Thursday, December 12, 2013

Growing Lavender in the Philippines

Can lavender grow in the tropics? Will it grow in the Philippines? Yes it most certainly can! For I have been asking myself the same question since September and been researching as much as I could on the web about it. There is a lot of information available about growing it but none about growing lavender specifically in the Philippines.

Here in Manila, it is something you wouldn't find in your neighbor's garden. According to the website on Philippine Alternative Medicine, it isn't native to us and was introduced to the Philippines though it doesn't say how. As such for the benefit of those not familiar with it let me share with you what I found in Wikipedia: lavender belongs to the genus Lavandula of the mint family. This probably accounts for it's strong fragrance. It is an herb usually with purple flowers (though there are also yellow, white, pink and green varieties) and are used in perfumes, oils, soaps, shampoo and even in detergents (like in these Bonux  and Surf TV ads) due to its fragrance. If you want to know more about this plant you can Google it for more info as I'm going to limit the information here related to growing lavender in the Philippines.

So I took the initiative and started my own experiment to see how they will thrive here in Manila. You may find updates as the months go by on my little lavender growing experiment by clicking on the 'Home' or 'Gardening' tabs at the top of this page.

Below is my simple three-step plan:

My Three-Step Plan. The Lavender picture and farm were taken from http://www.theflowerexpert.com/content/giftflowers/flowersandfragrances/lavenders and http://farm7.staticflickr.com/6022/5956794509_2238b6b3cf_z.jpg respectively.


Step 1. Research. 


Why do people always want what they can't have? My research leads to the conclusion that I'm one of those people. But as the The Little Prince said in Antoine de Saint Exupery's famous novel, what makes a desert beautiful is that it hides a well somewhere. And I am determined to find that well.

 If you look at the map below which I found in Wikipedia, it will show you areas where lavender grows. Look for the green regions representing the temperate regions like France, Canada, North America, Spain, and the southern part of Australia among others.



Source Image: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/58/Klimag%C3%BCrtel-der-erde.png

As you can see, the Philippines is on the tropics where it's either sunny or rainy. This lavender flower that I'm trying to grow loves the cool climate with a little bit of sun and hates getting wet. So it's already a challenge to begin with, but I'm not backing down on opportunity it could present.

There's really very little I could find on the web about growing lavender locally. Mostly people want to grow them, but couldn't find how. There were a few who saw lavender being sold at Quezon City Circle and some at SM Supermarket. Further digging around led me to sites and people who seem to have grown lavender successfully in the Philippines.

1. Yahoo Answers Philippines shows that someone was able to grow them 5 years ago but they wouldn't bloom. It's just all leaves.

2. In a website about Philippine Alternative Medicine, it says it's cultivated and grows in Baguio.

3. Ilog Maria Honeybee Farm in Silang, Cavite. In English "ilog" means river and Maria is the same as Mary. They're the biggest honey farm in the country. I don't exactly remember which blog was it that mentioned Ilog Maria but there was a write up about them in the Philippine Daily Inquirer in 2002. According to reviews they make one of the best lavender and honey soap. Then I saw a picture of a lavender that grows in their farm. As per the person who uploaded this picture saying it was taken at Ilog Maria, it seems genuine lavender:

Image source: http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5180/5490367969_e2fa335ba0_z.jpg
I
I haven't been there but I will definitely grab my sister one of these days to see for myself. They prefer to be contacted via email at:  info@ilogmaria.com.

4. Fil Mabuhay Pot Garden Herbs Distributed. I found their ad thru sulit.com. Here's a picture of the plant that they sell. I don't know whether this is a picture of the actual plant so it's best for you to check it out for yourself. This is the one on sulit.com:

Image source: http://cdn.sulitstatic.com/server2/images/2013/0626/062541183_396efbb505fc2d520ed41ee1d982833d3642b594.jpg



They are selling their lavender for PHP 150 per pot and when I asked them how much they charge for delivery to Muntinlupa, it's PHP 400. So if you want to save some money and just want to buy a few pots, I suggest you go to their shop. Below is their contact information:

FIL MABUHAY POT GARDEN HERBS DISTRIBUTED
BY: FIL MABUHAY HOTEL & RESTAURANT SERVICES
1202 GENERAL LUNA ST., ERMITA, MANILA

Phone numbers: 505-7784, 383-5580, 0917-6123508, 0916-3776466, 0922-4655241


Step 2. Grow them into something like this:

Image Source: http://thegraphicsfairy.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Lavender-Plant-Stock-Image-graphicsfairy3.jpg

So to answer the question on whether lavender can grow in the Philippines? The answer is YES!

