Can Lavender grow inside?
Lavender can be grown indoors if they’re placed by a window with 6 hours + of sun per day. The potting soil needs to be amended for good drainage and indoor lavenders should be watered just once every 2 weeks during the growing season to stay healthy and produce flowers.
Dwarf varieties of lavender do best indoors such as Lavender Hidcote and Lavandula angustifolia as they maintain a compact shape (if pruned correctly) and still produce fragrant flowers with attractive foliage.
Indoor lavenders do have some specific requirements to grow successfully so keep on reading for how to:
- Choose the right pot for indoor lavenders
- The optimal potting mix for lavender (70% potting soil 30% sand or grit)
- The best rooms for lavender (avoid kitchens, bathrooms and other rooms with high humidity)
- How often and how much to water indoors lavender (avoid over watering).
- Prune lavender to maintain shape and encourage blooms.
Choose the Right Pot for Indoor Lavenders
The roots of the lavenders like to be kept nice and dry between watering, therefore lavenders need a pot that has drainage holes in the base so that the water can escape freely.
You should choose a pot that is both wider and deeper then the container it was originally in from the garden store. The dwarf, or indoor lavender varieties will not grow as quick or large as the outdoor varieties that are used for harvest, so you should’t have to repot that plant often.
However, every so often you should check for lavender roots emerging through the drainage holes of the pot. Once this happens you will need to replant the lavender to a larger pot so that the drainage holes do not become blocked which will hinder water from escaping.
The ideal time to repot lavender is early in the spring as this will minimize transplant shock. You can re home your lavender at anytime of year if necessary but you may have to sacrifice some flowers if you re pot lavender outside of the optimal as spring window as lavenders need time adjust to their new home.
One of the most common mistakes I see with growing indoor lavenders is that, people place them in a pot with good drainage but then place the lavender into a larger decorative pot or place the pot on a saucer to catch the water, so it doesn’t leak away and make a mess.
The decorative pot or saucer then collects water which keeps the soil moist and the roots consequently begin to rot.
What I do to avoid water leaking out the pot onto my window sill is to place my lavender into a bigger decorative pot but remove the lavender in its smaller pot for watering and leave it for a good 30 minutes so that the excess water has had a chance to escape.
I then replace the lavender into the decorative pot with a paper towel in the bottom to absorb and more moisture and make sure the soil will stay dry which is the lavenders preferred condition.
The Right Potting Mix for Indoor Lavenders
Lavenders grow best and produce the most flowers when grown in well draining, sandy soil that has low to medium levels of fertility as these are the conditions to which they have adapted in their native Mediterranean home range.
So to grow your indoor lavender successfully, you will need to go some way to replicating these soil conditions to keep the plant healthy and full of fragrance.
Use a mix of general potting soil and grit or sand. A ratio of 70% potting mix and 30% sand or grit will provide the right soil structure that allows water to drain effectively so it the roots can stay relatively dry between periods of watering.
The air pockets created by the sand or grit (both materials work well) will allow the roots to establish, stay dry and prevent soil compaction.
When you plant your lavender into its new home avoid firming the soil around the plant with too much force as lavenders prefer a porous soil texture.
Do Indoor Lavenders need Fertilizer?
Contrary to what you might think, lavenders actually thrive in poor to medium quality, sandy soils, without much nutrients thanks to its Mediterranean heritage.
Therefore Indoor lavender does not need additional feeding. If lavender is in highly fertile soil or receives additional fertilizer then foliage growth will be promoted at the expense of flowers and the lavender will develop a leggy appearance and there may be a yellowing of the foliage.
Take a look at my article for a troubleshooting guide if your lavender looks unwell.
The Ideal Place for Indoor Lavender
Lavenders enjoy full sun and with good air flow and warm temperatures in their native range. The ideal spot for your lavender will be a sunny window that ideally receives 6 or more hours of light during the growing season.
Lavenders can survive with less light but may become leggy and will produce, less fragrance and less blooms in the spring and summer, then if they were in more hours of sun, so its always best to place lavenders on the window sill in the sunniest room of the house.
Lavenders do not survive in full the shade or only indirect light.
Indoor lavenders are perfectly comfortably in high temperatures and they will be fine indoors over winter as long as they are not exposed to frosts in a greenhouse for example.
Spacing Indoor Lavender
Smaller indoor lavenders will still appreciate some space of their own to allow airflow through the foliage so try to avoid overcrowding them with other plants or objects, so place ideally them around 9 inches apart.
Allowing some air flow through the house with an open during the summer will benefit the lavender as it will keep its foliage dry and help avoid potential fungal disease.
Rooms to Avoid for Lavender
You should avoid placing lavenders in rooms that become too steamy such as the kitchen and the bathroom. Lavenders are suited to a Mediterranean climate with lots of sunshine, heat and a lack of consistent moisture in the air.
If they are exposed to constant high humidity then they then can suffer from root rot and fungal disease. So long as they are on a sunny window sill away from moisture they will be fine.
Watering Indoor Lavender
The most common mistake when it comes to watering indoor lavender is always over watering rather then under watering.
Lavenders are adapted to the hot, dry and sandy conditions of the Mediterranean and therefore thrive on seemingly neglectful treatment of infrequent watering.
This drought resistance and hardiness is why lavenders are such great low maintenance indoor plants to grow.
However if you water lavender too frequently, it will become droopy in appearance and there may be a browning of the foliage, which are signs of stress as a result of over watering.
These symptoms usually indicate root rot. (see my article for how to revive dying lavender).
Watering indoor lavenders will take some care and attention in the first year but, once they are established you will only need to water them every two weeks during the growing season.
|Indoor Lavender Stage||How Much Water and How Often|
|After Planting.||You should give the lavender a good soak straight after planting to help minimize transplant shock.|
|First Four Weeks.||For the first four weeks after planting or transferring pots you should give your lavender a watering once per week. Use enough water so that its leaks out the bottom of the pot. If you use a saucer or larger decorative pot to house your lavender, make sure water isn’t collecting in the bottom, if so empty it and place a paper towel on the bottom of the pot to help absorb excess water away from the lavender roots.|
|After the initially four weeks.||Scale back the watering to once every two weeks. Lavenders thrive on neglectful infrequent watering. If you water more frequently you will likely induce root rot and kill the plant.|
|Once the lavender is Established.||Once the lavender is fully established watering once every two weeks during the growing season is perfect. Lavenders are drought resistant so once they are established they will likely tolerate not being watered for longer then two week intervals, if you forget or go away, however one watering every two weeks is still best practice.|
|During Winter.||During winter lavenders go into a state of dormancy and do not require much water. One watering every 4-6 weeks from late Fall to early spring will be enough. Too much water in winter, when evaporation rates in the soil are lower will likely lead to root rot so just remember to avoid watering too frequently.|
Pruning Indoor Lavenders
Pruning lavenders is essential to maintain the lavenders shape, stimulate growth and to encourage more blooms as lavender only flowers on new seasons growth, hence why you should prune lavenders every year.
The right time to prune is in the early spring when new, green leaves start to appear from the base of the lavender. Cut the top green growth back by around a third, bearing in mind you are try to keep the lavender in a nice orderly shape as this will stop the plant from splitting and becoming too woody.
The most important thing to know about pruning lavender is that you should never cut back into the woody, brown base of the lavender as old wood will stop producing new shoots, which means no new blooms will be produced and the plant will die.
A second pruning in the Fall is recommended to remove faded flower stems and to ensure that the lavender maintains a good shape.
With Indoor dwarf varieties such as Lavandula angustifolia and Hidcote you use a sharp sterile pair of scissors without necessarily needing pruners as the growth on varieties suited for indoors tends to be softer and easier to cut compared with the vigorous and larger outdoor varieties.
Pruning indoor lavenders is essentially the same as outdoor varieties but scaled down to size.
If you are unsure then watch this YouTube video for a clear visual guide to pruning lavenders.
- Choose a pot with good drainage holes in the base and do not allow water to collect under the pot with a saucer as this will keep the soil moist and induce root rot.
- Plant indoor lavenders into a potting mix of around 20% sand or grit and 70% general potting soil. The sand will improve drainage and provide the optimal soil structure for lavenders to thrive.
- You do not need to add fertilizer as lavenders thrive in poor to medium fertility soils. High fertility will promote foliage growth and at the expense of producing flowers.
- Space your indoor lavender so there is some air flow. Avoid steamy or humid rooms such as the kitchen or bathroom as lavenders prefer to be dry.
- Water indoor lavender once per week for the first four weeks to minimize transplant shock. After four weeks revert to watering once every two weeks in the growing season. Water every 4-6 weeks during the winter.
- Prune indoor lavenders in the early spring to promote blooming, maintain shape and to prevent the lavender from becoming too woody.