To grow lavender successfully in pots, it is recommended to use a potting mix that drains well and contains 70% compost and 30% horticultural sand or grit, plant it in a 12-inch pot, place it in full sun, and water it every 14 days with a thorough watering that allows excess water to drain from the base of the pot.
Here is a guide that provides information on how to take care of lavenders that are grown in pots and containers.
|How to Care for Lavender in Pots and Containers:||Requirements:|
|Best lavenders for pots:||Lavender ‘Hidcote‘ and ‘Munstead‘ grow well in pots in all climates and stay a compact size proportional to the pot.|
|Pot size:||Choose a pot at least 12 inches across.|
|Pot Material:||Ceramic, clay and terracotta pots work best due to their porous structure.|
|How often to water lavender in pots:||Water once every 2 weeks in Spring and Summer if there has been no rainfall and refrain from watering outdoor potted lavenders during Fall and Winter.|
|Potting soil for lavenders:||70% compost and 30% horticultural sand or grit provides the optimal soil structure and drainage conditions for lavender.|
|Sunlight:||Locate potted lavender in full sun (at least 6 hours) for more flowers and stronger fragrance.|
|Fertilizer:||Lavender flowers best in low fertility soils. Do not add fertilizer.|
|When to Prune Lavender:||Prune in either early Spring or in the Fall after flowering.|
|How to Prune lavenders:||Cut back the top third of growth with pruners aiming for a compact, rounded shape.|
|Flowering:||English lavender flowers in June/July for one month. French and Spanish lavender flowers in May and can flower for 3 months or so in optimal conditions.|
|Fragrance:||English lavenders ‘Hidcote‘ and ‘Munstead‘ have the finest and most highly regarded fragrance of all lavender varieties.|
|Cold Hardy:||Only English lavenders are cold hardy (USDA zone 5) and tolerate freezing temperatures. French and Spanish lavenders can die in frost and should be brought indoors during Winter.|
Discover the secrets to cultivating lavenders in pots and containers to achieve optimal fragrance and flower production, as well as to acquire expert tips on caring for your lavender during the Winter season.
Choosing a Lavender for Pots and Containers
There are certain lavender cultivars that are better suited for growing in pots and containers than others, although all lavender plants generally thrive in such environments because of the favorable drainage conditions.
The type of lavender that I suggest for growing in containers and that I particularly enjoy is the English lavender, scientifically known as Lavandula angustifolia.
These two types of lavender are categorized as English lavenders, indicating their ability to withstand colder temperatures (specifically, cold hardy to USDA zone 5), allowing the pot to remain outside throughout the year.
Two types of lavender, Hidcote and Munstead, possess the most exquisite aroma among all the lavenders and showcase stunning blooms during the peak of Summer.
The smaller size of these lavender plants, which can be maintained at around 12 inches through yearly pruning, makes them ideal for growing in pots without the need for frequent repotting, unlike larger varieties like ‘Vera’ which can reach up to 3 feet in width and are better suited for garden borders.
There are several excellent options for planting in pots, including many types of French and Spanish lavenders, such as the well-liked varieties.
- ‘Bandera pink‘
These particular types of lavender plants maintain a manageable size that won’t overcrowd a container and can bloom for as long as three months given the appropriate environment, but their scent is not as strong as that of the English lavender species.
It is important to mention that Spanish lavenders are less tolerant to cold temperatures than English lavenders, and it is advisable to bring the pots inside during Winter to prevent them from dying due to severe frost.
With proper care, English lavender has the ability to survive for 15 years or more, while French lavender typically perishes within five years, even under ideal circumstances.
Have a look at my piece on the timing and duration of lavender blooming.
Best Pots and Containers for Growing Lavender
Ceramic, clay, or terracotta pots are ideal for cultivating lavender since they are less conductive of heat than plastic and metal pots, and their thickness helps them withstand frost damage during Winter; in addition, these types of pots are porous, which promotes even soil drying and prevents root rot.
Mediterranean plants known as lavenders thrive in well-draining, gritty soils and need the soil to dry out completely before being watered again.
- Clay, ceramic, and terracotta pots have a porous structure that enables the soil to dry evenly and prevents rapid heating in direct sunlight.