Please see my youtube video below so you can see how well my baby lavender are growing. I grew them from seeds on 20th of October. I bought specialty seeds at SM Supermarket which says: 5 in 1 Herb Italia from Ramgo . It has Parsley, Chives, Basil,Dill, Lavender and even comes with free Rocket Aragula seeds.





So what do you need to start growing lavender?

Lavender Seeds
Soil
Paper Cups with punched holes at the bottom
Pots
Water Sprayer
Patience
Slow Release Fertilizer (only after 3-4 set of true leaves has emerged)

I used ordinary garden soil with a bit of rice and coconut husk to improve drainage. Since the seeds are so tiny, I made sure that the seeds weren't planted too deep just around half a centimeter or 5 mm. Then I planted them in paper cups and placed them on my window sill. I also put anti-ant chalk around the base of the cups to protect it from ants and other insects. It's been raining like crazy so I kept them safe from rain and direct sunlight since it's really hot in the tropics during the day. I lightly sprayed it with water when needed. It took three weeks before the first few seeds germinate.

After one month I had about 20 seeds germinate from around 100 seeds that I sowed. After 40 days I have more than 70! This morning, I was surprised to see a few more seeds that just sprouted. I guess it's also because I planted them now that it's a bit colder but I doubt they will grow as well if you plant them during the hot season from March-May.

I had to transfer the ones with true set of leaves to a bigger pot but since I didn't have enough soil nor pot I put around 4 in a pot and will transplant them again once they grow bigger. It's okay as long as the spacing is at least 2-3 inches. But you need to transfer them once they grow bigger, otherwise their roots will get all tangled up and it will be hard for you to transplant. You also need to make sure that it's not too crowded to allow for better air circulation. Don't water them unless you see that the soil is really dry because while they need water the plants hate it when their roots are wet. I sprayed slow release fertilizer for the plants that have 3 or 4 sets of leaves just to encourage new growth.

During the Typhoon Haiyan (which the strongest Typhoon ever recorded) I put them all inside. Last night it started to rain again at around 11 PM and I run down the stairs like crazy (I bet waking up the entire barangay!) because I forgot to put my baby lavender under the window sill where it's protected from heavy rains. This morning I put them out again under the sun for a bit of sun-bathing. :-)

Step 3. Dream big and start a farm

Right now, I am still in the first part of Step 3, which is dreaming big. This post about growing lavender in the Philippines is one my life dreams. I hope you get inspired by it and learned something. Please feel free to comment or ask a question if you need clarification. Right now, it's 1:07 AM and it's time to dream more dreams. Wish me luck!


Image source: http://media-cache-ec3.pinimg.com/736x/15/da/74/15da743146f9af78b4f1707c2ddcb45c.jpg





©2013 Ma. Leonor Jambalos. All rights reserved.

48 comments:

Jim Ponce said...

I dream of growing rows and rows of lavander here in the Philippines, too.

thinking of ordering a few seeds on ebay and starting them this summer.

good luck and keep dreaming big!

Anonymous said...

Hello, are you from somewhere that is a bit cold? I want to try growing lavender but it is very hot here in our province and not sure if it is possible.

Lon Jambalos said...

Good luck to you too Jim.:) Let me know if you're successful in growing them.

Lon Jambalos said...

nope... it's hot where I'm at.It will grow butyou just have to take extra care.Please check my monthly updates for helpful tips.Give it a go. :-)

Anonymous said...

How are your lavender seedlings?

Lon Jambalos said...

My seedlings are still alive (thank God!). But we've been getting summer rain and a few more died. But the new ones I planted from cuttings are thriving so I plan to plant more. Please check out the 'Gardening' tab in my blog to see my monthly updates: http://purpleowyn.blogspot.com/p/tropical-gardening.html#.U2bmQIGSyNY.

Thank you. :)

jabby md said...

Hello, how often should I water it and how many seeds per cup? :) thank you!!

Lon Jambalos said...

Hi Jabby,2x a week. For seeds, drop in around 5 in a cup, not too deep. Pls use a sprayer and just don't overwater. Just keep it moist while wiating for the seeds to germinate. If you seriously want to keep them alive,DO NOT LET THEM GET WET BY THE RAIN!Coz if the roots don't get dry due to too much water,they will definitely die.

Unknown said...

Hi any update about your lavender project?:)

M Tagoon said...

Hi. Has your lavender already started blooming? I also got some lavender seeds but I am not sure if they will grow. Your blog is inspiring, btw. =D

Elmer Cepeda said...

