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how to grow lavender

How to Grow Lavender

Lavender (Lavandula)

Lavender is an outstanding perennial flower and a great plant to attract butterflies, bees, and other pollinators to your garden. This Mediterranean native is now cultiavated, grown, and loved around the world. Grow them alongside your herb garden, in a perennial flower bed, or in containers where you can enjoy their fragrance up-close. Follow our guide to growing Lavender plants, and you'll be delighted with their beauty and usefulness in your garden! 


When & Where to Plant Lavender

Light: Lavender needs full sun and well-drained soil to grow best. In hot summer climates, afternoon shade may help them thrive.

Soil: Lavender grows best in low to moderately-fertile soils, so don't amend the soil with organic matter before planting. Lavender performs best in neutral to slightly alkaline soils. Add lime to raise the soil pH to around 7.0 - we recommend performing a simple soil test for best results. 

Spacing: Depending on the variety, space plants 1 to 3 feet apart.

Planting Time: In areas colder than Zone 6 (Zone 6-1), we recommend planting in spring or early summer. In areas warmer than zone 6 (7-10), we recommend planting in early fall so the roots can get established during the cool, moist winter weather.

How To Plant Lavender: Step-By-Step Instructions

1. Start with healthy plants that have developed root systems.

2. Prepare a planting hole that's twice as deep and twize as wide as the root ball of your lavender plant. when planting multiple plants, you can amend the soil for each planting hole, or amend the whole bed before planting. In a container, prepare a well-draining soil mix by combining gravel or sand with soil. 

3. If the roots are clinging to the sides of the pot, you can "rough up" the roots to encourage outward growth.

4. Plant your lavender with the top of the root ball even with the soil line. Backfill soil around the plant and press firmly all around.

5. Water to compress the soil and remove an air pockets. In the coming weeks, only water your Lavender if both the plant and the overall conditions in your garden are very dry. Remember, Lavender thrives on fast-draining soil and does not prefer to have "wet feet," or standing water, which can cause roots to rot.

Always start with healthy plants that have developed root systems.
1. Always start with healthy plants that have developed root systems.
Lightly disturb the roots if they were clinging to the sides of the pot. Otherwise, leave them be.
3. Lightly disturb the roots if they were clinging to the sides of the pot. Otherwise, leave them be.
2. Prepare the hole for planting
2. Prepare the hole for planting
Plant your lavender even with the soil line and press firmly all around. Only water your lavender if both the plant and the overall conditions in your garden are very dry.
4. Plant your lavender even with the soil line and press firmly all around. Only water your lavender if both the plant and the overall conditions in your garden are very dry.

How To Care For Lavender Plants

  • Growth Habit: Lavender grows into a round, bushy shrub in warmer climates. It's a lower-growing perennial in colder climates. In humid climates, allow space for adequate airflow to prevent fungus or powdery mildew. Look at the varieties you're growing to determine their mature size.

  • Staking: Lavender plants range from 1 to 3 feet tall and wide and do not require staking.

  • Watering: Water young plants well. Once established, lavender is drought tolerant and doesn't need frequent watering. Over-watering is a common cause of stress to lavender plants.

  • Fertilizing: When it come to fertilizer, less is more with Lavender - as with watering. You should not need to feed your lavender plants.

  • Mulching: Since lavender is drought tolerant, it shouldn't need mulch to conserve soil moisture, other than extreme cases. If you do mulch, use small sized bark or gravel, and be sure to leave several inches clear around the plant crown, or your Lavender may rot. Light-colored gravel or sand mulch can help with drainage and keeping the soil and plant warm.

  • Trimming and Pruning: Lavender flowers in summer. The flower stalks can be harvested and used fresh or dried. Even if you aren't harvesting lavender flowers to use, deadhead (cut off) spent blossoms after the flowers fade to spruce up the plant and stimulate a second flowering. Lavender is a woody plant. It produces its best and most fragrant foliage and flowers from young stems. Prune 2-year and older plants in spring, cutting the woody stems back by one-third. This will stimulate new growth, which produces better foliage and flowering.

lavender with butterfly
Lavender is visited by many pollinators throughout the season.

End of Season Lavender Care

In the northern limit of its range, mulching Lavender plants in late fall will protect them from the winter's cold. Pile wood chips or bark mulch on the plants after a freeze. This will insulate them from the cold, but not cause them to rot. Remove the mulch in early spring.

Pests and Diseases: Pests & Diseases: Since lavender is very fragrant, many pests, such as deer and beetles, avoid this plant. However, in humid regions, powdery mildew and other fungus diseases can be a problem. Prevent fungal diseases from getting started by spacing plants further apart and in a location with good air circulation. This will keep the leaves dry and less likely to succumb to fungus.

Some insects, such as spittlebugs, whiteflies, and aphids, may attack your lavender as well. Knock insects off lavender with a strong stream of water from a hose. Also, sprays of insecticidal soap will kill these pests without harming other beneficial insects, wildlife, and pets. Spray early, before the pests become a big concern.

Dividing and Transplanting: Lavender does not survive well from being divided. To propagate lavender, take cuttings in the early summer. To make cuttings, select a healthy branch, take a 6 inch long cutting, remove the lower leaves, dip the cut end in rooting hormone powder, and place it into a pot filled with moistened potting soil or sand. Keep in a partly shady location and water well until rooted.

Another propagation method is layering. In spring, bend a healthy, 8-inch long, lower lavender branch to the ground, remove the leaves where it touches the ground, and scar the branch in that spot with a knife. Dust the wound with a rooting hormone powder, cover the wound with soil and leave the rest of the branch sticking out of the ground. It should root by the next year. Once rooted, cut it away from the mother plant, and transplant it to a new location.

Lavender also can self-sow if you leave the flower stalks on the plant. Decide if you want lots of baby lavenders in that area of the garden; otherwise deadhead regularly.


Learn More About Lavender: Extra Information & Resources

Learn More: How To Choose The Best Lavender

Culinary and Craft Uses: Lavender is used in foods, medicines, cosmetics, sachets, and potpourris, as well as in fresh and dried flower arrangements. Read more about which types of lavender to plant and its many culinary and aromatherapeutic uses:

Learn More: Lavender - A Treat For The Senses

Favorite Companions: If you're growing lavender in a perennial garden, plant it with other full-sun, well-drained-soil-loving plants such as Echinacea (Coneflowers), Sage (Salvia), Artemisia, Thyme, or Ornamental Grasses. It grows well in an herb garden with culinary oregano, thyme, rosemary, and sage, too. The classic companion for lavender is roses. Use it as an underplanting around old fashion heirloom rose varieties to create a stunning display of pastel colors and heady fragrances.

Learn More: All About Lavender

Ecological Uses: Lavender attracts butterflies, bees, and other beneficial insects to the garden, making it a great choice for pollinator gardens! It's also a natural pest and deer repellant, thanks to its high essential oil content.

Shop Lavender Plants