A long-time landscaping favourite, lavender or Lavandula, is an aromatic perennial herb that produces vibrant purple flowers. Although believed to originate in parts of the middle east, the Mediterranean and India, there are many types of lavender suited for growing throughout the U.S.
Whether indoors, outdoors, or in a pot, here is your complete guide on how to grow lavender.
A Quick Introduction to Lavender
Lavender is well-known for its commercial uses in medicines, soap and scented products. However, it has a heap of landscaping applications, making it a perfect garden plant.
This scented perennial plant will not only attract valuable pollinators, but its fragrant foliage actually deters pesky insects like flies and mosquitoes.
Lavender is an ideal addition to your herb garden, flower bed and can even be grown in a pot indoors, provided with the right conditions. It’s drought resistant, disease resistant and incredibly easy to propagate.
Common commercial applications for lavender include:
Types of Lavender
Although lavender isn’t native to the U.S., there is a range of Lavender cultivars that are accustomed to USDA Zones 5 through 10.
There are over 450 varieties of lavender, the most popular being the purple blooming lavender. However, you can also find some species blooming in white, pink and even blue.
If growing in the U.S., it’s important to choose the right types of lavender, which would be best suited to your climate. Here are the most popular varieties:
English Lavender. Lavandula angustifolia is a very hardy variety of lavender, better suited for northern American regions. This variety is one of the most often grown.
French Lavender. Lavandula dentata is better accustomed to milder regions. This species is grown for its very intense aroma.
Spanish Lavender. Lavandula stoechas is one cultivar that can be grown in more humid climates. Spanish lavender is the most colorful of lavender varieties.
How to Grow Lavender
Once you’ve chosen the right variety for your region, it’s important to plant your lavender in the right spot. You’ll need to ensure a steady flow of fresh air, plenty of sunshine and well-draining soil.
How Much Sun Does Lavender Need?
Lavender requires a good amount of sunlight to produce a bountiful bloom in the spring and summer. You’ll want to pick a non-sheltered area that receives as much as 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight per day.
If growing in a particularly hot area, a spot that receives afternoon shade will do best.
What Kind of Soil Does Lavender Need?
Lavender doesn’t enjoy having wet feet, so well-draining soil is an absolute must. Ideally, you’ll want to have your lavender growing in sandy or rocky soils that won’t tend to hold a lot of moisture.
Avoid growing your lavender in any form of clay soil, as this will often lead to root rot.
A general P.H. Level between 6.5 and 7.5 is ideal. You can always consider preparing your soil with calcium carbonate or dolomite to help balance your soil.
When to Plant Lavender
Depending on your regions, and which variety of lavender you are growing, you’ll want to plant your lavender between spring and early fall.
For those growing in regions that experience a very cold winter, planting in spring or early summer is advised, as this will allow your lavender to develop a strong root system before the winter chill.
If growing in warmer regions, planting is advised during the early fall to avoid the heavy summer rains. This will allow the root systems to develop during the winter.
How to Plant Lavender
You’ll want to wait until your lavender is a healthy plant with a strong root system before planting. Before planting, it’s always a good idea to prepare the soil to ensure the soil is nutrient-rich and well-draining.
You can improve your soil quality by digging your flowerbed over and mixing in a heap of organic compost, gravel, bark and other organic matter. Contouring the edge of your flower bed will also help to avoid rainwater seeping into the soil.
To help you ease your composting, see our review on the best compost tumbler for 2021.
Of course, you could always plant your lavender in a raised bed to avoid this issue altogether.
Before planting, make sure you have the essential gardening tools needed. It is also recommended to test the soil P.H. level and adjust accordingly.
Here’s how to plant your lavender:
- Dig a hole that is twice as deep and twice as wide as your root ball. For container growing or a raised bed, ensure a rich, well-draining soil mixture.
- Remove your lavender from the container and begin to gently tousle the roots, loosening them from the soil. This will encourage outward growth after planting.
- Place the root ball into the hole, ensuring the top of the root ball remains in line with the top of the soil.
- Backfill and gently press down with your hands, removing any air pockets.
After planting, you’ll want to keep the soil moist for the first few weeks. Take care. However, waterlogged soil will curb root growth.
How to Grow Lavender Indoors
While the general procedure for how to grow lavender indoors is much the same as growing outdoors, you’ll want to guarantee the right variety, environment and position.
For many, they won’t consider growing lavender outdoors out of fear that it would take up too much space. However, there are some wonderful dwarf varieties that are suited for indoor growth.
Ideal varieties include the Goodwin Creek Grey, Little Lottie and Canary Island Lavender.
Again, the right soil is essential; it will need a well-draining medium. More so, you’ll want to choose the right kind of pot. You’ll want to have a few drainage holes and ensure that the roots have a snug fit within the pot.
Terra cotta pots are a great option for indoor growth. To help balance your soil, you can also always add some crushed eggshells to the soil from time to time.
Even indoors, your lavender will need to get enough sunlight and receive plenty of fresh air. A south-facing window is often ideal.
You can also consider leaving your lavender outdoors during the day and bringing it in in the afternoon to ensure it’s getting enough sun.
Lavender How to Care
Knowing how to care for your lavender plant is important. While it is a generally fuss-free plant, simple mistakes may result in a lack of blooms or browning foliage.
