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Where To Grow Lavender

Updated on September 11, 2014

Find Out Where To Grow Lavender In Your Garden

When you buy lavender plants, imagining the glorious purple haze of fragrant flowers and buzzing bees in summers to come; take time to consider where you are about to plant your dreams.

Given the right conditions, you can plant lavender that will settle in and flower profusely in the same year. Grown well, it will bring colour and perfume to your pots and borders all summer long, as well as attracting a wide range of bees, moths and butterflies to your garden. As a bonus, your lavender, if happy, will need very little care once established.

The fact that you can dry your lavender flower heads for winter arrangements, make fragrant potpourris to keep the moths at bay, scented sachets to help you sleep soundly, and make the best icecream deserts on the planet, takes growing lavender into a whole extra dimension..

If your lavender plants look spindly and leggy, the hoped for flowers small, or the winter freeze has left a blackened mess of twigs, you will find the reason and the solution here. The secret is to know where to grow it and get the growing conditions right. If you can do that, your plants will reward you richly with flowers and heavenly fragrance.

Lovely Lavender Image by Rillke (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Where to grow lavender if you have hot summers and mild winters above freezing point: - Perfect lavender growing conditions

You can grow the full range of lavender species and varieties, from the hardy Lavender angustifolias to the tender and delicate Lavender dentata. There is no need for winter protection.

By Démosthène (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Where to grow lavender if you have short intermittent spells of frost in winter to - 5 degrees: - Fair growing conditions for the Lavender angustifolia varietie

Tender lavender varieties will not survive these temperatures and need winter protection.

The majority of commercially grown lavender is grown within this temperature range, notably Southern France and Eastern England. This is generally varieties of Lavender angustifolia, and winter protection is not needed.

  • Grow frost tender lavenders in pots, and remove to a frost free, well lit environment over winter. Keep soil dry, and only water if the plant appears to be wilting. Do not feed or cut plant over winter.

  • Grow hardy lavenders in the soil. Providing the soil is gritty, sandy, and does not become waterlogged, the hardier lavenders need no winter protection, and survive mild frosts well.

Where to grow lavender if you have continuous frost throughout winter down to - 5 degrees: - Borderline lavender growing conditions.

Plants constantly surprise us by adapting to new conditions, or behaving in ways not mentioned in the text books.

  • Try growing hardy lavender in extremely well drained gritty or sandy soil in a sheltered position covered by agricultural fleece.

  • Try growing lavender in pots, covering the plant with fleece, and wrapping the exterior of the pots with an insulating material such as garden fleece or an old blanket.

Where to grow lavender if you have continuous temperatures throughout winter below - 5 degrees: - Only suitable for growing hardy lavender varieties in pots wit

You can still grow lavender, but you need to grow it in pots.

  • Bring your lavender pots in before the frost and snow arrive.

  • Grow on in a well lit, frost free envoronment. Keep soil dry, and only water if the plant appears to be wilting. Do not feed or cut the lavender plant over the winter.

  • Make sure that you acclimatise your lavender plants to their outdoor position each spring by gradually exposing them a little more each day to outside conditions.

  • Start by leaving the door open. Increase exposure to short spells outside in the day.

  • Only leave out overnight when all chance of frost is over.

By Booksworm (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Where to grow lavender if you have heavy snowfall: - Branch breakage protection needed.

Heavy snowfall can act as an insulating blanket, but it can also cause a lot of damage.

Small lavender plants are less likely to be damaged than larger plants, where branches may snap or become permanently distorted under the weight of snow. Brush snow from plants

  • If it's a predictable but rare event, you can erect a wigwam of sticks and netting above the plants to breduce the snow impact

  • If heavy snow is a regular or long term winter feature, it's best to grow lavender in pots and bring into a frost free, well lit environment until spring.

By Marek Gehrmann (Own work) , via Wikimedia Commons

The Best Soil For Growing Lavender - Lavender likes dry, poor soil : wet, cold, ground kills lavender quickly.

