“Can I grow lavender in Singapore? What other scented plants can I grow besides jasmine?”, a Home and Decor reader, Theresa Tan, asked.
Yes, lavender. The lavender plant is a great, multi-purpose plant. It smells great, can be used for teas, baking, and cooking, can help with insomnia, promote sleep and relaxation, and it’s a mosquito-repellent plant.
For all of its benefits, it’s little wonder why the green fingers in Singapore are trying to grow lavender themselves.
We looked to Dr Wilson Wong, a certified practising horticulturist and founder of Green Culture Singapore, and NParks-certified park manager.
Can lavender plant survive in Singapore?
“It is possible to grow lavender from seeds, but it is easier to buy potted lavender plants from large local nurseries here.
Lavender potted plants come from cooler, drier Mediterranean
However, the potted plants here are often raised in a moisture-retentive growing media.
Plants left in this media often decline over time because of Singapore’s overly moist and humid climate. Some plants come from the Mediterranean climate, which is drier and, at times, cooler.”
What is the best way to grow lavender in Singapore?
To ensure that your lavender plant has a higher chance of survival, take stem-cuttings from the original pot and root them in coarse aquarium gravel.
Use stem cuttings from imported lavender potted plants
The rooted cuttings can then be planted in a well-drained mix made up of burnt earth, pumice and other gritty materials.
Growing lavender plant indoors in Singapore
The plants should get at least four hours of direct sunlight and should be shielded from the rain.
Lavender plants can flower in Singapore, but die easily during the cloudy and wet season.
Other fragrant shrubs that can be grown more easily include sweet almond bush, dwarf ylang ylang, “Min-A- Min” murraya and shui mei (Wrightia religiosa).
These shrubs are best planted in the ground outdoors in well- drained soil and under direct sunlight.”
Hydroponic lavender Singapore
Lavender can actually be grown hydroponically. Since it’s grown in controlled and optimised hydroponic settings, you can expect your lavender plants to grow faster than growing lavender outdoors in soil.
At a higher level of farming, there are multiple hydroponic systems suited for different farming goals. While some farmers prefer to grow lavender in volume to sell at farmer’s markets, some enthusiasts may prefer to grow quality lavender to extract their natural oils for personal use.
In Singapore, where space is a constraint, most of our hydroponic systems are small and simpler.
If you have existing hydroponics systems, most global plant websites recommend the Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) for growing lavender hydroponically. This NFT technique helps you to maximise lavender flower growth and harvest.
A NFT hydroponics starter kit, like this four-tier vertical farming set-up will cost you approximately $260 on Lazada. It comes with net pots, trays, LED growth lights, water pumps, voltage controller, leca balls, powdered nutrients, measuring cups, universal socket adapters, and packs of generic seeds.
However, if you have the Click and Grow system at home (or in the office) already, you’ll be surprised to know that Click and Grow sells lavender plant pods too.
A three-pack lavender pod will cost you $10.46, and a nine-pack for $24.71. Buy them online from the Click and Grow Asia website when there are holiday promotions and promo codes. Currently, there’s a Click and Grow promo code HOLIDAY25 ongoing this festive period.
Buy lavender seeds in Singapore
After you’ve got your hydroponics set-up assembled, you need to buy lavender seeds, sow them, and wait for your lavender seeds to germinate.
You’ll find lavender seeds in most plant nurseries in Singapore, and they’re pretty affordable:
- Lavender seeds by Horti ($3.50 from The Garden Store)
- French lavender seeds ($3.44 for 50 seeds from The Best Seeds on Etsy)
- Lavender seeds ($2.50 from Aerospring Hydroponics)
- Lavender seeds ($2.50 for 20 seeds from Shopee)
Where to buy lavender plants in Singapore?
If germinating lavender seeds sound too painful for you, try buying fully-grown lavender potted plants or the stem-cutting method that Dr Wilson recommended. You’ll need a potted lavender plant for that.
In Singapore, there are many ways to buy live lavender potted plants:
- Lavender plant 20cm ($12 from The Garden Store)
- Lavender plant 30cm ($8 from Candy Floriculture)
- Japanese lavender 28cm ($25 from Candy Floriculture)
- Summer Snapdragon, Light Violet 35cm ($8.50 from Noah Garden Centre)
- Mona Lavender 35cm ($10.40 from Noah Garden Centre)
- Assorted homegrown lavender plants ($5 to $25 from Carousell)
How often to water lavender in Singapore?
Just like what Dr Wilson mentioned in Singapore, most lavender plants originate from the Mediterranean regions where the climate is dryer, cooler, and less humid.
Therefore, you don’t want to over-water your lavender plant in Singapore where humidity is naturally high.
It is recommended that you water your lavender plant every three to four days. Feel the soil to have a better gauge – the soil should feel light and dry.
If you’re buying potted lavender plants from one of the plant nurseries, ask them for their current care tips and watering routine.
How long does lavender take to grow?
Lavender seeds take approximately 14 to 21 days to germinate. Again, the soil and environment needs to be cooler, less humid, and should mimic the natural Mediterranean climate. Ideally, lavender is grown when spring arrives with a temperature of 15°C.
After germination, expect your lavender to take two or three more months to fully grow before it starts to flower.
Lavender soil mix Singapore
Seldom will you find pre-mixed potting soil for lavender plants in Singapore since lavender plants are not the most common choice of house plants. You will, therefore, need to figure your own lavender soil mix out. The best type of soil mix for lavender plants should contain these characteristics:
- Drains water well
- Alkali, pH 6.7 to 7.3
Consider adding clay pebbles, pumice stones, alkali compost to your potting soil before you plant your lavender plants.
This article first appeared on The Straits Times, edited by Home and Decor.