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Learn How To Plant, Care and Grow Gorgeous Lavender

How to Plant Lavender, How to Grow Lavender, How to Care for Lavender Plants

Lavender, Lavender color, English Lavender, Lavender Flower, Spanish Lavender, Lavender bush, French Lavender, Types of Lavender, Lavandula, Lavandula angustifolia, Lavandula stoechas

A beloved favorite of Mediterranean gardens, Lavender (Lavandula) is a gifted shrub full of talents, including being delightfully scented. Blooming over a long season, it provides attractive evergreen foliage and can be used in many ways, such as edging, hedging, as an accent plant, or in patio containers. Easy to grow and drought-tolerant, Lavender has fairly limited needs.

What is Lavender?

Lavender is a perennial herb or small aromatic evergreen shrub in the mint family of flowering plants, Lamiaceae. There are 47 species native to the Old World, primarily in the Mediterranean region. Today, it is also grown in other parts of the world as an ornamental plant or for its essential oil.

Lavender varieties: There are 5 main types of Lavender: English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), French Lavender (Lavandula dentata), Portuguese Lavender (Lavandula latifolia), Spanish Lavender (Lavandula stoechas) and Lavandin (Lavandula x intermedia). The English Lavender is the most popular and widely cultivated species, followed by the Spanish Lavender and the Lavandin. Learn how to choose the right Lavender.

Hardiness: Most lavenders are hardy from Zones 5 to 9, except Spanish lavender, which is only hardy in Zones 8 to 9.

Flowers: Lavender flowers are available in a wide range of colors, including blue-violet, white, pink, and of course, a wide range of purples! Find your favorite Lavender by flower color.

Blooming season: Blooms occur from late spring to fall, depending on the species and the location. The blooming period can last for several weeks to a few months. Learn more about Lavenders and blooming seasons.

Size: Lavender bushes range in height from very compact plants that do not grow more than 12 in. (30 cm) to varieties that easily reach 3 ft. high. Dwarf varieties are ideal for containers, while the taller ones are great candidates for hedges.

Pollinators: The richly fragrant flowers attract bees, butterflies, and other pollinating insects to the garden.

Deer: Lavender is not generally a plant that deer or other animals seek out to eat, but if other food sources are scarce, they may come along and make a meal out of your plant.

Toxicity: The Lavender plant is toxic to dogs, cats, and horses.

Guide Information

Heat Zones 5 - 8
Plant Type Shrubs
Genus Lavandula
Exposure Full Sun
Maintenance Average
Water Needs Low
Soil Type Chalk, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Well-Drained
Characteristics Dried Arrangements, Cut Flowers, Fragrant, Showy, Evergreen
Tolerance Drought, Rabbit, Deer, Dry Soil, Rocky Soil
Attracts Bees
Landscaping Ideas Edging, Beds And Borders, Patio And Containers, Hedges And Screens
Garden Styles City and Courtyard, Coastal Garden, Cutting Garden, Gravel and Rock Garden, Informal and Cottage, Mediterranean Garden
Lavandula angustifolia ‘Munstead’ (Lavender)
Lavandula angustifolia ‘Rosea’ (Lavender)
Lavandula angustifolia ‘Thumbelina Leigh’ (Lavender)

How to Use Lavender Plants?

Lavender is a versatile plant that can be used in various ways, including:

  • Landscaping: Lavender adds a wonderful touch to flower borders, city gardens, coastal gardens, gravel gardens, cottage gardens, or herb gardens. It can be used as a low hedge or edging to a border. It also grows well in patio containers.
  • Aromatherapy: The essential oil is commonly used in aromatherapy to promote relaxation and reduce anxiety.
  • Culinary uses: The flowers can be used to add a unique floral flavor to dishes and desserts.
  • Decorative purposes: Dried flowers can be used to make wreaths, sachets, and potpourri for a pleasant fragrance.
  • Medicinal uses: This wonderful herb is known for its calming and soothing properties, and it has been used for centuries to help with various health issues, including anxiety, insomnia, and digestive problems.
  • Beauty and personal care: Lavender oil is a popular ingredient in many beauty and personal care products, such as soaps, lotions, and shampoos, due to its antiseptic and calming properties.
  • Insect repellent: Lavender oil can be used as a natural insect repellent to keep mosquitoes, moths, and other pests away.
  • Cleaning: Lavender oil can be added to cleaning products to provide a fresh, floral scent, and its natural antiseptic properties can help to kill bacteria and other germs.

