It bursts forth in calming aromatherapy products and fills fields with stunning purple flowers. It’s lavender, of course! No matter if you are seeking blooms to add to popular new bouquets or want to add a bit of a cottage garden feel to your home, lavender can fit the bill.
We’re going to cover all you need to know about growing and caring for lavender plants and flowers.
Cut Lavender Care
Lavender is one of the few flowers that is equally beautiful both fresh and dried.
Care for Fresh-Cut Lavender
Come late spring to early summer, healthy lavender plants start bursting with fragrant flowers. If you want long-lasting and fragrant flowers, aim to harvest lavender flowers as soon as the buds begin to open. Early morning is the best time to harvest, but the evening can also work well. When you harvest, cut the stems as close to the base of the plant as possible and place the tips of the stems in fresh water as soon as possible.
Once you’re finished harvesting, bring the flowers indoors and place them in a cool area out of direct sunlight. As long as you keep the flowers cool and change the water regularly, they should last for at least a week.
If you’d like to preserve your fresh-cut lavender’s fragrance, you can dry the blooms. To do this, simply bundle a few stems together and hang them upside down in a dark, dry place. Depending on the conditions, the lavender should be dry in a week or two.
Caring for Lavender in Gardens
Lavender plants can work great in gardens, as long as you have well-draining soil and lots of sun. If you’d like to establish a row of lavender plants beside a walkway or one big bush next to your porch, follow these care tips.
Choosing a Location and Planting
If there’s one thing lavender loves, it’s the sun! And if there’s one thing it hates, it’s saturated soil.
That means you should choose a location that receives lots of sun and also has well-draining soil. Since you can amend the soil but can’t move the position of the sun, start with light. After you’ve found a spot that receives at least six hours of bright light each day, you can check the soil.
If the soil is compacted or contains lots of clay, you should take some time to make it more suitable for lavender plants. First, dig a hole that is a few inches larger than the lavender plant’s root ball. Next, add some gravel or sand in the hole—both of these materials will improve drainage. At this point, you can place the lavender in the hole and fill in the empty space with soil.
Pruning Lavender Plants
While you may cut fragrant lavender blooms for flower arrangements, these plants can benefit from additional pruning. Removing foliage both rids the plant of dead material and also encourages new growth. If you only prune once a year, aim for early to mid-fall after the plants have flowered.
Start the pruning process with a pair of sharp and sanitized pruning shears. Trim a few inches off the top of each shoot to encourage the growth of both roots and stems. You can also remove any clearly dead or diseased material.
Growing Lavender in Containers
If you don’t have a garden to grow lavender in, don’t worry. Lavender is easy to grow in containers as long as you know the type of care to provide.
Choosing a Container
First, there’s container choice. As with all potted plants, you’ll want to choose a pot that has drainage holes. This is especially important for moisture-hating lavender plants. While these plants don’t ask for much, they do ask you to keep them out of saturated soils.
Selecting a Suitable Soil Mix
With lavender’s moisture-hating nature in mind, choosing the proper soil mix is also a key part of keeping these fragrant beauties happy. Excellent drainage and aeration is a must, so look for a mix with materials like perlite or pine bark fines. That said, the mix should also be able to hold some moisture and nutrients, so a mix that contains peat moss or coco coir is often a good option.
As far as pH goes, aim for a neutral or slightly acidic pH. This means the soil pH should be between 6.0 and 7.0.
Adding a few handfuls of well-aged compost to the potting mix is also a good idea. This will provide a boost of beneficial microbes that may help make nutrients available to plants and also fight off harmful pathogens.
Selecting a Suitable Location
If you plant lavender in a container, you can move it anywhere you’d like! However, keep in mind that some locations are better than others.
No matter if you’re growing your potted lavender indoors or outdoors, you’ll want to place your plant in a spot that receives lots of bright light. Direct light is great, but indirect light will also work.
If your lavender is outside, place it in a sunny location such as a south-facing patio or on a sunny porch. And if you’re growing lavender indoors, place it near a south-facing or west-facing window.
Watering Potted Lavender Plants
In general, you will need to water potted lavender plants more often than you would plants that are growing in the soil. Multiple factors contribute to this quicker drying. First, potting mix often offers better drainage than native soils. Second, a container is open to more air, which can increase soil temperature and therefore evaporation.
So, what does watering potted lavender plants look like? Well, it depends on the environmental conditions in your area. Hotter, drier days mean you will need to water more often while cool and humid days mean you may be able to skip watering for a bit.
A good way to tell if you should water your lavender plant is to check the soil moisture level. Stick your finger into the top of the soil. If the top three inches are dry, go ahead and water! But if you still feel even an inkling of moisture, put the watering can down. Nothing can kill a lavender plant quite like overwatering!
When it is time to water, you want to thoroughly moisten the soil. That means slowly watering the soil until you see water flow out of the pot’s drainage holes. If you have a catch dish under the pot, make sure to empty it after it collects water.
As long as your lavender plant is healthy, you can plan on repotting every two to three years. This gives the plant room to expand and also provides you with a chance to look at the plant’s roots and replant them into fresh soil.
Start by taking your plant outside or laying down a towel that you don’t mind getting dirty. Carefully wiggle the plant’s root ball out of the container, and gently remove any loose soil that’s attached to the roots. If you notice any soft or rotten roots, cut them off using a pair of pruning shears.
At this point, you can select a suitable container to repot in—it’s best to choose a pot that is just a few inches larger than the original. Place the lavender in its new pot and fill the empty spaces with a well-draining soil mix.
Popular Lavender Varieties
Whether you knew it or not, there are close to 50 different species of lavender plants, all of which belong to the Lavandula genus. Here are some of the most commonly grown species.
Also known as common lavender, English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is actually native to the Mediterranean. Depending on the variety, these plants may have purple, pink, or white flowers. It is a relatively cold-hardy species and can survive in areas as cold as New York and Idaho.
This species of lavender is known for its fringed leaves and abundance of flowers. Many varieties of French lavender have flowers that aren’t super fragrant.
This hybrid is a combination of two lavender species: English lavender and spike lavender. The result of this cross is a plant that has strongly scented flowers bursting with floral, woodsy, and citrus notes.
Learn More About Flower Care
If lavender isn’t your thing, or you just want to add some diversity to your garden, you may be interested in learning how to care for other types of flowering plants. If you’re looking for a bright flowering annual read about rosemary plant care, and if you are interested in a flowering vine that can pose as a tree check out boungainvillea care.Shop All