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Growing Lavender: Easy-Care Tips for a Fragrant Garden

Looking for a beautiful, aromatic flowering plant that deer tend to avoid? Wait until you see how easy lavender is to grow and enjoy with these simple tips.

If you want to grow a beautiful and fragrant flower in your garden, look no further than lavender.

It’s one of the first flowers I wanted to grow. And probably one of my favorite plants because it smells amazing, the flowers are beautiful, and the pollinators enjoy them too.

This incredible herb not only adds a calming hue to your landscape but also fills the air with its delightful scent.

Whether you have a green thumb or are a gardening beginner, lavender is a great choice to grow.

So today, I’m sharing my best tips for growing lavender, why you should include it in your garden, and ways to enjoy the blooms.

Follow these simple tips and tricks for lavender care.

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About Lavender

Lavender is a versatile and popular herb known for its aromatic fragrance, attractive flowers, and soothing properties.

It belongs to the plant family Lamiaceae and is native to the Mediterranean region, but is now grown throughout the world. 

With a USDA hardiness zone of 5-9, lavender is a perennial plant that typically grows as a sub-shrub. With a compact and bushy growth habit, it has multiple stems arising from a woody base. The overall size of lavender can vary depending on the variety, ranging from 1 to 3 feet in height and width.

Lavender leaves are a grayish-green color that is highly aromatic, releasing a calming fragrance when brushed or crushed.

But it’s not just the foliage that’s fragrant, because the flowers are equally aromatic. The plant produces beautiful spikes or clusters atop slender stems that come in various shades of purple, blue, and pink, depending on the variety.

It thrives in full sun and well-draining soil and is pretty drought-tolerant once established. Lavender is a popular choice in herb gardens, cottage gardens, flower beds, borders, and containers.

They are also a favorite of bees and butterflies, making them an excellent option for pollinator gardens.

These deer-resistant plants make excellent cut flowers as well as dried flowers too.

close up of lavender flowers

Is Lavender a Perennial or Annual?

Lavender is a perennial that will come back every year with the proper care.

Perennial plants are those that have a life cycle lasting for more than two years. Unlike annuals which complete their life cycle in a single growing season and biennials which require two growing seasons, perennials have the ability to regrow and bloom year after year.

Lavender plants fall into the category of perennial herbs. With proper care and suitable growing conditions, they can live for several years, bringing beauty and fragrance to your garden year after year.

However, its lifespan can be influenced by various factors such as climate, soil conditions, care practices, and the specific variety you grow.

In my former garden, my lavender plants would only last a few years. Looking back, it was planted in a location that did not have the best drainage.

I have English lavender planted in my new gardens along the driveway. The garden slopes down and I can tell you that my plants love this spot! I’ve not seen lavender grow so well in my gardens before.

sweet romance lavender by proven winners
Sweet Romance Lavender by Proven Winners

Benefits of Growing Lavender

A popular choice among home gardeners and gardening enthusiasts, you can’t beat the enchanting fragrance and beautiful lavender flowers.

It’s a must-have plant for any garden. Here are 5 reasons you should grow lavender this year.

  • It smells incredible.
  • The flowers are gorgeous.
  • Plants are easy-care and low-maintenance.
  • It can be used in lots of different ways both in the garden as well as in your home.
  • It’s a natural pest repellent. And deer tend to leave it alone too!
outdoor dining table with farmhouse table wicker chairs with cushions and lavender in terra cotta pots on table in potager garden with green garden fence and arbor with lonicera
Lavender in clay pots on outdoor dining table as a centerpiece

Choosing the Right Variety

Before diving into the planting process, it’s important to select the right lavender variety for your garden.

Here are a few popular types to consider.

  • English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia): This is the most common variety, known for its compact growth habit and aromatic flowers. It thrives in cooler climates and is highly valued for its oil. It is also excellent for culinary use.
  • French Lavender (Lavandula dentata): With its distinctive serrated leaves and showy flowers, it’s more tolerant of heat and humidity while adding a touch of charm to any garden. Not to mention, it tends to bloom longer than other varieties.
  • Spanish Lavender (Lavandula stoechas): Known for its unique “rabbit ear” blooms, this variety is an early blooming, vibrant, and drought-tolerant variety that can handle hot and dry conditions.
lavender and nepeta in the garden
Lavender with nepeta in the garden

Planting and Care Tips

Now that you’ve chosen your lavender variety, follow these easy-care tips for growing and caring for this gorgeous herb.