Any Health Benefits?

Lavender is believed to have several health benefits, which are as follows:

  • Relaxation: The plant aroma is believed to have a calming and soothing effect, which can help reduce stress and promote relaxation.
  • Pain relief: The essential oil is believed to have pain-relieving properties and can be used topically to alleviate pain associated with sore muscles, headaches, and menstrual cramps.
  • Skin health: The essential oil is believed to have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, which can be beneficial for treating skin conditions such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis.
  • Sleep: Lavender is believed to have a calming effect that can promote better sleep. It is often used in aromatherapy to aid in sleep and reduce insomnia.
  • Digestive health: Thie herb is believed to have digestive properties that can help soothe an upset stomach, indigestion, and other digestive problems.
  • Respiratory health: The essential oil is believed to have respiratory benefits, which can help relieve symptoms of cough, cold, flu, and other respiratory conditions.
  • Headaches: The essential oil is believed to have headache-relieving properties and can be used topically or inhaled to alleviate headaches and migraines.

It is important to note that while lavender has been used for centuries for its potential health benefits, more research is needed to fully understand its effects on the body.

Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote’ (Lavender)
Lavandula angustifolia ‘Little Lottie’ (Lavender)
Lavandula angustifolia ‘Nana Alba’ (Lavender)

When to Plant Lavender?

  • The best time to plant this wonderful shrub in the garden is in the spring after the soil has warmed up to at least 60°F (15°C) and the threat of frost has passed.

Where to Plant Lavender?

  • Hardiness: Lavender performs well in USDA Zones 5-9, depending on species. Not sure about your growing zone? Check here.
  • Sun: Choose a spot that gets full sun for at least 6 hours daily.
  • Soil: Ensure the soil is well-draining and not too wet, as the lavender plant does not like wet feet. This Mediterranean plant prefers soil that is slightly alkaline with a pH of 6.5 to 7.5. If you have heavy clay soil, consider amending it with sand and compost to improve drainage. Plant in a raised bed or on a slope to improve drainage.
  • Moisture: The plant is drought-tolerant once established, so avoid planting it in areas with constantly moist soil.
  • Humidity: Avoid planting in areas with high humidity, which can promote fungal diseases.
  • Wind: Choose a spot that is protected from strong winds, which can damage the delicate flowers and foliage.

Landscaping with Lavender

Lavender is a versatile and attractive plant that can be used in a variety of landscaping situations. Here are some ways to use it in your landscape:

  • Garden beds: Lavender is a great addition to any garden bed. It can be used as a border plant, a filler plant, or as a focal point. It creates colorful combinations in the garden with other summer shrubs or perennials.
  • Containers: Lavender is also a great plant for containers. Use it in combination with other plants to create a colorful and fragrant display. Find the best lavenders for containers.
  • Pathways: Placing lavender plants along pathways or walkways is a great way to add fragrance and beauty to your landscape.
  • Edging: Use it as an edging plant to define garden beds or walkways.
  • Hedges: Lavender can also be used as a low hedge. It adds color and fragrance to your landscape while also providing a natural barrier. Learn how to create a lavender hedge.
  • Rock gardens: Lavender is well-suited to rock gardens because of its low-growing habit and ability to thrive in poor soil.
  • Cut flowers: Lavender flowers are great additions to cut flower arrangements. Use them fresh or dried. Learn how to best preserve the fragrance of your lavender.
Lavandula pedunculata subsp. pedunculata (Lavender)
Lavandula stoechas ‘Ballerina’ (Spanish Lavender)
Lavandula stoechas ‘Regal Splendour’ (Spanish Lavender)

How to Plant Lavender?

