Missourians may learn more about lavender thanks to a grant to University of Missouri Extension from the Missouri Department of Agriculture.
The $39,274 grant will determine standardized growing practices for lavender in Missouri.
It is one of four grants recently awarded by the Missouri Department of Agriculture to MU Extension. Federal funding comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.
MU Extension horticulturist Kelly McGowan will lead the research on standardized growing practices such as plant establishment and soil preparation, winter protection, cultivar selection, plant phenology, insect and disease issues, optimal flower and oil production parameters, and fertilization.
Native to the Mediterranean, lavender is in the mint family. Plants grow about 1-2 feet tall. Dense hairs coat its pale green leaves to give it its trademark silvery luster. The light purple lavender flowers are tiny and arranged in spikes.
Every part of the lavender plant contains the oil that produces a sweet fragrance. Lavender oil is used for balms, perfumes and cosmetics. It is also used in cooking and medicines.
While lavender can be difficult to grow in Missouri because of winter stress and high summer humidity, McGowan says it offers opportunities in agritourism. Farm-to-table establishments with outside dining could plant pungent lavender fields to enhance the dining experience, she says.