Plant Trials

Lavender on Trial

In my last few e-newsletters, I’ve shared some top-performing varieties at different university trials. Today, I want to talk about a different kind of plant trial.

Each year, during the California Spring Trials, the folks at Pacific Plug & Liner (PP&L) conduct a comparison trial of a specific genus. In 2016, they trialed various types of lavender, from English, Spanish and French, to all types in between.

“Lavandula has been used since ancient times for its aromatic, medicinal and culinary qualities,” said April Herring-Murray, new product and marketing manager for PP&L. “For the nursery industry, lavender has moved beyond medicinal and culinary uses and has become an important garden perennial.”

The 2016 Spring Trials event took place April 9-14. According to Herring-Murray, the earliest to bloom and easiest to get into early-date bloom are the Spanish types, so these were at their peak.

“Week 42 was the target plant date for the trial to have enough time to bulk before winter conditions set in,” said Herring-Murray. “Being in Watsonville, California, we can get away with this later fall planting date more than nothern areas of the country.”

All crops were planted into 2.5-quart pots. Soil was a blend of peat, perlite and bark, mixed with a slow-release fertilizer. Plants were grown outdoors in traditional perennial growing fields with overhead irrigation.

Here are some of the standouts from PP&L’s lavender trials. To read full trial results, click here to check out Herring-Murray’s article in the October issue of GPN.

‘Ellagance Purple’
Kieft Seed


This English lavender is first-year flowering and bloomed earlier than other varieties.

‘Platinum Blonde’


While this variety didn’t bloom, ‘Platinum Blonde’ boasts stunning variegated foliage. It does require a hard vernalization to bloom.

‘Anouk Supreme’
Darwin Perennials


There are many purple-flowering varieties in the Anouk series, but ‘Anouk Supreme’ was most impressive with its flower power and larger flags.

‘The Princess’
Plants Nouveau


‘The Princess’ has vivid, rich pink to rose colored flowers. It’s a great option when looking for a color alternative.

‘Fred Boutin’


Flowering on the Lavadin types seemed a bit uneven, but ‘Fred Boutin’ appeared to be the most even in flowering.



Lavandula x heterophylla ‘Meerlo’ earned best in show for its overall uniqueness. It has the typical toothed leaf margins like most denata but with highly variegated foliage.

Are you growing lavender? If so, what are your personal favorites and top performers? Shoot me an email and let me know. I’d love to hear from you.

— Jasmina

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