Want to know all about growing and planting lavender? We’ve got everything you need in this how-to guide.
We’ll look at:
- the different types of lavender
- when and where to grow lavender
- how to look after lavender plants in the garden
- growing lavender in containers
The good news is that lavender care is pretty straightforward. And if you’ve ever wondered about growing lavender indoors we’ve got some top tips for how to do it below.
Types of lavender
If you are thinking about growing lavender there are lots of different types to choose from.
- English lavender – Lavandula angustifolia
- French lavender – Lavandula stoechas
- Spanish lavender – Lavandula latifolia, Lavandula pedunculata, Lavandula viridis
- Lavender hybrids – Lavandula intermedia, Lavandula chaytoriae
- Lavenders that like hotter conditions – Lavandula canariensis, Lavendula dentata, Lavandula lanata, Lavandula pinnata
English lavender and hybrids of English lavender (such as Lavandula intermedia) are hardy plants, which means they live outdoors all year round in a temperate climate, as long as they don’t get waterlogged in winter.
French lavender looks a little different from English lavender, with pretty purple tufts or ‘ears’ sticking up on the flowers like the one pictured above. There are other types of lavender from Spain, Portugal, Madeira, and the Canary Islands. These often have those cute tufted flowers too. Lavender plants come in lots of different colors from deep purple to pale blue, pink, and white.
When can I plant lavender?
If you are planting in your garden, the best time is spring – April and May are usually ideal although it depends on your local climate of course. Garden centers have a good supply of small plants at this time of year.
Avoid planting lavender in the winter, whether you are putting them in the garden or in pots because they really hate cold damp soil. If you have the right conditions indoors you might be able to start them in the colder months though – read on for more about growing lavender indoors.
Where can I plant lavender?
The great thing about lavender is its versatility. It’s perfect in garden beds and borders, and it will also grow in containers. It makes a great hedge in a front garden. If you plant it close to a path you will get the beautiful fragrance every time you walk by. It makes a lovely addition to a herb garden or a rock garden too.
All lavenders are best suited to a Mediterranean climate – think hot, dry, and sunny. They do not like being planted in damp cold ground or heavy soil that doesn’t drain easily.
Choose the right spot in your garden to plant lavender – they like plenty of sun and free-draining soil. If you have wet heavy soil (such as clay) try growing your lavender in pots or raised beds instead.
- Dig the ground over and get rid of any weeds
- If you have more than one plant they should have about a 3ft space between them
- If you want to grow a hedge, plant lavender closer together – about 1ft apart
- Water your plants often in the first year, particularly in hot dry weather
Plant lavender in containers
Lavender loves to grow in pots and will look fantastic on a patio in summer. As with all containers they will need watering, but they don’t like the soil to be damp and will cope with dry spells very well.
You can choose any multi-purpose compost for your containers. As long as the soil is free-draining and the plants are not sitting in wet soil they should grow just fine. Mixing some grit into the soil (about 25% grit, 75% soil) will help with drainage.
What size pot for lavender? Something that’s at least 12-16 inches across is great. You can try smaller pots, but they will need watering more often so that the compost doesn’t dry out. Make sure your container has lots of drainage holes.
What about growing lavender indoors?
If you have the right conditions you can try growing lavender indoors. Lavender plants like full sun best, so your pots need as much light as possible.
- Make sure you give them at least 4 hours of direct sunlight every day
- Try a sunny windowsill that faces south or west
- Lavender plants don’t like humidity and do best in dry, sunny conditions – just like the Mediterranean regions that they naturally thrive in
- A breeze from an open window a few hours a day will help your plants to grow
- It’s a good idea to give each plant a separate pot to make sure the roots are getting enough space to breathe
- Lavender likes poor soil, so you should not need to use fertilizer on your indoor plants
- Avoid over-watering – the soil should look dry before you water again each time, to avoid the roots rotting
Once your lavender plants in the garden borders are established and growing they don’t usually need watering. Remember these plants love hot, arid conditions.
For lavender in pots, water from time to time in the summer months if you see the compost is dry. In the winter the plants prefer to be dry and cold rather than damp and cold, so watering isn’t necessary most of the time.
You may need to protect your pots from frost if you have lavenders that are used to warm climates and you live in a colder climate. Check the labels on the plants you buy to see what’s best for that variety.