How to Grow Lavender From Seed
Lavender is a well know herb that is most famous for its powerful fragrance. Not only does this herb offer aromatherapy properties but is considered to be the “go to herb” for treating just about anything above the shoulders. Lavender is commonly used for treating headaches and muscle cramps and is no stranger to the natural skin care industry as well. Lavender oil consists of high levels of linalool which is what gives it the ability to promote skin healing, and is also know to have anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antibacterial, and anti-viral properties.
Because we use a large amount of lavender for our skin care products, and enjoy having fresh cut lavender around the house; we decided to grow our own, and lots of it. We live in Washington County in Upstate NY, right on the Vermont border, which puts us in a zone 4. Many may think that we cannot grow lavender here, but I have found that lavender “Munstead” which is labeled as hardy in zones 5-8, will grow in zone 4 when mulched and grown in a south facing location. I am going into my third fifth with my lavender munstead plants, and they are doing extremely well.
Starting Lavender From Seed- Much Cheaper!
We all know how costly perennials can be, especially when purchased at the beginning of the season. I knew that I would need at least 20 lavender plants for the project that I had in mind, and of course the bigger the better. If I would have purchased these plants at a local nursery, at let’s say $5.00 a plant, it would have cost me $100.00. For just a few dollars I purchased a pack of lavender seed, and grew a couple hundred of these plants and sold, and gave away what I didn’t need. I actually made money and used more than the original 20 plants that I had in mind. Growing perennials from seed is just as easy as growing vegetables from seed, just keep in mind that you will need an earlier start. For lavender it is recommended 8-10 weeks before the last frost.
First step is to prepare your seed bed, which in this case is going to be containers or seed cell trays, considering that we are starting these seeds indoors to be latter transplanted to the garden. Fill container with a seed starting growing mix, and make sure to not compact the soil. Once you have filled your container with growing mix, wet it down. You’re not looking for puddles, but you want the soil to be damp, before you sow the seeds.
The lavender seed needs to only be 1/8 inch below the surface with some light for germination. I typically will take a butter knife and leave a little dimple into the soil, drop the seed in and cover. Remember not to pack the soil on, just gently cover it.
These seeds are very tiny, about the size of a poppy seed. I use to pick each seed individually and carefully drop them in each hole, but now I have learned it is much easier to take a pinch full, and flake them into their holes. You will wind up dropping more than just one seed in each hole, but then as they begin to grow, I will pluck them out, only leaving one plant per cell/ container. This may sound wasteful but actually you wind up with a higher germination percentage.
Now that you have sown all your seeds, you need to water them, it is very important to not let the seeds dry out. Do not over water but keep them moist. I like to use a spray bottle and use a cover dome that traps the moisture in just until they have germinated. Then I take the dome cover off, so that the plants have better air circulation. If you water too heavy you can drown the seed or actually cause the seed to be removed from the soil.
Lavender will take between 12-21 days to germinate. During this time you should have them under lights or in a sunny, preferably south facing window, and ideal temperatures should be above 70 degrees. Keep your lights within 1 to 2 inches above the plant and on for minimally 10 hours a day. It is recommended they receive 14-16 hours of light but I have got away with less.