Let’s find out how to grow lavender in pots or in the ground: it’s not difficult, just follow our tips and you’ll have beautiful spikes and gorgeous purple flowers.
- 1 A brief history of lavender
- 2 The varieties of Lavender
- 3 How to grow lavender in the garden
- 4 How long does lavender take to grow
- 5 Where to place the lavender plant
- 6 How often should you water lavender?
- 7 What is the suitable soil for growing lavender
- 8 How to grow lavender in pots on balconies and terraces
- 9 Planting lavender
- 10 The harvesting of lavender
- 11 Q&A: questions and answers on how to grow lavender
- 12 What kind of soil is best for lavender?
- 13 Other plants to grow at home
A brief history of lavender
The lavender (scientific name lavandula officinalis) is one of the most widely used and appreciated plants since ancient times to perfume and heal the body. The name itself is derived from the Latin verb ‘lavare‘ (which means “to wash”).
It grows wild throughout the Mediterranean basin, but can also be easily kept in the garden and on your terraces and balconies where it will give you beautiful decorative blooms with a persistent and inebriating scent.
Those who love gardening can grow it either in the ground or in planters. It will give your balcony (or garden) a lively touch, good fragrance and color, and use its many beneficial properties.
The lavender plant
It is a fragrant evergreen plant with a low, woody stem, from which the stems start. This is a plant that does not grow much and remains under 50 cm, but on the other hand it spreads out. In fact, its branching makes it very thick, starting as early as the ground.
The leaves, attached to stems that start directly from the stem, are elongated and gray-green in color.
The splendids are arranged in spikes. It also has fruits, which are located in a funnel at the top of the stem. It blooms in early summer.
The varieties of Lavender
The genus Lavandula consists of almost forty species of small shrubs or herbs, with different colors and more or less persistent fragrance. This causes some to be favored by the perfume industry.
For medicinal properties and cosmetic applications, on the other hand, the action is always the same regardless of the varieties.
Here are some types of lavender suitable for home cultivation:
- French Lavender (Lavandula dentata): 70 cm tall, has deeply incised leaves, as its Latin name (“with teeth”) implies. The lilac flowers, which bloom in autumn, have a delicate scent, reminiscent of rosemary. It fears cold weather.
- English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), also known as Lavandula officinalis, is over a meter tall, has square stems, silvery-green leaves, covered with light down, and the lilac-blue flowers are gathered in spikes that arrive in summer. It perfumes the whole plant, and is used in the essence industry for cologne and perfume.
- Woolly Lavender (Lavandula lanata) is up to 50 cm tall and has wider leaves than other varieties, with silvery down. It gives off a more intense scent, with notes of camphor, from its dark purple flowers that bloom in August and last through the end of summer.
- Spanish Lavender (Lavandula stoechas), is a wild variety, up to 60 cm tall, that adapts well to cold weather.
- Lavandin (Lavandula x intermedia), is hybrid of English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) and Portuguese Lavender (Lavandula latifolia). It is large in size, with woody stem. Arguably the most hardy variety, which is why it is the most widely used in gardens, while retaining the typical aroma.
How to grow lavender in the garden
However, all of these varieties are quite hardy and can withstand cold weather (even -15 degrees). They tend to prefer calcareous and very well-drained soils.
Whatever space you have, remember some basic rules:
- lavender suffers from water stagnation
- It loves calcareous soil that is not rich in nutrients but is well drained
- promote drainage by mixing the soil with organic material
- fertilize for the first time only two years after sowing, preferably with an organic product
- prune it every year, immediately after flowering, to have it even more intense and long-lasting the following year
- protect it from the cold during the winter, although it can also tolerate -15°
Being a fairly hardy and tough plant, it does not need special care, but if you follow our simple tips, you will be able to grow this plant vigorously and healthily in your garden.
How long does lavender take to grow
This plant reaches the peak of its development at 3 years after propagation.
Remember that it can be multiplied both by cutting and by seed, preferably during autumn or early spring when the climate is milder. But sowing is not recommended because its growth is very long and it takes several years to obtain shrubs of appreciable size. Additionally, many hybrids have stems with infertile seeds.
If you decide to proceed by cutting, you will have to obtain stems at least 8-10 cm long and bury them in a pot or directly in the ground. As soon as the plant appears, it must be trimmed to prevent it from flowering. Only in this way will you obtain a robust plant with vigorous flowering, within 2-3 years.
Where to place the lavender plant
This is a hardy plant that grows wild. It is resistant to both heat and cold, although it does suffer from frost.
