Lavender is a perennial in the mint family. It comes from the Mediterranean region and is prized for its fragrant flowers. A lavender plant can last for years if you take good care of it. Once it is established, you will find that it attracts pollinators to your garden in addition to providing attractive, sweet-smelling blossoms. Below we cover what you need to know to start growing lavender, whether indoors or out.
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How to grow lavender
Choose a lavender variety that will thrive in your hardiness zone. Some thrive only in very specific climates, while others can do well across a wide range of temperatures. With some lavender varieties, mature outdoor plants can tolerate temperatures as low as 10 degrees Fahrenheit (-12.22 °C).
Start lavender seeds indoors in trays with sterile potting soil. Make sure the soil drains well. Lavender has a particularly long germination time — it can take up to 30 days — which means that you should start early. Keep your soil around 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21.11 °C) to create the ideal germination environment.
Harden lavender seedlings off before planting them. You can start the process once they have a few leaves. Harden them off by bringing them outside for more and more time each day.
Start lavender plants with clippings by dipping the stems in root hormone or placing them in water for a few weeks.
Plant outdoor lavender after the last frost. Choose a spot that receives partial shade. Lavender needs soil that drains well. To aid drainage in a particularly rainy location, consider digging deeper and adding sand or gravel before transplanting. Space plants to ensure good air circulation between them. Good air circulation and low humidity will help to prevent disease. The more humid your location is, the more room you need to give each plant.
In pots (indoors or outdoors)
Choose the right container for the lavender variety you are growing. Different varieties grow to different sizes. Larger ones might need containers up to two feet across, while more compact ones only need a foot of space. A container for lavender plants should drain well. To ensure proper drainage, you may want to make sure that there is some sand or gravel in the soil. The drainage hole should also be large to ensure that the container retains no excess water.
How much sunlight does lavender need?
Provide indoor lavender with as much light as possible. A south-facing window is recommended. Insufficient light results in spindly plants without flowers. Too little light will also increase your lavender plant’s susceptibility to disease. Along with light, keep indoor air circulation in mind.
Like others in the mint family, lavender will benefit from circulating air but avoid placing it in the direct flow of heated air from your registers. Temperatures for lavender should range from 50 degrees at night to a high of 70 degrees during daylight hours.
How much water does lavender need?
Lavender is one of those plants that can thrive without much water. Too much water can, in fact, cause the roots to rot. Keep soil slightly moist, without letting it get too wet or completely dry. When watering lavender plants, avoid wetting the leaves and flowers.
Harvest lavender during the second year of growth. Lavender typically grows very slowly during its first year but should grow much larger and start to flourish by year two. Harvest lavender buds instead of open flowers to ensure that dried lavender will have the best fragrance and color. When you harvest lavender flowers, cut the stem so that you leave at least one set of leaves behind.