The best and most fragrant lavender plants that I have ever seen were self seeded, growing along the edge of a gravel and sand pathway in southern France. No one watered them, no one fed them. They had just found the perfect conditions to grow.

  • I've already mentioned that lavender will only survive below freezing temperatures well if the soil is free draining. In fact lavender grows best, flowers most prolifically and lives longest in free draining soil.

  • 'Free draining soil' means soil where rain drains through quickly because it is gritty and does not absorb or collect moisture. It also means soil that doesn't have a high water table, or clay layer near the surface to keep heavy rains trapped within the root zone of the plants.

  • Another soil requirement is 'poor soil'. 'Poor soil' can be any soil that hasn't been fertilised or manured. Lavender becomes lanky and leggy when growing on rich or fertilised soil. Don't be tempted to hurry the plants along with feed, because you will produce a weak, spindly plant unable to hold it's flower spikes up, short lived, less fragrant and prone to disease.

  • If you can't meet these criteria your Lavender won't grow well. I don't grow it in my heavy clay soil; the results are always disappointing as the plants grow weakly, become leggy very quickly, and die off completely if the winter is wet or very cold.

Is Your Soil Right For Growing Lavender?

Is your soil the right soil for growing Lavender?

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Growing Lavender In Pots

If your soil is like mine, and is rich and clayey or very wet in winter, the only thing to do is grow your lavender in pots or window boxes.

This is actually a great way to grow good plants as It opens up all sorts of opportunities for flexibility and change in your summer garden displays.

Tips For Growing Lavender In Pots

Large lavender plants in beautiful pots look magnificent.

Place your lavender pots along paths, on terraces and decks, and even place them in borders. It also makes a wonderful centre plant for summer bedding displays. You can move the pots about, bringing them to the fore when in bloom, removing them to cover over winter.

By growing lavender in pots you can provide the perfect soil mix and drainage for your plants.

  • Choose pots in natural, porous materials, particularly terraccotta. Plastic and metal pots allow compost temperatures to fluctuate greatly, allowing plant roots to bake in summer and freeze in winter. They also can contribute to water-logging and poor soil oxygenation.

  • Make sure that there are adequate holes in the bottom of the pot for drainage.

  • Raise pot from the ground with ready made pot feet or small stones to increase drainage.

  • Buy a gritty compost or make your own by mixing 50% potting compost and 50% sharp sand. It's not a good idea to use garden soil, unless it is already the right kind of soil, as it quickly becomes very consolidated, and often contains organisms that you will prefer nnot to take indoors during winter.

  • Lavender doesn't need to have it's roots restricted. Get a pot several sizes bigger than the root ball of your plant. That way it will have room to grow, you won't need to re pot it every year, and you won't need to water it so often.

  • Don't forget to water your pots. lavender is drought tolerant, but that is partly because it can search for moisture in the soil. In a pot, it is completely dependent on a supply of water from you. Don't over water; wait until the soil is dry before watering, and make sure the water drains freely through.

Lavender is Drought Tolerant.

This sun loving plant flourishes in dry, hot conditions.

But newly planted plants will need watering after planting, and during the first growing season whenever the soil gets dry, but once they are established watering is rarely necessary.

How To Plant Lavender

Only plant when the soil is warm

By Riley Huntley (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

Plant your lavender plants once the soil is warm at the beginning of the growing season, never when the soil is cold and wet.

Findlavender - Hidcote Blue Lavender Plant - 4" Size Pot - 8 Live Plants
Findlavender - Hidcote Blue Lavender Plant - 4" Size Pot - 8 Live Plants

Originating from Hidcote gardens, this lavender has been planted in thousands of gardens. Like Munstead, it is a shorter growing variety.

 

The Best Way To Prune Lavender - Clip every year

Without pruning lavender becomes straggly and full of old, unproductive wood within a few years.

