Growing Lavender: How to Grow & Care for Lavender Plants

growing lavender in containers gardening Growing lavender may seem challenging at first, but once you learn the basics of how to grow lavender it becomes much easier!

This beautiful and fragrant herbaceous perennial has many beneficial uses. No doubt, this is one of the reasons it is so popular. The plant is edible, so you can use it for tea or even use it in baking.

The lavender plant is often used in aromatherapy due to the calming and soothing effects of the scent. The essential oils of the plant are also very helpful for a number of other herbal home remedies. Lavender is on our list of plants that repel mosquitos in your yard!

Beyond being a useful plant, it is a very beautiful plant to have in your garden. Lavender can grow very well in containers and in raised garden beds. Depending on your climate, you may find that lavender grows much better in a container than it does in the ground.

Oh, and did we mention that lavender is a deer-resistant plant? If you have a lot of deer where you live who see your yard as a buffet, lavender is typically one plant they won’t want to eat!

Don’t forget to check out our post on lavender garden ideas inspiration of how lavender is grown around the world. From the fields of France to a window sill herb garden – you can learn how to grow lavender and enjoy all of its benefits!

How to Grow Lavender

growing lavender

Growing lavender is not difficult, but it is very important that you know what this plant requires.  Many people get discouraged when trying to learn how to grow lavender. This is usually because soil conditions are not ideal.

We have included directions for both planting outdoors and growing in containers. Growing in containers is recommended if you live in a very humid or damp climate that gets a lot of rainfall. If you live in a dry climate that does not have a lot of humidity, you will be able to grow outdoors without much problem.

Choosing the Variety of Lavender to Grow

There are many different types of lavender. English Lavender, known as Lavandula angustifolia, is most commonly grown in North America.There are a number of different names for the different seed and plant companies sell. The best bet for buying lavender is to go to a locally owned nursery or garden center in your area. These locally owned companies generally will stock the best choice for your region.

What kind of dirt is best for growing lavender?

Anytime you are growing an herb known for its essential oils, using the right type of dirt is critical. The right dirt will ensure you have a higher concentration of oils in the plant. This will make it more fragrant and potent, even if you do not plan to distill the plant for making essential oils.

Surprisingly, it is not the perfect moisture-rich type of dirt most gardeners envision but rather a more chalky/sandy type of silt the plant thrives in. This is the type of environment the plant is native to, and so it makes sense if you think of it that way.

Lavender prefers chalky soil, which means it is very alkaline. A pH of 7 or higher is ideal. If possible, you may want to test the pH of your soil before planting to make sure it is the right acidity.

You can purchase a pH soil meter to ensure you have the right pH conditions for growing lavender. If the soil is too acidic, adding a little garden lime to the potting mix can be helpful to raise the pH.

Lavender plants also require soil that is well-draining. The lavender plant does not like water! It does best in dry, arid climates with at least 6-7 hours of sunlight each day. 

If your soil is heavy or clay-based, you absolutely must mix it with sand to allow for better drainage. In addition to fixing soil conditions, you may also wish to use a layer of gravel underneath your soil. If you are planting outdoors, you can simply spread a layer of gravel and then mound on top with the soil so that the flowers are planted in mounds.

Lavender Does NOT Like Water!

Another concern with this plant is humidity. It does not do well in dampness or rainy conditions, so special care must be taken to make sure you do not overwater the plant.

Because humidity is such an issue, many people in humid parts of the United States will do a lot better-growing lavender in a container instead of in the ground. The advantage to having a 3-in-1 soil testing meter is that you can always check the moisture of the dirt in addition to the pH.

Overwatering is a common mistake many gardeners make while growing lavender. Too much water and moisture can be devastating for this plant.

Growing Lavender Outdoors

If you are planting lavender outdoors, it is recommended that you plant it in mounds, so that the soil can drain properly. You should not mulch around the base of the plant, as this can cause it to become too moist.

If you wish to give the plant extra protection over the winter months, it is better to use something that does not retain moisture, such as pea gravel in place of mulch.

