French lavenders are appreciated around the world for the long flowering season and fine fragrance. \n\n\n\nFortunately, growing French lavender is easy, although they do require some specific care and conditions so that they grow healthy and flower to their full potential.\n\n\n\nThis article cover all aspects of growing and caring for French lavender in the following sequence, so scroll down for more information on:\n\n\n\nWhich climate is best for growing French lavender?When do they flower?Best time for planting?How to water French lavenderThe soil requirementsHow and when to prune French lavender?How far apart to plant each lavender?How long do they live?What size do they grow to?Does French lavender need feeding?Will they grow in pots?Winter care for French lavender\n\n\n\nWhere French Lavender will Grow?\n\n\n\nThe most important aspect when it comes to growing French lavender is know which climates it will grow in successfully. \n\n\n\nFrench lavender grows best in hot climates that experience mild winters. French lavenders are not cold hardy and will die if exposed to frost, snow, ice and freezing temperatures. Most French lavender varieties are hardy in USDA zones 7-11.\n\n\n\nTherefore you cannot grow French lavender outdoors if your climate experiences cold winters, however you can grow them outdoors in pots and move them indoors for winter protection. (For more information on the precautions to take read my article will French lavender survive winter).\n\n\n\nAs with all lavender species and varieties, French lavender will not cope well in areas of persistent high humidity. \n\n\n\nFrench lavender can grows best in climates with high temperatures, with infrequent rainfall in the growing season (Spring to early Fall) in sunny locations similar to its native Mediterranean climate.\n\n\n\nWhen do they Flower?\n\n\n\nFrench lavender is valued for its particularly long flowering season which may last several months, if the faded flowers are regularly deadheaded which encourages more flowers. \n\n\n\nSpring is when the first flowers emerge usually in May or June and it can flowering into the Fall as late as September if the growing conditions are perfect.\n\n\n\nAlways grow in full sun. French lavender is native to the countries of Southern Europe that are on the Mediterranean coast. In their natural environment they are in blazing full sun all day with high temperatures and low humidity. \n\n\n\nIt is under these conditions that they produce the most flowers, strongest aromas and most oil. \n\n\n\nPlant French lavender in the sunniest place in your garden for best results, although they will grow with 6 hours of sun per day during the growing season.\n\n\n\nThe more sun the more potential for flowering. Lavenders do not grow well in the shade and will not last long.\n\n\n\nBest Time for Planting \n\n\n\nThe best time for planting French lavender is in the early Spring. This will give the plant the opportunity for its roots to develop and establish in the new soil. Once established the roots will be able to draw up water better before the intense heat and sunshine of summer threatens to dry the plant out.\n\n\n\nBecause French lavender is suited to warm climates and does not have to prepare for a cold winter with frost and snow, there is more freedom for the timing of your lavender planting. \n\n\n\nFrench lavender varieties can be planted successfully any time from early spring till early Fall.\n\n\n\nIf you do plant in the summer then flowering may be affected as the plant may suffer stress from planting which is why I would recommend planting in the Summer at the height of the lavenders flowering.\n\n\n\nWatering French Lavender\n\n\n\nEstablish French lavenders only need to be watered once every 2 weeks during the growing season if there has been no rainfall. \n\n\n\nIf there has been significant rainfall since you last watered the lavender then delay watering for another few days and test to see if the surrounding soil is dry first. If you detect any moisture then refrain from watering for another week or so.\n\n\n\nFrench lavenders are drought resistant and thrive in the seemingly harsh conditions of blazing sun sunshine, high temperatures, with low rainfall and in soils that do not retain much water.\n\n\n\nThis is simply an adaptation to their native Mediterranean climate. More problems arise from over watering French lavender then they every will from under watering. \n\n\n\nFrench lavender varieties do not appreciate frequent watering as this will keep the soil moist and the roots will develop root rot. Signs of an over watered lavender are brown foliage and a drooping appearance. \n\n\n\nFor best results...