How to Grow Lavender: Tips and Tricks for Beautiful Blooms

Lavender infuses the air with its heavenly fragrance and graces gardens with its effortless elegance. Lavender’s low maintenance requirements make it an absolute joy for green thumbs of all levels. It promises to add a burst of color and a touch of tranquility to your outdoor sanctuary. In this guide we are going to walk you through how to grow lavender so your garden comes alive with the soothing spirit of lavender!

Lavendula angustifolia, commonly known as Lavender, thrives in hot sunny locations. Once established it will survive most conditions. However the one thing it doesn’t like is wet soil so it’s important to choose a spot with good drainage.

While easy to grow, starting new lavender plants can be a little challenging. We are going to cover your options so you can decide which is the best way to begin your lavender garden. Once your lavender starts growing, it is easy gardening! With just a little care, your lavender plant will bloom beautifully and fill your garden with its sweet fragrance.

Benefits and Uses of Growing Lavender

Growing lavender not only adds beauty and fragrance to your garden, but it also offers a range of benefits and uses. Here are some of the ways you can benefit from growing lavender:

  • Aromatherapy – My favorite use of lavender is in candles. It is a popular herb for aromatherapy due to its calming and relaxing properties. You can dry lavender flowers to make sachets, potpourri, or essential oils. The scent of lavender can help reduce stress, anxiety, and promote better sleep.
  • Culinary Uses – Lavender flowers can be used to add flavor and aroma to dishes. Use fresh or dried lavender flowers to make tea, baked goods, and even cocktails. Lavender adds a floral and slightly sweet flavor to food and drinks. The color of the flowers adds a beautiful touch to foods.
  • Insect Repellent – Lavender is a natural insect repellent. The scent of lavender can repel mosquitoes, flies, and other insects. You can plant lavender around your garden or use lavender essential oil to keep insects away.
  • Ornamental Plant – Lavender is a beautiful and versatile plant that can add color and texture to your garden. It comes in different varieties and colors, including pink, purple, and white. Lavender can be planted in borders, rock gardens, or containers.
  • Attracts Pollinators – The fragrance of lavender will bring bees, butterflies and other pollinators to your garden.

Overall, growing lavender is a great addition to any garden because it has such a wide variety of uses. Best of all, it is a low-maintenance plant that can thrive in different soil types and climates.

Quick guide to growing lavender, tips on a green background.

Getting Started Growing Lavender

The best way to grow lavender is from cuttings. It is the only way to be certain you maintain the desired characteristics of this herb. Lavender plants grown from seed don’t always grow true to the mother plant.

Lavender can be grown from seed, cuttings or readily purchased as plants in garden center. In the case of lavender, there are significant pros and cons of each growing method. Depending upon your goals you may find one method better than the other for your herb garden.

Growing lavender from Cuttings: Step by Step

Growing lavender from cuttings is the only way to ensure that your plants will be identical to the original plant. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Take a cutting from a healthy lavender plant that is at least 4 inches long.
  2. Remove the leaves from the bottom half of the cutting.
  3. Dip the bottom of the cutting in rooting hormone to encourage root growth.
  4. Plant the cutting in a pot with well-draining soil.
  5. Water the cutting regularly and keep it in a sunny location.
  6. Once the cutting has rooted and is growing well, you can transplant it to your garden.

Lavender is one of the herbs that your success rate will be higher if you use a rooting hormone. And while lavender plants like well drained soil, during this initial root development you need to ensure the soil doesn’t dry out completely.

Pros and Cons of Growing Lavender from Cuttings

We recommend starting new plants from cuttings for 3 reasons:

  • It is the easiest way to grow lavender.
  • Cuttings insure consistency in the lavender plant’s characteristics.
  • This is often the only way to add unique varieties to your herb garden.
seeds of lavender next to seed package
Tiny, tiny seeds!

Growing from Seed: Step by Step

It’s hard to admit, but I have failed at growing lavender from seed more often than I have succeeded. Why? It’s that 3 to 4 week germination period that catches me. It’s a really long time to monitor soil moisture and temperatures. So I tend to loose my seeds to soil that gets too dry because I’ve been distracted for a couple of days. I’m just not good with “needy” plants.