  • Select a Sunny Spot: Lavender thrives in full sun, so choose a location that receives at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day.
  • Well-Drained Soil: Lavender prefers loose, well-drained soil to prevent waterlogging. If your soil is heavy or clay-like, amend it with organic matter or create raised beds to improve drainage.
  • Planting: Dig a hole slightly larger than the root ball of your lavender plant. Place the plant in the hole, ensuring the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface. Backfill the hole and gently pat the soil around the plant.
  • Watering: While lavender is drought-tolerant, it’s important to provide sufficient water during its establishment phase. Water deeply but infrequently, allowing the soil to dry out between watering sessions.
  • Pruning: Pruning lavender promotes bushier growth and helps maintain its shape. Prune in early spring or after the first bloom, removing about one-third of the plant’s height.
  • Fertilizing: Lavender doesn’t require fertilization. Focus on good quality soil for it to grow in. If you grow it in containers, then use a balanced, slow-release fertilizer sparingly, preferably in early spring.
  • Weeding: Keep the area around plants free from weeds, as they can compete for resources. Mulching with organic materials like straw or wood chips can help suppress weed growth.
  • Pest and Disease Problems: Lavender is generally resistant to pests and diseases. However, keeping the plants well-drained, well-spaced, and ensuring good air circulation can help prevent issues like powdery mildew or root rot.
lavender flowers by driveway


Most lavender plants can be propagated from cuttings from the mother plant. Direct seeding is not recommended since the germination rate is low. But hey, if you want to try it, go for it. 

  • Choose a stem that is not flowering and is approximately 4-6 inches long just below a node.
  • Remove the 3-4 leaves from the lower half of the cutting.
  • Fill a small pot or container with well-draining high-quality potting soil.
  • Dip the end in rooting hormone and plant in well-moistened warm potting soil.
  • Place it in a warm and bright location, but out of direct sunlight. Keep it moist but not wet.
  • Once the cutting has developed a strong root system, usually within a couple of months, you can transplant it into a larger pot to grow more before planting directly into the garden.
lavender with bees

Harvesting and Drying Lavender

To preserve garden blooms, you can harvest and dry the flowers with ease. Here’s how to do it.

  • Harvest lavender when the buds are not fully open so that they will come off the stem quicker when dry and retain their fragrance and color. 
  • Harvest in the morning after the dew has evaporated, but before the heat of the day sets in to retain as much oil as possible. 
  • Cut stalks just below the first set of leaves. 
  • Gather them into small bundles or bunches of 10-15 stems. 
  • Tie them together at the base with a rubber band or twine. 
  • Hang the lavender bundles upside down in a dry and well-ventilated area. 
  • Keep them away from direct sunlight to prevent the flowers from fading. 
  • Leave the bundles to dry for about 2-4 weeks until the flowers are completely dry and crumbly to the touch. 
  • Once the lavender is fully dried, gently remove the flowers from the stems by rubbing them between your fingers. 
  • Store the dried lavender flowers in airtight containers away from light and moisture to preserve their fragrance and quality.
lavender in pots on outdoor dining table
lavender in the potager garden

Ways to Use Dried Lavender

Lavender has a wide range of uses and benefits, extending beyond its beauty and fragrance. Its pleasant aroma makes it a popular choice for home fragrance products.

You can DIY lavender-scented candles, room sprays, potpourri, and cute sachets that can freshen up living spaces, closets, and drawers with a natural and relaxing aroma. 

Lavender’s dried flowers and stems can also be used in various crafts, including DIY wreaths, floral arrangements, and home decorations. 

Culinary-grade lavender can be used in cooking and baking to add a unique floral flavor to a variety of dishes. It pairs well with both sweet and savory recipes, including desserts, teas, infused syrups, and herbal blends. 

lavender flowers

Since lavender is renowned for its calming and soothing properties, its scent is often used in aromatherapy to promote relaxation, reduce stress, and improve sleep quality.

The essential oil can be diffused, used in massage, added to bathwater, or applied to pulse points for its aromatherapeutic benefits.

But that’s not all! It also has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties, making it beneficial for soothing minor skin irritations, sunburns, and insect bites.

Lavender oil or lavender-infused products can be applied topically to nourish and moisturize the skin.

outdoor dining table with lavender and herbs

Lavender FAQ’s

Why Are My Lavender Plants Dying?

