Plant lavender in pots

Lavender Container Care: Tips On Growing Lavender In Pots

Lavender is a favorite herb of a lot of gardeners, and for good reason. Its soothing color and fragrance can pervade your garden when fresh and your home when dried. Few can resist its charms. Unfortunately, few live in a climate similar to its hot and sandy Mediterranean home. If your winters are too cold or your soil is too dense, or even if you just want that fragrance closer to home, growing lavender in pots is a great idea. Keep reading to learn about potted lavender care and how to grow lavender in containers.

Growing Lavender in Pots

Lavender can be grown from seed or from cuttings. The seeds should be placed on top of sandy soil and covered lightly with a layer of perlite. They ought to sprout in two to three weeks. Cuttings should be taken from plants just below a node (where a set of leaves join the stem), dipped in root hormone, and stuck into warm, moist, sandy soil.

No matter how you start your container grown lavender plants, it’s important to choose the right container and potting mix. Lavender doesn’t like to be damp, but it does need water. This means good drainage is essential to lavender container care. Pick a container that has plenty of drainage holes. If it only has one or two, drill a few more.

If you plan on keeping the pot inside, you’ll need a saucer to catch the water, but avoid pots with saucers attached to the bottom. Choose a sandy, alkaline, well-draining potting mix with slow-release fertilizer pellets.

Potted Lavender Care

Lavender container care is all about maintaining the right temperature, sun exposure, and water level. Luckily, none of this is very intensive.

Place your container grown lavender plants somewhere they receive full sun (at least 8 hours per day) and water them sparingly. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings, but don’t let it get so dry that the plant wilts.

Lavender likes heat, and many varieties won’t survive a cold winter. The beauty of growing lavender in pots is that it can be moved to avoid dangerous conditions. When temperatures start to fall, bring your container grown lavender plants inside to tough the winter out by placing them in a window that receives full sun.

Lavender is a very popular herb that is well known for the wonderful smelling flowers, and the calming effect the oils. Growing lavender at home is pretty easy, and the plants don’t require much maintenance. This comprehensive lavender plant care guide will show you exactly how to care for lavender plants outdoors and in pots.

Lavender needs no introduction, it’s definitely one of the most popular herbs on the planet. Prized for it’s aromatic flowers that contain oils commonly used to make essential oils, the list of lavender plant uses is practically infinite.

Fresh lavender can be used straight from the garden in many recipes or to make tea, or it can be dried for later use. Dried lavender buds last a long time, and can be used for cooking and crafting, or for making personal care products like candles, soaps and lotions.

In the garden, lavender flowers are highly attractive to bees and other pollinators, and can to deter pests, so it’s very beneficial. And guess what… it’s surprisingly easy to grow your own lavender! Let me show you how…

Lavender Care Guide

The good news is that taking care of lavender plants is pretty darn easy, and they require very little maintenance. But just like any plant, they will grow and bloom their best when given the right growing conditions, as I have detailed out in this lavender plant care guide.

If you don’t want to read through this entire guide, you can click on the links in the list below to skip to the sections you’re most interested in learning about.

Here’s what you’ll find in this detailed lavender plant care guide:

  • Different Types Of Lavender
  • Where To Plant Lavender
  • When To Plant Lavender
  • Lavender Water Requirements
  • Lavender Sun Requirements
  • Best Soil For Lavender
  • Best Fertilizer For Lavender
  • Tips For Harvesting Lavender Flowers
  • Propagating Lavender
  • Lavender Pest Control Tips
  • Lavender Pruning Tips
  • Caring For Lavender In Winter
  • How To Care For Lavender Indoors
  • Troubleshooting Problems Growing Lavender
  • Where To Buy Lavender Plants

Different Types Of Lavender Plants

In order to be successful, it’s important to choose the best lavender to grow in your climate. There are a few different kinds of lavender plants, and the hardiness zones are different for each.