  • Prepare the planting area by removing weeds, rocks, and debris and tilling the soil to a depth of 12 inches.
  • Dig a hole twice as wide and deep as the root ball.
  • Place the plant in the hole and backfill it with soil.
  • Tamp down the soil to remove air pockets and water thoroughly.
  • Add a layer of mulch (rock or pea gravel) around the plant to prevent weeds.
  • Water the plant deeply once a week, more often during periods of drought.
  • Prune the plant regularly to keep it compact and promote new growth.

Space Properly

  • Proper spacing is important for the health of your plants.
  • Most lavender varieties grow to be 1 to 3 feet tall and wide, so spacing should be about 2 to 3 feet apart (60-90 cm) if growing in groups. If planting a hedge, space your plants 12 in. (30 cm) apart or 18 in. (45 cm) for large cultivars.
  • Proper spacing ensures adequate air circulation and reduces the risk of diseases.

Growing Lavender in Pots

Planting lavender in a pot can be a great option if you have limited outdoor space or want to keep your plants portable. Here are some steps to plant it in a pot:

  • Choose a pot with good drainage and at least 12 inches in diameter. Make sure it has at least a 1/2-in. hole in the bottom. Add small stones for swift drainage.
  • Fill the pot with well-draining soil, such as a mix of potting soil and sand.
  • Make a small hole in the soil and gently remove the plant from its container.
  • Place it in the hole and gently pack the soil around the roots. The plant’s crown should stick up about 1 in. (2 cm) above the soil.
  • Water the plant thoroughly and let it drain.
  • Add a 2 in. layer of mulch (5 cm) to help retain moisture.
  • Place the pot in a sunny location with at least 6 hours of sunlight per day.
  • Water the plant regularly, but don’t overwater as lavender doesn’t like wet feet.
  • Fertilize the plant once a month with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer.
  • Prune the plant regularly to keep it from getting too leggy and encourage bushy growth.
Lavandula angustifolia ‘Betty’s Blue’ (Lavender)
Lavandula angustifolia ‘Lavenite Petite’ (Lavender)
Lavandula angustifolia ‘Royal Purple’ (Lavender)

How to Care for Lavender Plant

Watering

  • Water regularly during the first summer. Once established, lavender rarely needs watering when grown in the ground unless there are extended periods of drought.
  • However, Lavender 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.

Fertilizer

  • Lavender likes soil that is low in nutrients and does not need feeding.

Deadheading

  • Deadheading flowers will promote new blooms.

How to Prune Lavender

  • Pruning is crucial to prevent your lavender from becoming woody, as the woody sections won’t produce new growth. Annual pruning is beneficial, but doing it twice a year is optimal for vitality.

  • When pruning lavender, avoid cutting into the woody base to prevent harm; instead, prune just above two sets of leaves on the green growth to promote fuller, healthier development.

  • Ensure your pruning tools are immaculately clean and sharp. Wash and disinfect shears with a bleach solution to avert bacterial diseases, and use sharp secateurs for precise cuts that heal swiftly.

  • While spring pruning may slightly delay blooming, it is the perfect opportunity to remove any dead or damaged parts. Trim the plants as new growth appears, ensuring a few new shoots are left at the base of each branch for regeneration.

  • Following the final blooms in late summer or early fall, prune the lavender stems to about an inch above the woody part, enhancing air flow and preventing disease. This careful approach ensures a robust, flourishing lavender plant.

Overwintering

  • Most Lavenders are hardy to zones 5-9 but some varieties are tender and will grow only in warmer areas (zones 8-9). With adequate protection, these plants can even be successfully grown in zones 3-4. They love hot weather, but they do not like humidity and might be affected by fungal disease and rot.
  • Overwintering Lavender grown in pots: If you live in a climate where winters are harsh, store your potted 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.

How to Propagate Lavender?

