Do you want to grow lavender in your garden? Our complete guide will cover everything you need to know about growing lavender in Florida, from different types of lavender for your garden and preparing the soil to everyday lavender plant care!
This perennial herb is known for its striking masses of purple flowers and beautiful scent, which brings color – as well as butterflies and bees – to every garden.
In this complete guide to lavender plants, we’ll talk about different types of lavender, lavender plant care and even how to go about growing lavender indoors.
An Introduction to the Lavender Plant
Lavender is a landscaping favorite for gardeners across the world. Believed to have originated in the Mediterranean area, Middle East and India.
Making an appearance in records dating back over 2,500 years, the plant was used in Roman times to scent baths, linens and clothes, and to use in soaps and even medicines – much like we do today!
There are many uses for lavender, including:
- Perfumes and aromatherapies
- Soaps, cleaning products and disinfectants
- Pest control
- Flavoring for foods and drinks
- Medicine (it is a natural antiseptic)
- Relieving stress and tension
Types of Lavender Plants
There are many different varieties of lavender in the USA – over 45 different species and over 450 different varieties!
While purple is the most common color of lavender bloom, you also get varieties with white, blue or pink flowers. There is also a lot of variety in the colors of the leaves and stem of the plant, which range from a deep green to a silvery grey in color.
Choosing a lavender plant for your garden in Florida means looking at different varieties to see which type will do well in your climate.
Planting Lavender Plants in Florida
Growing lavender in Florida can be a challenge, especially if you live in South Florida, as the plants prefer dry heat, lots of sunshine (6-8 hours a day) and minimal water, along with sandy, well-drained soil.
With so many varieties, however, there are some that can do well in the Florida environment. The most well-known of these is called Phenomenal Lavender (Lavandula x intermedia).
It is a large-growing shrub growing 3-4 feet tall and 2-3 feet wide with intensely green foliage and plenty of classic, purple blooms. It is:
- Resistant to common root and foliage diseases
- Tolerates heat and humidity
- Deer proof
- Good for cutting (making essential oils, drying flowers, as cut flowers, etc.)
- Hardy through USDA zones 5-10
Developed by growers at the Peace Tree Farm, this variety of lavender has been tested in botanical gardens and has been found to be a perfect match for the Florida climate.
How To Plant Lavender In Florida
Selecting the Location For Your Lavender Plant
Lavender plants need a spot with lots of sunshine (6-8 hours a day) and where the soil is well-drained. This means lavender is ideal for those sandy, rocky spots that other plants don’t care for.
Avoid all areas with clay soil, as this will hold the water and your lavender will struggle.
You can make your clay soil faster-draining by digging your flowerbed over and adding lots of organic compost, along with bark chips and pea gravel, and contouring the bed so that water is directed away from the bed.
This is very important, as a lavender will rot and die if the soil becomes boggy for too long.
Another good tip is to try choosing a spot that isn’t too sheltered. This will encourage airflow around your plant, helping to shift the humidity in the air.
Before planting your lavender, it’s also a good idea to test the pH of the soil, which should always be close to neutral or a slightly alkaline pH of 6.5 to 7.5.This is the best pH for growing aromatic herbs. If your soil isn’t within this range, which is often the case if your live near pine woods, you can change the soil pH before planting by using calcium carbonate or dolomite to get the balance right.
Planting Season for Lavender Plants
Because these plants don’t like a lot of moisture, don’t plant them during the summer or spring season, as humidity and rainfall are highest during this time.
Instead, plant your lavender during the fall or winter.
It will thrive in the mild heat and drier weather and should be well-established by the time the summer rains arrive.
Start Planting Your Lavender Plants
Start by looking at the size of your lavender once fully-grown to get an idea of how much space you need on either side of the plant.
Lavender doesn’t mind being a little crowded against one another (some varieties even make good hedges) so planting multiple plants 2-3 feet apart is usually just fine.
Remember that these bushes can also get quite tall (although there are also dwarf varieties of lavender), so be sure to plant them where they can grow to full height without blocking out smaller plants.
Start by preparing your flowerbed to ensure the soil drains well and is the right pH, and shaping it so that the bed doesn’t collect water. You can also build a raised bed to make this process a little easier.
