Lloyd Traven, President of Peace Tree Farm in Pennsylvania, writes for the Mr Plant Geek blog about how my ‘Shrub of the Month’, Lavender ‘Phenomenal’, was developed and what makes it different.
“We had a large number of cuttings from a field that were literally melting overnight (30,000), but there was a tiny little patch in the mass that were happy as could be and were definitely a different leaf color – whiter, more pubescent, and ALIVE!!! Clearly a different plant. We went to the field, and could spot the difference from 150 feet away, like a beacon shining in the dark. It was a BRANCH from a plant; the rest of the plant looked like the dying ones. I took all the cuttings I could grab, and they rooted like a dream, just like the few I had already. I segregated and labeled from then on.
We selected the strongest from these, rooted and grew on. They were remarkably uniform, branched well, rooted easily, and grew like rows of soldiers in lock-step – every plant identical!!! We grew a bunch in gallon pots for field planting, outdoors in full overwhelming sun and heat, top water only (not recommended for lavenders), and every plant was still like cookies rolling off a bakery line: 100% bench run, a TRUE PRODUCTION PLANT.
We sent off trials to a lab for establishment of Elite stock overseas, and off we went. It took three years of hardiness testing, multiple trial sites, vernalization protocols, and MARKETING. The name came about because every time someone would see the plant, they would immediately say “That is Phenomenal”.
Differences and qualities of Lavender ‘Phenomenal’
- A true ‘production workhorse’, growers finish almost 100% of what they grow, unlike other lavenders!!! Holds extremely well at retail, consumers have success and TELL OTHERS ABOUT IT!!! It’s the only lavender where consumers ask for it by name.
- Extremely uniform and consistent. Performed wonderfully in a field with known pythium-killing Hidcote and Munstead.
- Excellent evergreen foliage, wonderful mounded habit and shape, excellent for hedging and landscape uses.
- VERY hardy, particularly for an intermedia!!! The only intermedia with the highest rating in the Chicago Botanical Garden multi-year hardiness trials. Trialed in Minnesota, Canada, ALASKA, does fabulously in POLAND!
- More importantly, it takes heat and humidity very well, and doesn’t melt in the US South! We have farmers growing it successfully in Florida, Georgia, Texas and other places where other lavenders melt.
- It’s drought tolerant, way more than others – we tell people that when they think it needs water to get a few pints of good beer and walk away for a day or two, and perhaps repeat that before irrigating – it likes it DRY, and hates wet feet!
- Simply disease resistant (NOT resistant to Phtophthora, no lavenders are).
- Superior uniformity and production characteristics at ALL levels of market – phenomenal performance
- Oil – copious quantities and excellent quality for an intermedia, almost angustifolia profile for EO use, but several times the quantity. Chemical analysis available.
The development time of this plant was for years from the first cutting to rollout in the market in 2014, but we made sure it was fully tested, trialled, and Elite stock established. It has become a world standard of measure.”
How to grow Lavender ‘Phenomenal’
Flowering time: June to September
Location: Borders and patio pots
Soil: Fertile well drained soil
Care: Cut back to just above wood, after flowering
Size: 60-90cm height, 60cm spread
Where to buy this plant
See every Shrub of the Month here.