Hi, I have a farm in Alfonso Cavite about 5 heactares and I am planning to grow Lavender. Do we have seeds for sale here in the Philippines?

Meaw Me said...

Can I which type of lavender seed you planted? Lavandula dentata? English lavender?

Anonymous said...

I grow lavender in the mountains outside of San carlos city. What I have discovered is that taking seeds from the first plant will thrive as the plants get used to the weather. If they can grow strawberries in the Philippines lavender will grow as well.

Lon Jambalos said...

@ M Tagoon,it's been over a year and the first batch died. I knew what I needed to do to keep them growing, but as this is an experiment on how they will thrive under natural conditions here in Manila, I didn't do it. Your lavender will thrive, just get them out of the rain and water lightly.Good luck to you!
@Elmer, you can visit Ramgo Seeds website, they are a local distributor, but their seeds are imported.
@Meaw Me, I planted both dentata and lavandula.

Anonymous said...

Hi I'm in Qatar, it's hot...

Oct 14 planted 12 seeds kept in the shade its 40 degrees
Feb 14 they started to sprout 2nd shoots I trimmed them back, they loved it. It's now about 30 degrees
Jan - mar 14 I Placed in full sun 30 degrees max temp
Apr to October 2014 placed in the shade temps up to 50 degrees water everyday... I lost a few to the heat to get this right!
Dec 14 signs of expanding trimmed back a bit they loved it again 30 degrees now.
Jan to mar 2015 in full sun they are very bushy and about 6 inches tall.... Hoping flowers will come soon but I think the season has been missed, maybe I shouldn't trim back next year now they are bushy enough and see if they flower.... Lisa

Unknown said...

I went to Cartimar few months ago and was surprised! i found Lavender for only P50 per plastic pot i'm planning to buy more and start my own Lavender garden in our backyard:)

Anonymous said...

ive been raising lavender under full sun. it was performing very well to the point that it reaches 4 feet in height. i have produced several plantlets thru cuttings.. very easy to propagate. its very fragrant especially when your'e watering them.the only problem is, i never had the chance to make it bloom!!

gladys barrientos said...

hi, just want to ask where you bought lavender seeds I've been dying to buy some.

Anonymous said...

Hi I'm from Cebu, I have been searching about Lavender plant lately, I have been crazy on this color and this plant, I will be having my wedding on April here in Cebu and I have been wishing to have this plant decorated at my garden wedding reception and as I was searching about growing this plant, I saw your blog, and I became inspired to try to grow this plant really soon and I am very much hoping I can use it during my future dream wedding. Thank you and God Bless always.

Anonymous said...

Hi I'm from Cebu, I have been searching about Lavender plant lately, I have been crazy on this color and this plant, I will be having my wedding on April here in Cebu and I have been wishing to have this plant decorated at my garden wedding reception and as I was searching about growing this plant, I saw your blog, and I became inspired to try to grow this plant really soon and I am very much hoping I can use it during my future dream wedding. Thank you and God Bless always.

glaiza hugos said...

Hi, I'm from aklan province and planted my lavender seeds last year december 2015.
They all sprouted, but until now (sept '15) they only grew 6 inches.
They are not bushy and very very droopy, although I put them under direct sunlight and move them in when it's raining.
I'm scared they might die. :'(
Any advise pls? Thanks!

Lon Jambalos said...

Hi Glaiza, you might want to check the soil. It may be moist. The ones I planted grew up to about 12-14 inches and were bushy. I put some rocks at the bottom of the pots and mixed the soil with a bit of sand to make sure that even if I water, there would be enough air to circulate around the roots. They die when their roots don't get a chance to dry. At this point, you can try to dig around the soil for the air circulates, I don't know if it'll help, but it's worth a try.
You see, it's not just the rain that is the problem here, but the general high level of humidity in the Philippines. I hope your lavender survives. Let me know. Good luck!

glaiza hugos said...

Hi lon thanks for the reply.
I mixed the soil with sand as well.
If only i could post the picture here.

Hopefully it survives...

Anonymous said...

Hi I'm still in Qatar,

Just so you know.... I got 1 flower at the end if the season from a stem that I didn't cut back, so I think my last trim was a bit late. I think and Hope this year they will be much more fruitful! Very pleased. Lisa x

doly said...

Does anyone here successfully made it (i mean until the lavender had flowers?). Please let me know.

Julie Ring said...

Why try and grow exotics when there are so many tropical plants that thrive here.For example, the Jade vine, Heliconias and Ginger plants, orchids, etc. Grow to the climate instead of fighting the elements!

Julie Ring said...