If you are better at monitoring your seed germination, then you should have success with growing lavender from seed if you follow the basic steps that are used for germinating most seeds.

  1. Start by selecting high-quality lavender seeds from a reputable supplier.
  2. Plant the seeds in a pot with well-draining soil.
  3. Cover the pot with plastic wrap to create a greenhouse effect.
  4. Water the seeds regularly and keep them in a warm location.
  5. Once the seedlings have sprouted, move to a sunny location.
  6. When they are growing well, you can transplant them to your garden.

An additional piece of advice, when creating your greenhouse effect to hold in moisture remember that lavender is susceptible to rot and mildew if it has wet feet. First, ventilate if the plastic cover is building up a lot of condensation. And make sure you remove any plastic covering at the first sign of growth.

Pros and Cons of Growing Lavender from Seed

The biggest challenge with growing lavender from seed is the long period before you have a plant ready to go into the garden. You should start your seeds indoors 3 months before you want to plant them outside.

Growing lavender from seed may be the only place you can find some of the varieties we’ve listed below. One of the things we love about lavender is the large number of unusual varieties available. You could easily have a whole lavender garden and each plant be unique!

Selecting Plants from your local Garden Center

For a newbie, I highly recommend your first lavender plants are purchased from your local garden center. I want you to succeed in establishing an amazing herb garden and figuring out how to grow lavender can be a tough one for new gardeners.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Look for plants that are healthy and free from pests and diseases.
  • Choose plants that are well-suited to your climate and growing conditions.
  • Make sure the plants have been properly cared for and are not root-bound in their containers.

The only downside to garden centers is they have a very limited selection of varieties. The good news is that lavender is such a popular plant you will find some of the more unusual varieties for sale as plants at specialty nurseries.

woman wearing gloves as she transplants lavender into her herb garden

Where to Plant Lavender

When it comes to growing lavender, the location of your planting spot is crucial to its success. Lavender is a hardy plant, but it requires specific growing conditions to thrive.

Lavender grows best in full sun, so choose a spot that receives six to eight hours of direct sunlight each day. Avoid planting lavender in shady areas where it will be overshadowed by trees or other large plants.

Lavender also prefers well-draining soil, so make sure to choose a spot that doesn’t have standing water after rain. If your soil is heavy or clay-like, add massive amounts of organic matter to improve the soil.

Care and Maintenance of Lavender

Once lavender is established in your herb garden, it becomes a very low maintenance plant. All the work you did to propagate this lovely plant pays off! Here’s a couple of tips to ensure an abundance of lavender.

Planting Lavender

When planting lavender, choose garden beds that receive at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight per day. Lavender prefers warm, dry conditions and does best in well-draining soil that is slightly alkaline. If your soil is too acidic, you can add lime to raise the pH.

When planting lavender, make sure to space the plants at least 12 to 18 inches apart to allow for good air circulation. To plant lavender, dig a hole that is slightly larger than the root ball of the plant. Place the plant in the hole and backfill with soil, making sure to tamp down the soil around the plant to remove any air pockets. Water the plant thoroughly after planting.

Watering and Fertilizing Lavender

Water lavender deeply, but infrequently. Water the plant when the soil is dry to the touch, but do not overwater as this can lead to root rot. In general, lavender needs about 1 inch of water per week.

Lavender does not require a lot of fertilizer, but you can apply a balanced fertilizer in the spring if desired. Be careful not to over-fertilize, as this can lead to leggy growth and fewer flowers.

Pruning Lavender

Lavender responds better if you leave the stems over winter. Then in the early spring, prune back after new growth has started to encourage bushy growth. After the first bloom, prune the plant back by about one-third to promote a second bloom.

To prune lavender, use sharp, clean shears and make cuts just above a set of leaves. Avoid cutting into old wood, as this can damage the plant.

Bundle of lavender stems

Choosing the Right Lavender Variety for Your Garden

In this article we focused on growing English Lavender, which is the most commonly grown in the United States. However there are other types of lavender that you should consider if you want a little more variety in your garden. Most of these are only hardy perennial in the far South of the US, but can be grown in containers and brought inside for the winter. However you’ll find a wide variety of English Lavender varieties available for Northern climates.

