Thinking of growing lavender in your own homestead or home garden? Well, there’s good news – lavender is resilient! In fact, most home-growers who fail to grow lavender do so because they use too much water and fertilizer. Lavender can be very cold-hardy and grows in USDA zones 5 through 9. Before you begin, find your zone here and see if your lavender will do well in your backyard garden!
At Appalachian Botanical Co., we know a thing or two about growing lavender. It is a wonderful plant for transforming rocky dry soil (like the abandoned coal mine land that we operate) into a fruitful garden filled with purple blooms. If you want to bring some color and aromatherapy to your garden, we’ll share all we know to make it a success! Growing lavender from seed can be very time-consuming, so we always recommend using plants that have already been propagated. With a little extra care in the beginning, you can usually expect at least a couple of purple blooms by spring!
Preparing to Grow Lavender in a Yard or Garden
Plant lavender in well-drained, slightly alkaline soil with a pH between 6.7 and 7.3. Add either builder’s sand and rocks—or a combination of the two—to the soil before planting. This will increase drainage, which is vital because lavender will not tolerate excessive soil moisture or humidity. To further improve drainage, plant lavender in a raised bed or on a hillside or in a small mound.
Carefully knock the plant from its pot, spread the roots, and place the plant in a hole that accommodates the spread roots. Mix in a teaspoon of compost into the soil mix below the roots. This will slowly release organics that promote both root and leaf growth. Roots should not be placed directly on the fertilizer, but on a mix of soil and fertilizer. When watering the new plant for the first time and thereafter for the first 4–6 weeks, water only the top 2 inches of soil, and water to the side of the plant, not directly on it. You may need to water a little more or a little less, depending on rain and humidity; if the soil is very dry, give the plant more of a soaking. Water in the morning and evening only and allow the soil to dry before watering again. Do not over-water.
Pretty lavender plants are pruned! If pruning is not done in the first two years, the plant will become woody, resulting in fewer stems and flowers. After planting in the first year, remove the new growth, including the flower stems. Prune the plant into a ball shape. In the second year, prune the new growth early in the season to encourage flowering. In the fall of the second year, prune again to remove the flowers and continue to train the plant for shaping. Harvesting in the third year is sufficient pruning.
If your lavender isn’t doing well in its original home, it’s time to transplant. Lavender plants that are gangly and have long, thin “legs” probably are not getting enough sunlight. The best time to transplant is in very early spring and in late autumn. Do not transplant when the ground is frozen. The plants need 30 days before the first frost for root development in the new soil. Water the plants well before moving them to a new position and trim off any flowers. Transplants usually will not flower much the year they are transplanted, so keep trimming off any flower spikes for a larger, fuller plant the following year.
Growing Lavender in Containers
While growing lavender in containers can be done, it is a little tricky. First, get a really big pot; a lavender plant’s root system is a lot bigger than the plant. Lavender plants will need about eight hours of sun. Drainage, water, pruning, and feeding are extremely important when growing in a container:
Drainage: Make sure the pot has really good drainage holes. Put about one-half to one inch of loose gravel at the bottom of the pot to ensure the water will not clog up in the container. It’s best if a good soilless mix for potting material is used. A mixture of peat, vermiculite, and perlite is one of the best, but well-aerated, “fluffy” soil is fine.
Water: During the summer, lavender in a container is going to need more water than lavender in the ground. If the lavender gets dehydrated it may be difficult to bring it back to its former glory. So: not too wet and not too dry. Try to water the lavender at the base of the plant, rather than getting the foliage wet.
Pruning: Following the same methods described above.
Feeding: Probably the easiest way is to mix in just a little time-release fertilizer in the spring. It’s a good idea to repot them, so it’s a good time to fertilize, too.
Lavender is a great addition to any garden and is well worth the wait. If you don’t have a green thumb but still want to enjoy more lavender in your life, check out our full range of home, body, and culinary products! From honey to CBD cream and essential oil, we celebrate all the many benefits and forms of lavender.
Need help getting your lavender to bloom? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out to us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter and we’ll be happy to try to help!
MEET THE AUTHOR / ELIZA TALVOLA is a writer from Pittsburgh, PA who considers herself to be a conscious consumer and traveler, slow fashion advocate, and devoted foodie. She is a firm believer in creative reuse and putting people over profits, and is a long time lavender enthusiast. Her favorite product: Lavender Hand Sanitizer Spray