11 Reasons to Grow ‘Phenomenal’ Lavender This Season
Thinking about adding 'Phenomenal Lavender' to your list of garden herbs this season? This versatile cultivar offers many different benefits. In this article, gardening expert and former organic lavender farmer Logan Hailey shares 11 different reasons you should add 'Phenomenal' lavender to your garden this year.
If you find yourself craving the calming sweet aroma of lavender, you probably want to grow the most fragrant lavender possible. But many gardeners haven’t been able to grow lavender in their climates because the classic ‘Hidcotes’ and ‘Munsteads’ wouldn’t tolerate the humidity or heat. That all changed with the 2014 release of ‘Phenomenal’ lavender.
This workhorse lavender cultivar is one of the most popular varieties in America thanks to its dazzling floral displays, elegant long stems for cutting, cold hardiness, heat-tolerance, and drought resistance. And if that isn’t enough, ‘Phenomenal’ lavender delivers an abundance of blooms all summer long.
As long as it has plenty of space, this gorgeous lilac and blue-hued lavender plant is remarkably low maintenance and easy to grow. Let’s dig into 11 reasons why ‘Phenomenal’ could be the best variety for your garden.
About ‘Phenomenal’ Lavender
|common name ‘Phenomenal’ Lavender|
|botanical name Lavendula x intermedia ‘Phenomenal’|
|plant type Herbaceous Shrub|
|bloom colors Purple, Violet, Blue Hues|
|sun requirements Full Sun|
|water needs Low|
|height Up to 3 feet|
|spacing 3 feet|
|hardiness zones 5-9|
|soil needs Well Drained, All Types|
|where to plant Garden, Borders, Edging|
‘Phenomenal’ is a Lavandin hybrid (Lavandula x intermedia) variety of lavender developed for exceptional winter hardiness as well as heat and humidity tolerance.
This unusual combination of traits helped ‘Phenomenal’ take the American lavender market by storm. Not only is this shrub incredibly adaptable, but it also produces a tremendous number of flowers from late spring through early fall. It doesn’t mind sweaty summers and is naturally resistant to root rot.
Bred by Lloyd and Candy Traven of Peace Tree Farms in Pennsylvania, this newer cultivar has outstanding garden performance in zones 4 through 9. Because it is a hybrid of English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) and Portuguese lavender (Lavandula latifolia),
‘Phenomenal’ has the best of both worlds— it can survive through frigid Northeastern winters and bloom through hot southern summers. It grows in an aesthetically pleasing shape that is uniform and naturally mounded, which means pruning is easier than ever!
At maturity, ‘Phenomenal’ grows about 24 to 32” in height and width. Its voluptuous bushy growth, silvery foliage, and elegant floral presentations make it the perfect ornamental landscape plant. Moreover, the extremely high essential oil content of ‘Phenomenal’ flowers means it’s also ideal for commercial growers.
11 Reasons You’ll Love ‘Phenomenal’ Lavender
‘Phenomenal’ is a modern All-American lavender bred in Pennsylvania for its superb adaptability and aroma. Here are 11 reasons you’ll want it in your garden:
It Has a Lot of Fragrance
Nobody is growing lavender for its leaves. The flowers of ‘Phenomenal’ have an aroma that could knock you off your feet! The incredibly high essential oil content of these blooms makes this variety attractive for both gardeners and commercial growers.
A slight midsummer breeze over a ‘Phenomenal’ shrub can flood an open window with the decadent aroma.
It’s Quite Resilient
When farmers Lloyd and Candy Traven of Peace Tree Farm first discovered the cuttings that would become ‘Phenomenal’, they were the only plants alive amongst 30,000 nearly melted field cuttings.
From a distance of over 150 feet away, you could see their silvery ALIVE leaves standing out amongst the sea of dying lavender in the summer heat.
When the farmers took more cuttings from a single branch of an otherwise dying plant, they instantly rooted (“like a dream” they said) and later became workhorses on the farm.
As the plants grew, they remained outdoors in overwhelming sunshine and heat, yet still grew prolifically. When other growers came by to see the resilience and uniformity of the shrubs, they remarked “that is phenomenal!”
‘Phenomenal’ is arguably among the strongest and most resilient varieties in the world. If you’re a beginner grower, this cultivar can definitely handle a few mistakes and trudge through harsh weather.
Just like humidity, excessive heat can be a major problem for southern growers. While these plants love warmth and sunshine, extreme heat can stunt growth or even kill lavender plants. But ‘Phenomenal’ can grow in places where lavender usually melts in scorching summers, such as Florida, Georgia, and Texas.
