How to Grow and Care for Lavender ‘Provence’


lavender provence

Lavender ‘Provence’ (Lavandula x Intermedia) is a perennial, evergreen, subshrub. It is one of the hardiest and most adaptable lavender varieties capable of growing in, hot and cold climates and can even tolerate some humidity.

Lavender ‘Provence’ has a fragrance and oil that is highly regarded and grown commercially. It makes a great addition to gardens with full sun and thrives on neglect.

Keep reading as there are a few growing preferences and best practices to grow lavender ‘Provence’ so that it exudes a strong aroma from the foliage and displays the most flowers…

Lavender ‘Provence’
Care/ Requirements
Lavender ‘Provence’
Blooms:Blooms in June for several weeks into the Fall.
Fragrance:Strong, highly regarded scent, grown commercially for its oil.
Size:Height 36 inches, Width 32 inches. Lavender ‘Provence’ takes 2 or 3 years to reach full size.
Life-Span:Up to 15 years with annual pruning and good care.
Sun:Full sun.
Soil Requirements:Well-draining sandy soil, with low to medium nutrients. Does not require a fertilizer.
Soil pH:pH 6.5 to pH 8 (slightly acidic to alkaline).
Hardiness:Cold hardy, USDA zones 5-9.
Growing Characteristics:Drought resistant, heat tolerant, cold hardy, and can tolerate some humidity.
Spacing:Plant 3 feet apart in a garden border or pots and containers or plant 2 feet apart for hedging.
Best time for Planting:Plant in the Spring although it can be successfully planted in Summer or the Fall.

Where will Lavender ‘Provence’ Grow?

Lavender ‘Provence’ is a hybrid species that is named after the famous Provence region of France where lavender is grown commercially on a spectacular scale.

Whilst the lavender is named after an area of France it is not actually a species of French lavender but rather a hybrid of English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) and Portuguese lavender (Lavandula latifolia).

Therefore ‘Provence’ has the cold hardy characteristics of an English lavender (as well as the well-regarded aroma) and the longer flowering season of the Portuguese lavender.

This means that ‘Provence’ is a highly adaptable variety that can grow in many different climates and still display flowers and exude a sweet aroma.

Lavender ‘Provence’ can live in colder, temperate climates such as Washington, Oregon, as well as the UK that experience freezing temperatures in Winter as well as snow and ice and live for many years (hardy in USDA zones 5-9).

However owing to their Portuguese heritage they can also grow in arid climates with high temperatures, infrequent rainfall, and mild Winters.

Lavender ‘Provence’ can even tolerate some humidity which is unusual for lavenders.

All lavenders require well-draining soil and infrequent watering, but in colder climates with higher rainfall or higher humidity, well-draining soil is particularly crucial for growing ‘Provence’.

All lavenders require full sun as this increases blooms and the strength of fragrance and they do not grow well in the shade.

When Does Lavender ‘Provence’ Bloom?

Lavender ‘Provence’ typically starts blooming in June which is similar to English Lavenders. However ‘Provence’ will bloom for much longer than the English lavenders (if deadheaded regularly).

With optimal growing and climate conditions, lavender ‘Provence’ can bloom into the Fall with several bouts of flowers.

This variety has been specifically cultivated for its oil and fragrance in the fields of France so it has a very pronounced aroma from the foliage and flowers which wafts through the garden on a Summer day.

What Size Does Lavender ‘Provence’ Grow to?

Lavender ‘Provence’ is a larger lavender variety that grows to a height of up to 36 inches and a width of 32 inches.

It usually takes around 2 or 3 years to grow to its full size. The size of ‘Provence’ does depend on growing conditions and climate, with those that are well cared for growing larger.

Lavender ‘Provence’ also grows larger in climates that are Mediterranean than colder climates however it still reaches a similar size of cared for and in full sun.

How to Care for Lavender ‘Provence’

Lavender ‘Provence’ is a hardy, highly adaptable variety that can grow in different climates.

However all lavender species originate in the Mediterranean region of Europe and whilst they do not necessarily require the high temperatures of Southern Europe, ‘Provence’ does require the same soil and watering conditions.

So to grow ‘Provence’ successfully in your garden you will need to replicate some of the conditions of the Mediterranean to keep the plant healthy and avoid problems such as root rot.

Soil Conditions

Lavender ‘Provence’ requires the following soil conditions to thrive:

  • Well-draining sandy soil
  • Low to medium nutrients
  • Porous, friable soil texture
  • Soil pH of between 6.5 to 8

In the South of Europe, lavender thrives in poor, sandy soils that are usually alkaline.

