Growing Lavender: The Ultimate Guide

Growing Lavender: The Ultimate Guide

Lavender is valued for its ornamental beauty and sweet fragrance and its numerous health benefits. The plant contains essential oils used for centuries in aromatherapy and alternative medicine to help alleviate anxiety, promote relaxation, and improve sleep quality. Read on to the tricks of growing lavender.

In addition, lavender is a natural insect repellent, making it a great plant around the garden or patio area. The plant’s oil can also soothe insect bites or minor skin irritations. Lavender is also a popular ingredient in cooking and baking, adding a unique floral flavor to dishes and desserts. Its dried flowers can be used to make herbal teas or infused into oils and vinegar.

Cultivating lavender is relatively easy, and the plant is relatively low maintenance, making it an excellent choice for beginner gardeners. When planting lavender, choosing well-draining soil and a sunny location is essential to ensure the plant thrives.

What does lavender look like?

The wiry and highly branched shoots of common lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) form a compact, cushion-shaped subshrub. The foliage is needle-shaped and grey-green, and the flowers are purplish-blue. Among the breeds, there are also pink or white flowering varieties.

The flowers are arranged in several whorled rows and form a spike-like inflorescence up to 8 cm long. Their smell is unmistakable. Lavender is a perennial and grows up to 1 m high. It flowers from June to August.

Lavender plant

Where to plant lavender?

Lavender thrives best in warm, sunny locations. The soil should be rather nutrient-poor, and the soil should be porous. Lavender should not get too wet, especially in winter, as it is extremely sensitive to frost.

Lavender is ideal for edging beds. But it also looks good planted in a row, for example, in front of walls or along paths. He prefers warm south faces.

Lastly, lavender is also popular with rock garden owners because it blooms all summer. Its spike-shaped flowers attract many bees and butterflies.

A common misconception is that lavender makes a good planting partner for roses. The plants don’t go together: both love the sun and look good next to each other. In addition, lavender is said to keep aphids away from roses. However, they make completely different demands on the soil: lavender likes it poor in nutrients and slightly dry. Roses, however, need humus-rich and fresh loamy soil with sufficient nutrients.

The problem can be solved if the lavender and rose are at least 80 cm apart, but preferably 1 m apart, and you thin the soil around the lavender with sand or gravel.

Lavender can also be cultivated well in tubs and pots. Terracotta pots, in particular, underscore their Mediterranean origins. You should thin the soil in the planter with sand and gravel. Place a layer of potsherds or stones at the bottom of the pot as drainage to prevent waterlogging.

Planting Lavender

When the last frosts of the year are over, it’s a good time to plant lavender in the garden. Therefore, wait for the ice saints and plant the plants outdoors from mid-May. If you want to plant several lavender bushes next to each other, ensure they are about 30 cm apart. Water the lavender well and moisten the soil for the first few weeks after planting.

It’s important to note that while lavender can tolerate dry conditions, it still needs consistent watering when first planted to establish its root system. After the first few weeks, reduce watering and only water when the soil is dry.

Planting lavender

Lavender also benefits from regular pruning, which helps promote bushy growth and prevents the plant from becoming woody and leggy. Prune the plant in the spring by cutting back about a third of its growth and then again after blooming to encourage new growth and prevent it from becoming too woody.

To further support the growth and health of your lavender plants, you can also fertilize them with a slow-release, balanced fertilizer in the spring.

Lavender as a medicinal plant

Real lavender is a traditional medicinal and kitchen plant with over 160 proven ingredients. The calming and sleep-inducing effect of essential lavender oil has been known for centuries. Therefore, headaches and nervousness are sometimes treated with this. Lavender is also said to support wound healing.

Drinking lavender tea before going to bed promotes sleep and has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects. Therefore, it helps with sore throat and throat infections. It also relieves flatulence, bloating, and abdominal cramps.

Last but not least, lavender is an important ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine. There it is used to refine desserts and sauces, fish and lamb dishes, and salads. The fragrance industry cannot do without the subshrub either: it processes flowers in soaps, candles, scented sachets, and perfumes. The fragrant lavender oil is also a proven remedy against clothes moths.

If you want to harvest your lavender, early morning is the best time. Then it contains the most fragrances.

