrance, and ability to withstand cold Winters. Hidcote is popular with commercial growers and gardeners alike due to its low maintenance and is commonly used as a decorative hedge.

Here’s a quick look at the growing requirements and care instructions for lavender Hidcote.

ConditionsLavender Hidcote Requirements
Size:15 to 20 inches (40 to 50 cm) in height, 20 to 24 inches (50-60 cm) in width.
Flowering Time:Flowers in May or June with blooms lasting for 3-4 weeks.
Life span:15 years with the right care and conditions.
Sun:Full sun (will not tolerate shade).
Watering:Water frequently after planting and water once every 2 weeks once established from Spring to Fall, do not water in Winter.
Soil Preference:Well-draining, sandy soils with low to medium fertility.
Soil pH:Prefers neutral or alkaline soil (up to pH 8) but will tolerate mild acidity (pH 6.5).
When to Plant:Best time for planting is either the early Spring or Fall, although will tolerate summer planting. Do not plant or transplant Hidcote in Winter.
Pruning:Prune around 2/3 of the top flexible growth in the Early Spring or late Fall. Do not cut into the woody base as this does not regenerate and prune every year as this extends the life of Hidcote lavender.
Planting distance:Plant 2 feet apart for hedging and 3 feet apart from other plants when planting in garden borders.
Hardiness:Tolerates frost and cold Winters with occasional temperatures as low as -15°C (5°F). USDA zones: 5,6,7,8,9.
Winter Care:Well draining, sandy soil is particularly imperative in cool, temperate climates to avoid fungal disease. Do not water in Winter.
Fertilizer:Hidcote is low maintenance and does not require fertilizer.
Problems:Fungal disease such as root rot is common because of overwatering, slow-draining soils, or humid climates. The foliage is deer and rabbit-resistant.

Keep reading to learn where to plant Hidcote, watering, pruning, soil mix and all the best practices to ensure a strong bloom and a healthy lavender…

Where to Plant

Hidcote lavenders are a hardy variety of English lavender that can tolerate cold Winters with frost and snow and they are also suited to growing in hot climates such as California or Southern Europe.

Whilst Hidcote can grow in cool temperate climates with relatively high rainfall, it does require full sun, or at least 6 hours of sun per day.

The more sun the stronger the scent from the foliage and the more flowers on display.

Lavenders originate in the coastal regions of Europe and appreciate somewhat breezy conditions with good airflow between the foliage which helps to limit the risk of fungal disease.

Hidcote does not tolerate humid climates and will likely develop fungal disease or not live long in these conditions.

English lavenders are one of the few species of lavender that will live in climates with cold Winters (French lavenders are not cold hardy). Hidcote can tolerate freezing temperatures in the Winter and live for up to 15 years.

(Read more about the differences between English and French Lavender).

However, in climates with cold Winters or high rainfall, good soil drainage and soil that does not retain moisture is a priority as lavender does not like moist soil around the roots.

Keep reading for how to amend the soil so that it is suitable for lavenders.

Flowering

Lavender Hidcote flowers in the Spring or early Summer usually in May or June and the flowers last for around 4 weeks.

There are several things you can do to ensure a good display of flowers such as annual pruning in the Early Spring and deadheading the flowers when necessary, as well as ensure the lavender is planted in the optimal soil, with enough light and infrequent watering.

Hidcote, as with all English lavenders do not flower for as long as French lavenders, however the aroma from the flowers and foliage is much stronger and sweeter. It is for this reason that varieties such as Hidcote are prized by commercial lavender growers for their oil and fragrance.

The flowers are one of the most popular with the pollinators such as bees and are a real benefit to your gardens ecosystem.

Lavenders are popular with bees

When to Plant

The Best time for planting is in the Early Spring or Early Fall although successfully planting in Summer is possible.

In the early fall the soil is warm enough and holds some moisture for the lavenders roots to establish quickly but the daily temperatures are not as high as Summer which reduces the risk of the lavender drying out.

Lavenders do prefer dry conditions but they can be susceptible to drought straight after planting whilst their roots are not fully established. (To learn how to water lavender after planting read my article How often does lavender need watering?)

