One of the most common questions for beginner gardeners is whether lavenders or any variety of lavender is able to grow in shadier conditions.
Lavenders do not grow well in the shade. Lavenders require full sun and drier conditions in terms of humidity and drainage. Lavenders that receive less than 6 hours of sun in the growing season produce fewer flowers, poor growth, and can die.
I have read about varieties of lavender that claim to tolerate some shade but in my experience, you will have to sacrifice flowers and fragrance when lavenders are not in full sun.
Lavenders are native to Mediterranean countries such as Italy, Spain, and France where they thrive in full sun, sandy soils, and with little water.
Whilst you certainly do not have to live in the Mediterranean to grow lavenders you must imitate the conditions in order to grow lavenders that flower and exude their distinctive fragrance.
If you want to get the best out of your lavenders then place them in full sun and don’t try to compromise with a shadier spot of your garden.
Here is a useful lavender growers checklist so that you know exactly the optimal conditions for growing lavenders…
Lavender Growers Checklist
- Full sun is the most important growing condition for lavenders. Lavenders will need at the very least 6 hours (preferably more) of direct sunlight per day during the Spring and Summer months.
- Lavenders grow best in soil that has low to medium fertility. If The soil is too rich and fertile lavenders will grow more foliage and little to no flowers. Rich soil also tends to hold onto moisture more effectively which will rot the roots of the arid-loving lavender
- The soil for lavender needs to be either, sandy, somewhat rocky, or chalk as the roots of lavenders need very good drainage and hate to sit in wet or moist soil. Lavenders are very susceptible to root rot and overwatering. In their countries of origin, the soil tends to be sandy and dry as it is baked in the sun during the growing season with relatively little rainfall.
- Lavenders need relatively little watering. In fact the most common reason lavenders die is because gardeners actually overwater their plants. The symptoms of an overwatered lavender look very similar to the symptoms of underwatered plants. For example, an overwatered lavender will show signs of stress such as wilting and a yellowing or browning of the leaves. Lavenders need to be watered once every 2 weeks in the growing season. If there have been many overcast days and significant rainfall lavenders will not require any additional watering.
- One of the reasons lavenders grow well in chalk soils is that they like their soil to be either pH neutral if not slightly alkaline, although they can tolerate mildly acidic soils. It is a good idea to test your soil with an inexpensive kit from Amazon to establish the pH of your garden soil so you can choose your plants accordingly.
- Lavenders do appreciate some air circulation. They are generally disease-resistant plants but they are susceptible to some fungal disease. A gentle breeze helps keep disease at bay. Lavenders are a good choice for a seaside garden as they can tolerate sea air and some coastal wind.
Lavenders need full sun and they do not grow well if at all in partial shade or full shade.
Lavenders are a relatively short lived garden plant (4 years is typical) so do not do them a disservice by placing them in unfavourable shade.
Instead, cater to their Mediterranean requirements and enjoy there brilliant aroma and beautiful flowers.
It should be noted lavenders are very easy to propagate, so although they only live for four years you can easily produce a succession of lavenders to replace the old ones with some prior planning with no costs.
If you would like to know more about what soil lavenders need and how to easily amend soil for lavenders, take a look at my article where I detail exactly what you need to do to ensure good drainage and the ideal soil conditions for lavenders.