If you live in a cold climate like I do, then you should choose one of the hardiest lavender plant varieties. The others are best suited for warmer climates, for growing as annuals, or brought indoors over the winter. Here are details about the most common types…

  • English lavender – If you’re looking for cold hardy lavender, then you want English lavender. The hardiness is listed at zones 5-8. I have been growing it for years in my zone 4b gardens in Minnesota, so you can push the zone a little there. However it doesn’t grow well in hot climates. English lavender plants are also the best type to grow if you want to harvest the flowers for the best oils and fragrance.
  • French lavender – French lavender is not cold hardy, and will only survive outdoors in warm climates. If you live in a zone colder than zone 8, you’ll either need to grow it as an annual plant, or try overwintering it indoors. French lavender flowers earlier than English lavender varieties, so it can be nice to grow them together if you want a longer harvest.
  • Spanish lavender – Also not suitable for cold climates, Spanish lavender is best for growing in zones 9 or higher. So, like French lavender, unless you live somewhere warm, then it should be grown as either an annual bedding plant, or overwintered in containers indoors.

French lavender flowers growing in a warmer climate

Lavender Plant Care Instructions

Though the hardiness varies for each of the different varieties of lavender plants, their basic growing requirements are the same. So you can follow the lavender plant care instructions below for all lavender plant types.

Where To Plant Lavender

The best place to plant lavender in your garden is in a location that gets full sun and has well draining soil. Be sure that the spot you choose doesn’t get too wet.

Lavender is a great plant for a sunny, dry area of your yard. So, if you have a trouble spot that doesn’t get much water and you have trouble growing other plants there, try planting lavender.

Growing Lavender In Containers

If your soil is too wet or heavy, then try planting lavender in containers instead of in the garden. Caring for lavender in pots isn’t much different than growing it in the garden. Just be sure that the container you choose has drainage holes in the bottom.

Also, be sure to use a fast draining potting soil so the plants don’t get overwatered. See the section on soil below to learn about the best soil for lavender in pots.

Planting lavender in containers

When To Plant Lavender

The best time to plant lavender in your garden is after the soil starts to warm up in the spring, but before the heat of summer kicks in. If you live in a a mild climate, you could plant them in the fall. But if you’re in a cold climate like me, then brand new plants may not survive the winter.

If you’re planting lavender in pots, then you don’t have to worry too much about the timing. I would avoid transplanting lavender during the extreme heat of summer though, otherwise they may not recover.

Lavender Water Requirements

Do you know the most common cause of death for a lavender plant? Watering it too much. So less is more when it comes to watering lavender plants. If you learn nothing else from this lavender plant care guide, be sure to remember this part!

The less is more rule is especially true for potted lavender plants, so it’s super important to make sure the container you grow them in has adequate drainage. When watering lavender in pots, be sure to allow the water to completely drain out of the drainage holes, and never let it sit in a tray of water.

Lavender is a drought tolerant plant that prefers the soil to stay on the dry side, but don’t allow it to dry out completely. If you’re unsure of how often to water lavender plants, it’s best to give them a good deep drink of water, then allow the soil to dry out before watering again. I recommend getting a soil moisture gauge to help make sure you’re giving your plant the right amount of water.

Lavender Sun Requirements

For best results, be sure to plant lavender in a full sun location. It will tolerate part shade, especially in hot climates, but may not bloom as well with less sunlight. If you’re not sure how much sun your garden gets during the day, learn how to determine garden sun exposure.

Best Soil For Lavender Plants

Using the right type of soil is another extremely important part of proper lavender plant care. When it comes to the best soil for growing lavender plants, the most important thing to keep in mind is adequate drainage. They absolutely will not tolerate wet feet, so it’s very important to ensure the soil doesn’t hold water for very long.

Lavender thrives in poor quality soil, as long as it’s fast draining. So, they will grow much better in sandy soil than they will in heavy clay soils. While preparing soil for planting lavender, amend clay soil with sand and compost to give it better drainage.

They also prefer alkaline/neutral soil, and can suffer in highly acidic soils. Add garden lime to neutralize your soil if it’s highly acidic. If you don’t know what your lavender soil pH is, you can use a pH probe or a soil pH test kit to easily check it. Learn more about how to test your garden soil.