Growing lavender

Cutting lavender

Pruning lavender at the right time is essential to keeping the plant healthy and promoting new growth. Here are some more details on when and how to prune lavender:

  1. First light pruning: This should be done immediately after the first flowering in late spring or early summer. Use sharp pruning shears or scissors to remove the spent flower stalks and about 1/3 of the current season’s growth. Be careful not to cut into the woody part of the plant, as this can cause damage.
  2. Second pruning: In autumn, after the second bloom, you can remove the withered flower stalks and any dead or diseased wood; This will help keep the plant tidy and healthy over the winter months.
  3. Hard pruning: In early spring, before new growth begins, you can give your lavender a hard pruning to promote bushier growth and prevent it from becoming woody and leggy. Cut the plant back to its woody parts, leaving about 2-3 inches of green growth on each stem; This will encourage new growth and help maintain the plant’s shape.

Remember to water your lavender well after pruning and monitor it for signs of stress or disease. Proper care and pruning allow your lavender to remain healthy, bushy, and beautiful for years!

Lavender care

You should never fertilize lavender! Too many nutrients reduce the plant’s growth because they make the subshrub fatten. As a result, he loses stability. Watering is hardly necessary unless the weather is dry for a long time.

In winter, lavender needs protection from cold winds. Otherwise, the plant survives in cooler climates. In the fall, use winter protection as a precaution, such as by piling mulch at its base and covering it with pine sticks.

Lavender cultivated in tubs can remain outdoors all year round if you choose a wind and rain-protected location, such as on the balcony or terrace. We also recommend protecting the planter, for example, by placing it in a wooden box that you fill with bark mulch; This insulates and protects the root ball from freezing through. You should water the potted lavender occasionally – but only on frost-free days and just enough to moisten the root ball.

Growing lavender

Propagating lavender from cuttings is a simple and cost-effective way to grow new plants. Here are some additional tips for successfully propagating lavender:

  • .Choose a healthy and mature stem from the lavender plant, ideally one 10-15cm long and has a few pairs of leaves.
  • .Remove the leaves from the bottom 2/3 of the stem, leaving a few leaves at the top.
  • .Dip the cut end of the stem in rooting hormone powder to encourage root growth.
  • .Plant the stem in a pot or tray filled with a well-draining substrate, such as sand or a mix of sand and potting soil.
  • .Cover the pot or tray with a clear plastic bag or foil to create a humid environment and promote rooting. 
  • .Keep the substrate moist but not soggy, and place the pot or tray in a warm and bright location but out of direct sunlight.
  • .After a few weeks, check for root growth by gently tugging on the stem. If you feel resistance, the cutting has rooted.

Once the cuttings have been rooted, you can transplant them into individual pots or the garden.

Lavender pests

While lavender is generally a hardy and low-maintenance plant, it can still be susceptible to certain diseases and pests. Here are some common issues to watch out for and how to address them:

  1. Root rot caused by Phytophthora fungus: This is typically caused by overwatering or poor drainage and can be identified by wilting leaves, yellowing foliage, and a general lack of growth. To address this issue, remove any affected plants and improve drainage in the soil. You can also apply a fungicide to help prevent the spread of the fungus.
  2. Gray mold (Botrytis blight): This is a fungal disease that affects the flowers and foliage of the lavender plant, causing them to wilt and turn brown or gray. To prevent this issue, avoid overcrowding plants and ensure good air circulation. You can also remove any affected plant parts and apply a fungicide.
  3. Aphids: These small insects can sometimes feed on lavender leaves and flowers, causing distortion and discoloration. To address this issue, spray the plant with a strong stream of water to dislodge the aphids or apply insecticidal soap or oil.
  4. Snails and slugs: These pests can sometimes feed on young lavender shoots, causing damage or even killing the plant. You can use physical barriers such as copper tape or eggshells to prevent this issue or apply a natural slug repellent such as diatomaceous earth.

By being vigilant and addressing any issues promptly, you can help ensure that your lavender plants stay healthy and vibrant for years to come.

Drying lavender

Drying lavender in bunches

Drying lavender in bunches is a popular way to preserve flowers for later use in crafting, cooking, or aromatherapy. Here are some steps to follow for drying lavender in bunches:

Harvest: Harvest lavender stems when the flowers are in full bloom but before they start to wilt or fade. Cut the stems in the morning after the dew has dried but before the sun gets too hot.

Prepare the bunches: Gather a handful of stems and tie them together at the base with a rubber band or string. Ensure the stems face the same direction and the bunch is not too large or tightly packed, which can lead to mold or uneven drying.