Hidcote will also have finished flowering in the Fall so the bloom will not be affected and there is enough time for the plant to adapt to its new soil conditions before the lavender blooms in the Spring.

Hidcote can also be planted in the Spring or Summer without any problems as it is a hardy plant, however if you plant before the plant blooms, then the number of flowers may be affected.

For more information read my article for transplanting lavender successfully.

How Far Apart to Plant and Hedging

Lavender Hidcote grows well in pots and containers, in garden borders, or as a decorative hedge.

Lavender hedge

Two key considerations when deciding how far apart to plant lavender Hidcote are:

  • To provide airflow around the foliage. (This helps to reduce the risk of fungal disease)
  • To plant them far enough apart so that they don’t cast shade on one another and limit each plants growth or compete with one another for water and nutrients (lavenders require full sun).

The ideal distance for planting Hidcote is 2-3 feet apart. The more airflow and windy a location is the closer you can plant lavenders although 2 feet apart is as close as necessary.

Lavenders grow naturally in windy coastal areas and they do not grow well in humidity.

With the right conditions (sun, low-medium fertility soil, infrequent watering) Hidcote will grow to a width of around 20 inches which is just over one and a half feet.

So if you intend to plant Hidcote for decorative hedging then plant the lavenders 2 feet apart and they will grow (within a year or two) nicely without gaps (in the Spring and Summer) into a uniform smart hedge.

2 feet will ensure each plant has enough room for its root system to develop without competing for space with its neighbor and the hedge will look spectacular.

Hidcote is a particularly good variety for hedge growing as it is:

  • A hardy resilient plant that survives frost and cold Winters.
  • It has a much longer life span then most lavenders and can be easily propagated to replace plants that become damaged or die.

In climates of higher humidity, the lavender benefits from good airflow so find a windy location in your garden or plant in pots and containers.

Planting in pots or containers can provide more airflow than there is typically in garden boarders which will help prevent fungal diseases that are caused by higher levels of humidity.

Watering Lavender Hidcote

Lavender Hidcote is one of the most popular lavender varieties due to its low maintenance which includes its resistance to drought and tolerance of heat in full sun.

Lavenders native environment is the dry and arid region of Southern Europe where they thrive with infrequent rainfall, in sandy soils that are well draining and do not retain much water.

Therefore gardeners should replicate these conditions for Hidcote to thrive.

  • Established lavender Hidcote plants only require watering once every two weeks in the growing season, if there has been no significant rainfall.
  • In cool temperate climates Hidcote tends to attain enough water from rainfall and may only require watering in particular hot and dry periods of weather.
  • Lavender that has just been planted requires the most attention. Water frequently whilst the roots establish to their new home. Water once every three days for the first month then scale back the watering after the first month to once (in arid climates) or twice (in cooler climates) per week.
  • How much water? Always water lavender with a generous soak as this encourages the roots to grow and establish in the soil, which can further increase the plants resistance to drought in the summer.

Remember Lavender Hidcote is drought-resistant so gardeners have more problems with overwatering lavender than underwatering.

If you water too frequently then the lavender is likely to suffer from the fungal disease root rot, which causes the lavender to droop. (To learn about all the signs of an over watered lavender and for the solution, read my article, why is my lavender drooping?)

The easiest way to avoid problems associated with overwatering is to amend the soil with horticultural sand to ensure good drainage.

If the soil drains well and does not hold much water then the likelihood of the lavender developing root rot because of overwatering or high rainfall is much more manageable.

Soil Mix and Planting

Lavender Hidcote is a low-maintenance plant if it is planted in the correct conditions. One of the most important conditions is the characteristics of the soil.

To grow Hidcote successfully it is important to recreate the lavender preferred soil conditions to which they are adapted in the coastal regions of Southern Europe.

Lavender requires soil that is:

  • Well-draining and sandy so it does not hold onto moisture
  • Low to medium fertility
  • Aerated, with a porous structure rather than compacted
  • A soil pH of between 6.5 to 8 with alkaline soils is considered ideal.