Fast draining soil is also the best potting soil for lavender plants growing in pots. To make it easy, you can use a commercial succulent potting mix for lavender. Otherwise, you could use a general purpose potting soil, and mix in sand and perlite or pumice for extra drainage.

Best Fertilizer For Lavender Plants

I have some great news for you… you don’t have to know how to fertilize lavender plants because they don’t need it! You don’t have to worry about using fertilizer for lavender in pots or in the garden. Woohoo!

If your garden soil is really bad, then you could side dress your plants with compost every year or so as part of your regular lavender plant care routine. But using compost for lavender isn’t even required. My plants have been thriving for years on neglect, and I have never given them any fertilizer or compost.

Tips For Harvesting Lavender Flowers

The best time to cut lavender flowers is before the buds start to open, that is when the oils are the most potent. Harvest lavender in the morning for more concentrated oils.

If you waited too long to harvest, and the flowers have already opened, don’t worry. You can still cut the flowers and use them in your recipes and crafts, the oils just won’t be as potent. Learn exactly how to harvest lavender from your garden here.

How To Dry Lavender Flowers

If you want dried lavender flowers for crafting or to save for later, it’s easy to dry them. After cutting lavender flowers, you can simply bundle the entire bunch, tie the stems at the base, and hang them upside. Be sure to put the bundles in a cool, dry location to allow them to dry completely.

Or you can use a food dehydrator to get the job done much faster (which I always do because it makes the whole house smell amazing!). Get step-by-step instructions for drying lavender here.

Harvesting lavender flowers from the garden

Propagating Lavender Plants

Lavender plant propagation can be done either by rooting stem cuttings or by growing the seeds. If several young plants are growing in a grouping, then you can try splitting them up.

But since they are a shrub, mature lavender plants can’t be divided like many other types of perennials. So below I’ll stick to talking about how to grow lavender from cuttings or from seed.

Growing Lavender From Cuttings

To make it easier to grow lavender from cuttings, use stems that are several inches long and have 3-5 leaf nodes at the base. Lavender plant cuttings can be rooted in water or in soil.

To root the cuttings in soil, dip the stem into rooting hormone before placing it in the soil. Keep the air around the cuttings humid to encourage root growth.

It can take 3-6 weeks for lavender cuttings to root, so be patient. Adding bottom heat will help to speed things up. For more details, get my step-by-step instructions for how to propagate lavender plants from cuttings.

Growing lavender from cuttings

Growing Lavender From Seed

Lavender can be grown from seed, but the seeds are very slow to germinate so you need to have patience. If you plan to grow lavender seeds, just keep in mind that it can take a few years for the plants to grow large enough to flower. If you want to try growing them from seed, you can buy lavender seeds here.

You can also collect the seeds from you garden to use for growing new plants, which is always fun. That way you will have plenty of seeds to sow and experiment with! Learn how to how to collect lavender seeds from your garden.

Lavender seeds collected from my garden

Lavender Pest Control Tips

One of the best things about growing lavender (and herbs in general) is that you don’t have to worry about bugs or insect pests attacking your plants. In fact, the strong smelling oils in the plant can actually help to deter pests from the garden.

Lavender is also deer and rabbit resistant, which is even better news for those of us who have to fight those furry garden pests! Since the strong smell can repel pests from the garden, they make an excellent border plant to help protect other plants.

Tips For Pruning Lavender Plants

You’ll definitely want to add pruning to your lavender plant care checklist. Regular pruning will keep your plants full and looking their best, and will also give you the best harvest. The main thing to avoid when trimming lavender plants is over pruning. Never cut into the woody stems below new growth because they won’t regrow.

Prune your plants right after new growth has started in early spring, and then again in summer once the flowers start to fade. Summer pruning isn’t required, but you’ll usually get a second harvest if you do it. Learn exactly how to prune lavender plants step-by-step.

Caring For Lavender Plants In Winter

As long as you chose hardy lavender plants that are suitable to your growing zone, then you don’t have to give them any special winter care. I have been growing hardy English lavender plants in my zone 4b gardens for years, and have never given them any special care in winter.