Hang to dry: Hang the lavender bunches upside down in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated area, away from direct sunlight. A dry room or closet is an ideal location. You can also use a drying rack or hook to hang the bunches.

Check on the lavender after a week to ensure it dries evenly and has no mold or rot. Remove the affected stems and separate the remaining bunches if you notice any issues.

Store the dried lavender: Once fully dried (which can take 2-4 weeks), remove the flowers from the stems and store them in airtight containers, away from heat and light. You can use the dried lavender in sachets, potpourri, soaps, or cooking and baking.

Why should you dry lavender?

Dried lavender is suitable as a starting material for fragrances and for producing delicious teas, tinctures, or spice mixtures. When consumed as a tea or spice, lavender has a calming and concentration-enhancing effect. If you want to take a relaxing bath or need your full concentration for a task, reaching for lavender is a good idea.

To achieve a similarly pleasant effect as with scented candles, you can hang the dry lavender in small bags or set it up in open bowls in the room. Or place the lavender as decoration in small glass containers in the apartment. Individual, dried flower stalks also embellish many a flower bouquet.

Drying lavender is also worth protecting your clothes from moths since pests dislike the smell of the plants. A pleasant side effect is that your laundry smells like dried flowers. If you prefer your lavender as tea, use a clothes moth repellent instead.

The right place to dry lavender

It is best to hang the lavender in a dry and shady place. Strong sunlight can destroy the essential oils in the plant; This means that the lavender smells and tastes less intense. It would be best never to dry your lavender in the oven because of the excessive heat.

The chosen location must be well-ventilated so no moisture can settle in the tufts. It is, therefore, best to hang them on a line at a distance from each other. Alternatively, you can also buy a herb dryer.

How long does it take to dry lavender?

Gently touching the flowers, you can tell when your lavender is completely dry. If the lavender flowers can be easily detached from the stem, they are ready for storage and further use. Strip off the lavender flowers completely and place them in a container you choose, such as a moth bag, bowl, or bottle.

Containers that can be sealed airtight, such as storage jars, are particularly suitable for long-term storage because you can store the flowers in them without losing their aroma and scent.

How you use the lavender after drying – as a moth repellent, a fragrant room decoration, or an ingredient for a delicious relaxation tea – is ultimately entirely up to you.


In conclusion, growing lavender is a rewarding and enjoyable experience. This beautiful subshrub offers a range of benefits, from its stunning blue-purple flowers and pleasant scent to its drought-tolerant and pest-resistant nature. With proper planting, care, and maintenance, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of lavender flowers for years to come.

To successfully grow lavender, choosing the right location, soil, and variety for your climate and growing conditions is essential. Lavender thrives in sunny, well-draining soil but can also be grown in containers or beds with suitable soil amendments.

Regular watering, pruning, and fertilizing can help keep your lavender healthy and promote new growth. Proper pruning techniques, such as light pruning after flowering and hard pruning in early spring, can also help maintain the plant’s shape and prevent it from becoming woody or leggy.

Harvesting and drying lavender is another important step in the process. It can help preserve the flowers for later use in crafts, cooking, or aromatherapy.


What is the best time to plant lavender?

Growing lavender

The best time to plant lavender is in the spring or fall when the soil is warm and moist.

How much sunlight does lavender need?

Lavender plant

Lavender needs at least six hours of sunlight per day to thrive. It grows best in full sun but can also tolerate partial shade in hotter climates.

How often should I water my lavender?

Lavender is drought-tolerant and doesn’t like to be overwatered. Water deeply once or twice a week during the growing season, and reduce watering during winter.

How do I prune my lavender?

Prune lavender after flowering, usually in late summer or early fall. Use clean, sharp shears to cut the plant by one-third to one-half of its size. In the spring, cut back any woody stems to promote new growth.

How do I harvest and dry lavender?

Harvest lavender when the flowers are in full bloom but before they start to wilt or fade. Tie the stems into bunches and hang them upside down in a cool, dry, well-ventilated area for 2-4 weeks. Once the flowers are dry, remove them from the stems and store them in airtight containers.

What are some common pests and diseases that affect lavender?

Lavender is generally pest-resistant but can be susceptible to spider mites, aphids, and root rot if over-watered. To prevent disease, plant lavender in well-draining soil and avoid over-watering.

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