  • Only cut off the soft growth that has leaves and grew in the present year.

  • Avoid cutting back into old, established wood. It can be done, but you really need to know how and when, and this will vary from plant to plant, and from one year to the next. Cutting back hard can result in a re-envigorated plant, but it can also kill the plant, and it takes experience to get it right.

  • If the plants are to be left to flower on in the garden, dead heading will extend the flowering season considerably, but pruning must be done well before cold weather sets in, or left until the following late spring.

When To Feed And Mulch Lavender - To mulch or not?

You can kill with kindness!

  • Do not feed or fertilize your plants as this will make them become weak, spindly, and prone to disease.

  • Do not mulch your Lavender with organic matter as this will make it rot at the base of the stems.

  • You can top dress pot grown plants with shingle, pebbles or crushed shells. This, keeps soil from splashing the leaves, stops the pot from drying out too quickly in hot sun, and looks very decorative.

Image unattributable: if you have the copyright, let me know

Lovely Lavender, full of colour, perfume, goodness and beloved by the bees.

Pests And Diseases Of Lavender

There are few problems that affect healthy plants. Most disease and pest attacks occur when plants are stressed and weak due to poor and unsuitable growing conditions.

Capsid bugs occasionally become a problem when their larvae create frothy bubble nests amongst the leaves in summer. A few nests hardly matter, but if your plants begin to look overwhelmed and unsightly, a sharp blast of water from a garden hose will dislodge them easily.

By Thomas Tolkien from Scarborough, UK (Bumble bee on lavenderUploaded by herkuleshippo) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Bees are in trouble the world over, and whilst we still don't have a definitive answer as to why bee poulations are falling drastically, and bee diseases increasing, we do know that loss of a nectar sources, agricultural mono cropping and foraging exhaustion plays a part. This means that we are in trouble too, as all our crops depend upon pollination by bees.

By Jastrow (Own work) , via Wikimedia Commons

This is the Hummingbird Hawk Moth feeding on lavender flowers in Auvergne, France. Their little wings go so fast that they are a blur. They absolutely adore Lavender, and I get them in my garden in the South of France, but not in England.

Mike Baldwin ], via Wikimedia Commons

Growing Lavender From Seed

Lavender is easy to grow from seed

You can sow the seed directly into warm, free draining ground at the end of Spring and have a row of small plants by Autumn.

In a cool summer such as the one we have had in England this year, the seed may germinate more easily with the help of an unheated greenhouse, cold frame or sheltered window box. Sow the seed thinly, barely covering it with soil, and thin the plants out as they grow, so that there is always space between each plant. If you want to move them you can transplant them the following late spring.

Outsidepride Lavender Munstead - 4000 Seeds
Outsidepride Lavender Munstead - 4000 Seeds

Rather like L.Hidcote, but with bluer, paler coloured flowers.

 
ENGLISH LAVENDER Lavandula Angustifolia --- 100 Flower Seeds
ENGLISH LAVENDER Lavandula Angustifolia --- 100 Flower Seeds

The basic species. It grows quite large and can get lanky if you don't keep it clipped hard every year. But wonderful in drifts in borders.

 
Lavender French Purple Ribbon Seeds
Lavender French Purple Ribbon Seeds

This is the butterfly lavender also known as L. papillion. Not so fragrant, not useful for cooking or healing, but very pretty.

 

Christine Matthews [, via Wikimedia Commons

Cut the flowers on a sunny day when the flowers aren't damp with rain or dew.Timing is important, as the flowers should be almost, but not fully open, and the crop should have been basking in hot sun in order to develop a full range of volatile oils.

Butterflies And Moths Feed On Lavender

This is a film I made of Swallowtails and Black Lace butterflies, Six spot Burnets and Hummingbird moths dancing on nectar rich flowers, and swathes of Lavender.