\n\n\n\nFrench lavender that has been planted for more then a year requires watering once every two weeks in the Spring, Summer and Fall if there has been no rainfall. If there has been significant rainfall delay watering for a few days until the soil has dried out.Newly planted French lavender will require more attention. Lavenders are drought resistant but they are somewhat vulnerable to the effects of heat when they are recently planted or transplanted as their roots will not have had the chance to establish properly in the surrounding soil. Water newly planted French lavender straight after planting and continue to water every 3 to 4 days in the first month and then once per week till three month after planting. After three months, scale back watering to once every two weeks. This will help mitigate transplant shock and help the lavender to establish in its new surroundings.Do not water French lavender during winter. Winter is the time when lavender is more vulnerable to root rot and watering will only compound the problem. French lavender will attain enough moisture from the environment if left outdoors over winter. If you have brought your potted lavender indoors for protection from frost then water it once every 4-6 weeks. (For more information read my article, caring for lavenders in winter).\n\n\n\nAlways water with a generous soak for every lavender and make sure the surrounding soil is wet, but it also should drain very quickly and not hold onto the moisture. \n\n\n\nFor French lavenders in pots, water till there is a trickle of water appearing through the drainage holes in the base of the pot. For the right pot read my article on choosing the best pot for lavender as this is very important.\n\n\n\nSoil Requirements for French Lavender\n\n\n\nFrench lavender is known as a plant that thrives on neglect, however it does have a specific set of soil conditions that it requires to grow successfully and flower well. \n\n\n\nAs gardeners it is our job to recreate soil conditions of their native environment. \n\n\n\nThe soil conditions for French lavender are:\n\n\n\nSoil pH of 6.5 to 8. French lavenders prefer to be in alkaline soils (soils over pH 7 but under pH 8) but they will tolerate some mild acidity. Well draining soil is very important. The soil must have an open porous texture to allow water to drain effectively and to allow the roots to respire. French lavenders need the soil around their roots to dry out between each watering otherwise they can be susceptible to the fungal disease root rot.Low to medium fertility soils. This soil condition is often a surprise to most gardeners because most plants will grow their best in rich, high fertility soils. The French lavender (not just native to France but other countries in Southern Europe) is adapted to grow in sandy soils with less nutrients. It is in these soils that they produce the best flowers and finest fragrances. Planting them in high fertility soils will do them a disservice and they will grow leggy with yellow foliage and fewer flowers.\n\n\n\nTo replicate these conditions you will need to add some sand or gravel to your soil so that they make up at least 30% percent of the volume of the planting mix with the rest composed of organic soil.\n\n\n\nThe added sand or gravel will increase drainage, improve soil structure and balance the fertility of the soil (as sand and gravel are relatively low in nutrients). \n\n\n\nIf you have acidic soil then it is a good idea to add some lime to the soil which has the effect of raising the soils pH from acidic to alkaline. Lime is available online and from any good garden store. Read more about growing lavender in acidic soils in my article.\n\n\n\nIf you do not know your soils pH then it is a good idea to find out before buying French lavenders. The easiest way to do this is with a soil gauge from Amazon I personally use and does not require any technical knowledge, as it just gives a clear reading of the soils pH and it is available for a great price.\n\n\n\nChalk soils are ideal for growing French lavender as they have all the characteristics of the optimal soil type.\n\n\n\nPruning French Lavender\n\n\n\nHow to prune French lavender\n\n\n\nIt is important to prune French lavender every year as pruning:\n\n\n\nExtends the lavenders lifespan by slowing down woody growth from the base of the plantEncourage flower bearing stems to growMaintains a nice compact shapeStops lavender becoming leggy and untidy\n\n\n\nWhen to prune: Opinion is somewhat divided over what the best time of year to prune french lavender. You can successfully prune French lavenders in the early Spring and in the Fall after flowering.\n\n\n\nPrune back the green growth of the lavender with a pair of shears or pruners. A good rule of thumb is to prune the green growth back by a third into a neat and tidy mound shape. \n\n\n\nAlways avoid pruning back to the woody base as this part of the lavender does not regenerate well and you can end up killing the plant or severely limit the number of healthy stems and flowers that can grow.\n\n\n\nYou can prune French lavender in the Fall in a warm climate that has a mild winter (between USDA zone 7-11) as the lavender is less susceptible to damage from the cold in these climates. Wait till after the plant has flowered and round the plant as this will prevent it from becoming leggy or splitting at the vulnerable woody base.\n\n\n\nAlternatively you can prune it in the early Spring. This will stimulate growth of new stems which can increase the potential for more flowers. The same rules of pruning apply whether you trim your lavender at the start or the end of the growing season. \n\n\n\nFor a good visual guide of what to do take a look at this YouTube video:\n\n\n\n\nhttps:\/\/www.youtube.com\/watch?v=9daVr8cFYgY&t=18s\nGuide to pruning lavender.\n\n\n\nHow Far Apart to Plant French Lavender\n\n\n\nCommercial lavender growers will plant French lavenders 2-3 feet apart. 2-3 feet will give each plant the space it needs to grow and prevents lavender from casting shade on one another which will restrict flowering. \n\n\n\nSpacing lavender\n\n\n\nLavender benefits from being spaced out from each other because they appreciate air flow through the foliage. This helps to dry an moisture that could cause problems and reduces the chance of fungal disease.\n\n\n\nThe roots also need space to grow and access water and nutrients without being overwhelmed up competition from the roots of other plants.\n\n\n\nNote that it is 2-3 feet between planting of each lavender rather then 2-3 feet from the outer most foliage of each plant. For more information I have an article about how much space lavenders need to grow for the healthiest plants.\n\n\n\nHow Long do they Live?\n\n\n\nFrench lavenders are perennial plants that live for several years. The reason some people mistake French lavenders for annuals is that they grow them in a climate that is too cold for French lavender to survive winter and then have to replace the plant every year.\n\n\n\nFrench lavenders are not as long lived as English lavenders. If the growing conditions are ideal and the lavender is pruned every year, then French lavender can live for around 5 years.\n\n\n\nThis is significantly less time then English lavenders which can live up to 15 years with the right conditions. \n\n\n\nThe most cost effective way to keep a supply of lavenders is to propagate them to produce your own, which is a very fulfilling garden project!\n\n\n\nPropagating lavender from cuttings is relatively simple and much easier then trying to grow lavender from seeds, which requires a very specific sequence of changing conditions and has a lower success rate compared to propagating.\n\n\n\nIf you are interested take a look at this YouTube video which shows you just how achievable it is to produce new lavenders from cuttings.\n\n\n\n\nhttps:\/\/www.youtube.com\/watch?v=ayF_tjmofaI\nGuide to propagating lavender.\n\n\n\nWhat Size are French lavenders?\n\n\n\nFrench lavenders can vary in size depending on the specific cultivar and whether the lavender has optimal care and conditions. \n\n\n\nSunlight, well draining soil, infrequently watering and alkaline soils are all important, however sunlight is usually the most important factor, with the more sun the better. Varieties that are popular and widely available from garden store or online are:\n\n\n\n Lavandula stoechas \u2018Regal Splendour\u2019 which is the most recognisable variety that is valued for its sweet fragrance and long flowering season. It can grow 30 inches (76 cm) tall and 24 (60 cm) inches wide. This is the size at full maturity and it will only grow full size in optimal conditions (full sun, well draining soil etc.) Lavandula stoechas \u2018Ballerina\u2019 is another very popular lavender that grows to a similar size as 'Regal Splendour' at 30 inches (76 cm) tall and 35 inches (89 cm) wide. Lavandula stoechas \u2018Anouk\u2019 is a smaller variety that tends to have a mature size of 12 inches (30 cm) tall and 18 inches (45 cm) wide. This lavender is popular as small decorative hedges and can flower for many months in the growing season.\n\n\n\nDoes French Lavender need Feeding?\n\n\n\nLavenders grow best in low to medium fertility soil similar to the sandy soils in their native range of Southern Europe. French lavenders do not need fertilizer or feeding. Nitrogen based fertilizers will cause the plant to grow leggy with yellow foliage and produce fewer flowers. \n\n\n\nFrench lavender thrives on harsh, neglectful treatment rather then the consistent care that some plants need. \n\n\n\nIf anything you may have to amend the soil to balance the nutrients with sand or gravel. For more information on this read my article on the optimal soil mix for lavenders.\n\n\n\nAvoid using a mulch of organic materials (such as compost or manure) as this will add to the fertility of the soil and retain more water which will to be the detriment of the lavender.\n\n\n\nInstead some commercial growers use a mulch of white stone as this helps to reflect more sunlight onto the plant (the more sun the better) which reportedly increase blooms and production of oil.\n\n\n\nWill French lavender Grow in pots?\n\n\n\nFrench lavender varieties grow very well in pots (as all lavenders do) because the drainage conditions of pots is very favourable to lavenders preference of dry soils.\n\n\n\nThe advantage of growing lavenders in pots is that you can move the plant indoors in cold weather as French lavender is not cold hardy. This way French lavenders can survive winter if you are in a cold climate.\n\n\n\nDwarf varieties of French lavender are also considered the most appropriate plants for indoor potted lavenders as they are a modest size and therefore can fit on a sunny window sill and they can live comfortably at room temperature. \n\n\n\nKeep them out of the more humid rooms such as bathrooms and kitchens and they will bloom indoors and exude their distinctive fragrance.\n\n\n\nTo learn how to grow lavender indoors read my article for a full guide.\n\n\n\nFrench Lavender Care in Winter\n\n\n\nIt is important to emphasize that French lavender is not cold hardy and will not survive outdoors in frost, snow, ice and freezing temperatures (most varieties are hardy to USDA zones 7-11).\n\n\n\nIf your climate experiences mild winter like the in the lavender home range of the Mediterranean in southern Europe then it will live outdoors without a problem, although there are a few good practices for caring for French lavenders over winter such as:\n\n\n\nPlanting the lavender in well draining soil mix with which is composed with at least one third sand or gravel. This allows water to drain quickly so the roots are in cold wet soil.Do not water in the winter if kept outdoors as this will keep the soil moist and increase chances of fungal disease. The plant will attain enough water from the environment over winter with additional water.Clear away leaves or other organic material from around the lavender that may hold moisture.If you are planting in a pot make sure that the pot is at least 16 inches across as this will contain enough soil to help insulate the roots from the colder temperatures. \n\n\n\nIf you are in a climate that does experience cold winter then you can plant lavender in a pot and place it outdoors during the growing season and they bring it indoors before the first winter frost. \n\n\n\nAlways place indoor lavender by the sunniest window in the house as although lavender is dormant over winter it will still benefit from sunshine.\n\n\n\nFor more on how to care for potted lavender in winter read my article.\n\n\n\nKey Takeaways:\n\n\n\nFrench lavender grows best in full sun, with high temperatures, low rainfall and infrequent watering, in well draining sandy soils, low humidity, low to medium fertility with a soil pH between 6.5-8.The best time for planting is in the Spring and they flower from Spring through to the early Fall.French lavender varieties grow to different sizes at maturity with the smaller \u2018Anouk\u2019 cultivar growing to only 12 inches tall and 18 inches wide whereas \u2018Regal Splendour\u2019 will grow up to 30 inches tall and 24 inches wide.Established French lavender only need watering once every two weeks if there is no rainfall and the do not need any fertilizer as this will cause leggy growth, with fewer flowers and turn the foliage yellow.French lavender only live for 4 or 5 years even with good care. Propagating lavender is easy which will save money when its time to replace the plant. Pruning will extend the life of the plant and encourage more flowers. Prune French lavenders once per year either in the early Spring or the Fall after the plant has flowered.Plant each lavender 2-3 feet apart to allow for airflow and space to grow. French lavender grow very well in pots and containers.Care for French lavender in winter by planting them in well draining soil and do not water them if they are left outside as wet soils in winter will cause fungal disease. Remove leaves and organic material from around them that hold moisture. If you are in a cold climate, plant French lavender in pots and move it indoors before the first frost for Winter protection.