But, if you live in colder climate, or you’re worried if your lavender will survive winter, then you could try protecting the plant. If you’re planning on preparing lavender for winter, you should give them some extra protection from the dry winter wind.

You can protect plants using burlap as a wind break or lightly mulching them. Just don’t mulch too heavily, and be sure to remove any winter protection in early spring once the harsh cold has subsided to ensure the plant doesn’t get too much moisture during the spring thaw.

But, just like with any plant, it can be really difficult to push lavender growing zones too much. So, the best way to ensure your plant will survive in harsh winter climates is to overwinter it indoors.

How To Care For Lavender Indoors

Lavender plant care indoors is a bit more difficult than it is outdoors. If you want to try growing lavender indoors, be sure to give it plenty of light, and take care not to overwater it – especially during the winter.

Lavender plants need plenty of light, so you should either grow it in a south facing window, or add a grow light. Do not fertilize plants growing indoors, especially during the winter. When growing lavender inside, be extra careful about watering. Allow the soil to dry out more indoors than you did outside.

You could also try overwintering lavender in a garage or basement, and allow the plants to naturally go dormant through the winter. Put the plant in a cool, dark location to trigger dormancy. Allow the soil to dry almost completely during dormancy, but don’t allow it to stay completely dry for too long.

Put the plant outside in late winter/early spring and slowly introduce it back to it’s full sun location. Here’s how to bring a plant out of dormancy without killing it.

Troubleshooting Problems Growing Lavender

Lavender is easy to care for and doesn’t have many problems. If you’re having problems growing lavender, then there’s something wrong with the growing conditions. Here are a few common lavender plant care problems, and how to fix them.

  • Lavender not blooming – If your lavender plants not flowering, then it’s likely either not getting enough sunlight, or it needs to be pruned. Providing full sun and pruning or deadheading the flowers are usually the best methods for getting lavender to bloom. However, lack of blooms could also be a sign that you over pruned. See the pruning section above to learn more.
  • Lavender not growing – Lavender is a fairly slow growing plant, especially if you started it from seed or propagated the cuttings. So sometimes you just have to be patient. However, if an established plant suddenly stopped growing well, then there may be a problem with the soil. First check to make sure it’s not being overwatered, and also that it’s getting enough water. Then test the soil to see if the pH is too acidic for the plant. See the watering and soil sections above for more details.
  • Lavender plant dying – As I said earlier in this post, the most common cause of lavender plant death is overwatering. So, if your lavender is dying, check the soil moisture level first. If you’re absolutely certain the plant is being watered correctly, then it may either be suffering from winter damage, or the plant is getting old and needs replacing.

Hardy English lavender plants growing in my garden

Where To Buy Lavender Plants

If you’re wondering where to purchase lavender plants, you should be able to find potted lavender plants for sale at your local garden center. They are most commonly sold during the spring and summer months. Be sure to check the variety before purchasing if you want something hardy to your growing zone.

You can also talk to your local garden center to see if you can special order lavender plants if they don’t carry any. Of course, you can always buy lavender plants online too, which is probably where you’ll find the best variety. And, you can always buy lavender seeds online too.

When it comes to growing herbs in the garden, lavender is a must for me! Since lavender plant care is so easy, they require very little maintenance, and you can easily grow them in pots or in the garden… well, there’s no reason NOT to grow lavender!

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Share your lavender plant care tips in the comments section below.

I live in zone 6b near Boston. I planted two small (maybe 4″) lavenders in pots six weeks ago–one in plastic and one in a fabric grow bag. They came from a greenhouse at a good local nursery, but I put them in full sun gradually after I repotted them. The plants have room to grow in their pots. I amended the potting mix with coarse sand and compost, but no fertilizer because I was told not to for lavender. I top dressed with pea gravel. I’ve been deathly afraid of over watering and have been giving them small amounts of water when they were dry several inches down and the moisture meter said they were dry. I planted hidcote and munstead. Some of the larger leaves on the hidcote turned yellow with crispy browntips. The roots are fine. There’s no fungus or rot and there’s new growth near the crown. It’s been boiling hot and very sunny here (90+). The soil pH is 7 and I don’t think there’s excessive nitrogen in the soil, which I read can also cause yellow leaves. I’ve been trying to figure this out for weeks, but everyone’s advice is either incomplete or contradictory.

