Are you looking for advice on how to plant lavender in pots? This guide covers everything you need to know about how to grow lavender in pots, including tips on lavender varieties, planting instructions, how to care for lavender plants in pots, and growing lavender in pots indoors.
A quick introduction to lavender
Lavender is a Mediterranean woody plant, with the botanical name Lavandula. It’s a member of the mint family, and there are around 39 species native to the Mediterranean region, Middle East, North and West Africa, India, and the Atlantic Islands. All are found in somewhat dry soil with a neutral to slightly alkaline pH, and good drainage.
Lavender leaves are evergreen, fragrant, and grey-green in colour. The flowers are borne in spikes above woody stems, and are usually shades of purple, although the blooms of some varieties of lavender are pink or white.
Lavender is a fantastic plant to introduce if you’d like to make your garden wildlife-friendly. It’s adored by pollinating insects as it provides a rich source of pollen and nectar. It’s one of the best flowers for bees too; if you’ve already got lavender in your garden, you will no doubt be familiar with the abundance of bees who pay it a visit.
Fresh lavender has a unique scent, and has been used as a fragrance for centuries. Lavender is known for its ability to relax, and can also help to improve sleep, regulate heart rate, manage anxiety and calm a busy mind. It’s no wonder these beautiful purple flowers are used in *lavender essential oils and a huge range of beauty and wellbeing products, is it?
You might also like to find out more about lavender flower meaning and the symbolism associated with this plant. We’ve also got a great guide to companion plants for lavender to help keep your plants happy.
The best types of lavender to grow in pots
English lavender, or Lavandula angustifolia, is the variety that most people think of as a typical lavender. It’s a tough plant, and can cope with up to -12°C, so you can grow it pretty much anywhere.
English lavender can reach around three feet in height, so is ideal if you’re looking for a low edging plant. ‘Hidcote’ and ‘Munstead’ varieties are among the best lavender for pots.
If you’re growing lavender indoors, make sure you choose a dwarf variety of English lavender; these are more well-suited to small pots and containers.
French lavender, or Lavandula dentata, has more showy flower heads, often with frilly tips. It’s less hardy than English lavender in pots, and may need some frost protection if grown in exposed areas. French lavender can reach up to a metre tall and 1.5 metres wide.
Lavandula stoechas is also commonly known as French lavender, but you may see it referred to as Spanish lavender too. It’s more compact than Lavandula dentata, which makes it more suitable if you’re growing lavender in pots. Again, the flower heads are impressive, with showy spikes of fragrant flowers and a few petals at the top that look like rabbit ears. This variety is more tolerant of slightly acidic soil than other lavenders. ‘Anouk’ is a good variety for pots.
Portugese lavender, or Lavandula latifolia, is another large variety that is best suited to borders in gardens or really large pots.
Lavandula x intermedia varieties are a hybrid between Lavandula angustifolia and Lavandula latifolia. The flower spikes are long-stemmed and thick, making them a good choice for ornamental purposes. Again, choose shorter varieties if you’re planting lavender in pots.
Ideal conditions for growing lavender in pots
Whether you’re growing lavender indoors or outside, it still requires the same set of conditions in order to thrive.
Drainage is very important. Lavender pots need excellent drainage; they naturally grow in hot, dry climates and won’t thank you for soggy soil.
Does lavender grow well in pots?
Lavender is well-suited to growing in pots. Containers can provide the good drainage that lavender plants enjoy, plus it’s easy to locate a pot in a position where the plant can thrive.
It’s important to choose the right plant variety if you’re planting lavender in pots. Go for smaller, more compact varieties that will be happy in limited space.
What soil is best for lavender in pots?
The best soil you can use to plant lavender in pots should be free-draining, and neutral pH. Clay soil is definitely not ideal. Poor soil is fine, as this combined with dry conditions is what the plants grow in naturally.
If you’re worried that your compost is too heavy, you could add some grit, sand or *perlite to loosen up your potting mix. Organic matter such as leaf mould or coir will also help to give the soil an open structure.
You can also check out our guide to the best compost for pots for more tips.
Does potted lavender need full sun?
Lavender enjoys growing in a sunny position that receives plenty of light. It will struggle in shady or damp areas, so make sure you choose the location of your container with this in mind.