Music by Albeniz

Tools For Pruning Lavender

It's important to have good tools. It makes the job easier. It is also a pleasure to use and own good tools. By good tools, I mean tools that are well made, well designed, last, and are comfortable to use.

All the following recommendations have withstood the test of use and time within my garden company, and have been used by me personally in my own garden.

The Best Shears

Once a year you need to give your lavender bushes a good trim. You need sharp shears, and if you have a few to trim, a pair like this with shock absorbers will make the job much less tiring.

Thanks for making it right to the end! - Let me know if you are inspired to grow some Lavender

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    • profile image

      acreativethinker 3 years ago

      Simply beautiful plants and wonderful aroma! Thanks for sharing this lovely lens. Take care and have a great day! :)

    • FanfrelucheHubs profile image

      Nathalie Roy 4 years ago from France (Canadian expat)

      We drove one across a field of lavender in southern France...the smell!!!

    • Ben Reed profile image

      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      I have Lavender growing in a pot - but your lense has inspired me to grow a little more.

    • Stazjia profile image

      Carol Fisher 4 years ago from Warminster, Wiltshire, UK

      I've always loved lavender and it's a 'must have' in my garden. Even so, after reading this page, I know a lot more about it.

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Lavender has always been one of my favorite plants, probably because it was a favorite of my mom's and of her mom before her. I love the colors, textures, smells and taste. Only recently I've been noticing more and more recipes calling for lavender. Beautifully done lens!

    • profile image

      Ruthi 4 years ago

      I have always enjoyed photos of fields of lavender and now that you have convinced me how easily it can be grown, I think I might plant some in a sunny spot along the walkway to the door of my house. Thanks for the tips!

    • Cynthia Haltom profile image

      Cynthia Haltom 4 years ago from Diamondhead

      I love heather, but I can only manage to grow Mexican Heather, I have saline soil which is very acid and can grow lots of beautiful flowers, but no success with traditional varieties of heather.

    • maryseena profile image

      maryseena 4 years ago

      Never grown lavender. It's time I tried. Sandy soil or clayey soil? Reading the lens I thought sandy soil, but in the quiz it's marked wrong!

    • profile image

      trishafly 4 years ago

      Just what I was looking for.... Think I'll try your tips for growing lavender in a pot on my deck this summer. It's hot and dry there most of the day. Thanks for sharing your knowledge in this great lens!

    • profile image

      BarbaraCasey 4 years ago

      I didn't know I could grow lavender in a pot on my balcony. Thanks for the tips!

    • greenspirit profile image
      Author

      poppy mercer 4 years ago from London

      @GardenIdeasHub LM: Thanks. I've grown lavender in so many places, I thought it time to put my experiences down all in one place.

    • greenspirit profile image
      Author

      poppy mercer 4 years ago from London

      @LynetteBell: Lavender does have a wonderful smell!

    • GardenIdeasHub LM profile image

      GardenIdeasHub LM 5 years ago

      Your tips about growing lavender are really great!

    • greenspirit profile image
      Author

      poppy mercer 4 years ago from London

      @sociopath-free: Gosh! Even roses?

    • greenspirit profile image
      Author

      poppy mercer 4 years ago from London

      @Aunt-Mollie: Growing lavender is easy Aunt Mollie if you have the right soil and climate. Otherwise you need to follow the tips here.

    • greenspirit profile image
      Author

      poppy mercer 4 years ago from London

      @LisaAuch1: Please do Lisa. I think you live by the sea: Norfolk Lavender is close to the coast (about 2 miles) and does well. Just watch the cold freezing or wet winters.

    • LisaAuch1 profile image

      Lisa Auch 4 years ago from Scotland

      I am going to follow your instructions! my lavender does not seem to grow as well in my new garden! So this year I will try the tips :) Will let you know

    • profile image

      Aunt-Mollie 4 years ago

      You are right that lavender is very easy to grow. Nothing freshens a closet of linen drawer like dried lavender!

