How To Grow Lavender in Every Climate

Lavender is a native plant to the dry heat of western Mediterranean regions and its long history dates back to the Old World.

The sweetly fragranced perennial herb is a popular ornamental plant for a variety of garden and landscape uses, as well as an arsenal of medicinal and home applications.

A vertical image of basket of lavenders in a garden setting.

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Lavender, of the genus Lavandula, is commonly grouped into four subgeneras, with a vast number of hybrids that have been cultivated for specific growing conditions and climates all around the world:

  • Lavandula angustifolia – English hybrids a.k.a. true lavender
  • Lavandula stoechas – French hybrids
  • Lavandula dentata – Spanish hybrids
  • Lavandula multifida – Egyptian hybrids a.k.a. fernleaf lavender

You’ll find that this is a hardy plant and doesn’t require much attention throughout the growing season.

Once established, it’s a wonderful pollinator plant that produces bright blossoms and soft scents, making it an elegant addition to any landscape or garden.

Tips on How To Grow Lavender | GardenersPath.com

It is drought-resistant, low-maintenance, and – thanks to the strong essential oil it produces – undesirable to foraging critters and pests.

Picking a Plant by Zone

Growing lavender isn’t much of a challenge for any gardener, experienced or not. However, there are a few staunch guidelines that every gardener should keep in mind when starting out:

Lavender…

  • Loves heat
  • Hates water
  • Needs space
  • Wants lean soil

Considering that lavender originates from hot, arid climates similar to Italy, France, and Spain, it’s understandable that cold or humid weather is not ideal.

Do you want to have your own lavender patch? Learn how to easily grow them in your garden now: https://gardenerspath.com/plants/herbs/grow-lavender/

If you fail to compensate for climate, then your plant will not yield as bountiful a harvest, or even fail to survive.

Warm Southern Climates

If you live in a southern state where summers are long and hot, then you’ll need to provide slight shade during the peak heat of the day, and aid in air circulation by generously spacing out your plants.

Remember when I said lavender hates water? If you live in region with significant humidity, then your plants are going to need some serious elbow room to ensure maximum airflow and prevent disease.

Easily Grow Lavender At Home | GardenersPath.com

Water is not lavender’s friend, in the air or in the soil. So proper drainage, airflow, and fast-drying stone mulch will ensure a healthy harvest.

Consider a variety of Lavandula dentata or stoechas when growing in southeastern climates, as they naturally thrive in hot, steamy conditions.

The Cold North

Unfortunately, if you live in a northern region, then you’ll be faced with cold weather, saturated earth, and long winters.

Though the region presents more of a challenge when growing this species of plant, it can be done with a little extra love and patience. Many growers will plant in containers so they can be brought inside during the winter months.

Easily Grow Lavender Anywhere | GardenersPath.com

A good subspecies to grow for the colder northern climates is Lavandula angustifolia, a very cold-hardy hybrid.

Seeds for this variety are available on Amazon, from JPK Seed Company.

There are many varieties that thrive in very specific climates, so once you know your zone, you can identify the best species for your garden by asking your local nursery or other gardeners in your area.

‘Silver Mist’ English lavender is another gorgeous option. It thrives in zones 5-10, and has striking silver foliage that’s sure to stand out in your herb garden or flower beds. Seedlings are available in five-inch pots from Nature Hills Nursery.

Growing Outdoors

Lavender is a delightful plant to grow that easily adds variety to every gardening scenario, from landscaping to wild garden beds.

Do you know that you can grow lavender in any climate? Learn more here: https://gardenerspath.com/plants/herbs/grow-lavender/

In order to ensure strong growth and a healthy life, I will walk you through the steps and considerations of when, where, and how to grow your plant outdoors.

When?

If you are planting early in northern climates, you should skip ahead to the section on growing indoors. Or consider planting outdoors in the springtime after the last frost – as long as you’re not expecting too much rain.

Planting in the spring is challenging with wet weather, but it gives your lavender enough time to acclimate and strengthen before the following winter.

Remember, if your region experiences harsh winters with very wet weather, you should consider planting your lavender in a container so it can be brought in during the darkest winter months.

Easily Grow Lavender Outdoor | GardenersPath.com

November is a good time to plant in southern regions that don’t experience harsh winter weather.

Where?

Give ‘em Some Space

Lavender needs space to grow, allowing for maximum airflow – especially in southern regions with humid climates.

A good rule of thumb is to plant them as far apart as they will grow tall. Strong southern varieties will grow much taller than the northern varieties, which remain short and dense due to the cold weather.

Easy Tips On How To Grow Lavender | GardenersPath.com

If you are planting outdoors in a region with mildly cold winters, there are a few tricks you can use to naturally increase the temperature around your plants.