- During colder weather, lavender roots that are sensitive to cold can be protected by these pots, which is important because freezing temperatures can be too much for many types of lavender.
When selecting a container for your lavender plant, opt for one that has a diameter of approximately 12 inches and a depth that is proportional to its width.
This particular pot has enough space to hold sufficient soil that can protect the roots from frost and provide ample room for their proper growth, enabling them to absorb nutrients and moisture effectively.
It is important to make sure that the bottom of the pot or container has drainage holes to let out any extra water that may accumulate after watering, in order to avoid root rot.
It is advisable to raise your potted lavender off the ground by about an inch by placing the pot on feet if it is situated on a patio, as this will allow water to drain freely from the bottom of the pot and prevent it from accumulating underneath.
It is important to grow lavender in full sunlight, and if the pot used is less than 12 inches in diameter, a smaller pot with less soil should be used to prevent the pot from heating up and drying out too quickly, which can prevent even drought-tolerant lavender roots from absorbing moisture.
Check out my piece on selecting the ideal pot for growing lavender, which includes various illustrations and instances.
How To Water Lavender in Pots
To enhance lavender’s drought resistance, generously water it until excess water drains from the pot’s base, which prompts the roots to delve deeper into the soil for moisture.
When watering lavender, it is important to avoid watering it too lightly, as this will only moisten the top inch of the potting soil, leading to shallow root growth and making the plant more susceptible to drought stress.
To ensure that the roots of a plant can access the moisture they need, it is important to thoroughly water the soil until water begins to seep out of the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot, which helps to maintain even moisture levels throughout the soil.
It is recommended to water plants at the soil level instead of using overhead watering, as the latter can cause a humid micro-climate around the foliage, leading to an increased risk of fungal disease that can turn the foliage gray.
How Often to Water Lavender in Pots
To keep lavenders in pots and containers healthy during the Spring and Summer, water them thoroughly every two weeks, but during the Fall and Winter, established potted lavenders do not require any extra watering; however, newly planted potted lavenders should be watered every week for the first year after planting.
|Lavender in Pots and Containers:||How Often to Water Potted Lavender:|
|Newly Planted Lavenders:||Water once per week during Spring and Summer. Do not water in Fall or Winter.|
|Established Lavenders:||Once every 2 weeks in Spring and Summer if there has been no significant rainfall.|
|Potted Lavender in Fall and Winter:||Lavender rarely requires watering in Winter as root rot is more of a risk. Lavender typically attains all the moisture it require form the environment in Fall and Winter.|
Lavenders, which are herbs that can withstand drought, have evolved to survive in the hot and arid Mediterranean area of Europe, so they do not need to be watered as frequently as other plants grown in pots, and in fact, they flourish during the hottest and driest months of the year.
To mimic the natural rainfall and drought cycle that lavenders usually undergo in their natural habitat, it is recommended to water them thoroughly and then let the soil dry out for two weeks.
It is advisable to hold off watering the soil if there has been substantial rainfall or numerous cloudy days until the soil has become dry.
Overwatering is detrimental to lavenders, including all Mediterranean herbs, as it can lead to root rot, causing the plant to turn brown, wilt, and eventually die.
If you are uncertain about whether to water your lavender plant in a pot, it is advisable to wait for a few days before watering it to ensure that the soil has completely dried out.
Check out my comprehensive guide on the frequency of watering lavender by reading my article.
Watering Newly Planted Lavenders
When lavender is newly planted, it is susceptible to drought because its roots require time to establish and absorb moisture more efficiently.
The optimal period to grow lavenders in containers is during Spring since it allows sufficient time for their roots to settle before the harsher Summer weather, although they can still thrive if planted in Spring or Summer.
To ensure the healthy growth of newly planted lavenders, it is recommended to water them thoroughly once a week during Spring, Summer, and Fall, which will encourage the development of their roots and make them more resilient to drought as they mature.
Planting lavender in pots that are at least 12 inches in diameter, and preferably made of clay, ceramic, or terracotta, is crucial as smaller pots tend to dry out too quickly for newly planted lavender, and the porous structure of these materials allows for even drying, which is essential for maintaining the optimal moisture balance that potted lavenders need to flourish.