The most important factors when it comes to how to take care of a lavender plant will be ensuring monitored watering, regular pruning and some occasional fertilizer should you wish.
How often to water your lavender will be area dependent. In hotter, arid regions, you may have to do it more frequently than in milder, humid regions. It’s essential to remember that lavender is drought friendly, so less is more.
While the plants are still young, you can afford to water your lavender as much as once per week. Thereafter, you can cut back to an occasional deep watering from time to time.
Lavender won’t necessarily need any form of fertilizer for luscious growth. However, adding some occasional liquid fertilizer throughout the flowering season won’t do any harm.
You can, of course, improve the nutrient value of the soil by adding about an inch of rich, organic compost after the winter.
How to Prune Lavender
Pruning will be an important part of the process and will differ slightly depending on which variety you are growing. Pruning will help to train your lavender to withstand stress and will encourage soil nutrients to be directed to the new growth, rather than old and dying stems.
For young plants, you will need very little pruning. Established plants can tolerate a good occasional prune; you can consider cutting back as much as 1/3 of your lavender bush. For mature plants, you can take a lot more away.
Pruning will include:
- Deadheading. This can be done at any point in the year. Using a sharp, sterilized pair of garden shears, simply remove any dead or damaged flowers.
- Cutting. Once a year, you’ll want to cut your bush back. Simply take a bunch of stems into the palm of your hand and cut through. Take care not to cut into the woody base of the stem. This should remain intact.
- Shaping. This will help to curb any leggy growth and keep your lavender bushes looking neat. Most gardeners will recommend a rounded or gumdrop shape.
For the English variety, you can be quite rigorous with your pruning. Consider a light pruning right after flowering and a heavier prune in the fall.
French and Spanish varieties tend to have a shorter lifespan. However, the flowers will regenerate faster. For both these varieties, frequent, light pruning will work best.
Lavender How to Propagate
When it comes to how to propagate lavender, it is incredibly easy, and you have the option to re-produce some smaller lavender plants every time you prune.
When starting out, most gardeners will opt for the easier option of purchasing a lavender plant from their local nursery. However, lavender is easily propagated from cuttings or from seeds.
How to Grow Lavender from a Cutting
Cuttings should be taken after the flowering season, which easily aligns with pruning. As such, you can use your yearly prune to help you foster some new lavender plants.
Cuttings will need to be kept in a warm, sunny, well-aerated area for at least a year before planting. Here is everything you’ll need to know on how to take a lavender cutting.
Firstly, you’ll want to ensure the right equipment; you’re going to need
- A Sterilized, Sharp Pair of Secateurs
- Rooting Hormone
- A Small Pot
- A Seeding Mix with lots of Organic Material
- A Pencil
- Start by choosing a non-flowering shoot with a woody base. You’ll want to remove a piece about 3 and a half inches in length.
- Remove the leaves from the base, leaving the bark at the base and dip into a rooting hormone.
- Fill your pot with the soil mix, and using the pencil, make a hole into the soil. Place the cutting into a hole and press down to firm.
How to Grow Lavender from Seed
You will need to buy a viable lavender seed from your local nursery or garden center. Before sowing your seeds, you’ll want to ensure you’ve prepared the soil and chosen the right kind of pot for planting.
Here is how to plant lavender seeds:
- Sow the seeds about a 1/8 inch below the surface of the soil.
- Cover the seed with a perlite mixture.
- Keep the soil moist and in a warm location.
Seeds will take 2 to 3 weeks to germinate. Wait until the plant is semi-established before planting outdoors.
Growing Lavender in Florida
Growing Lavender in Florida and other humid regions can pose a greater challenge as lavender needs dry heat for optimum growth.
If planning on growing lavender in Florida, it’s essential to choose the right lavender variety that will hopefully make your life a little easier. Phenomenal lavender, or Lavandula intermedia, is a perfectly cultivated option that will be able to grow in higher humidity areas.
Be sure to give your lavender plant plenty of daily sunshine and keep an eye on the moisture level of your soil. This can be done with a soil moisture meter.
For regions like Florida, it is also best to plant during the fall. This will allow the roots to establish without the threat of high humidity and rainfall.
Are you looking for more aromatic plant options? Our Agastache growing guide contains everything you'll need to grow this amazing medicinal plant.
How Tall Does Lavender Grow?
Lavender is considered a large-growing species. Most varieties will grow as much as 3 to 4 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide. However, it is also possible to cultivate dwarf varieties that will grow far slower.
How Fast Does Lavender Grow?
In the right conditions, lavender will grow several inches per year. If grown indoors, this will be slightly less.
How Long Does Lavender Bloom?
Most types of lavender will bloom for 3 to 4 weeks at a time, usually during the summer. However, some varieties are known to bloom for a second time.
Is Lavender Toxic?
Lavender is not a threat to humans, even when ingested. In some cases, it can be mildly toxic in young children if large quantities are ingested. However, lavender plants are marginally toxic to cats and cause nausea and vomiting in animals.
Start Growing Lavender Today!
Wherever you may be, it is possible for you to have happy, healthy and vibrantly flowering lavender in your home or garden. Whichever variety you decide to grow, always keep an eye on your soil, avoiding waterlogging at all costs.
Giving you lavender enough sunlight will help to keep the soil dry. So, there you have it. Everything you need to know on how to grow lavender.