I thought they looked unhappy after heavy rain so I bring them inside and put them under a grow light if heavy rains are forecasted. I’m sorry to go into so much detail, but I’ve been going a bit mad trying to figure this out.

Do you think the yellow leaves and crunchy brown tips could be from the shallow watering and letting the soil get very dry? Yesterday I switched to deep watering until the water runs out the bottom and then wait under the top two inches are dry. They don’t look thrilled today, slightly more yellow. Is there anything else I should/shouldn’t do? Will they just be a little confused until I get them on a better regime of deep waterings and drying out, but not completely dry?

Thank you for reading this novella and any help you can give me will be greatly appreciated.

10 Tips for Growing Lavender

When Debbie McDowell and her husband, Jim, moved from Houston to 23 acres of rolling farmland in Texas bluebonnet country, they decided to do something special.
The couple did their research and started planting lavender, an aromatic herb not often found on Texas farms. The flowers, they realized, wouldn’t just be beautiful. The oil from the plants could also be put to a variety of uses.
“Lavender is a natural antiseptic and can be used on burns, insect bites, cuts and other skin irritations,” Debbie says. “And of the course the camphor in the oil is great for stress, sleep, headaches, tension and so many other applications.”
After experimenting with a few plants in their first season, the McDowells began setting out groups of 600 plants. “Then we increased each new field to 1,500 plants,” Debbie says.
“Over time, we have learned how to manage this plant that is not native to our Texas climate. We’ve had lots of ups and downs, but we’re pleased to be able to produce a plant that most Texans don’t usually have an opportunity to experience.”
That was 12 years ago. Today Chappell Hill Lavender Farm in Brenham, Texas, has 4 acres dedicated to some 4,000 lavender plants. Other land is planted with herbs, berries and fruit trees.
“Maintenance is always an issue for the lavender,” Debbie adds, “so at this time, we don’t plan to expand past 4 acres.”
Lavender, she says, needs a dry, arid climate—“Certainly not what we have here in Texas!”
While the plants grow best with about 15 inches of rain a year, the farm gets around 39 inches in a normal year. Humidity is also a problem, since lavender can’t tolerate a lot of moisture in the soil or air. The McDowells compensate for the climate by planting two varieties, ‘Sweet’ and ‘Provence,’ both well-suited to their growing conditions. “They are considered hybrids and can withstand our heat and humidity better.”
From mid-April into June, the flowers of ‘Sweet’ lavender open at Chappell Hill Farm. ‘Provence’ blooms from late July through October, keeping the fragrant flower show going.
Each mature plant yields 300 to 400 stems during the blooming season. The McDowells sell bundles of the perfumed flowers or turn the oil from the plants into soaps, lotions, shampoos for pets, teas, coffees and more.
Other, shorter-stemmed varieties aren’t as good for bundling, Debbie says, but make great specimen plants. She says ornamental varieties like Spanish lavender, ‘Fern Leaf,’ and ‘Goodwin Creek’ do well in Texas, although she and Jim don’t grow them.
The farm’s lavender fields are planted each spring and fall. November is a good time to plant, Debbie says, when “the hot weather is over, but it’s not too cold, so the plants can get acclimated before the actual winter arrives.” Springtime is a bit trickier. By April, the temperatures are rising and there may be too much rain.
“Lavender is actually easy to grow, if you follow some guidelines.” Here are Debbie’s tips for successful growing:

Planting and Caring for Lavender in Pots

What could be more welcoming in a doorway or vestibule, than a big pot of lavender in full bloom cheerfully welcoming all passersby with its heavenly fragrance and colorful blossoms? Lavender (Lavandula) is a very attractive perennial which enjoys a long flowering season and is fairly easy to grow.

