How To Grow & Care For Lavender
by David Salman, High Country Gardens Founder
The genus Lavandula is a favorite group of ornamental herbs native to southern Europe and the Mediterranean, a region with plenty of sun and dry, rocky soils. These fragrant plants have been cultivated for centuries and are prized for their aromatherapeutic qualities. These plants are an outstanding addition to any waterwise garden, as their fragrance also makes them deer and rabbit resistant, while attracting pollinators to their nectar-rich blooms.
Read on to learn how to plant, prune, and feed Lavender plants.
Watch: Growing Lavender With David Salman
Where To Grow Lavender
Lavender are at their very best in the more arid climates found west of the Mississippi, where heat, sun, dry growing conditions and poor soils predominate. Humid heat and compost-enriched, water-retentive soils are the enemies of Lavender.
Back East, full sun hillsides, sloped beds, and raised beds with sand or gravel soils will offer the best growing conditions for long-term success. Growing Lavender in containers is also a good option.
Getting The Soil Right: An Essential Step In Growing Lavender
As you might expect from its Mediterranean roots, Lavender thrives in hot weather, and must be planted in full-sun locations with good air circulation and fast-draining, alkaline soil. Lavender is not a hungry plant and does best in low nutrient soils. Heavy, poorly-drained clay soils can be fatal.
In the West, they'll grow well in a wide range of soils, even compost-enriched garden loams, as long as they are well drained. Lavender will tolerate clay and clay-loam in dry climates. In the Eastern US and Midwest, sandy and sandy-loams are a must!
- Ample coarse-textured compost can be added at planting time to "open-up" heavier soils.
- Add lime in acidic soils.
- In wetter climates, plant on a slope or in a raised bed to facilitate faster drainage.
Learn More: How To Create Well-Drained Soil
Mulching is helpful in dry climates, but not recommended in areas that get more than 18-20" of annual precipitation.
A 1-2 inch thick layer of small crushed (angular) gravel is the best mulch for Lavandula. Other coarse-textured mulches such as pine needles and crushed nutshells are also a good match for mulching these plants. Avoid straw, bark, compost, and other water-retentive mulch materials. This will keep the crown drier, and promotes healthy plants in all climates.
Lavender plants are actually small woody shrubs, that once established, thrive in dry growing conditions. However, during their first growing season in the ground, they need regular irrigation several times per week to establish. Their preference for dry conditions begins their second year in the ground as they begin to mature. Once established, much less frequent, but deep watering is their preference. Plants will reach their full size by the end of the third year in the ground.
Pruning Established Lavender Plants
Pruning is desirable for the health and appearance of Lavender. Prune Lavender plants in spring as needed. When plants begin to show signs of new growth, cut back the old stems by no more than one third to re-invigorate the plant and encourage more flowers. I recommend waiting until mid-spring to prune out any winter-damaged branches, and gently shear off a few inches of the branch tips to shape a round, mounded plant. Deadheading will also encourage more flowers, especially for twice-blooming English types like 'Sharon Roberts', 'Pastor's Pride,' and 'Buena Vista'. Fortunately, harvesting the flowers each year helps maintain plant vigor.
Lavender plants need very little fertilizer. They will suffer when fertilized frequently with chemical fertilizers, especially when applied in the late summer and fall. This delays them from hardening off for winter and can result in freeze damage or death come next spring.
Instead, keep their soil healthy and well-drained by fertilizing with natural or organic soil builders. Top-dress with Yum Yum Mix© and Soil Mender Mineral Boost Fertilizer once a year in mid-to-late fall or mid-spring as the plants begin to show new growth. Both are slow-acting nutrient sources for the soil's microbial population to support healthy lavender plants.
General Growing Tips
- Lavender plants will be taller and wider when grown in climates with mild winters and hot summers. The same varieties, when grown in cold winter climates (zones 5-6), tend to be more compact.
- Lavender plants are long-lived perennials, and they require 2-3 growing seasons to reach mature size.
- Companion plants: there is hardly a plant combination that doesn’t look great with Lavender in it. Just be sure that companion plants also like poor, fast-draining soils with plenty of sun and heat.
- Deer-resistant gardening: Lavender is a wonder-repellent to keep deer and rabbits from nibbling their neighboring plants.
Choosing The Right Lavender For Your Garden
Wondering which Lavender plants will perform best in your garden? To learn more about English, French, and Spanish Lavender varieties, and for tips on choosing the right one, read our article below!
Cold-Hardy Lavender Varieties
Lavandula angustifolia, or English Lavender cultivars are among the most cold-hardy, and they bloom in late spring. They have compact flowering spikes on short-to-medium stems.
French Hybrid Lavender
Lavandin or Lavandula x intermedia cultivars, or Frech Lavenders, are among the tallest growers, with elongated flowering spikes on long stems.
