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 keep a manageable size in pots.
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 3/4. 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.
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 very hard, 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.
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.