When is the best time to plant lavender in pots?
Late spring is a great time to plant lavender in pots. At this time of year there are lots of varieties available in garden centres and online, so you can easily choose a strong, healthy plant.
You should always avoid planting lavender in winter, as young plants can’t cope well with cold, damp soil.
Do lavender plants need deep pots?
Lavender has long, deep roots. When growing lavender in pots, you should try to select a large pot that provides plenty of room for the roots to grow.
Is potted lavender easy to grow?
Growing lavender in pots is pretty simple. Here’s a quick guide on how to plant lavender in pots to help you get it right first time.
How to plant lavender in pots
- Make sure your pot has plenty of drainage holes, to prevent your plant sitting in a puddle.
- Put some gravel or pieces of broken terracotta pots in the bottom of the container. This will further improve drainage.
- Add good quality, free-draining *peat-free compost to your pot until it’s about two thirds full.
- Remove your lavender plant from its nursery pot. Inspect the roots and clip off any old, damaged or dry roots that have root rot.
- Place the plant centrally in the container. The top of the soil needs to be level with the top of the pot.
- Fill in any gaps around the sides of the plant with more compost.
- Water lavender thoroughly, and place in a sunny spot. Keep an eye on newly planted lavender while the plant is getting established.
How do you care for a potted lavender plant?
Once you’ve planted your lavender, you might be wondering what else you need to do to make sure your plant stays happy. Lavender is a low maintenance plant for pots, but there are a few things you can do to give your plant the best chance of looking good and producing lots of gorgeous flowers.
Watering lavender in containers
As we’ve already covered, lavender plants don’t like sitting in wet soil. Lavender is a drought tolerant plant, but that doesn’t mean you never need to water it!
Plants grown in pots dry out much more quickly than plants grown in the ground. This is because the soil is exposed to warmer temperatures, and doesn’t have as much access to water.
How do I know if my potted lavender needs water?
If the soil feels dry when you poke a finger into the surface, it’s time to give the plant a drink.
How often should lavender in pots be watered?
In warmer months, check the soil in your potted lavender plants regularly. Make sure you don’t overwater; providing just enough water little and often is much better than occasional drenching.
Lavender plants shouldn’t need to be watered in cold climates and winter months. Ideally you should move the pots to a reasonably dry area; this could be a greenhouse, or somewhere in the garden that’s protected from rain.
What happens if you overwater a lavender plant?
If you overwater a lavender plant, it will struggle to grow well and could even die. This is because excess water can cause the roots to rot, and if a plant doesn’t have healthy roots it’s in trouble.
Yellow leaves, saturated soil, and soil that has a rotting smell are all signs that lavender has been overwatered.
Once a plant has been overwatered there’s a risk it may fail to recover. However, you can try to save it by improving the drainage in the pot and allowing the soil to dry out. You could also try repotting the plant into fresh, unsaturated compost.
Can I leave potted lavender outside in winter?
English lavender in containers will be able to cope with most winter conditions, and can be left outside.
French lavender in pots and Spanish lavender in pots are less hardy, and could die if left outdoors in winter. To be safe, you should move the pots to a more sheltered place, such as a cold frame or greenhouse.
Feeding lavender in pots
In its natural habitat, lavender grows in soil that’s low in nutrients. This means you shouldn’t need to feed your plants on a regular basis. Having said that, any plant grown in a pot will eventually exhaust the nutrients in the potting soil, and when this happens the plant starts to struggle.
Does lavender in pots need fertiliser?
If you notice your potted lavender plant is looking less healthy, you could try using a *general purpose plant food to perk it up. Another option is to repot the whole plant into a larger container with fresh compost.
Pruning lavender in pots
You can snip off old lavender flowers while the plant is still flowering (this is called deadheading) to encourage new growth and more blooms.
Should I deadhead lavender?
While it’s fine to deadhead lavender, you don’t have to do it. Leaving the flowers on the plant won’t do any harm, and can provide a food source for wild birds. If you do remove flowers you can dry them out and use them to fragrance fabric sachets or homemade toiletries.
Should potted lavender be cut back?
If you want to keep your lavender plants compact, you can prune them in late summer after flowering, or in early spring before new growth appears. Use *secateurs or *snips to remove straggly stalks and old flower stems, leaving lower leaves in place.