Planting near southern-facing stone walls or building walls will naturally radiate heat from the sun and warm your plants.

Other surfaces like asphalt, or the addition of stone mulch, can increase the amount of heat your plants receive. And as I said before – lavender loves heat.

Don’t Forget Drainage

Another vital element to consider when choosing where to plant your lavender is drainage.

Proper drainage is the key to a successful season, especially in regions with rainfall averaging around 12-15 inches. Lavender can’t tolerate an excess of water in the soil or in the air.

Find an area with well-drained soil, or consider organic additions to amend your soil.

If you’re concerned about your plants receiving too much water, you can always take an extra precautionary step: dig a half-foot deeper than the root ball and add a layer of gravel to assist drainage.

Do you think growing lavender in your region is not possible? Think again. Grow lavender in your garden now: https://gardenerspath.com/plants/herbs/grow-lavender/

Alternative places to plant lavender while maximize its growth potential include raised beds, containers, and pots.

How?

We’ve acknowledged just how detrimental excess water and cold climates can be to the growth of your plant.

Now it is time to take a closer look at the other two elements that are vital to its successful growth: adequate space, and rich soil.

An alkaline, lean soil will make for a happy, healthy plant.

Is your soil acidic? No worries, just add a half cup of a lime and bone meal mixture to your planting hole to sweeten it up a bit. Continue promoting strong growth by adding this mixture to the soil every year.

The third year of growth is when lavender reaches its peak. If your plant is not meeting your expectations after the first 2-3 years, it’s time to test your soil. If you find you need to compensate for acidic soil, you can throw in a little crushed oyster shell to improve alkalinity.

Crushed oyster shells can be helpful to get the perfect soil balance for growing lavender. | GardenersPath.com
Crushed oyster shells.

A great tip that we strongly advise is to dig your hole, line with gravel, then fill and mound the earth up to 12-24” above the soil line before planting.

The mound will settle some, but by piling the earth up before planting you will maximize drainage around the plant. The height also improves airflow, and as you already know, circulation is key!

Don’t forget the importance of providing ample room and adequate spacing to stretch out and feel the breeze. A spot with 6 or more hours of sunlight is ideal to keep your plants happy and warm.

Pruning

Pruning is very important as it aims to slow down the growth of woody stems, and forces the plant to produce new foliage.

The Best Tips On How To Grow Lavender | GardenersPath.com

Lavender should generally be pruned right after it flowers, and again at the end of the summer months to help prevent a damaging winter.

Pruning in early fall helps slow the process of woody stems and increases flower blossoms the following year.

If you have an especially woody plant, prune lightly throughout the growing season for maximum results.

Growing Indoors

If you have chosen to grow your lavender in containers that can be brought in during the cold winter months, the following tips will come in handy when the time comes to bring them inside.

Consider the Lavandula dentata variety when growing indoors, as the smaller plants do better in pots.

The biggest fallback of growing indoors is the lack of light. Place near a southern-facing window and consider providing supplemental lighting via grow lights if you’re in the darker, northern climates.

Sadly, with especially dark and cold winters, poor growth is to be expected when moving plants indoors. But it’s better than nothing!

How To Grow Lavender in Every Climate | GardenersPath.com

Remember that thing about lavender hating water? Well, planting indoors is no different.

Pots should be close in size to the root ball of your plant. Any larger and you risk root rot from waterlogged soil.

Consider adding a layer of gravel to the base of your pot to assist draining and use a terra cotta pot – its sides release moisture and prevent rot.

The soil in your pot should be monitored closely for acidity. Make it a habit to add lime every month or so to give your lavender the lean soil it craves.

Water only when soil is dry up to one inch under the surface. It’s best to keep the plant in a cool room so you don’t shock it when it is placed back outside.

Harvest

The time has come to harvest, and lucky for you, it’s really rather simple. You want to be sure to cut the lavender above the start of the woody stem and then allow it to dry for two weeks. Pretty simple, right?

Amazing Tips On How To Grow Lavender | GardenersPath.com

You can bundle dried branches together for a sweet addition to a bouquet, or for an added sense of elegance around your home. Strip the blossoms off for use in potpourri or baking.

The essential oils in these plants have various medicinal properties, and they are often used as antiseptics, sleep aids, and for stress relief. These can easily be added to homemade soap, cleaning solutions, shampoos, lotions, and more.

Your Turn to Grow!

Lavender is beautiful, low-maintenance, and easy to grow if you know how to care for it.

Easily Grow Lavender In Your Backyard | GardenersPath.com

Years of growth and an abundance of uses when harvested make this plant ideal for any home garden or landscaping project.

Have you had success growing this stunning perennial herb? Share your experiences or your favorite DIY home recipes in the comments below!

Photo credit: Shutterstock.