Select the Right Lavender

  • Since not all lavenders are hardy, containers provide the opportunity to grow lavender that would otherwise not be suited to your garden.
  • Any lavender variety will grow in a container and can be clipped in decorative balls and cones, but some are better suited than others. They produce flowers fast and maintain a manageable size in pots.

‘Thumbelina Leigh’

‘Rosea’

‘Munstead’

Planting Lavender in a Pot

  • Select a container that provides your Lavender enough room to grow. A 12-16 in. pot (30-40 cm) will be perfect. Make sure it has at least a 1/2-in. hole in the bottom. Add small stones for swift drainage.
  • Select a good sandy potting mix that easily drains water and fill the pot three quarters full. Add a tablespoon of lime.
  • Add your Lavender plant and fill the pot with soil within a couple of inches of the top. Firm the soil to remove air pockets. Your Lavender’s crown should stick up about 1 in. (2 cm) above the soil.
  • Water thoroughly
  • Add a 2 in. layer of mulch (5 cm) to help retain moisture.
  • Lavender requires at least 6 hours of sunshine per day. Shade reduces growth and fragrance. Place your container in a sunny location that is sheltered from the wind.

‘Nana Alba’

‘Hidcote’

‘Little Lottie’

Caring for Potted Lavender

  • Once established, lavender is fairly drought-tolerant. However, it grows bigger and is more floriferous with regular watering, specifically when planted in containers. Water when the soil is dry and then drench so that water flows freely out the bottom of pots.
  • Feed weekly with a liquid fertilizer to encourage more prolific flowering and improved flower color.
  • Overwintering: If you live in a climate where the winters are harsh, store your potted lavender plants in a garage or indoors during the winter to protect them. The plants need very little water from November to February. Wait until the pot is noticeably lighter or even until plants start to wilt and then water only on top of the compost. Do not fertilize in the period of dormancy.

‘Royal Splendour’

‘Ballerina’

pedunculata

Pruning Potted Lavender

Pruning your Lavender will prevent your shrub from turning to wood. This is important because the parts of the plant that turn to wood will not produce new lavender stalks. Pruning once a year is great. Pruning twice a year is better.

  • When pruning your Lavender, never cut into the woody part of your Lavender. Always make sure to leave the leafless wood intact, since cutting it could injure the plant. A good rule is to prune two leaf sets above the woody part. This will encourage stable growth and a healthier, thicker lavender plant.
  • Always use a very clean set of pruning shears or secateurs that have been washed clean of dirt and disinfected with a bleach solution. Taking this precaution will help ensure that your Lavender plant doesn’t pick up a bacterial disease. You should also make sure the shears are very sharp, so that they make a clean cut that will heal over quickly.
  • While pruning in spring can delay flowering, it is a good time to trim away dead or damaged parts. Prune your Lavender plants just as the new growth begins, cutting back as to leave some new shoots at the base of each branch.
  • In late summer or early fall, after the last flush has faded, prune your Lavender stems down to an inch above the wood. This will provide better air circulation.

Your Guide to Growing and Harvesting Lavender

Whether you’re in town or the country, lavender is essential for bringing casual elegance to your garden. Growing lavender is as easy as cooking a roast in a crock pot: you set it and forget it. All thrive in full sun and well-drained soil; add organic matter to improve heavy soils, but otherwise these lovely, fragrant perennial herbs are a cinch to plant, a breeze to grow, and as laid back to preserve as an afternoon in Provence.

You may know lavender by its scent, but that’s only one of this herb’s endearing qualities. Lavender is easy to grow in the West’s warm, dry climates, requiring little in the way of pest control, fertilizer, and, once established, water. Its scent is soothing, which is why its essential oil is a prized ingredient in many aromatherapy products, such as lotions and candles. And you can even cook with lavender flowers.

Photo by Linda Lamb Peters

How to Plant

Look for cutting-grown, rather than seed-started lavender plants (most nurseries can provide this information), especially for hedges, since the ultimate size of seed-grown lavender can vary. Most kinds will thrive for about 12 years before they need replacing.

Growing Conditions

Lavender needs full sun and well-drained soil. Where soil drains poorly, grow lavender in raised beds. Set full-size varieties 3 to 4 feet apart, dwarf types 18 inches apart. Mulch with decomposed granite or gravel—not compost.

Courtesy of High Country Gardens

Pruning Tips & Plant Care

Irrigate deeply but infrequently, when the soil is almost dry. Lavender plants require little or no fertilizer.

Prune every year immediately after bloom. Cut back 2- to 4- foot tall varieties by a third, low-growing type by 2 to 4 inches. If you won’t be harvesting the blooms of repeat performers, such as Spanish lavender, cut off faded lavender flowers to keep new ones coming.

Snip stems when the bottom third of their blossoms are open; not all blooms are ready to cut at the same time. Remove leaves from the stems, gather stems in bunches, and secure each bundle with a rubber band. Use no more than 100 stems per bundle.

About Lavender Varieties

Lavender is grown for numerous purposes: essential oil, crafting, culinary use; pick the best varieties for your desired use. At Havenhill Lavender Farm farm in Silverton, Oregon Trina Riemersma grows the varieties listed below.

Courtesy of Woodinville Lavender Fields

• English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) Sunset climate zones 2-24. A sweetly fragrant lavender used for perfume and sachets; also good for flavoring ice cream, jams, meat rubs, and pastries.

Riemersma grows ‘Buena Vista’ lavender ― with fragrant, dark blue-purple flowers ― because it’s the perfect complement to savory dishes and sweet desserts (Lavandula angustifolia ‘Mun-stead’ and ‘Hidcote’ can also flavor food). She uses it to enhance blackberry jam and shortbread cookies and as a rub (along with rosemary) for cedar-planked salmon with lavender-honey glaze.

Most varieties form mounds of foliage up to 2 feet tall. Unbranched stems rise above fragrant gray-green or silvery foliage; flowers are white, pink, lavender-blue, or various shades of purple.

‘Munstead’ English lavender blooms are valued for their rich coloring and long bloom season. They dry well. Photo by Saxon Holt

• ‘Grosso’ is a widely planted commercial variety in France and Italy; possibly the most fragrant lavandin of all. Compact growth to 2½ ft. tall and wide. Silvery foliage; large, conical spikes of violet-blue flowers with darker calyxes. Often repeats bloom in late summer. Excellent for drying.

• ‘Provence’ may often be described as the perfume lavender, but this selection doesn’t produce the kind of oil used in perfumery (we find it’s better for cookies). It grows 2 ft. tall, with fragrant violet-blue flowers that dry well. If you just want an attractive hedgerow for lining walkways and driveways, try growing this lavender.

• Spanish lavender (L. stoechas) Zones 4-24. Stocky plants grow to 3 ft. tall with gray or gray-green leaves. Bracts resemble rabbit ears; they come in shades of purple and pink. Blooms spring into summer.

• Edelweiss – This is a medium-sized plant with white flowers, primarily grown as a landscaping plant.

Linda Lamb Peters

Lavender Care

Lavender is the absolute easiest thing in the world to grow. Here are some tips:

Plant lavender in full sun and well-drained soil (add organic matter to improve heavy soils). Starting with the proper conditions is essential for successfully growing lavender.

Water plants deeply but infrequently, when the soil is almost dry.

Prune every year immediately after bloom. For low-growing lavenders, trim back foliage 1 to 2 inches. Starting in a plant’s second year, all 2- to 4-foot lavenders should be cut back by about a third to keep the plant from getting overly woody. If a plant becomes woody and open in the center, remove a few of the oldest branches; take out more when new growth starts. If this doesn’t work, it’s time to dig out the plant and replace it. (Some commercial growers replace plants after 10 to 12 years.)

If you won’t be harvesting the blooms of repeat performers, such as Spanish lavender, cut off faded lavender flowers to keep new ones coming. Snip stems when the bottom third of their blossoms are open; not all blooms are ready to cut at the same time. Remove leaves from the stems, gather stems in bunches, and secure each bundle with a rubber band. Use no more than 100 stems per bundle.