If you have naturally sandy, loam, or chalky soil in your garden then your soil may not require amending at all and you can plant Hidcote straight in the ground.

However, all lavender species do not grow well in slow-draining soil with a high clay content, compacted soils, or overly acidic soil.

To amend the soil for planting Hidcote then I recommend that you dig a hole significantly larger then the root ball. Redistribute the soil elsewhere in the garden and back fill the planting area with approximately 2/3 compost and 1/3 sand or grit.

Most soils will benefit from added sand this will significantly increase the drainage and balance the fertility of the soil so that it is appropriate for growing lavenders.

I recommend adding grit to soil with any clay content as sand and clay can form a solid cement like structure if mixed together. Horticultural grit ensures the right soil structure so that water can drain away from the roots quickly.

In soils with heavy clay or acidic soils I would recommend that you plant lavender in raised beds or pots where you have control of the soil profile, as amending garden soil that has the contrary to the preferred conditions can be very difficult and time consuming.

To learn more read my article on the optimal soil mix for growing lavenders.

Pruning

It is important to prune lavenders annually as this will increase the plants longevity, and stimulate the new growth that supports flowers.

Pruning into a nice neat, mound shape will also helps lavender resist the affects of weather, such as snow, ice and wind (Hidcote is cold hardy and can tolerate Winters).

Lavenders that are not pruned every year will grow woody, and leggy and produce far fewer flowers.

Best time for pruning?

You can prune lavenders either at the start of Spring (March/April) or in the Fall.

I personally recommend pruning English lavenders such as hidcote in the early Spring as this will stimulate the new, healthy growth for flowering.

Hidcote flowers in May or June, so if you prune the lavender in March or April, then you will stimulate lots of new growth and the lavender can display lots of flowers.

I have seen much better results in terms of blooms, pruning English lavenders in the Spring then in the Fall whereas French lavenders tend to prefer Fall pruning due to their earlier flowering time.

How to Prune?

Cut the top two-thirds of flexible growth (do not cut into the woody growth at the base) off the lavender to form a rounded, mound shape.

For a visual guide on what to do, take a look at this YouTube video on pruning English Lavenders.

Winter Care

Lavender Hidcote in Winter

Hidcote can tolerate cold Winters, with snow, frost, and temperatures as low as -15°C (5°F) on occasion so there is not much that the plant requires in terms of maintenance, however, there are some best practices:

  • Pruning the lavender into a mound shape helps the plant resist weather. The woody base of the lavender is surprisingly weak and lavender that have not been pruned for a few years tend to catch more snow which will break the lavender at the base of the plant.
  • Remove leaf litter and any other organic matter that may have accumulated around the lavender in the fall, as this can retain moisture and lavender Hidcote prefers dry conditions.
  • If Hidcote is planted in pots or containers ensure that the pot is at least 12-16 inches across. A pot this size has the capacity to contain enough soil so that the roots of your lavender are more insulated from the cold weather.
  • Avoid watering the lavender during Winter as the lavender is in a state of dormancy and will attain all the water it requires from the environment.
  • Well draining soil is particularly important for lavender in cold climates as Winter is the time when there is most risk of disease. Amend the soil with around 30% sand and ensure the soil drains very sharply.

Avoid using Fertilizer

As with all lavenders, Hidcote prefers sandy soil that is low to medium in nutrients. Adding fertilizer will promote the foliage to grow but with fewer flowers.

The foliage may even turn yellow as a sign of stress due to too much Nitrogen in the soil.

Lavender grows healthiest and exudes a strong scent in poor soils and does not require additional fertilizer or mulching with organic material.

Problems

All lavender species have foliage that is deer and rabbits tend to avoid and there are fortunately few diseases that affect lavenders.

However the most common problem is the fungal disease root rot which is most commonly caused by over watering, soils that drain to slowly or areas of high humidity as Hidcote prefers dry conditions that mimic those of the Mediterranean.

These problems are easily overcome with properly prepared soil, infrequent watering, and planted lavender in a breezy area.

The symptoms of root rot are a drooping appearance with brown foliage. Read my article for solutions to lavender turning brown.

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