Common NameScientific NameCharacteristics
English LavenderLavandula angustifolia– Narrow leaves
– Typically has a deep purple color
– Most commonly used for essential oils due to its high quality
– Hardy to zone 5 and can withstand cold temperatures
French LavenderLavandula stoechas– Recognizable by its pineapple-shaped blooms
– Bracts (bunny ears) on top of the flower spike
– Often used for landscaping and decorative purposes
– Less hardy compared to English lavender, zones 8-10
Portuguese LavenderLavandula latifolia– Also known as “Spike lavender”
– Broad leaves
– Stronger, more camphor-like scent compared to English lavender
– Less cold-tolerant and more suited to warmer climates, zones 6-9
Spanish LavenderLavandula stoechas
subsp. pedunculata
– Similar to French lavender in appearance
– Often has a shorter bloom period
– Used for both ornamental and oil production, though oil is different from English lavender oil
– Grows wild in Spain and is adapted to the Mediterranean climate, zones 8-10

Please note that this chart provides a simplified comparison and there are more varieties and hybrids within the genus Lavandula that offer a range of scents, colors, and growth habits. Each type of lavender has its own unique qualities and preferred growing conditions.

How to Grow Lavender in Pots

Growing lavender in pots is a great way to enjoy this fragrant herb in smaller spaces, like balconies or patios. Containers also open your home to some of the types of lavender that only grow in warm climates. Here are some tips to help you successfully grow lavender in pots.

Best Pot Size and Potting Soil

When it comes to pot size, choose a container that is at least 12-16 inches (30-40 cm) wide and deep. Lavender has a deep root system, so a larger pot will give it enough space to grow. Make sure the pot has drainage holes at the bottom to prevent waterlogging.

For potting soil, use a well-draining mix that is rich in organic matter. You can mix equal parts of perlite, sand, and potting soil to create a suitable growing medium for lavender. Avoid using heavy soils that retain water, as lavender prefers dry conditions.

Water and Sun Requirements

Lavender is a drought-tolerant plant that requires minimal watering. Once established, water your lavender only when the top inch of soil is dry to the touch. Overwatering can cause root rot and kill the plant.

Place your container-grown lavender in a sunny spot that receives at least eight hours sunlight per day. Lavender likes heat and requires plenty of sunlight to thrive. If you live in a hot climate, make sure to provide some shade during the hottest part of the day to prevent the plant from getting scorched. With proper care, your lavender plant will thrive and reward you with its lovely blooms and scent.

Lavender essential oil in brown bottles with lavender blooms sprinked at the base

Common Problems and Solutions

Lavender is a relatively low-maintenance plant, but it can still experience problems. Here are some common issues you might encounter when growing lavender, and how to solve them.

Common Pests

Pests can be a problem with lavender, but they are generally easy to control. Here are some common pests that might affect your lavender plants:

AphidsSticky residue on leaves, yellowing leaves, stunted growthSpray with neem oil or insecticidal soap
Spider mitesWebbing on plant, yellowing leaves, stunted growthSpray with neem oil or insecticidal soap
WhitefliesSticky residue on leaves, yellowing leaves, stunted growthSpray with neem oil or insecticidal soap
Snails and slugsHoles in leaves, slime trails on plantHandpick or use slug bait

Disease Management

Lavender is susceptible to several fungal diseases that can cause problems. Here are some common diseases that might affect your lavender plants:

Root rotWilting, yellowing leaves, stunted growthImprove drainage, remove affected plants
FungusBrown spots on leaves, wilting, yellowing leavesRemove affected leaves, spray with fungicide
Bacterial leaf spotBrown spots on leaves, wilting, yellowing leavesRemove affected leaves, spray with copper fungicide

Other Common Problems

In addition to pests and diseases, there are a few other common problems that you might encounter when growing lavender:

  • Overwatering: Lavender prefers well-drained soil, so overwatering can cause root rot. Make sure to let the soil dry out between watering.
  • Poor soil quality: Lavender prefers slightly alkaline soil with good drainage. If your soil is too acidic or clay soil, amend it with lime or sand.
  • Improper pruning: Lavender needs to be pruned regularly to prevent it from becoming too woody. Prune in the spring, and after each bloom.