During the Summer season, if you decide to grow lavender in containers, it is recommended to water them more often when exposed to strong sunlight and high temperatures, and to look out for signs of drooping.
Potting Soil for Lavenders in Pots and Containers
To provide optimal growing conditions for lavenders, it is recommended to use a potting soil mixture consisting of 70% compost and 30% horticultural sand or grit, which mimics the gritty soil conditions of their natural habitat and promotes a porous, aerated soil structure that facilitates efficient root respiration and drainage.
Lavenders are naturally found in nations like Spain, France, and Italy, where they thrive in soil that is rich in inorganic substances, containing a significant amount of grit and organic material.
Good drainage around the roots of lavender is the key feature of lavender potting soil, as moist soil can lead to fungal diseases like root rot, which is the primary cause of lavender death.
Pots are an excellent option for growing lavenders due to their superior drainage conditions compared to garden borders, but in regions with high rainfall or humidity, faster drainage is preferable.
To prevent lavender from being unable to tolerate excessively damp soil due to increased rainfall, it may be necessary to use a mixture of 50% compost and 50% horticultural sand or mix, which should be evenly combined in the pot.
Check out the video I made that demonstrates the process of making an ideal potting mixture for growing lavenders.
When making your lavender potting soil mix, it’s better to have too much grit than too little, so don’t be afraid to be generous.
Lavenders thrive best in soil that has moderate to low fertility, as rich soils can lead to excessive foliage growth but no blooms.
The excessive presence of nutrients, especially nitrogen, can lead to a decline in the concentration of crucial oils found in the leaves of lavender, ultimately diminishing the potency of its unique fragrance.
Lavender plants have evolved to grow in infertile soil and can flourish in such environments.
The sand or horticultural grit present in the potting mix does not provide significant nutrients to the soil, but it helps to balance the compost and recreate the low fertility soil conditions of the lavender’s native environment, which is essential for their growth and development.
Check out my piece on reviving a lavender plant that is on the brink of death.
Locate Potted Lavender in 6 hours of Sun
To ensure optimal growth of your potted lavender, it is important to place it in an area that receives full sunlight, as lavender plants have evolved to thrive in the Mediterranean region with at least six hours of direct sunlight daily, and the intensity of the sun exposure directly affects the strength of the fragrance emitted by the leaves, while it is not recommended to grow lavender in shaded areas.
Most commercial lavender is grown in the South of France, where it thrives in open areas and can withstand intense sunlight.
The commercial lavender industry benefits from the highest concentration of essential oils, which are produced by lavender plants that grow the most flowers and emit the strongest fragrance in sunny conditions during the hottest and driest years.
To ensure that your lavender plant grows with abundant flowers and fragrance, it is important to avoid placing it in a shaded area, as this can cause it to become leggy and produce fewer blooms; instead, opt for a sunny spot in your garden or patio to position your potted lavender.
Have you read my article on why lavender plants may not be producing flowers?
Does Potted Lavender Require Fertilizer?
Lavenders flourish in soil that is low in fertility and high in sand or grit content, which is the environment they have adapted to.
Using more fertilizer than necessary goes against the ideal environment that lavender has become accustomed to and can potentially cause damage to the plant.
When lavender is given extra fertilizer, it produces less flowers and the leaves contain a lower amount of essential oils, which are responsible for the plant’s fragrance.
When there is too much nitrogen in the soil, Lavender becomes more susceptible to pests and disease, and its growth becomes droopy.
If you want your potted lavender to thrive, mimic the low fertility conditions of its Mediterranean home by utilizing a potting mixture that contains at least 30% horticultural sand or grit to encourage blooming, and refrain from applying any fertilizer since it can be detrimental to your lavender.
Pruning Lavender in Pots
To ensure that lavenders of all types last longer and do not look spindly, it is necessary to prune them once a year by cutting back the top third of their growth either in the early Spring or Fall, aiming for a rounded and compact shape that will help them withstand weather conditions and display their flowers evenly.
In order to ensure that your lavender plant produces flowers, it is important to note that they only appear on new growth, which is why I suggest that you trim your lavender during the early Spring months, specifically in March or April.
Encouraging new growth and displaying more flowers can be achieved by pruning during the Spring season.