Now, dig a hole that will fit the lavender plant and sit the new plant gently into it. Fill the hole with excess soil and gently tamp it down.
Do not make the hole too deep or pile soil against the stem of the plant, as burying the stem will cause it to rot. Rather, keep the soil at the same level as it was in the container you bought it in.
Water it lightly after planting and keep the soil lightly moist by watering once a week while the plant becomes established. As this plant is very drought resistant, it is better to water too little than too much. The soil should never be waterlogged.
How To Propagate Lavender
If you are looking for a particular variety of lavender, it’s usually easiest to purchase one from your local garden center. However, you can also grow lavender from seed or propagate new lavender plants from your existing lavender.
Growing Lavender from Seed
For this technique, you need to:
- Sow the seeds at a depth of at least 1/8 inch in well-drained soil that is free of other plants.
- Cover the seeds lightly with perlite and regularly water them to maintain the moisture of the soil. Do not let the soil become waterlogged.
- Germination will take 2-3 weeks.
Growing Lavender from Cuttings
For this technique, you need to:
- Start by cutting a stem off your lavender plant. Look for one that is strong and disease-free, and cut it just below the bud node.
- Remove most of the leaves off the lower part of your cutting to create a new stem.
- Dip the stem in rooting hormone.
- Plant it in a small container of well-drained soil.
- Lightly water on a regular basis without letting the container get waterlogged.
- Transfer it to a permanent location, either in the garden or in a container once you notice new growth.
Watering and Fertilizing Your Lavender Plant
About a month after planting your lavender, it should be well-established and will only need water once a week.
Once the lavender is fully-matured, it will need even less water – around a half gallon of water every couple of weeks.
Lavender plants do not need a lot of fertilizer, but adding an inch of compost around it annually or giving it a light dose of all-purpose fertilizer once in the spring will keep it growing and flowering vigorously.
Remember, this is a very low-maintenance plant, so lavender plant care is simple.
Read also: 5 The Best Fertilizer Spreaders in 2020
Growing Lavender Indoors
It’s also possible to grow lavender indoors, which is a great option if you have a smaller garden or struggle with very clay or very acidic soil.
With the right variety, environment and planting technique, your lavender will thrive indoors, filling your home with beautiful scent and color.
Choose the right lavender variety
Lavender plants come in a wide range of varieties and not all of them are suited for indoor growing. Some are simply too large, while others grow better outside.
If you are planning on growing lavender indoors, we recommend Goodwin Creek Grey, Munstead, Little Lottie, or Canary Island Lavender.
Choose the right position
The biggest challenge to growing lavender indoors is making sure the plant gets enough light. These plants love sunlight and are used to 6-8 hours of bright sunshine each day, so you need to put it by a very sunny, south-facing window.
Create the right environment
Get a good-sized pot that is a few inches bigger than the container your lavender was bought in – not too much bigger, as it likes to be quite snug. Terra-cotta and unglazed pots are a great choice, as these allow excess moisture to evaporate out the sides.
Fill the pot with a light potting soil mix that drains well, adding some perlite and compost to the mix. You want the water to run straight out of the pot as you water the plant, not pool around it.
Check the PH of the potting soil, as lavender likes a neutral to slightly alkaline soil. A good tip is to add crushed eggshells to the pot each month or so to stop the soil turning acidic!
Give your plant a couple of months to adjust to being indoors, watering only when the soil gets dry to the touch. These plants need minimal fertilizer, so you can give it just a very light dose of all-purpose liquid fertilizer each spring.
Lavandula Allardii Lavender Plant
Lavandula Allardii is a hybrid of French lavender and English lavender that grows well in the sub-tropics, including Florida.
It has silver-green leaves with creamy yellow margins and blooms with pale blue flower spikes. Growing to approximately 14-36 inches in height and the same in width, making it a great choice for hedges.
It is one of the most heat, humidity and water-wise lavender varieties, and has a lovely, camphor-like scent. It grows best in full sun to semi-shade, in well-drained and fertile soils.