  • Plants are best propagated by softwood or semi-ripe cuttings from young plants in early to midsummer or hardwood cuttings after flowering in late fall, preferably from new flushes of growth.
  • Lavender can also be propagated by seed: collect seeds from the dry seedheads in late summer, store them over winter, and sow in spring into small pots or trays of free-draining compost. Seeds from cultivars will produce plants that may differ from the parent.
Lavandula angustifolia ‘Melissa Lilac’ (Lavender)
Lavandula angustifolia ‘Miss Katherine’ (Lavender)
Lavandula stoechas ‘Pretty Polly’ (Spanish Lavender)

When to Harvest Lavender? 

  • Lavender can be harvested once the flowers have fully opened and before they begin to wilt.
  • The best time to harvest is during the mid-morning after any dew has dried.
  • Cut the stems just above the leaves, leaving some stem length to tie bundles.
  • After cutting, tie 10 to 20 stems together into a bundle and hang them upside down in a cool, dry place away from sunlight.

How to Store Lavender?

  • Once dry, the lavender flowers can be removed from the stems and stored in airtight containers for later use.
  • Properly stored, they can last for up to a year.

Can it be used as a culinary herb?

Lavender is a versatile herb used in the kitchen in various ways. Its flavor profile is often described as floral, slightly sweet, and slightly bitter, and it can add a unique taste and aroma to both sweet and savory dishes. English lavender is considered the best for culinary use due to its sweet fragrance and mild flavor. Here are some ideas for using it in the kitchen:

  • Baking: Add it to baked goods such as scones, shortbread, and cakes to add a unique floral flavor. It can also be used in sugar cookies, macarons, and other sweet treats.
  • Infusions: Use it to make tea or infuse it into syrups, honey, or simple syrups for cocktails or other beverages.
  • Seasoning: Use it as a seasoning in savory dishes, especially those with poultry or fish. It pairs well with other herbs such as thyme, rosemary, and sage.
  • Salad Dressing: Add a unique flavor to salad dressings, especially those made with vinegar or lemon juice.
  • Marinade: Use it in marinades for meats, adding a unique flavor and aroma.
  • Ice Cream: Use it to make lavender-infused ice cream, adding a floral and slightly sweet flavor.

When using lavender in the kitchen, it is important to use culinary-grade lavender, which is free from pesticides and chemicals. Lavender can be purchased in dried form or as an essential oil. It is recommended to start with a small amount and gradually increase it to achieve the desired flavor.

Lavender Pest, Diseases, and Common Problems

Lavender is generally not prone to many pest and disease problems. However, certain conditions may make it vulnerable to a few issues. Here are some common pests and diseases that may affect your plant:

Pests

  • Aphids: These insects can cause curling and distortion of the leaves and stems, as well as the production of sticky honeydew.
  • Spider mites: These tiny pests can cause yellowing and stippling of the leaves, as well as the formation of webbing.
  • Whiteflies: Whiteflies are small, sap-sucking insects that are often found on the undersides of leaves, where they feed on plant sap and excrete sticky honeydew.
  • Thrips: These insects feed on the plant’s flowers, causing them to become deformed and discolored.

Diseases

  • Septoria leaf spot: This fungal disease can cause small, dark spots on the leaves, which can eventually cause them to yellow and drop off.
  • Root rot: Overwatering and poorly-draining soil can lead to root rot, which can cause the plant to wilt and die.
  • Powdery mildew: This fungal disease can create a powdery white coating on the leaves, causing them to turn yellow and fall off.

Common Problems

Nutritional Deficiencies: Lavender generally requires little fertilization, but poor soil can lead to nutrient deficiencies, manifested as weak growth or discolored leaves. A light application of a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in the spring can address this.

Environmental Stress: Extremes of cold, heat, or wind can stress lavender plants, reducing vigor or winter burn. Providing protection from the harshest elements, either through strategic planting or using covers in winter, can help.

Lavandula stoechas ‘Anouk’ (Spanish Lavender)
Lavandula stoechas ‘Fathead’ (Spanish Lavender)
Lavandula stoechas With Love™ (Spanish Lavender)

Frequently Asked Questions

Does lavender come back every year?

