Have you ever dreamed of having fragrant lavender just outside your doorstep? I’m here to let you know that with the right conditions, you can enjoy the stunning beauty and aroma of this beloved plant by growing lavender in pots.
Not only is it a great space-saver, but it also allows for endless creative herb garden designs. In this ultimate guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about growing lavender (lavandula angustifolia) in pots. From choosing the right pot and soil mix to selecting the best varieties, watering, fertilizing, pruning, and harvesting – this guide has what you need to know to grow this perennial herb. So if you’re ready to add some color and texture to your garden, patio, or balcony, grab your pots and let’s get started!
Choosing the Right Pot for Lavender
Before we dive into selecting the right soil mix, let’s first talk about choosing the right pot for your lavender. The container you choose will greatly impact the growth and health of your lavender plant.
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First and foremost, make sure the pot has drainage holes at the bottom. Lavender does not like to sit in soggy soil, so good drainage is crucial to avoid excess water.
Next, consider the size of the pot. Lavender plants prefer a tight space, so avoid choosing a pot that is too large. A pot that is too big can lead to waterlogged soil and root rot. On the other hand, if the pot is too small, the lavender will quickly become root-bound, stunting its growth.
Finally, choose a container made of porous material such as terracotta pots or clay. These materials allow for air to circulate around the roots and provide better drainage. As an optional step, you could also add rocks or packing peanuts to the bottom of the pot to encourage more drainage.
So when choosing the right pot for your lavender, look for one with drainage holes, the appropriate size, and made of a porous material. By selecting the right pot, you’ll be on your way to growing healthy and thriving lavender plants.
Where and When to Grow Lavender in Containers
Location, location, location. It’s not just for real estate you know. When growing lavender in containers, you need to consider where your pot will be placed.
Like many herbs, container-grown lavender plants prefer to live in a sunny spot that gets at least 6-8 hours of sun per day. While full sunlight is preferable for lavender, do be watchful during the heat of summer. Some containers may benefit from being in partial shade during these warmest months.
While the exact time to plant lavender varies based on where you live. The general rule is to plant lavender in early spring, after all danger of frost has passed. Those in cold climates may need to put off planting until late spring or early summer. If you aren’t sure about your area, check out this map of the USDA zones to find out the best time for you to plant lavender.
Selecting the Right Soil Mix
To ensure your lavender thrives in a pot, selecting the right soil mix is just as important as choosing the perfect container. Lavender prefers well-drained soil that’s loose and airy. You can make your own mix by combining equal parts of perlite or coarse sand, peat moss, and potting soil, or use my DIY potting soil recipe for a low-cost but effective potting soil.
Alternatively, you can purchase pre-mixed potting mix that’s specifically formulated for herbs or succulents. Avoid using garden soil or compost as it can retain too much moisture and lead to root rot.
Once you have your soil mix ready, fill your pot about three-quarters full and gently press down to remove any air pockets.
Now you’re ready to choose the best lavender variety for your area.
Picking the Best Lavender Varieties for Pots
The best way to grow lavender successfully is to consider the type of lavender you’re growing. There are some varieties of lavender that grow well in containers, and this is what you’ll want to look for.
Some of the best varieties for pots include English Lavender, French Lavender, and Spanish Lavender. English Lavender, also known as True Lavender, is the most commonly grown lavender variety and is well-suited for pots. Any of these lavender choices below would be a good choice, and some even come in dwarf varieties:
- Common English Lavender
- Munstead Lavender: A robust lavender variety that will grow well in a pot, but could also make a great hedge.
- Hidcote Lavender: One of the most fragrant varieties of lavender.
French Lavender has a more compact growth habit and produces shorter lavender flowers, making it perfect for small containers. Spanish Lavender, on the other hand, is a bushier variety that produces stunning flowers and has a strong fragrance.
Lavender plants or seeds
If you’re looking to try a non-standard variety of lavender, then growing from seeds will get you the best selection. However, lavender seeds can be notoriously difficult to germinate. For seeds, be sure to follow the directions for germinating down to the letter.
Thankfully, there are other ways of getting lavender plants for containers. Lavender seedlings can be grown from hardwood cuttings or softwood cuttings from existing lavender plants. Lavender cuttings are a great way to grow more plants using a plant you or a friend already have.