Harvesting and Using Lavender

Harvesting Lavender

When it comes to harvesting lavender, timing is everything. You want to harvest your lavender when the flowers have just opened and the buds are still tightly closed. This is when the essential oils are at their peak, making for the most fragrant and flavorful lavender. You can usually harvest twice, first in mid summer and then again in late summer.

To harvest your lavender, cut the stems with a sharp pair of scissors or pruning shears. Cut the stems just above the first set of leaves, leaving enough stem to tie your lavender into bundles.

Preservation and Storage

To preserve your lavender, you can dry it by hanging it upside down in a warm, dry place with good airflow. Once your lavender is dry, you can store it in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for up to a year.

Lavender essential oil is also a popular way to enjoy the fragrance of lavender. You can make your own essential oil by distilling lavender flowers in a carrier oil like olive oil or jojoba oil.

Culinary Use of Lavender

Lavender is a versatile herb that can be used in a variety of sweet and savory dishes. Its floral and slightly sweet flavor pairs well with honey, lemon, and berries. To use lavender in cooking, simply strip the flowers off the stems and add them to your recipe.

My favorite ice cream store custom makes a lavender ice cream that I lover. Here are a few other ideas to use lavender in cooking include:

  • Adding it to baked goods like scones, muffins, and shortbread cookies
  • Infusing it into honey or sugar for a sweet, floral flavor
  • Adding it to lemonade or other drinks for a refreshing twist
2 lavender candles with a bundle of lavender next to them

Making Lavender Crafts and Products

Lavender is not just for cooking – it can also be used to make a variety of crafts and products. Its calming fragrance makes it a popular choice for sachets and other scented items. Here are some ideas for using lavender in your crafts:

  • Making lavender sachets to freshen up your drawers or closets
  • Creating lavender-infused oils or lotions for your skin
  • Making lavender-scented candles or soaps
  • Using dried lavender in potpourri or wreaths

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it easy to grow lavender?

Yes, lavender is generally an easy plant to grow. It requires minimal maintenance and can thrive in a variety of growing conditions. As long as you provide it with the right amount of sunlight, well-draining soil, and occasional watering, your lavender should grow well.

How long does it take for lavender to grow?

Lavender can take anywhere from two to three years to reach maturity. However, you should be able to start harvesting the flowers after the first year of growth. Once established, lavender can live for up to 15 years or more.

What are the best growing zones for lavender?

Lavender is native to the Mediterranean region, so it thrives in warm, sunny climates. It does best in USDA hardiness zones 5-9, but can also grow in zone 4 with proper winter protection.

Can lavender be grown in pots?

Yes, lavender can be grown in pots. It is important to choose a pot that is large enough to accommodate the plant’s root system and to use well-draining soil. Lavender also requires good air circulation, so make sure to place the pot in a location with plenty of sunlight and air movement.

Do lavender plants come back every year?

Yes, lavender is a perennial plant that will come back every year with proper care. It is important to prune the plant regularly and to provide it with the right growing conditions to ensure its longevity.

A Few Last Thought About How to Grow Lavender in your Herb Garden

Don’t miss out on incorporating lavender into your herb garden. The benefits range from its captivating fragrance to its diverse uses in cooking, medicinal remedies, and aromatherapy.

Even novice gardeners can enjoy the splendor and utility of this hardy and enchanting herb. New gardens should consider starting with nursery grown plants for the greatest success. You can then branch out to starting seeds and cuttings once you are comfortable with meeting this herbs needs.

A few key care tips include selecting the appropriate variety for your climate, preparing the soil with good drainage and ensuring ample sunlight.

Regular pruning will encourage growth and prevent woodiness. And timing of your harvest when flowers are still in bud will capture the essence of lavender at its peak.

You can feel confident that your herb garden will be graced with the presence of this beautiful and versatile plant for years to come. Embrace the journey of growing lavender, and let your garden be a sanctuary of sensory delights, a haven for pollinators, and a source of natural beauty and utility.

How to grow lavender guide! Check it out, filled with tips and tricks.
The herb gardener's guide to growing lavender! Get your garden started right with these tips.