The staff at Gardener’s Path are not medical professionals and this article should not be construed as medical advice intended to assess, diagnose, prescribe, or promise cure. Gardener’s Path and Ask the Experts, LLC assume no liability for the use or misuse of the material presented above. Always consult with a medical professional before changing your diet or using plant-based remedies or supplements for health and wellness.

About Casea Peterson

Casea Peterson is a writer and screenplay adviser specialist for businesses in the outdoor industry. She has been writing personally and professionally since 2009, but when she doesn't have her pen in hand, she can be found somewhere in the woods hiking, hunting, or exploring the Pacific Northwest.

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Sherrol
Sherrol (@guest_338)
3 years ago

Thank you enjoyed your article

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu (@allison-sidhu)
Admin
Noble Member
3 years ago

Thanks, Sherrol! We’re glad you enjoyed it and hope you will keep coming back for new articles. 🙂

marina
marina (@guest_354)
3 years ago

Thank you. I love this plant but never
tried to grow it in south Florida. I will give it a try to see if I succeed!

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu (@allison-sidhu)
Admin
Noble Member
Reply to  marina
3 years ago

Thanks for reading, Marina. Good luck! Let us know how it goes!

Justina
Justina (@guest_363)
3 years ago

Loved the article. I planted some last November and it’s finally starting to bloom! Thanks for the tips so I can hopefully keep them going strong.

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu (@allison-sidhu)
Admin
Noble Member
Reply to  Justina
3 years ago

Thanks for reading, Justina! That’s great news. We’d love to see pictures – please share on our Facebook page!

Carolyn Cimino
Carolyn Cimino (@guest_459)
3 years ago

Great article! Saw a lavender plant in a small pot with the perennials at a local nursery and bought it. I live in northeast Ohio, so your tips for growing in cold climates hit the spot. I planted it in a large pot with herbs, so now I need to give the plant its own small pot with gravel for drainage and move to a sunnier spot. It’s blooming even though I did everything wrong!

Lorna Kring
Lorna Kring (@lornakring)
Active Member
Reply to  Carolyn Cimino
3 years ago

That’s the beauty of hardy herbs Carolyn, even when abused they still perform! Just wait until it settles in its new well-drained, sunny location – you’ll love the results!

Maureen Williams
Maureen Williams (@guest_506)
3 years ago

Thanks for the great tips about lavender not liking water and loving heat. Mine is growing in a pot, so I’ll watch out for overwatering! Also I didn’t realize it was a perennial!!

Lorna Kring
Lorna Kring (@lornakring)
Active Member
Reply to  Maureen Williams
3 years ago

Glad you found some tips helpful Maureen!

Pam
Pam (@guest_550)
3 years ago

Wish I had seen your article before I planted my two lavender plants. I watered them literally to death. Had no idea they didn’t like water. ???? Will try again. Thanks. ????

Lorna Kring
Lorna Kring (@lornakring)
Active Member
Reply to  Pam
3 years ago

Ouch! One of those hard lessons Pam… good luck with your new plantings!

Marie Anne Morón
Marie Anne Morón (@guest_666)
3 years ago

Thanks for the very optimistic article! I live on an arid and windy South Caribbean island and have tried growing lavender several times. Even though I have not been able to grow it from seed, I have imported several small plants when travelling, with varied results. I tried angustifolias and stoechas with no luck every time (plants wither and dry up), but have had good results with Multifida and with a Croatian variety (which unfortunately, neither can be purchased on the island!). The only problem is that the plants continue to grow but they do not flower. Do you have… Read more »

Lorna Kring
Lorna Kring (@lornakring)
Active Member
3 years ago

There are three things you can try for more blooms Marie Anne. The first is to give your plants more sunlight. Eight hours a day is the ideal, with light shade in the hottest part of your Caribbean afternoons. The second is to provide your plants with a 2-inch layer of sand or gravel as a mulch to help retain heat. And the third is to prune your plants in spring as soon as new growth appears, cutting back the stems by about 1/3. Also, you might want to try a diluted amount of an all-purpose purpose fertilizer in the… Read more »

Sandra
Sandra (@guest_697)
3 years ago

Thanks for your article! Do you know how to determine if Lavender is receiving too much water?

Nan Schiller
Nan Schiller (@rellihcsnan8)
Member
Reply to  Sandra
1 year ago

Hi Sandra –

Lavender plants with leaves that are darkening and wilting, and roots that are rotting, may be suffering from too much water. Feel the soil beneath them, and if it’s saturated, the drainage is inadequate. Try incorporating some sand into your garden soil, and be sure that potted plants have enough drainage holes.

Lavender requires very little water. Once established in the garden, you shouldn’t have to water unless there’s a severe drought. Potted plants should dry completely before being watered again.

Good luck with your lavender!