Harvest for sachets and potpourri by cutting flower spikes or stripping flowers from stems just as blossoms show color; dry in a cool, shaded place.

Tips for Starting A Lavender Farm

Thinking of starting your own lavender farm? Whether you want to start growing lavender en masse for fun or for profit, know what you’re getting into. Question locals about life in the new community before you begin your new dream life as a lavender farmer (which, the more we think about it, sounds pretty dang amazing). Assess what’s needed to make the new place livable, and how much you can do yourself. And while you’re at it,maybe consider adding a few bee boxes, to help your new invertebrate neighbors out.

Photo by Steven Gunther

Lavenders by Mail

If you can’t find the variety you want locally, try one of these sources.

; 800/925-9387.
; 503/543-7474.
; 800/846-7359.

Leigh Clapp

Climate Lavenders thrive in warm, temperate climates, but also grow in cool and cold areas, depending on the variety. As natives of the Mediterranean, they ideally like their summers hot and dry, and winters cool. English lavender does not tolerate humid summers very well, but other lavenders will happily grow in areas of mild humidity. Frost tolerance varies with the species, so check plant labels before buying.

Aspect Plant in full sun and protect from strong winds. If there are spots in the garden that bask in the hot afternoon heat, plant lavenders – they will love it! However, lavenders will also grow in semi-shade, provided the soil conditions are met.

Leigh Clapp

Soil These plants grow best in fertile, well-drained soil. If the soil does not drain well, consider raised garden beds or pots. Before planting, enrich soil with compost or manure. Where soils are strongly acidic, a dose of lime is beneficial.

Water Once established, these plants are drought hardy, but an occasional deep soak during dry spells will help them through the warmer months. Just don’t overwater – they don’t like wet feet.

Leigh Clapp

Fertiliser Feed regularly through the flowering season with a liquid fertiliser. After flowering, feed with a general purpose, slow-release fertiliser.

Leigh Clapp

Maintenance Remove spent flowers and trim lightly after flowering. Once plants are established, trim them back by up to one-third. This will help rejuvenate the plants and encourage growth. And if you’d like to increase your stocks of lavender, use a few pieces as cuttings – here’s how.

Winter Care For Lavender Plants

Preparations for Cold Weather Conditions

Lavender plants as easy as they are to grow under the right conditions will need some care during the winter months to assure a healthy start the next spring. Here you will learn what to do to help your Lavender overwinter with the least amount of stress and problems.
Begin in the fall by inspecting your plantings and prune off any dead, limp or unsightly growth. This is not the best time to give your plant a hard pruning for those of you with cold harsh freezing winters. If you are blessed with healthy plants you may not need to do any pruning until spring.
You also will want to make sure that there are no winter debris such as autumn leaves or plant material from nearby plants smothering your plantings. A pile of leaves will get dampened by winter precipitation and hold moisture causing disease, die back or totally kill your plant.
Even though it is winter you will need to see that good air circulation is maintained. Try to avoid leaving your plants under a pile of damp snow for very long.
Some of you live in areas where there is frequent freezing and thawing which creates dampness. If you planted your Lavender in fast draining soil then applying a layer of mulch will help regulate soil temperatures.
It’s ok for the ground to be frozen for the cold hardy types. It’s the freezing, thawing, freezing, thawing that sometimes causes problems due to all the moisture accumulation and water runoff around the roots. Container plantings may need to be moved inside or to a more sheltered location.
Taking the time to plant your Lavender correctly from the start with a good draining gritty soil is often times the best winter preparation of all to assure you see those purple flower blooms again come spring.
There are different varieties of Lavender and some are better suited than others for different geographical regions so don’t despair if you have lost your plant. There are even some types that fair better for those of you in the south.
You can always grow your favorite Lavender in a pot and then overwinter it inside or in a sheltered garden shed as long as you provide an adequate light source. Learn more about growing Lavender indoors. Taking care to follow a few simple preparations allows you to return the favor and provide winter stress relief for your Lavender.

Go back to Lavender Plant Care



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