Also known as Goodwin Creek Grey Lavender, this variety is another that does well in many Florida gardens. With attractive silvery-gray foliage, strong scent and short spikes of deep purple-blue flowers, this plant grows to around 2-3 feet in height and slightly wider in width.
This variety is not recommended for growing lavender indoors, as it tends to develop fungal issues, but it thrives outside in sunny areas with well-draining soil and in outdoor pots.For more varieties and inspiration, you can also check out the lavender in Sonoma
Growing Lavender In Florida Frequently Asked Questions
Can lavender be grown in Florida?
Some varieties of lavender will grow well in Florida, as long as you grow them in pots or flowerbeds with well-drained soil.
We recommend Phenomenal Lavender, Lavandula Allardi, and Goodwin Creek Grey Lavender, as these do well in subtropical areas.
What lavender grows best in Florida?
The best lavenders for Florida gardens include Phenomenal Lavender, Lavandula Allardi, and Goodwin Creek Grey Lavender, as these varieties are more tolerant of humidity. However, you need to ensure they are in well-drained soil and are not over-watered.
Is lavender a sun or shade plant?
All varieties of lavender love the sun and need around 6-8 hours of sunshine per day, although some can tolerate semi-shade conditions.
What is the best time of year to plant lavender?
In most places, the best time to plant lavender is in the spring or summer. However, if you live in Florida – especially in South Florida – it is best to plant lavender in the fall or winter.
This is because lavender do not like a lot of water, so planting them in the low-rainfall winter months will give them a good environment in which to become established.
Does lavender grow in Southwest Florida?
Traditionally, lavender does not do well in Florida – but the variety known as Phenomenal Lavender is the exception!
This lavender will grow well in Southwest Florida gardens, but be sure to plant it in well-drained soil and don’t over-water it.
A question that a reader sent in:
Question: We have a Phenomenal lavender plant in a pot (just bought it). It looks nice and healthy, although it's not blooming yet. We are in NE Florida.
Phenomenal Lavender isn't one variety you suggest keeping indoors, and you advise that Floridians should wait until fall to plant. We don't really have any well-drained, sunny areas though and were planning to keep it in a pot (larger than the one it arrived in).
Do you think it'll be okay outside (bringing it under cover when we get really rainy weather)?
Answer: Your Phenomenal should grow well in a pot provided that the soil is fast draining (the best option generally is to use a standard potting soil mix) if the pot is placed somewhere on your patio that gets around 4-6 hours of sunlight.
Because you are planting in a pot, it’s okay to plant in spring or summer because you’ll be able to move it out of the rain, as you are planning. You could also use a physical cover to give it a roof to divert the water if the pot is too heavy.
I would suggest letting it sit in gentle rain just once a week at a maximum (they do like rainwater, it’s just that the volume of water is so high in the Florida climate) and letting it dry to almost totally dry soil in between watering.
If you haven’t bought a pot for it yet, I would suggest getting one that would fit the full-size plant, which can grow over 2 feet high with a similar spread. Unlike many other plants, they like space around their roots, so give it a pot about 24 – 35 inches in diameter if you want it to get full-sized.
I would also suggest getting an unglazed pot like terra-cotta as the excess moisture quickly evaporates out of the sides of these pots, making it a bit easier to control the moisture.
That’s just a suggestion however, as this more moisture-tolerant lavender should thrive in any pot! Another thing that can help is placing the pot where the air circulation is good, as this helps control humidity as well.
Overall, your plan to move the lavender out of the rain as needed is a good one that should work really well. Phenomenal is the perfect choice, as it’s really the best lavender for the Florida climate, and you should see plentiful flowers soon.
During the flowering season, remove all dead flowers on a regular basis and this should stimulate the plant to produce even more. We’d love to see a photo of your results!
In Conclusion – You Can Grow Lavender in Florida
Lavender is a much-loved plant that is the staple for gardens all over the world, and you can enjoy it in your garden in Florida too!
The key is in preparing the soil correctly so that it drains well and doesn’t collect water, getting the pH of the soil to neutral or slightly alkaline, and choosing the right variety for a sub-tropical environment.
We hope our guide has helped you with growing lavender in Florida successfully and introducing this beautiful plant to your home!