Lavender Loves Bad Soil

Hummelo 'Betony'

My six new Lavender plants look good except for the leaves of one, which are turning yellow. Is this a worry?

It could be a serious problem if the one with yellowing leaves suffers from any of the following: (1) too much watering; or (2) too great humidity in the air; or (3) soil that is too rich; or (4) compacted soil (or more than one of the above). Alas you can do little about DC humidity. Just be aware that in Mediterranean climates, where lavender is native, the soil is poor, light, and airy. Your soil might contain too much nitrogen, compost, or manure. Try gently digging up the yellowing one, mixing coarse sand to its soil — even some tiny stones — and stopping all watering. Lavender prefers bad soil and drought! Without space (oxygen), lavender roots can suffocate especially if your soil is compost-rich or compacted by water that can’t drain away fast.

I heard there is a new kind of garden hose that snaps together, doing away with screw-tops that are difficult to wrench together or apart, especially at the inconveniently low garden taps on our house. Are these a good buy? My old hands are losing their grip.

Maybe yes. To begin, you will need to make sure the hose attaches cleanly to your faucet or tap. Try to find a good salesperson at a good hardware store to help you. If you buy a Y-shaped connector to the faucet (accommodating two or more hoses instead of one) you can dedicate one hose to a far garden and one to close-by flowers. Or one hose can go to garden and the other to car washing, and a third to something else. However, online customers complain that not all “snap on” hose connector brands fit with others. The snap-on connectors can vary in type and size, depending on the brand. 

I bought a charming little Hummelo flower called “Betony” that has clumped  beautifully, stayed neat, and bloomed its head off. Is it an annual?

Your plant label should tell you no, it is a perennial. It needs little care, is happy in full sun, and can accommodate some shade. It does need to be watered, of course, but moderately. And next spring it will come up around mid-April to do it all over again. Lucky you.

For information about the Capitol Hill Garden Club, visit the club’s website: The club is on summer break. Meetings will resume soon, on the second Tuesday in September. Please pay attention to whether meetings can resume to be ‘in person’ or must continue on zoom. Gardening will continue no matter what. 

Feeling beset by gardening problems? Send them to the Problem Lady c/o the Editor, Hill Garden News. Your problems might even prove instructive to others and help them feel superior to you.  Complete anonymity is assured.