In my personal experience, I have tried pruning lavender during both Spring and Fall, and I have consistently observed that the lavender I prune during Spring produces more flowers due to the increased growth and a more potent fragrance.
To avoid the lavender from becoming leggy, which results in fewer flowers and a shorter lifespan, it is recommended to prune the top third of its growth annually.
It is recommended to refrain from cutting back the older, woody section of the lavender plant closer to its base, as this part of the plant is unable to regenerate.
To learn how to prune potted lavenders, you can refer to a YouTube video that provides a visual guide.
If lavenders are not pruned every year, they will become tall and thin with a reduced number of blooms, and their lifespan will be shortened.
How to Increase Lavender Flowers
If you want to have more lavender flowers, you can achieve this by planting lavender in a potting mix that is low in fertility, well-draining, and gritty, and by placing it in an area that receives as much sunlight as possible; additionally, since lavender flowers on new growth, it is recommended to prune it at the beginning of Spring to stimulate new growth that will produce more flowers.
In their natural Mediterranean habitat, lavenders produce the most blooms and emit the most potent aroma during years with high temperatures, abundant sunshine, and low humidity.
To produce abundant blooms in lavenders, it is not necessary to have a Mediterranean climate, but it is crucial to replicate their optimal environment.
- For optimal growth, fragrance, and blooms, it is recommended that you position your potted lavender in the sunniest area of your garden, as lavenders thrive in a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight per day.
- To promote flowering, it is advisable to plant lavenders in a gritty potting mix that contains at least 30% sand or grit by volume, which helps to balance the compost’s fertility to mimic the typical soil fertility of the plant’s native range; however, if the potting mix has been enriched with nutrients, the lavender will produce fewer flowers and the essential oils responsible for the fragrance will be less concentrated, resulting in a weaker scent.
- In order to promote more flowering, it is recommended to prune lavender during the Spring season.During this time, lavender produces new growth, and pruning at the beginning of Spring can encourage the plant to produce even more new growth, which ultimately leads to an increase in the number of flowers.
It is not possible for gardeners to control the temperature and sunlight, which are the factors that affect the growth of lavender, as it blooms more in years with higher temperatures and more sunlight, but a useful suggestion from professional lavender growers is to utilize a white stone mulch or position the lavender in a spot in the garden that reflects a significant amount of light, like a patio with light-colored slabs.
By reflecting additional light onto your lavender, you can enhance its brightness, flowering, and aroma, while also reducing the likelihood of fungal disease by increasing evaporation from the foliage due to the added heat and light.
To learn more about how to make lavender plants bloom, you can refer to my article titled “How to Increase Lavender Blooms.”
When does Lavender Flower?
|Lavender Species:||When Does it Bloom?||How Long Does it Flower For?||Popular Varieties:|
|English Lavenders:||Mid June/July.||Blooms for 4 weeks.||‘Munstead‘ and ‘Hidcote‘|
|French Lavenders:||As early as May until Septembers.||Blooms for up to 3 months in optimal climates.||‘Regal Splendor’ ‘Ballerina’ and ‘Anouk’|
|Hybrid Lavenders:||June/July||Blooms for up to 2 months.||‘Grosso’ and ‘Provence’|
In the middle of June, English lavenders bloom, displaying their graceful blue flowers that endure for approximately one month.
English Lavender, although not having a prolonged blooming period like French lavenders, is highly resistant to cold weather, has a lifespan of over 15 years, emits a more delicate aroma, and includes favored types such as ‘Hidcote‘ and ‘Munstead‘ that remain smaller in size, making them perfect for planting in pots and containers.
The French variety of lavender blooms for an extended period, up to three months in a Mediterranean climate, but its scent is not as potent as other types.
Hybrid lavenders, like ‘Grosso’, have a blooming period of approximately 2 months, which usually begins in June or July, and they emit a potent aroma; however, due to their tendency to grow quite large, they may require more frequent repotting.
Potted Lavender Care in Winter
The way you should take care of your potted lavender during Winter is determined by the particular type of lavender you have, as their ability to withstand cold temperatures varies.
If you have English lavenders, you can leave them outside during Winter in a sunny spot, and they will endure freezing temperatures, as long as they are in a potting mix that drains well; however, French lavenders cannot withstand frost and freezing temperatures, so you should bring their pot inside before the first frost of Winter.