Finally, you can always buy lavender seedlings from a local garden center or plant sale. Be sure if the plant has been grown in a greenhouse or kept indoors that you harden off your plant before placing it outside full time. Find my full instructions here for hardening off seedlings.
Watering, Fertilizing, and Pruning Lavender
Watering, fertilizing, and pruning your lavender are essential aspects of taking good care of your plant. When it comes to watering, it is important to avoid over watering as lavender does not like sitting in wet soil. This is why having a container with good drainage is so important for this herb.
Instead, water your plant thoroughly and then allow the soil to dry out before watering it again. This will prevent root rot and ensure that your lavender stays healthy.
Fertilizing is another important step in caring for your lavender. Use a well-balanced fertilizer during the growing season, around every four to six weeks. Avoid using too much nitrogen, as this can cause your plant to produce more foliage than flowers. Instead, opt for a fertilizer with a higher potassium content, which will promote flower production and enhance the fragrance of your lavender.
Finally, pruning your lavender is crucial to promote healthy growth and abundant blooms. Prune your plant once a year, either in spring or fall, to keep it compact and bushy. Cut back about one-third of the plant, taking care not to prune too much, as this can harm your plant.
Watering, fertilizing, and pruning your lavender will help you grow a healthy and beautiful plant in your pot. Next up, it’s time to learn how to harvest your lavender to enjoy its fragrant blooms all year round.
Once you’ve successfully grown lavender to a good size, it’s time to harvest it. The best time to harvest your lavender is when the purple flowers are just about to open, but not fully bloomed yet. This is typically in mid-summer, depending on your growing zone. Cut the stems early in the morning when the oils are concentrated.
Use a sharp pair of scissors or pruning shears to harvest your lavender. Cut the stems at about one-third of their length, leaving enough foliage to promote new growth. Bundles of 20 to 30 stems are easiest to manage if you have that many stems.
After you’ve harvested your lavender, it’s time to dry it. Gather the stems together and tie them with a string or a rubber band. Hang the bundles upside down in a cool, dry place for about two weeks. You can also put a paper bags around the stems as they dry.
Once your lavender is fully dried, remove the flowers from the stems and store them in a jar or a sachet to enjoy their fragrance for months to come.
Now that you know how to harvest your lavender, it’s time to troubleshoot any common problems you may encounter.
Troubleshooting Common Lavender Problems
Now that you know how to grow lavender in pots, it’s important to be aware of some common problems you may encounter along the way. As with all things that grow outdoors, there are factors that gardeners want to keep an eye on to guarantee a successful plant. There are also plenty of factors we cannot control, like weather conditions, so take into consideration what you can control.
- Overwatering: One of the most common issues is overwatering, which can lead to root rot and fungal diseases. To avoid this, make sure your soil is well-draining and don’t water your plants too frequently.
- Lavender Pests: Another problem that lavender plants can face is pests, such as aphids, spider mites, and whiteflies. To prevent this, regularly inspect your plants and use natural remedies like neem oil or insecticidal soap. It’s also a good idea to prune your plants regularly to promote good air circulation.
- Inadequate Light: Lavender plants can also suffer from lack of sunlight, which can cause leggy growth and weak stems. Make sure your plants are getting at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight each day. If this isn’t possible, consider moving your plants to a sunnier spot or providing additional light with grow lights.
- Nutrient Deficiencies: Finally, if you notice your lavender plants looking wilted or yellow, they may be experiencing nutrient deficiencies. In this case, it’s important to fertilize your plants with a balanced fertilizer, such as a 10-10-10 or 20-20-20 blend, once a month during the growing season.
By being aware of these common problems and taking steps to address them, you can ensure that your lavender plants thrive in their pots and provide you with fragrant blooms year after year. Also check out post on 6 Natural Pest Control Tips.
Growing lavender in pots is a simple and rewarding way to bring the beauty and fragrance of this beloved plant into your home or garden. By selecting the right pot, soil mix, lavender variety, and care, you can enjoy healthy, vibrant plants year-round.
Remember to water, fertilize, and prune your lavender regularly, and don’t hesitate to harvest it when it reaches its peak. As you embark on your lavender-growing journey, keep in mind the words of poet and gardener Rudyard Kipling, who said, “Gardens are not made by singing ‘Oh, how beautiful,’ and sitting in the shade.” So, roll up your sleeves, get your hands dirty, and create a space that brings you joy and tranquility. Happy growing!