Grow to the climate! Why would you attempt to grow Mediterranean plants in the tropics? Just plain silly! There are so many beautiful tropical plants that thrive here! Look at beautiful plants such as the Jade vine and the many varieties of orchids. If you want perfume then grow Oriental lilies and white Ginger.

Archie said...

Hi, may i ask where you bought the lavender seeds from here in the Philippines? thank you.

Lon Jambalos said...

@Julie: Hi Julie! Thanks for reading my blog. I grew lavender out of curiosity and silliness (yeah, I'm a little silly). :-) I'm unable to make them bloom yet but they grew until the intense summer heat and storms killed them. I did not bother putting them inside nor in a shelter that's why. And that was part of the experiment. I'm growing my second batch, for the second attempt and this time I will put them in a shelter when it storms. It can grow on pots but not if you plant it straight to the ground because of the elements and as with other plants it will die when big storms come. At least when it's potted you can move it.

Lon Jambalos said...

@Archie: I bought the seeds from SM supermarket and Ace Hardware

Junell Fechalin said...

May nagbigay po sa akin ngayon lang ng seeds ng lavender... nagsearch pi ako sa net para makkuha ako ng info paano mapatubo ito ng maganda at lumabas po sa unahan ang blog nyo... salamat po at may mga updates po kayo sa kung paano ko gagawin ang mga bagay bagay sa pagtatanim nito... umaasa rin po ang nagbigay sa aking ng buto na mabibigyan ko siya ng mga bagong tubo nito kapag aking nabuhay. Ibinigay rin lang po sa kanya ang isang pakete ng seeds na mula naman sa taiwan ngunit kanya itongbipinagkatiwala sa akin... salamat po muli sa mga information at updates nyo.. sana poy hindi ko mabigo ang nagbigay sa akin ng buto.. muli po ipinagpapasalamat kopo ito sa inyo.

Anonymous said...

Hi, also bought lavander seedlings from Cartimar. Thanks to your write-up will put them under a roof but a spot with morning sunlight. Hope it blooms. Amy

Anonymous said...

Hi, also bought lavander seedlings from Cartimar. Thanks to your write-up will put them under a roof but a spot with morning sunlight. Hope it blooms. Amy

Mrs Bohol Orevillo said...

I really hope that people in the Philippines could plants a lavender in their backyard, garden so it would be less trouble for Dengue desease .mosquitos and even flies are keep away by lavender plants. They cannot take it the smells . I have some lavender plants in my garden and surprised me We have no mosquitos surounding during summer which is really good for us and especially for our son. Because he loves to play in our garden all the time.

Cllr said...

I love lavender!! Will try to grow some soon! Thank you all for your sharing!Thanks Lan! Im now inspired n determined to make my dream garden!!;)

Tristan Lope said...

Hello there, everyone! I'm Tristan and I bought a seedling from Cartimar last night (13 September). It cost me 100 pesos. The lavender plants were on a rack shielded from direct sunlight and they were sitting on wet soil. I asked the Manong taking my orders (I was originally looking for roses and succulents) if they were real lavenders and he told me that their flowers are blue. There weren't any lavender flowers at that time so I assume that Manong witnessed them blooming some time ago.

After reading the comments above I realized no one was successful in making their plants bloom. From what I have learned from Manong (and my mom) there are fertilizers available in the market infused with chemicals that make plants bloom (including those in spray bottles which are intended for orchids). I am planning on propagating my lavender plant through cuttings when it is tall enough to prune but before that I will try to make it bloom with the flowering agent I bought this morning (I don't think it is mature enough to flower but I believe the chemical won't harm the plant). I'll keep you all posted on the progress.

Tristan Lope said...

Hello there, everyone! I'm Tristan and I bought a seedling from Cartimar last night (13 September). It cost me 100 pesos. The lavender plants were on a rack shielded from direct sunlight and they were sitting on wet soil. I asked the Manong taking my orders (I was originally looking for roses and succulents) if they were real lavenders and he told me that their flowers are blue. There weren't any lavender flowers at that time so I assume that Manong witnessed them blooming some time ago.

After reading the comments above I realized no one was successful in making their plants bloom. From what I have learned from Manong (and my mom) there are fertilizers available in the market infused with chemicals that make plants bloom (including those in spray bottles which are intended for orchids). I am planning on propagating my lavender plant through cuttings when it is tall enough to prune but before that I will try to make it bloom with the flowering agent I bought this morning (I don't think it is mature enough to flower but I believe the chemical won't harm the plant). I'll keep you all posted on the progress.

Anonymous said...

Anybody here who wants a packet of lavender seeds from UK? Email me at cvtondo@yahoo.com

marie_choi said...

Hi po! naiiyak ako while reading this, mukhang ewan lang but honestly i did, dahil sa kagustuhan kong makahanap ng farm or flower shop na may lavender, I found this blog. Inspired? omg-dragon!!! d lang inspired, super duper mega inspired kasi pwede pala maka grow ng lavender here in the philippines, thanks for sharing your experience on growing them. its a big help. natatawa aq dun sa you ran down to save your babies from the rain, magiging ganyan din kaya me if ever (kaso wala kaming hagdan)...im so excited na to start my dream tanim lavender project. san nga po pala kayo nakabili nung seeds? specific store or shop name?

Anonymous said...

Please do let us know if the fertilizer worked so I can try it with my lavender as well

Unknown said...

hi ! i was able to buy a potted plant but now after 2 weeks it wilted. whats the proper care for grown lavander? thanks!

Jece Li said...

Hi Maya! How's the lavender farm dream going? I love lavender (essential pil) and it's one of my product ingredient (FN Enterprises Ph) and I would love it to be locally produced. We can talk. :)

Jece Li said...

Hi Maya! How's your lavender farm dream going? I own a small business called FN Enterprises Ph, and lavender is one of my ingredients. I love lavender and I want it to be locally produced. Let's talk! :)

Anonymous said...

Okay So i bought a potted lavender here in baguio city this january (from a stall near the baguio cathedral) it was abit mature already. Had a bit of woody stems about three inches. Cost about 50 pesos. It started blooming around the last week of may. Blooms are still appearing this august. The flowers look like the picture above however they are at most half an inch apart. So they dont look as vibrant or as compact as the ones in the picture. I dont know if its because it is a certain kind/specie of lavender or because it didnt have that much sunlight. I plant to prune it later this year hoping that it would flower a bit more . I placed it in a partly shaded area that recieve around three hours of sunlight in the morning and it seemed to thrive in there. when i tried placing it in full sun that recieve around six hours of sunlight last march, the leaves started blakened/ dry. Maybe because the temperature was too hot? It doesnt seem to mind getting overwatered though. Well it may help that i placed rocks at the bottom of the pot before i transfered it so that it would drain faster. I leave it outside and dont really bother it that much even if it always rain in the afternoon here. Or maybe because its just used to the baguio weather even before i bought it.

Good luck with your lavender farm. Hoping that it could adapt to the climate in Manila.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the auspicious writeup. It actually was once
a enjoyment account it. Look complicated to far
brought agreeable from you! However, how can we keep in touch?

MindBlogging said...

I've too been to a couple of garden shows where they are selling "lavender", some with flowers already in bloom but the problem here in the Philippines is that sometimes our gardeners will name plants according to what they look like. The flowers of this "lavenders" do look like one since they are in stems and are blue-violet but upon further research they turn out to be not lavender but Mexican Bush Sage. What I do during garden shows is I take picture of the flowers of the plants I like (inluding the leaves), take note of the characteristics and reverse image search the flowers. With this I was able to identify "Tibouchina" and when I went back and came looking for them the following week they asked me what I called the flowers. A week later they had signs up of the name of the flower despite spelling it as "Tebouchena". I also correctly identified a flower I later bought as Agapanthus africanus or 'Lily of the Nile", the owner alteast asked for me to write down the name. So be wary of those you buy at garden shows and garden centers because you might be buying some other kind of plant.

I do however was able to grow lavenders from seeds. Real lavender because our local chain of hardware have stocks of Munstead Lavender by Yates. I was able to grow them for two months (or three now) but they are slow to grow especially since I pinch them back for a bushier plant. A lot died down because of overwatering on my part because once established they dislike too much water so as I researched you can actually soak the roots with water but have to wait for the soil to become dry before the next watering. They love the sun, at first I kept them partly shaded but noticed they kept leaning to the side where light is coming from so I place the pots in the open field and only bring them in if there is heavy rain. I am excited for them to bloom but for now I enjoy how fragrant there leaves are, they have aroma like fresh rosemary.

I actually have another plant that I sowed alongside lavender that looks a lot like lavender but is less picky and need of care. The name of the plant is catmint and it is still a few weeks old. I put it out in the heat of the sun the entire day and does not care to be rained on. Like the lavender the leaves are also fragrant. Caution though, they say that cats love the plant (hence the name) and will roll on the plants. I actually uprooted a young plant (3 inches tall) and gave it to the cat. The cat was oblivious at first but when I left and came back the cat and the plant was nowhere to be found. Lol

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