Explore Lavender Plants From High Country Gardens
Lavandula angustifolia ‚Miss Katherine‚ (English Lavender) is the best pink-flowered English Lavender currently in cultivation, blooming in late spring-early summer with ...Learn MoreMiss Katherine English Lavender Miss Katherine English Lavender Lavandula angustifolia 'Miss Katherine'As low as $13.99 Sale $11.19Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
Lavandula angustifolia ‚Buena Vista‚ (English Lavender) has a compact form with deep blue bi-colored flower spikes. A hard-to-find, twice blooming cultivar flowers in lat...Learn MoreBuena Vista English Lavender Buena Vista English Lavender Lavandula angustifolia 'Buena Vista'As low as $13.99 Sale $11.89Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
Lavandula angustifolia ‚Royal Velvet‚ is very showy in bloom. It is covered with long stemmed, dark navy blue and lavender flower spikes. The 3 to 4-inch long flower spi...Learn MoreRoyal Velvet English Lavender Royal Velvet English Lavender Lavandula angustifolia Royal VelvetAs low as $12.99Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
Exclusive to High Country Gardens. Lavandula angustifolia ‚FlowerKisser® Delft Blue & White‚ (English Lavender) is marvelously unusual with buds and flowers that change...Learn MoreFlowerKisser® Delft Blue & White English Lavender FlowerKisser® Delft Blue & White English Lavender Lavandula angustifolia 'WWGLAV'$13.99 Sale $11.19Sale Price I Save 20%Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
Lavandula x intermedia ‚Sensational!®‚ (French Hybrid Lavender) is an improved, easy-to-grow variety that features unusually large flower spikes on a compact form, with ...Learn MoreSensational!™ Lavender Sensational!™ Lavender Lavandula x intermedia Sensational!™$13.99 Sale $12.59Sale Price I Save 10%Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
Lavandula intermedia ‚Edelweiss‚ (French Hybrid Lavender) blooms with a profuse summer display of snowy white flowers and sweetly aromatic foliage. This mid-sized French ...Learn MoreEdelweiss Lavender Edelweiss Lavender Lavandula x intermedia EdelweissAs low as $13.99 Sale $11.89Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
Lavandula intermedia ‚Phenomenal‚ PP24193 (French Hybrid Lavender) is notable for its outstanding cold hardiness and tolerance to heat and high humidity. The plants grow ...Learn MorePhenomenal Lavender Phenomenal Lavender Lavandula intermedia Phenomenal PP#24,193As low as $15.99 Sale $14.39Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
Lavandula intermedia ‚Gros Bleu‚ is a hybrid French Lavender that is considered to be the very best of all the French hybrids. More compact than ‚Grosso‚ but ...Learn MoreGros Bleu French Lavender Gros Bleu French hybrid Lavender Lavandula intermedia Gros BleuAs low as $13.99Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
Lavandula angustifolia ‚FlowerKisser® After Midnight‚ (English Lavender) has stunning, dark colored flower spikes with deep indigo-blue calyxes and large violet-purple f...Learn MoreFlowerKisser® After Midnight English Lavender 'FlowerKisser® After Midnight' English Lavender Lavandula angustifolia 'WWG002'As low as $15.49 Sale $13.94Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
Lavandula angustifolia ‚Wee One‚ (English Lavender) is a special dwarf variety that blooms with a wonderful display of short blue flower spikes only 10„ tall. It is...Learn MoreWee One Dwarf English Lavender Wee One Dwarf English Lavender Lavandula angustifolia Wee OneAs low as $13.49Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
Lavandula angustifolia ‚Sharon Roberts‚ is an outstanding twice blooming English Lavender with spikes of bicolored lavender-blue and gray-green foliage....Learn MoreSharon Roberts English Lavender Sharon Roberts English Lavender Lavandula angustifolia Sharon RobertsAs low as $13.99 Sale $11.19Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
Lavandula angustifolia ‚Pastor‚s Pride‚ (English Lavender) is a twice blooming variety that has thrived in the Mid-West with excellent cold hardiness and moisture t...Learn MorePastor's Pride English Lavender Pastor's Pride English Lavender Lavandula angustifolia Pastor's PrideAs low as $13.99 Sale $11.19Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
Lavandula angustifolia ‚Hidcote Superior‚ (English Lavender) is sweetly fragrant, uniformly compact and blooms with darkly colored lavender-blue flower spikes in late spr...Learn MoreHidcote Superior English Lavender Hidcote Superior English Lavender Lavandula angustifolia Hidcote SuperiorAs low as $13.99Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
Lavandula intermedia ‚Grosso‚ is a large growing French hybrid lavender with dark blue flower spikes in mid-summer. An impressive profuse bloomer ideal for drying or culi...Learn MoreGrosso French Lavender Grosso French Lavender Lavandula intermedia 'Grosso'As low as $12.99Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
The Legacy of David Salman | High Country Gardens founder David Salman was a pioneer of waterwise gardening, a passionate plant explorer, and a charismatic storyteller. His commitment to cultivating a palette of beautiful waterwise plants transformed gardening in the American West.
Explore More High Country Gardens Resources
Lavender Bliss: Exploring Lavender Varieties
How To Create Well-Drained Soil
Bees In The Garden - Our Most Important Pollinators