Plants should be spaced at least 18″ apart from one another, to allow plenty of room for the plant to grow. Lavender plants can grow up to 20-24 inches tall and wide, so it’s important they have enough space!

Lavender also requires full sun when growing, so it is best to put it in a sunny spot that will receive at least 6 – 8 hours of direct sunlight each day.

If you are not able to do this outdoors where you live, the good news is you can grow lavender very successfully in containers. You can keep these containers indoors or you can always keep them on a deck in direct sunlight – just be sure they will not be subjected to any torrential downpours!

How to Grow Lavender In Containers / Indoors

If you live in a climate that is very humid or gets a lot of rainfall, growing lavender in containers is a smart choice. The plant typically does a lot better in containers in humid climates that are prone to a lot of rain or moisture. Any sort of container can work for growing lavender, but it is a good idea to make sure it is large enough. Most varieties of lavender can grow to be 24″ tall and wide.

You Will Need:

  • Lavender Plant (These varieties do well indoors)
  • Gravel Potting Soil {see notes above for the type of potting soil to use for lavender – should be well-draining and alkaline}
  • Garden Container {Ideally, no smaller than 12″}

In the bottom of the pot, you will want to put a 1-2 inch layer of gravel, then fill three-fourths of the way with dirt, and then place your plant in it and cover with the remainder of the dirt.

You may fertilize the dirt if you’d like, but it is typically not necessary. Dirt should be moist when planting but do take special care to make sure you do not overwater the plant.

Be Careful You Do Not Overwater Your Plant

Soil should be dry to touch before watering again – you do not want it to stay moist for any long period of time. When watering, always water at the base of the plant – do not let the leaves or stems become wet.

Make Sure Lavender Gets Penty of Sun

You should make sure you plant gets plenty of sunshine, so if you cannot grow it next to a window or even take it outside on a sunny day, you’ll want to invest in some good fluorescent sunlight lamps.

Keep the Area Well Ventilated

You will also want to make sure the area where the plant is growing is well ventilated, so in summer months if it is not outside, opening the window or providing a fan in the room can help with this as well.

Care & Propagating Lavender

It is recommended that once a year you re-pot the plant with fresh soil in the same fashion as when you originally planted it. You should prune your plants about once a year, cutting back any green growth and removing any dead stems and leaves as well.

Lavender is rather difficult to grow from seed, so if you want to grow more, it is typically best to do so with cuttings from the plant. This can be done by taking a cutting from the stem and then placing it in a jar of water with plenty of sunlight.

This is a great idea for something to do when you are ready to prune the plant in the fall.

Lavender is a perennial and is hardy in zones 5-9. This means if planted outdoors and is not subjected to too much moisture it will grow back in the spring.

It is a good idea if planting outdoors to not cover it with mulch, which can retain too much moisture, but instead, choose something such as gravel to help protect the plant over the winter months.

How to Harvest Lavender

Harvesting lavender is the best part, though it requires some patience because it may take some time before you see the flowers!

It is the flowers that contain the highest levels of essential oils and that give off the scent that so many people love. While lavender may not be everyone’s favorite culinary herb, it can be used in cooking.

Culinary uses typically are for baking and herbal tea infusions. Most people will use the flowers to make their own oils, potpourri, or use them in flower arrangements.

The flowers of the plant should be harvested in the early morning before the afternoon heat, as this is when the essential oils in the plant are the strongest. You will want to cut any stems that have flowers and then dry them.

Since lavender tends to fall apart as it dries, the best method for drying it is to spread it out on a cookie sheet or screen in a well-ventilated and warm room. Do not place it in the sun to dry, as this could cause it to lose some of its essential oils.

Many people will also dry their herbs by tying a brown paper bag around a bunch of stems and hang upside down. The paper bag collects any parts of the plant that might fall apart in the drying process and the brown paper bag will protect it from sunlight while it dries.

And there you have it, all of the basics on growing lavender! Have any questions about growing it or a tip you think might be useful to others? We welcome your comments in the section below!

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