    • sociopath-free profile image

      sociopath-free 4 years ago

      Lavender is the only flower that doesn't remind me of funerals. Love the scent.

    • LynetteBell profile image

      LynetteBell 4 years ago from Christchurch, New Zealand

      I could almost smell the fragrance!

    • profile image

      nifwlseirff 5 years ago

      A fantastic lens packed with information to grow lavender! I'll be moving my lavender plant (in a pot) indoors in the near future, at least at night!

    • profile image

      johnsja 5 years ago

      Glad I found your lens. I never seem to succeed with growing lavender. Thanks for the tips.

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image

      Tolovaj Publishing House 5 years ago from Ljubljana

      I would like to grow lavender. Beautiful lens!

    • microfarmproject profile image

      microfarmproject 5 years ago

      Beautiful lens! I grow a little bit of lavender in my garden. Thanks for the tips!

    • caffimages profile image

      caffimages 5 years ago

      One of my favourite herbs, lavender is still a must have in my garden. A lovely lens I've really enjoyed. Thank you.

    • rob-hemphill profile image

      Rob Hemphill 5 years ago from Ireland

      Another beautiful lens. There is something special about lavender, it attracts so much wildlife and has a lovely fragrance. Would love to visit the lavender fields in Provence, France - from the photogenic point of view.

    • Grasmere Sue profile image

      Sue Dixon 5 years ago from Grasmere, Cumbria, UK

      Lovely! Blessed and added to my own lens about lavender.

    • suzy-t profile image

      suzy-t 5 years ago

      Wonderful lens... Lavender is so beautiful...one of my favorite flowers in my garden. I learned the hard way about not fertilizing it a few years ago but it's back and doing better than ever if I keep ignoring it. Blessed by a fellow Squid-Angel...

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 5 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      I just bought a lavender plant and live in hot, dry, sunny Arizona, so I'm hoping it will flourish!

    • siobhanryan profile image

      siobhanryan 5 years ago

      I love lavender and failed to grow it -I am going to take your advise and try in a pot

    • Joyce Mann profile image

      Joyce T. Mann 5 years ago from Bucks County, Pennsylvania USA

      I so love lavender. Several years ago I attended the annual lavender festival in Sequim, Washington. What a treat!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      We've got a huge lavender farm in Mona, Utah and my mom absolutely loves this plant / flower. Thank you for the wonderful write and photos, I'm glad I stopped by this morning. *blessed by a squid angel*

    • tvyps profile image

      Teri Villars 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      I have used lavender at night when I couldn't sleep. Squid Angel blessed.

    • profile image

      ElectricCarBuff 5 years ago

      I would be inspired if it wasn't growing all over the place here! Its everywhere I go :)

    • profile image

      OliveMyall 5 years ago

      I think your pictures are absolutely amazing. Thanks for sharing them.

    • Chocolatealchemy profile image

      Chocolatealchemy 5 years ago from London, United Kingdom

      Thank you for your delightful Lens and all the tips on growing Lavender - I'm definitely going to plant more Lavender this Spring. I love the butterflies on your page - it's given me a lovely summery feeling (here's hoping summer will arrive very soon here in England)

    • straw-hut profile image

      straw-hut 5 years ago

      I love the smell of lavender. It's so calming. Very informative lens...thanks.

    • Two Crafty Paws profile image

      Two Crafty Paws 5 years ago

      I adore the smell of lavender, whenever I have the chance I buy the dry lavender for my room. This year we will be planting it, fingers crossed.

    • ElBat profile image

      Eleni Bat 5 years ago from Greece

      Lavender always cheers me up!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Wow beautiful

    • curious0927 profile image

      curious0927 5 years ago

      Of Course, so beautiful! blessed!

    • Steph Tietjen profile image

      Stephanie Tietjen 5 years ago from Albuquerque, New Mexico

      I must plant some lavender as soon as it warms up. Thank you for this enjoyable, informative article.

