Thursday, June 4, 2020

How to Plant Lavender in Your Garden

Late spring through early summer is the ideal time to plant lavender in the garden.  In full sun and well-draining soil, lavender is an easy perennial, flowering herb to cultivate.  Its benefits in the garden are numerous — beautiful color, sweet fragrance, low water consumption and it attracts bees and butterflies!

If you have picked up a few plants from your local nursery (or plan to!), but have not yet broken ground to plant them, we've put together some tips for keeping your precious lavender starts healthy in the interim.

How to Plant Lavender in Your Garden

How to Plant Lavender in the Garden


Decide where to plant your lavender

Location, location, location!  Lavender needs good drainage and full sun to thrive. 

It does especially well when planted near heat-reflecting materials, such as against rock walls or on top of light colored gravel, etc.  Lavender likes to have at least eight hours of sun daily during the flowering season (spring and summer).  Is there a spot in your garden that fits this description? 

How much drainage does this location have?  Sloped gardens, terraces, raised beds or rockeries all usually have good drainage.  If your garden doesn't naturally have variable topography, you can always create it.  A berm or mound of soil 6 - 8 inches high will be high enough to allow excess water to drain away from the plant.

What lavender needs to grow

What's your soil like?

The composition of your soil also effects drainage.  If you are planting in heavy or poorly draining soil, dig a hole much larger than the pot size and fill with soil amended with gravel or coarse sand. Make sure water drains readily from the hole before planting.  To test the drainage before planting, fill the hole half-way with water.  The water should drain from the hole within a couple of minutes.  If it takes longer than this, add additional amending material to the soil and test it again.

Lavender likes soil at neutral pH or slightly alkaline.  If soils are acidic as is commonly the case here on San Juan Island where our farm is located, they will need amendment — calcitic lime works particularly well in this regard.  At-home soil testing kits are inexpensive, easy to use and available at most local hardware stores.  Soil tests can also be done with simple supplies found in the kitchen.

Planting Lavender - step by step


Now that your garden location and soil are ready, let's plant!  Dig a hole slightly wider than the pot containing your lavender plant.  Keep the depth of the hole no deeper than the pot so that the base of the lavender plant is just slightly above the soil level.

To release the lavender from it's pot, gently squeeze the pot to loosen it from the sides.  Grip the base of the plant securely as you carefully draw it from the pot.

Growing Lavender - Tips for Planting

With your fingers, gently loosen the base of the root ball and soil as you lower the plant into the hole.  Fill in the hole around the root ball and firmly press the soil around the plant.  Avoid creating a depression or well around the plant.  Remember, you want the surface water to readily drain away from your lavender.

How to Plant Lavender in Your Garden

Your freshly planted lavender will need a good watering at this point to help it get established.  Thoroughly soak the soil around the plant.  During it's first flowering season, the plant will likely need more water than it will as it matures.  A general rule of thumb is "water every three days" — either from rain or your watering can.  Slightly drooping flowerheads are also a sign of needing water.

Be sure to avoid getting too much moisture on the leaves.  Lavender needs water, but doesn't like to be soggy.  Watering in the morning allows for time and the day's heat to dry out the soil.

How to Plant Lavender in Your Garden

Most lavender varieties take about 3 years to reach their full, mature size.  You can keep them this size with annual pruning.  In general, well-kept plants can live up to 15 - 20 years.

Lavender can be grown in pots with a little extra attention and care, but it is best as an outside plant.  For potted lavender tips, download our complete lavender growing tips.  And, if you have specific questions, post them in the comments below.  We love talking about growing lavender!  Happy planting!

Add lavender to your garden - here's how


  1. Thank you so much for this excellent article! Unfortunately, lavender doesn't grow nearly as well here in Iowa as it did when we lived in Seattle, the winters are just too hard for the plants. Our days of waist-high plants are over, but working on turning our front porch into a greenhouse to winter plants. Please post any container tips for those of us in different climates, and thank you for your excellent products!

    1. Hi Rhonda, You are very welcome. Yes, the Midwest is certainly more of an "annual" climate for lavender unfortunately. Turning your front porch into a greenhouse to winter plants in is a great idea. As long as lavender gets enough light and it doesn't get to humid, this might be a useful option.

      Lavender grows well in pots as long as there is enough sun and enough room to accommodate the plant’s large root system. If you do plant in pots, use well draining potting soil amended with gravel. Unlike their field-planted brethren, potted plants dry out readily, so in this situation more watering is required. Similarly, in pots lavender may benefit from occasional fertilizing such as with fish emulsion.

  2. I have a question. After hearing the owner speak at our Master Gardener lecture series last year (Snohomish County) I bought 4 varieties of lavender, one being gesso which is supposed to have the longest lasting flowers. They're doing great except the gesso. Last year's growth has died right down to the ground and although there's lots of new growth, I'm worried about it. All 4 of the plants are in the same area so get the same amount of sun, etc. Any advice?

    1. We're delighted that you were able to attend one of Stephen Robins' lectures. Wonderful!
      Is the variety you are referring to "Grosso"? Lavandula x intermedia "Grosso" is one of the two varieties we cultivate en masse at the farm for essential oil production and dried flowers. It's flowerheads dry very nicely - keeping their color and physical integrity well.
      As we try to determine what is ailing your plant, would you be able to share some pictures of it - close up and where it is situated in your garden? Emailing them to us at would be best.
      Did you prune your lavender last fall? Or ever?

  3. Do you sell long stemmed lavender plants?

    1. Hi Mary,
      We usually have plants for sale at the Farm during the summer. This year (2020) we are only partially opening for summer farm visits due to the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions and we will not have plants for sale.
      We would suggest checking out a local nursery of good repute (best to avoid big box nurseries like Lowes or Home Depot). They’ll be best situated to point you to varieties that are well-suited to your area.
      Some lovely long-stemmed varieties we would recommend are Lavandula x intermedia "Grosso", Lavandula x intermedia "Provence", Lavandula x intermedia "Fred Boutin".
      Happy Planting!

  4. Thank you for this information! I live in Georgia in an area with a lot of deer. Are lavender plants deer resistant? Otherwise sadly, they may end up like all of the other flowers that we grow, dead :(

    1. Yes, lavender is deer resistant. On San Juan Island, WA (where our farm is located) we have a lot of deer too and they have never shown any interest in the lavender. Well, except for the occasional camp site. There have been plenty of early mornings over the years when we've gone out into the fields and startled dozing deer!
      Do you have any rosemary in your garden? If your local deer stay away from your rosemary, they will certainly stay away from your lavender. :)