Many hot weather gardeners used to be confined to a smaller selection of heat-hardy Spanish varieties (or “butterfly lavenders”) because English types can’t handle the scorching summers.
Although Spanish lavender is beautiful in its own right, it doesn’t have the classic elongated spike shape of traditional varieties. Thankfully, ‘Phenomenal’ offers the best of both worlds: a fragrant, classic flower spike that doesn’t mind high temps.
Extremely Cold Hardy
A Lavandin hybrid that can withstand negative temperatures and remain evergreen is almost unheard of. As if Phenomenal heat tolerance wasn’t enough, this plant can also withstand some frigid winters.
‘Phenomenal’ is one of the most cold-hardy intermedia lavenders on the market. It has the highest rating in the Chicago Botanical Garden for multi-year cold hardiness trials.
They have even trialed ‘Phenomenal’ in Alaska, Minnesota, Canada, and Poland! Proper fall pruning (cutting back to just above the wood) and mulching with gravel can ensure that this variety overwinters gracefully under snowpack.
Not many pests mess with lavender, but diseases are the biggest enemies of this infamous herb. ‘Phenomenal’ is naturally resistant to root rot. In a trail field with ‘Hidcote’ and ‘Munstead’, the ‘Phenomenal’ grew strong all season long while Pythium (root rot) devastated the other varieties.
Although it is less likely to develop root rot, it still prefers an extra well-drained soil. We recommend amending generously with horticultural sand, fine gravel, perlite, or limestone to improve soil drainage. Lavenders hate “wet feet!”
Lavender is native to the Mediterranean basin of Europe and North Africa. It thrives in environments that are similar to its natural habitat: hot, dry, and extra sunny.
So you can imagine why many gardeners in humid climates have trouble growing lavender. They are often forced to forgo the classic flower shape and grow Spanish varieties (Lavandula stoechas) that can handle the moisture.
In fact, most French and English lavenders are known to struggle with foliar diseases and root rot in high humidity regions.
But ‘Phenomenal’ changes the game with its superb humidity tolerance. This hybrid variety has a built-in resistance to fungal diseases and grows in a shape that encourages air flow.
It Blooms All Summer Long
Some varieties only flower once or twice a year in smaller flushes, but ‘Phenomenal’ dependably puts on a captivating show.
This cultivar will flower from late spring through early fall and maintain a continuous display of vibrant, fragrant blooms. If you deadhead spent flowers, you can even encourage the plant to keep going! Wait until flowers have started to wither, then cut them for drying or toss in the compost.
Proper pruning can encourage even more flower production. Because lavender only flowers on same-year stems, spring pruning is especially important for getting the plant to channel its energy into a new flush of growth.
Uniform and Consistent Mound Shape
The wonderful mounded shape of ‘Phenomenal’ makes it very aesthetically pleasing for hedging and landscapes. The growth habits of these plants are extremely consistent and uniform.
If you’ve dreamed of a mini lavender field (like the ones in France) right in your backyard, this would be the perfect variety. Just keep in mind that ‘Phenomenal’ needs at least 23-32” of space in every direction.
We recommend planting crowns about 3 feet apart to allow for enough air flow and lush, floriferous growth.
Ornamental Evergreen Foliage
When ‘Phenomenal’ isn’t flowering, it still looks beautifully ornamental thanks to its silvery-green leaves.
The foliage of this Lavandin hybrid is delightfully balsamy in scent that is reminiscent of lavender. The leaves stay evergreen for the entire year in most climates. A well-pruned ‘Phenomenal’ plant will make a lovely ornamental shrub throughout the winter.
Thankfully, the delicious smell of this lavender is only attractive to humans. One of the best things about lavender is that it’s naturally deer-resistant. Because ‘Phenomenal’ has an exceptionally strong fragrance, deer are very unlikely to start munching on your herbs.
If you live on the edges of a forest or field, you can comfortably plant this cultivar in your garden without having to worry about pesky herbivores. In fact, it may even deter deer from your vegetable crops!
Attracts Beneficial Insects
Lavender is a wonderful companion plant because it can bring beneficial pollinators and other insects into your garden. In fact, lavender planted within a few feet of tomatoes, squash, or strawberries can drastically improve pollination and yields while reducing pest populations.
The flowers not only attract bees and butterflies but can provide nectar to predatory insects that feast on the pesky bugs that might be eating your crops.
It’s rare to find a plant that delivers top-notch fragrance and aesthetics while withstanding harsh weather. ‘Phenomenal’ lavender is widely adaptable to gardens around the world. It is cold-hardy, heat-resistant, and tolerant of humidity. Thanks to its phenomenal resilience, this forgiving variety won’t mind a few beginner lavender gardener mistakes.