Cold Hardy Lavender Plants: Tips On Growing Lavender In Zone 4 Gardens

Purple Lavender Plants
zone 4 lavender
(Image credit: xalanx)

Love lavender but you live in a cooler region? Some types of lavender will only grow as annuals in the cooler USDA zones, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up on growing your own. Cold hardy lavender might need a little more TLC if you don’t have a reliable snowpack, but there are still lavender plants for zone 4 growers available. Read on to find out about lavender varieties for cold climates and information about growing lavender in zone 4.

Tips for Growing Lavender in Zone 4

Lavender requires plenty of sun, well-draining soil, and excellent air circulation. Prepare the soil by tilling down 6 to 8 inches (15-20 cm.) and working in some compost and potash. Plant the lavender out when all danger of frost has passed for your area. Lavender does not need lots of water. Water and then allow the soil to dry out before watering again. In the winter, prune back the herb's new growth by 2/3 of the stem length, avoiding cutting into the old wood. If you don’t get a good reliable snow cover, cover your plants with straw or dry leaves and then with burlap. This will protect cold hardy lavender from drying winds and chilly temps. In the spring, when temperatures have warmed, remove the burlap and mulch.

Lavender Varieties for Cold Climates

There are basically three lavender plants suitable for zone 4. Be sure to check that the variety has been tagged a zone 4 lavender plant; otherwise, you will be growing an annual. Munstead is hardy from USDA zones 4 to 9 and has lovely lavender-blue flowers with narrow, green leafed foliage. It can be propagated via seed, stem cuttings, or get plant starts from the nursery. This variety of lavender will grow from 12 to 18 inches (31-46 cm.) in height and once established, requires very little care with the exception of some winter protection. Hidicote lavender is another variety suited to zone 4 that, like Munstead, can even be grown in zone 3 with reliable snow cover or winter protection. Hidicote’s foliage is gray, and the flowers are more purple than blue. It is a shorter variety than Munstead and will only get to about a foot (31 cm.) in height. Phenomenal is a new hybrid cold hardy lavender that thrives from zone 4 to 8. It grows much taller than either Hidicote or Munstead at 24 to 34 inches (61-86 cm.), with the taller flower spikes typical of hybrid lavender. Phenomenal is true to its name and sports silver foliage with lavender-blue blossoms and a mounding habit much like the French lavenders. It has the highest amount of essential oil of any lavender variety and makes an excellent ornamental specimen as well as for use in fresh or dried floral arrangements. While Phenomenal thrives in hot, humid summers, it is still very hardy with a reliable snow cover; otherwise, cover the plant as above. For a truly eye-popping display, plant all three of these varieties, placing Phenomenal at the back with Munstead in the middle and Hidicote at the front of the garden. Space Phenomenal plants 36 inches (91 cm.) apart, Munstead 18 inches (46 cm.) apart, and Hidicote a foot (31 cm.) apart for a glorious assemblage of blue to purple blossoms.

Amy Grant

Amy Grant has been gardening for 30 years and writing for 15. A professional chef and caterer, Amy's area of expertise is culinary gardening.