The strongest scent on a lavender plant is located at the flower spikes, just as they begin to open. To harvest lavender, cut the stems long, and dry bunches out in the sun or in a warm, well-ventilated room.
Drying lavender usually takes about a week, provided the weather or room is warm. Make sure you spread the bunches on a sheet so that air can circulate around the flowers.
The stems and the flower spikes can be used for flower arrangements, sachets, potpourri, and homemade beauty products.
How long does potted lavender live?
If you look after your lavender grown in pots you can expect it to reward you with flowers and foliage for a number of years. English lavenders can live for as long as fifteen years, while French lavenders and Spanish lavenders usually live for around five years.
Does potted lavender grow back every year?
Lavender is a perennial plant, which means it will flower every year. This makes it a good option if you’re gardening on a budget and need low-cost flowering plants for pots. You also have the option of taking cuttings from your existing lavender plants to make new plants for free.
Why is my potted lavender dying?
There are a number of reasons why a potted lavender starts to fail. The most common cause is overwatering, which we’ve already covered, but some other factors can also cause problems.
Lack of sunlight can make lavender struggle. Make sure your pot is in a position that receives lots of direct light.
Soil can also be the cause of the problem. Lavender doesn’t like very acidic soil; this isn’t usually an issue when you plant lavender in pots, but it might be worth checking. Soil that has been exhausted can also affect the health of the plant; if your potted lavender has been growing in the same soil for a while it’s a good idea to repot it with fresh compost.
Finally, check your plant for pests. Lavender plants are quite pest-resistant, but they can be attacked by aphids, whitefly and spittlebugs (or cuckoo spit). Check the leaves for signs of an infestation, and remove any pests you find. If you discover ants, check out this guide to getting rid of ants in plant pots.
Growing lavender in pots indoors
Lavender is an easy and rewarding plant to grow indoors. Growing lavender indoors has many advantages: it’s easy to harvest for crafts and culinary uses, it’s highly scented, and it will add a splash of colour and greenery to your home.
Since lavender plants dislike humid climates, indoor air suits them well. Your main problem will be giving them enough light to keep them from growing leggy and flowering poorly. A sunny south-facing windowsill that has good air circulation and receives plenty of natural light all year round is your best option.
When potting up an indoor lavender plant, follow the planting tips we covered earlier. They’re just as relevant to planting lavender in pots indoors as they are to outdoor plants.
Can lavender live in small pots?
Compact or dwarf lavender varieties such as ‘Little Lady’ and ‘Nana Alba’ are perfect for indoor containers and small outdoor pots. Choose a pot that is approximately three inches wider than the plant for best results.
If you’re growing lavender from *seed, a small starter pot is fine, but remember you will need to repot the plant into a larger container as it grows.
Care tips for indoor lavender plants
To take care of a lavender plant indoors, place it in a bright, sunny window where it has access to at least six hours of direct sunlight during the day. As an alternative to sunlight, you can set up a grow light that provides the plant with heat and bright light.
It’s also important to ensure the plant has good airflow. Lavender likes a bit of a breeze, so fresh air from an oscillating fan or open window will make it a happier plant.
Lavender grown indoors can be deadheaded and lightly pruned to keep it looking good. Cut the new growth back by half and thin the stems so light can reach the base of the plant. Avoid cutting deep into old wood as lavender doesn’t grow well from old stems.
And that’s it – everything you need to know about how to plant lavender in pots. Hopefully this article has given you lots of advice on how to grow lavender in pots, and helps you to create a beautiful, fragrant container display.
More container gardening resources
If you’re keen to explore more ideas for gardening in pots and containers, here are some useful resources.
- Flowering plants for pots series: including spring flowers for pots and hanging baskets, summer plants for pots, fall flowers for pots, winter plants for pots and low maintenance evergreen plants for pots and plants for shallow pots. You might also like to take a look at this list of easy flowers to grow from seed.
- Hanging basket series: including trailing plants for hanging baskets, how to create wow factor hanging baskets, and best plants for winter hanging baskets.
- Vegetable gardening in containers: a guide to easy vegetables to grow in pots and how to grow potatoes in bags and pots.
- Container gardening with children: growing sunflowers in pots and growing salad in containers.
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