The Colorful Herb That Will Benefit From A Dash Of Baking Soda

Published
The Colorful Herb That Will Benefit From A Dash Of Baking Soda

Herbs are some of the hardest and easiest plants to grow. They can thrive both indoors and outdoors, in pots, raised beds, or in the ground. These plants offer a range of fragrant aromas, both savory and floral, and are used in thousands of recipes across culinary traditions. Herbs have been cultivated for centuries and were used in ancient Egypt and China thousands of years ago.

Lavender is one of the most beneficial and versatile herbs to have in your garden. This plant is native to the Mediterranean region and grows best in chalky, rocky, and sandy soil with warm temperatures. To grow healthy lavender plants, it’s important to ensure they receive full sun (at least 8 hours per day) and are planted in well-drained, slightly alkaline soil. It’s easy to test soil alkalinity using test strips. The pH level should be between 6.7 and 7.3 for lavender and other alkaline-loving plants.

Increasing your soil’s pH

sprinkling soil around a plant with baking soda

FotoHelin/Shutterstock

After testing your soil’s pH, determine if you have sandy, loamy, or clay soil, because the soil type will determine how much material to add to raise the pH level. If you’re using baking soda, mix one tablespoon into a gallon of water. But be careful, because baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is actually a type of salt, and sodium isn’t great for plant matter, breaking down stems and leaves. When applying it, funnel the treated water into the ground itself, and try not to wet the plants.

You can also use limestone or wood ash to raise the pH for your lavender, although be sure the ashes are dry and they don’t come from chemically treated wood. Other ways to raise the alkalinity of your soil is by using agricultural lime, or even pulverized eggshells, since the calcium in the shells will increase the pH level. Once you’ve applied lime to your soil, a light application of baking soda will keep the soil at the right level to help your lavender thrive. Be sure to keep testing the soil so you don’t overdo it.

Beautiful and beneficial lavender

harvesting lavender with a sickle and basket

Kotkoa/Shutterstock

If the soil is too acidic, lavender may bloom in place for one growing season, maybe even two, but with the roots growing in soil that lacks alkalinity, eventually the plant will die. Another misstep is to plant lavender in clay soil which is filled with moisture and causes the roots to rot, killing the plants even despite already being alkaline. If the soil in your garden is naturally clay, you’ll need to create an environment for your lavender to thrive. To do this, improve the drainage in the area where you want your lavender by adding some organic compost and gravel, or consider planting it in pots where you can best control the soil quality. Planting lavender in areas that are too wet or too shady will kill it, and not even an application of baking soda will help.

Not only does lavender look and smell great to us, but it’s also a pollinator that attracts bees and butterflies to the garden while deterring pests like moths, ticks, and fleas. When lavender is companion planted with edible plants, it also deters mice and other small mammals from snacking on your fruits and veggies. By making sure your lavender plants have everything they need to bloom, be prepared to enjoy weeks of colorful, aromatic flowers on slender green stems. Depending on the number of plants you have, you can harvest lavender repeatedly during the growing season.

✿ Read More About Flowers.

Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.