Lavender growing in Colorado can be tricky. But lavender growing in Colorado is not impossible, in fact it is quite easy. But, it is important to note which lavender grows in Colorado. Why? I’ve seen many of our big box stores sell lavender that is not hardy here in our beautiful state. And, I have noticed that sometimes, the tag on the lavender being sold is not labeled with the zone. Depending on where you are in the state, our growing zone varies. Here on the Front Range your zone is most likely 5-5b. Not all lavenders are hardy in this zone! But this lavender pictured below grows beautifully each year. I took this picture in 2008 and it looks this lovely each year.
Last gardening season, while in Costco, I noticed a particular lavender being sold. One woman was thrilled about the size of the plant and the price. She had four in her cart. I approached the plants to take a closer look and this is what I saw. WOW! What a great sized plant and nice LOW price!
She was nearby and she leaned over and said, “I have been wanting to add lavender to my perennial garden. I am so excited about these.” I was feeling excited too! Then I looked at the tag and sighed. Boo hiss. Wrong type. If you want lavender growing in Colorado, this is not the lavender for you.
I struggled whether to burst this woman’s bubble by telling her that this lavender being sold in Costco is not a perennial in Colorado. This was during a time when I was trying to learn to be less “bossy.” On occasion, I can be a bit too opinionated. My friends reading this right now are laughing. “On occasion?!? Bwahhaha!?” We love to lovingly chide each other. They know me well and they love me well. They know my bossiness is based on solid study and strong passion. But still. I should diminish being bossy. So I didn’t say anything to her. And you know what? I probably should have. That lavender is not going to come up again this year in her garden. And that will make her sad. It would me!
I make lots of mistakes when I garden. I have put in plenty of plants that weren’t for this zone. It took me a long time to learn to pay more attention. Just last year I planted a sage that was for zone 7-10! Blah! But I learned! Yay! And when this woman I met in Costco is looking at her dirt and wondering why the lavender didn’t come up again, she will learn too.
Here’s the deal. If you want to diminish gardening failures, you have to be willing to fail. I know. That is weird. But THAT is true. I believe, for all parts of life this is true. Failure is not all that bad. In fact, I think we might need to think about our theology of failure. But, I’ll leave that to my brilliant colleagues and students and limit this website to sharing how gardening illustrates such great truths.
Ok. Wait. I’ll ask one theological question. Since I am a woman of Christian faith and I love theology I just have to do this! To those who don’t share my faith, bear with me. To those that do, bear with me. Let me give you a spoonful of lavender theology. Just a spoonful.
Think about the last time you failed at something. What did you learn? How did you grow? When Jesus was learning to be a carpenter, do you suppose he made mistakes? Were these types of mistakes sin, an immoral offense against the love of God? I doubt that they were. But Jesus making mistakes? WHAT?! He was fully human (and yes, fully divine). And we are told in scripture that He was without sin. Unlike me, he loved perfectly. But did he have to learn HOW to do something? Did he have limitations? See Philippians 2: 5-8. He was fully HUMAN. And he grew in wisdom and stature (see Luke 2:52). And I do wonder if he learned this wisdom and grew in stature in part, by making mistakes. Hmmmm.
Back to my Costco story. So here was this woman about to make a mistake. No it wasn’t a moral issue. But I was kind of having a moral dilemma. She indicated that it was a lavender that would come up again in her garden. And I stood there. In retrospect, I wish I had pointed out to this woman that the tag noted the growing zone for this particular lavender. I could have explained that our zone was not listed. But I was too worried about being bossy. Worry is so dumb. Often for me, it is an offense against love. God desires for us to live in love. But, this situation was what it was. I don’t beat myself up over this. I’m learning to receive more grace. But, she could have saved some money. Or she could have bought them anyway, knowing she’d enjoy them for just one season.
So, if you run into me in Costco and you are about to buy a plant that I have an opinion on, will you let me practice not being bossy AND having a conversation about that plant with you? I need to learn from my mistake. And let me say a few lovingly bossy things about growing lavender in Colorado.
Lavender Growing In Colorado
Notice that the tag in the pictures above says “Spanish Lavender”. There are two types you want to avoid buying here in Colorado: Spanish lavender and French lavender. Truth be told, one year I knowingly bought a French Lavender to grow for only one year in my garden. Why? It was the year my son was getting married to my beautiful daughter-in-law who happens to love France. So in her honor, and to add to the decor of our backyard for their rehearsal dinner, I planted some French Lavender/ I knew it wouldn’t come up again. But, every time I passed by the French Lavender that summer, it reminded me to pray for my daughter-in-law. I love you T!!
So which lavender grows in Colorado? There are two types that do well. The most common in Colorado gardens is English lavender. It can bloom two times in one season. Another type grown is called lavendin, which is a hybrid type. It only blooms once, later in the summer. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen lavendin in a nursery here.
A great site to get more information on growing lavender in Colorado is here: The Colorado State University Extension.
In sum, pay attention to what is sold in big box stores. And, I would have to add that most all types of lavender are also sold in our independent garden centers as well. Some are marked clearly with the zone, others are not. Just remember: If it is English lavender you are good to go.
Enjoy a few more lovely photos of English lavender…