If your lavender plants don’t look so great and you think they might be dying, it’s important to identify the possible causes and take appropriate action to save them.

Here are a few reasons why lavender plants struggle.

  • Overwatering: Lavender is a drought-tolerant plant and prefers well-drained soil. Overwatering can lead to root rot and suffocate the plant’s roots, causing it to wilt and eventually die.
  • Poor drainage: Lavender thrives in loose, sandy soil that drains well. If your soil is heavy and retains water, it can cause root rot. Amend the soil with sand, perlite, or organic matter to improve drainage.
  • Lack of sunlight: Lavender needs 6-8 hours of full sun to flourish. If your plants are not receiving enough direct sunlight, they may become weak and leggy.
  • Pests and diseases: Lavender plants can be susceptible to soil problems related to overwatering or poorly draining soil. Regularly inspect plants to identify problems early.
  • Improper pruning: Pruning lavender is crucial for maintaining its shape and preventing it from becoming woody. Trim back the spent flowers and about one-third of the foliage after blooming to encourage healthy growth.
  • Extreme temperatures: Lavender prefers moderate temperatures and can struggle in extreme heat or cold. If your plants are exposed to scorching sun or freezing temperatures consider providing shade or using frost covers during extreme weather conditions to protect them.
  • Soil pH: Lavender prefers slightly alkaline soil. If your soil is highly acidic, it may affect the plant’s ability to absorb nutrients properly, leading to poor growth or decline. Test your soil’s pH level and amend it if necessary by adding lime or organic matter.

By addressing these potential issues and providing the right conditions for your lavender plants, you can improve the plant’s success in your garden.

English lavender in the potager garden

How Fast Do Lavender Plants Grow?

The growth rate of lavender plants can vary depending on several factors, including the specific variety of lavender, growing conditions, and the care provided.

On average, lavender plants have a moderate growth rate and tend to establish themselves within the first year.

In the first year of planting, lavender focuses on establishing a strong root system. During this time, you can expect to see some growth above ground, with the plants developing a bushy appearance.

Because it is focusing more on root development, the first year is typically not as vigorous as subsequent years. Once the plants are well-established, you can expect more significant growth in their second and third years.

In the third year and beyond, lavender plants will continue to grow and expand. With proper care and maintenance, they can reach their mature size. Lavender plants can live for several years, and with each passing year, they tend to become stronger and more robust.

Factors like sunlight, soil quality, water availability, and pruning practices can influence the growth rate of lavender plants. To promote healthy growth, ensure lavender plants receive full sunlight (at least 6-8 hours per day), well-draining soil, and adequate spacing for good airflow.

Regular pruning and proper watering practices, allowing the soil to dry out between waterings, can also contribute to optimal growth.

lavender flowers with bees

When Is the Best Time to Plant Lavender?

The best time to plant lavender depends on your location and the specific climate you have. In general, lavender is best planted in the early spring or fall.

Spring Planting

Planting lavender in the spring allows plants to establish their root systems before the hot summer months. This gives them a better chance of survival and growth. Aim to plant lavender in early to mid-spring, when the soil can be worked.

Fall Planting

Fall planting is also a great option for lavender. Plants are usually being sold at a discount by nurseries and it’s easier to get plants to establish with cooler temperatures. Planting lavender in fall can be done anytime until the ground freezes but is best done before the first frost.

Before planting, make sure the soil is well-draining and prepared properly. Lavender prefers loose, sandy soil with good drainage. If your soil is heavy or compacted, consider amending it with compost, leaf mold or other organic matter to improve drainage.

lavender flowers close up

More About Growing Lavender

Do you love to grow lavender too? How do you like to enjoy the flowers? I would love to know more in the comments below.

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    1. I hope you can get it going for next year! I had better luck with it here in a spot that drains really well. It didn’t grow well in my former garden.

  1. Hi there fellow NJ resident Stacy! Just wanted to add a “that’s not all” to your article. I am a psychiatric nurse practitioner in NJ and there is an NIH study with a proprietary form of Lavender oil taken from English Lavender called “Silexan” which is proven to assist with anxiety and stress management when taken orally, once or twice daily. It’s a gel cap. Fascinating stuff! Rates high on anxiety management treatments. Google “Silexan”l it is the ingredient in a product called “Calm Aid” available without prescription commercially. Have a great day! Best, Robin

  2. What a great idea. After a tree was removed, too much sunlight for hostas and deer eating them makes lavender a perfect replacement plant. Thanks for always inspiring!