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 5 years ago from USA

      I love this plant and have several in pots in my back yard. It is one of my best growers.

    • greenspirit profile image
      Author

      poppy mercer 5 years ago from London

      @greenlungsofpoland: Thanks, and glad if my advice has helped...it's gathered after years of successess and failures! I don't know how this facebook site works, but I appreciate your gesture greatly.

    • profile image

      greenlungsofpoland 5 years ago

      Def i always avoided using Lavender in my garden design because it was difficuIt to maintain but with help from this lens i can add it and not worry!! love this lens so much i shared it here http://www.facebook.com/squidooangel

    • lilymom24 profile image

      lilymom24 5 years ago

      I would love to grow lavender and might try it this spring. =)

    • MariaMontgomery profile image

      MariaMontgomery 5 years ago from Central Florida, USA

      I love lavender, and have it in my herb garden, but I have learned a lot from this lens. Thank you.

    • caronia profile image

      caronia 5 years ago

      I have 2 pots, it is my first year having them, for now I put them inside to pass this very cold winter, so far are ok, maybe next year will have some flowers...

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 5 years ago from New Zealand

      I love lavender, I can almost smell it sitting here at my computer, your photos are so real.

      Thanks for sharing and it certainly was worth a purple star. Blessed.

    • MartieG profile image

      MartieG aka 'survivoryea' 5 years ago from Jersey Shore

      Love lavender and just might try growing it now! -Didn't do well on the quiz however! thanks

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      LOL! I completely flunked the quiz Great info. The field of lavender was lovely.

    • ChrisDay LM profile image

      ChrisDay LM 6 years ago

      Lavender is an invaluable medicine esp. in aromatherapy.

    • javr profile image

      javr 7 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I really like lavender. Nice lens.

    • Mrmakingusmile LM profile image

      Mrmakingusmile LM 7 years ago

      I never new lavender could be so beautiful. Thank you for making me smile.

    • jolou profile image

      jolou 7 years ago

      This is a really great lens. I didn't do so well on the quiz though.

    • Twmarsh profile image

      Twmarsh 7 years ago

      I burn lavender-scented candles all the time. Great tips on growing it!

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 7 years ago from Vermont

      Lavender is a joy to grow and harvest! Blessed by a Squid Angel ...

    • profile image

      termit_bronx 7 years ago

      I like the smell of lavender! Another great lens!

    • VarietyWriter2 profile image

      VarietyWriter2 7 years ago

      Blessed by a SquidAngel :)

    • Charlino99 profile image

      Tonie Cook 7 years ago from USA

      Everything I could possibly do wrong with the lavender I haven't planted yet, I've done. After reading this informative lens, tomorrow my goal is to try to correct my mistakes with this wonderful plant.

    • LisaAuch1 profile image

      Lisa Auch 7 years ago from Scotland

      What a lovely lens, We are trying to grow lavander and currently doing not too bad, and even rescued some plants. I love the colour and smell, my house is surrounded by purple slate, so it compliments it wonderfully!

    • JoyfulPamela2 profile image

      JoyfulPamela2 7 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      I don't exactly have a green thumb, but if this grows in dry, unfertilized soil, I might actually have a chance with it! :-D Lovely page and suggestions - I adore the little butterflies down the page.

    • profile image

      myraggededge 7 years ago

      Gorgeous - another beautiful lens. :-)

    • GonnaFly profile image

      Jeanette 7 years ago from Australia

      Beautiful lens about a lovely plant 5*

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 7 years ago

      5*..oh Poppy what a great lens! how I wish I could grow this here in our area...there are some Lavender's grown in gardens here, but they don't have the sent...this inspires me to paint a painting with the Lavender, I did have a mimi painting I did a few years back...Love your colorful well written lenses.

    • LadyFlashman profile image

      LadyFlashman 7 years ago from United Kingdom

      This lens is sooo calming with all the pretty photos! 5* brilliant!