In the sun it will be most luxuriant, as can be seen from the beautiful lavender fields of southern France.
The most important prerequisite for it to grow well in the garden is to identify a suitable area. This area shall be:
- sufficiently sunny
- not humid
- away from other plants that might limit its development
How often should you water lavender?
Watering should be regular, but never abundant. It is best to water only if the soil has been dry for a few days. It does not need much water and indeed fears stagnation that leads to root rot.
In fact, to grow luxuriantly, it needs lots of light and little water and well-drained soil that avoids stagnation, which is dangerous for the health of this aromatic plant.
What is the suitable soil for growing lavender
This aromatic likes limey, dry soil with few nutrients, but perfect for draining water.
During the growing season, between March and May, starting in the second year, it can be fertilized to encourage the development of the plant’s aerial parts and achieve even more abundant blooms.
How to grow lavender in pots on balconies and terraces
Let’s try to learn the secrets of growing this beautiful aromatic herbaceous plant in pots.
To make a beautiful balcony, simply get a handful of seeds or a couple of cuttings, a nice tall, large pot, a good dry potting soil and some expanded clay, which you will place at the bottom of the pot to promote drainage.
During the spring, you will need to repot the plant and change the soil, which should always be fresh and drained.
We will need to place the pot in a well-sunned and ventilated place and proceed with light watering.
Once you have a lush lavender, you will need to remember to do careful pruning, which is still a very delicate step..
Lavender pruning should be done only at the end of the flowering period and you should try to carefully remove the now-dried spikes and at least 2/3 of the lavender foliage itself. Don’t worry about seeing it temporarily bare, it is vital for the plant and for getting it more and more lush in the future.
The most important tip is to prune it back in between leaves, taking care to keep at least four buds per stem of your lavender.
The harvesting of lavender
To enjoy the healing and cosmetic virtues of this plant, you can harvest its ears.
This is a very delicate procedure. You have to start with the flowering tops and then harvest the lateral ones, taking care not to thin the plant too much.
If you like, you can dry the lavender, in a closed, cool, shady and ventilated place. In this way, its spikes will retain their scent for a very long time.
With the dried flowers you can make lavender body scrubs. You can also make little bags to scent your laundry.
By steam distillation of the freshly picked flowers early in the morning, on the other hand, you get lavender essential oil, which is straw-yellow in color, bitter-tasting and intensely scented, with calming, soothing and emollient virtues.
Q&A: questions and answers on how to grow lavender
Let us now try to answer some of the most common questions you have sent us.
What are the best varieties of lavender to grow in pots or in the ground?
The following varieties are considered excellent:
- Munstead Lavender, a variety of English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia): it produces deep purple flowers and has a pleasant scent. It is a compact and hardy plant, also suitable for rock gardens.
- Hidcote Lavender, another variety of English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia): known for its dark purple flowers and intense fragrance. It is a compact and hardy plant that adapts well both in pots and in the ground.
- Purple Lavandin (Lavandula x intermedia ‘Grosso’): this variety is hybrid and produces flowers of deep purple color. It is a robust and vigorous plant that can reach greater heights than other varieties. It is suitable both for growing in pots and in the ground
- Provence Lavender (Lavandula x intermedia ‘Provence‘): known for its light purple flowers and sweet scent. it is hardy and does well in well-drained, sunny soils, both in pots and in the ground.
- Spanish Lavender (Lavandula stoechas): it is native to Spain and features deep purple flowers with dark purple “ears.” It has a unique and attractive appearance and is suitable for growing in pots.
What kind of soil is best for lavender?
This plant prefers well-drained and sunny soil.
Here are some characteristics that the ideal soil must have:
- Excellent drainage: it does not tolerate stagnant water and requires soil that dries quickly after watering or rainfall. Therefore, avoid heavy clay soils or compacted soils that retain moisture. A sandy or gravelly soil that promotes drainage is preferable.
- pH of alkaline or neutral soil: prefer slightly alkaline or neutral soil, with a pH between 6.5 and 7.5.You can test your soil pH with a soil test kit available at nurseries, garden stores or online shops.
- Well-textured, friable soil: This plant needs root space and good airflow around it. You can improve the structure of the soil by adding sand or gravel to improve drainage and prevent compaction.
- Nutrient-rich: It can survive even in nutrient-poor soils, but responds well to slightly fertile soil. You can enrich the soil with a small amount of well-decomposed organic manure or an aromatic plant.
Other plants to grow at home
If in addition to lavender, you would finally like to grow other potted plants on your balcony. Here are some other interesting articles on this topic: