5 Reasons Lavenders are Easy to Grow

Why is my lavender dying

Lavenders are easy to grow low maintenance plants that thrive on neglectful treatment. If you are an inexperienced gardener, or want to save time by growing plants that practically look after themselves then lavenders are a great choice.

Here’s why lavenders are easy to grow and care for:

  1. Lavenders are drought tolerant and do not need to be watered frequently.
  2. Lavenders do not need fertilizing as they’re adapted to low fertility soils.
  3. Pruning lavender is quick and easy and only needs to be done twice per year.
  4. Lavenders can be grown outdoors, in pots or indoors depending on your preference.
  5. English lavender species are disease resistant and cold hardy and will survive winter.

English varieties of lavender are the most hardy and disease resistant, therefore they’re the easiest to care for, whereas non English varieties are susceptible to frost damage during winter and need to live in mild climates.

That being said all lavenders require full sun, well draining soil amended with sand and prefer alkaline soils.

Once you know a few best practices and get the conditions right, lavender is remarkably easy to grow. Keep reading for some concise details you need to be aware of, for easy and successful lavender growing…

Lavenders Need Watering Infrequently

Thanks to their Mediterranean heritage, lavenders are adapted to dry conditions with very little rainfall.

In fact established lavenders in most climates will not need any watering at all. Most problems occur when the lavender is over watered and over fertilized so restricting watering to twice a week during the growing season is important.

Lavender TypeHow Often to water Lavenders
Established LavendersEstablished lavenders only need watering once every 2 weeks during the growing season. If there has been significant rainfall in a two week period then you can skip watering for at least another week. You will not need to water established lavenders at all over winter, as they are in a state of dormancy and attain enough water from occasional rainfall.
Newly Planted LavendersNewly planted lavender will require more attention in the first year of planting. Water the plant immediately after planting and water once every week for four weeks to help mitigate transplant shock. After the four weeks, you can scale back watering to once every two weeks.
Potted LavendersPotted lavenders are slightly more susceptible to drying out then planted lavender so it is important to water them once every two weeks, even if there has been some rainfall. Make sure they’re holes in the base of the pot to allow excess water to drain away.
Indoor LavendersLavenders that are kept indoors should be watered once every two weeks and place in the sunniest window of the house with at least 6 hours of direct sun, during the growing season.
During WinterLavenders go into a state of dormancy to conserve resources over winter therefore outdoor lavenders do not need additional water but any lavenders kept indoors whether its all year round or just during winter will need some water once every 4-6 weeks to stop them drying out completely.

Lavenders also require well draining soil that does not hold onto water. A mixture of 30% sand and 70% compost will provide the ideal soil structure, so that excess water can drain away and the lavenders roots can remain dry between periods of watering.

Lavenders that are sat in damp soil will likely develop root rot so make sure the soil drains well. If you have a naturally boggy garden with persistently wet soil then planting lavenders in pots or raised beds is the best solution.

No Need to Fertilize Lavenders

Most plants (such as roses) are heavy feeders and require regular doses of fertilizer as well as nutrient rich soil.

Lavenders are the opposite of this and actually require low to medium fertility soils and English varieties in particular will not require any additional fertilizer.

This may go against the instincts of a gardener but lavenders have adapted to a low to medium nutrient life and actually produce the best blooms and strongest scents when they are in poor soils.

Adding fertilizer to lavenders will promote foliage growth at the expense of flowers and aromas, and the foliage may turn yellow (a sign of excessive nitrogen, if this has happened, read my article on what to do about lavenders with yellow foliage).

Plant lavenders in garden soil that has been amended with plenty of sand or gravel to replicate their natural low fertility soil conditions and they will thrive.

Pruning Lavenders is Easy

Pruning lavenders is a very easy 5 minutes job twice per year:

  • All you need to do is use a sterile pair of shears or pruners and remove 1/3 of the green growth of the lavender.
  • Prune the plant into a rounded mound shape as this will resist winter weather more effectively.
  • Never cut back into the brown woody growth as this does not rejuvenate. Always stay within the green growth when pruning.

Pruning slows down the formation of woody growth, prolongs the life of the lavender and stimulates more shoots to grow to produce more blooms.

Prune the lavender once at the start of spring just as new foliage is beginning to emerge from the base of the plant.

Do another light prune at the end of summer when you are simply removing the spent flower stems and maintaining the mound shape before winter.

Take a look at this YouTube video for a helpful guide:

Lavenders can be Grown Indoors, Outdoors or in Pots

Lavender plants can grow well, indoors, outdoors or in pots on patios and balconies.

The main considerations when deciding where to position your lavender have to be whether it will receive enough sun (lavenders require more then 6 hours of sun per day) and whether they can be planted into soil that is porous and allows water to drain quickly as lavenders like they’re roots to be dry between watering.

Lavenders grow especially well in pots as they provide ideal drainage conditions, although you have to make sure that there is plenty of drainage holes in the base of the pot so that water doesn’t collect at the bottom.

Read my guide on Growing Lavenders in Pots for best practices so that you ensure your lavender produces flowers and thrives.

For growing indoor lavender you should choose one of the dwarf varieties such as Lavandula angustifolia Munstead as they are best suited to an indoor environment and won’t take up half your window space!

Caring for lavenders indoors is much the same as anywhere else, although it is best to avoid rooms with high humidity such as the bathroom or kitchen as lavenders prefer dry foliage.

Indoor lavenders are a great way to enjoy the distinct floral aroma in your house.

Take a look at my guide: How to Grow Lavenders Inside for the best practices and specific care instructions

English Lavenders are Winter Hardy and Disease Resistant

Species of English lavenders, (popular varieties include Munstead and Hidcote) are the hardiest lavenders that are capable of surviving winter in temperate climates that experience frosts.

In fact the varieties such as Lady Lavender and Hidcote Superior can withstand temperatures as low as -30 °C (-20 °F).

If you live in a mild climate that doesn’t reach freezing point in winter then you will be able to grow the more delicate Spanish, French and Italian lavender species as well as English.

However if there is unseasonable cold snaps then you will need to protect non English lavenders over winter by transferring them into pots and moving them inside or using a cloche.

But for easy low maintenance disease resistant lavender, you should always choose the English varieties as they are the toughest and most reliable of all.

As long as English lavenders are planted in well draining soil and receive plenty of sun, they will be able to survive snow and cold winters and be able to bloom the next year.

Pruning becomes even more important part of the winter preparation for outdoor lavender in winter as a well pruned lavenders are far less vulnerable to snow and frost damage.

Read my article for more information on preparing lavender for winter.

Key Takeaways:

  • Lavenders are drought resistant plants and will easily tolerate dryer periods if you forget to water them.
  • Lavenders are adapted to poor soils and actually do not require any feeding or fertilizing. In fact feeding lavenders can often lead to leggy growth with a lack of blooms so avoid using fertilizer.
  • Pruning lavenders only takes 5 minutes and only needs to be done twice per year to maintain a healthy plant.
  • Depending on your living arrangements, lavenders can be grown successfully indoors, outdoors or in pots and still produce plentiful, fragrant blooms.
  • English lavenders can survive cold winters and they are disease resistant. The fungal disease root rot can be easily avoided by planting lavenders in well draining soil and ensuring that you do not over water the plant.
  • Choose a nice sunny spot for you lavender with at least 6 hours of sunshine. The more sunlight the more fragrance, oil and blooms your lavender will be capable of producing.

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