Lavender is a perennial plant and can come back every year if it is well-cared for and planted in an appropriate location. However, the lifespan of a plant can vary depending on the specific variety and growing conditions.

Does lavender need sun or shade to grow?

Lavender needs full sun to grow and thrive. It requires at least six hours of direct sunlight each day. If your lavender  plant does not receive enough sunlight, it may become weak and spindly and may not bloom well. So, it’s essential to plant it in a location with full sun exposure.

Is Lavender Safe for Cats?

Lavender is generally considered toxic to cats when ingested due to its linalool and linalyl acetate compounds. It can cause nausea, vomiting, and a decreased appetite. While the smell of lavender might not be harmful, it’s important to prevent cats from eating any part of the plant or coming into contact with concentrated essential oils.

Is Lavender Safe for Dogs?

Lavender is generally considered toxic to dogs when ingested due to its linalool and linalyl acetate compounds. It can cause nausea, vomiting, and a decreased appetite. While the smell of lavender might not be harmful, it’s important to prevent dogs from eating any part of the plant or coming into contact with concentrated essential oils.

Is Lavender a Perennial?

Yes, lavender is a perennial plant in many climates, meaning it can live for more than two years. Its longevity and ability to return year after year make it a popular choice for gardens. However, its perennial nature can depend on the specific variety and the growing conditions, particularly in colder climates where it may be treated as an annual.

Can You Smoke Lavender?

Lavender can be smoked and is sometimes used as a natural herb in herbal blends for its calming effects and pleasant aroma. However, smoking anything, including lavender, introduces smoke and potentially harmful substances into the lungs, so it’s not recommended for health reasons.

Does Lavender Repel Bugs?

Lavender is known for its natural insect-repelling properties. It can deter various bugs, including moths, fleas, flies, and mosquitoes, thanks to its strong scent. Planting lavender in your garden or using lavender oil can help keep these pests at bay.

Does Lavender Spread?

Lavender can spread through its root system and by self-seeding in conducive conditions, but it’s not typically aggressive or invasive. Its growth habit allows for gradual expansion, making it manageable in gardens.

How to Make Lavender Oil?

Lavender oil can be made by steeping dried lavender flowers in a carrier oil (like olive or almond oil) for several weeks, then straining out the plant material. This method produces a lavender-infused oil. True lavender essential oil is extracted through steam distillation, a process not easily done at home.

Does Lavender Repel Mosquitoes?

Yes, lavender has mosquito-repelling properties. Its natural oils and scent are unappealing to mosquitoes, making it an effective deterrent. Planting lavender around your home or using lavender-based products can help keep mosquitoes away.

Click here to Compare all Lavender plants

Garden Examples

A Long-Lasting Summer Duo for your Borders: Lavender and Cosmos
A Lovely Contemporary Garden Idea
A Lovely Mediterranean Border with Lavender and Lilies of the Nile
A Mediterranean Garden Idea with Lavandula, Helichrysum and Kniphofia
A Mediterranean Garden Idea with Eryngium, Helenium and Lavandula
A Fragrant Summer Border with Roses, Lavender, Pinks and Sea Holly
Compare All Lavandula (Lavender)
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Explore Great Plant Combination Ideas
Lavandula (Lavender)
While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.

Guide Information

Heat Zones 5 - 8
Plant Type Shrubs
Genus Lavandula
Exposure Full Sun
Maintenance Average
Water Needs Low
Soil Type Chalk, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Well-Drained
Characteristics Dried Arrangements, Cut Flowers, Fragrant, Showy, Evergreen
Tolerance Drought, Rabbit, Deer, Dry Soil, Rocky Soil
Attracts Bees
Landscaping Ideas Edging, Beds And Borders, Patio And Containers, Hedges And Screens
Garden Styles City and Courtyard, Coastal Garden, Cutting Garden, Gravel and Rock Garden, Informal and Cottage, Mediterranean Garden
Compare All Lavandula (Lavender)
Compare Now
Explore Great Plant Combination Ideas
Lavandula (Lavender)

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