Lavenders have specifically adapted to these characteristics and ‘Provence’ will display the most flowers and stronger aromas in these conditions.

When planting ‘Provence’ amend the soil with around 1 third horticultural sand or grit and 2 thirds compost.

Horticultural sand

This will help to recreate the low to medium nutrient conditions that lavender prefers as well as increase the drainage.

Lavender does not tolerate consistently damp soils as this risks root rot or fungal disease hence the importance of well-draining soil.

The sand also allows for more oxygen in the soil for root respiration.

Do not plant ‘Provence’ in soil that is rich in nutrients or amended with manure (which is high in Nitrogen) or use additional fertilizer as this will encourage foliage growth at the expense of flowers and the fragrance will not be as pronounced.

Soils that are too rich cause lavenders to droop and high nitrogen levels can cause the leaves to turn yellow.

If your soil is slow draining and boggy or overly acidic then it is a good idea to plant ‘Provence’ in pots or containers as you have more control over the soil profile.

(For more information read my guide to creating the optimal soil mix for lavenders).

Very acidic soils can be amended with horticultural lime from the garden center which will increase the pH so that it is alkaline.

(For more information about measuring soil pH and growing lavenders with acidic soil, read my article on lavenders in acidic soil).

Watering

As lavender ‘Provence’ is cultivated for commercial use in the South of France it is important to mimic the watering conditions of this region.

  • Established lavender requires very infrequent watering. Water once every 2 weeks in hot weather or if planting in pots. When planted in more temperate climates with higher rainfall ‘Provence’ often does not require any additional water.
  • When newly planted, ‘Provence’ requires more frequent watering to avoid transplant shock whilst the roots are established. Water immediately after planting and water once every two or three days for the first week. A week after planting, water once every 3 or 4 days for the first month. After a month the roots are more established, so scale back the watering to once every two weeks.
  • Do not water in Winter as this will promote the conditions that encourage root rot.

Always water ‘Provence’ with a generous soak as this encourages the roots to establish and the plant will be drought resistant.

Remember that lavender is a Mediterranean plant and there are far more problems caused by overwatering than underwatering.

Signs of an overwatered lavender are a drooping appearance and foliage that is turning brown, however, this can also be a result of slow-draining soils, in which case you should amend the soil with additional horticultural sand or grit to improve drainage.

If there has been significant rainfall or many overcast days then skip watering for another 2 weeks.

Pruning Lavender ‘Provence’

It is important to prune ‘Provence’ annually to increase the longevity of the lavender and prevent it from turning woody.

Annual pruning also encourages new stems to grow. Flowers are always displayed on new stems so the more you can encourage new growth the better the display of flowers.

Lavender ‘Provence’ can be pruned successfully in the early Spring or the Fall.

I personally prune ‘Provence’ in the Spring (usually around March or April) as this stimulates lots of new growth of stems before the flower season (which starts in June) and the lavender always displays lots of flowers.

However ‘Provence’ can display lots of flowers when pruned in the Fall so really it is up to you and what works best for your climate.

Always prune at least a third of the growth back and aim so that the lavender has a mound shape as this resists the effects of Winter weather (such as snow and ice).

Do not prune the lavender back to the woody base, as the old wood base is not very productive and does not grow many new stems.

For a great visual guide, watch this YouTube video for how to prune lavender:

How Far Apart to Plant

The planting distance for lavender Provence is important as ‘Provence’ is a larger lavender at full size.

Lavender ‘Provence’ should be planted 3 feet apart. This allows the lavender enough space for airflow (to reduce the risk of fungal disease) and so that the roots have enough room to establish in the soil without having to compete for water and nutrients.

A distance of 3 feet also ensures that each plant has enough light so that it can bloom its best with a strong aroma.

As hedges:

Lavender ‘Provence’ is a good choice for hedging as it can tolerate some humidity which can happen if there is a more humid microclimate because of a higher density of plants.

Lavender ‘Provence’ also has a good life span of around 15 years with good care and it is cold hardy so you do not have to replace frost or snow-damaged plants very often as with less hardy lavenders.

Plant each lavender around 2 feet apart to form a continuous hedge without any gaps. This may take up to 2 years for ‘Provence’ to grow to its full size for a uniform hedge.

In colder climates with a short growing season, I recommend that you plant each lavender ‘Provence’ around 18 inches apart as the full size usually depends on the growing conditions and how hot the climate is in the Summer.

(For more information read my article on spacing lavender for hedges).

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