Only English lavenders and certain hybrid lavenders, like ‘Grosso’, have the ability to withstand cold and snowy conditions, provided that the soil has good drainage.
It remains crucial to trim your lavender plants in pots every year, as those with long, thin stems are more prone to breaking or getting damaged from snow, while shorter, denser plants are more resilient to harsh weather conditions.
It is not advisable to water your lavender plants in Winter because this is when they are most susceptible to root rot, a common problem in cold and wet soil.
The significance of proper drainage cannot be overstated, and it can be achieved by using a high-quality potting mix that contains coarse particles to facilitate the efficient removal of excess water from the roots.
When living in a cold climate, it is advisable to plant lavenders in bigger pots or containers since they have a higher soil capacity that can serve as insulation for the roots that are sensitive to the cold during the Winter season, thereby improving the chances of survival for the lavenders.
During Winter in colder regions, it is advisable to move your potted French lavender plants indoors and position them in a sunny window.
It is best to position the lavender plants in a warm greenhouse that maintains a temperature above freezing, allowing them to receive ample light.
To keep indoor lavender healthy until Spring, it is recommended to water it once every 4-6 weeks, ensuring a thorough watering during Winter.
In my opinion, it is advisable to cultivate English lavenders in containers in regions with low temperatures since they require less effort to take care of, especially if you lack the room to transfer the pots inside during the Winter season.
To learn about the best ways to take care of lavender during the winter season, you can refer to my article on the topic, and if you have French lavenders, which need extra care and attention during this time, I have a separate article dedicated to their care.
- The ideal lavender types for cultivating in containers are ‘Hidcote‘ and ‘Munstead‘, which are capable of withstanding cold temperatures, can be kept outside throughout the Winter season, yield abundant aromatic blooms, and maintain a small stature that is appropriate for the size of the pot or receptacle.
- For lavenders, it is recommended to use ceramic, clay, or terracotta pots because they are porous, allowing the soil to dry out uniformly; it is advisable to select a pot that is a minimum of 12 inches in diameter to guarantee that there is enough soil to protect the roots of the lavender during the winter season.
- If you want to take care of lavender, a plant that can withstand drought, you should only give it water when the soil surrounding its roots has become dry; when you do water it, make sure to do so thoroughly enough that any extra water drains out from the bottom of the pot, and then wait until the soil has dried out again before watering it once more.
- To ensure proper root growth, it is recommended to water newly planted lavender once a week during the first year, and then reduce watering to once every two weeks once it has become established; however, it is important to note that outdoor potted lavender should not be watered during the Fall or Winter months as they receive sufficient moisture from their surroundings.
- To grow lavender successfully, it is recommended to plant it in a potting mix that consists of 70% compost and 30% horticultural grit or sand, which creates a porous and aerated soil structure that promotes good drainage and mimics the low fertility soil conditions of the plant’s natural habitat.
- To ensure optimal growth and fragrance from your potted lavender, it is recommended to place it in an area that receives full sun for at least six hours or more, as this will result in more flowers and a stronger scent emanating from the foliage, while it is important to note that lavender does not thrive in shaded areas.
- Lavenders grown in pots do not need fertilizer since they are well-suited to grow in low fertility soil, which is typical of their natural Mediterranean habitat where they flourish, and adding fertilizer can lead to reduced flower production, diminished fragrance, and drooping growth.
- To maintain the appearance and longevity of lavender, it is recommended to prune it either in early Spring or late Fall, after it has flowered, by cutting back the top third of its growth into a compact, rounded shape, which will encourage flowering and prevent a leggy appearance.
- In the months of June and July, English lavender produces flowers that remain in bloom for approximately one month, while French lavender blooms in May and can last up to three months under ideal circumstances; furthermore, English lavender has a stronger fragrance than French lavender.
- English lavenders are capable of withstanding cold temperatures and can be maintained in outdoor pots throughout the year, while French lavenders are vulnerable to cold and may experience frost damage, requiring them to be brought indoors before winter; during winter, outdoor lavenders should not be watered, but indoor lavenders should be watered every 4-6 weeks.