As one of the most adored fragrances on planet earth, lavender has quite rightly been dubbed “the Queen of herbs.”
Alas, this plant is also one of the biggest divas of the gardening world when it comes to growing it successfully from seed!
Luckily I’ve gathered some expert tips on everything you need to know about growing lavender, from germination tricks and planting steps to care suggestions, and more.
Lavender at a Glance
Popular Lavender Varieties
English lavender, or Lavandula angustifolia, is the most well-known species among a total of 45 – and these include a further 450 varieties!
English lavender is favored for its cold tolerance, long lifespan, and excellent lavender oil, while Spanish lavender (Lavandula stoechas) is prized for its quirky butterfly-shaped flowers and high humidity tolerance.
Among the many lavender varieties, you’ll find that some possess better qualities for your landscape design as they have taller/compact growth, higher heat tolerance, specific flower color, etc.
Here are 6 popular lavender varieties:
- ‘Little Lottie’ (L. angustifolia) – Dwarf variety; 11-12 inches tall; pale-pink/purple flowers; performs well in poor, dry soil; great for containers/rock gardens.
- Lavandula x intermedia ‘Grosso’ – Vigorous growth, 24-36 inches tall, deep-violet flowers, highly pungent fragrance, greater tolerance for acidic soils.
- ‘Hidcote’ (L. angustifolia) – Ideal hedging variety, 12-20 inches tall, deep-purple flowers, long-lasting scent, excellent color retention makes it perfect for crafts/dried flowers.
- ‘Anouk’ (L. stoechas) – Bushy variety, 12-18 inches tall, tolerant of high heat/humidity, dark-plum flower heads with lilac butterfly wing petals.
- ‘Royal Velvet’ (L. angustifolia) – Rapid growth, 24-30 inches tall, navy-blue flowers on long stems, tolerant of wet winters.
- Lavandula x intermedia ‘Provence’ – Prolific bloomer; 30-36 inches tall; rounded, bushy habit; light-purple flowers on tall stems; heat, humidity, and drought tolerant.
Best Places To Buy Lavender Seeds
Lavender Seed Planting & Germination
- Seed trays with lids
- Seed starter soil
- Heat mat
- Peat moss
- Soil thermometer
- Misting bottle
- 3-inch pots
1. Sow Seeds in Moistened Seed Starter Soil Between Feb.-July
Beginning between February and July, moisten some seed starting soil with a few sprays from a water-misting bottle, and fill each of the seed tray cells with the mix.
Place 2-3 seeds in each cell, and sprinkle a thin layer of soil over the seeds.
2. Cover With Humidity Lid & Place Tray in a Bright, Warm Spot
Place the humidity lid on the tray, and place the seeds in an area of bright, direct sunlight – south- and west-facing windowsills are ideal.
The seeds also need temperatures between 65-70°F, so place a heat mat under the tray, and use a soil thermometer to ensure consistency.
Keep the soil surface damp but not wet during germination, misting whenever the soil feels dry.
3. Once Seedlings Sprout Leaves Transplant Into Separate Pots
Depending on their care, the seeds should germinate after 1-3 weeks.
Once the seedlings have sprouted their first set of leaves and reach around 3 inches tall, they can be transplanted into individual pots.
Fill pots ¾ full with airy, well-draining soil (2 parts peat moss, 1 part perlite), and make a hole roughly 3 inches deep.
Next, gently pinch the base of your seed tray cells to dislodge the seedlings, and plant them in their prepared pots, backfilling the soil around the stem to steady it.
Give the soil a thorough spray to moisten.
4. Harden Off Baby Plants for 10-14 Days When Frost Has Passed
Ensuring all risk of frost has passed, begin acclimating your baby lavender plants to cooler temperatures by placing the pots outside for 1-2 hours a day for 10-14 days.
Place them in a sunny position, and increase the outdoor exposure as the week progresses.
5. Prepare a Well-Draining Planting Site in Full-Sun
While hardening off the plants, create a soil bed in an area of direct sunlight. Dig 8-inch deep holes, and space each hole at least 8 inches apart.
Add compost to the holes for good drainage, and allow this to settle into the soil.
6. Transplant Potted Lavender in Garden Soil Around April/May
No earlier than April, transplant your potted lavender plants into their prepared holes.
Turn the pots upside down and, cradling the stem in your hand, ease the plant out gently (it may help to water the soil beforehand).
Plant lavender seedlings in the center of the hole, and backfill around the stem with compost. Water the soil well.
4 Tips for Growing Lavender From Seed
- If you’re starting your lavender seeds around Feb./March, the daylight hours are not the best, so use grow lights for greater reliability during germination – full-spectrum LED lights are ideal as this best replicates direct sunlight.
- Water sparingly – when misting the soil in your seed tray, you only want to mist enough to keep it damp/moist as soggy, waterlogged soil will rot the seedlings before they have a chance to grow.
- While it isn’t crucial for lavender seeds, you may have greater success by cold stratifying them before sowing. Put a paper towel on a clean plate, and moisten with water. Sprinkle the seeds evenly on the towel, and place the plate into a Ziplock bag in the fridge for 30-40 days – subjecting the seeds to this “winter” treatment tricks them into breaking their dormancy, resulting in improved germination!
- Record your progress – make things easier for yourself by noting down every step of the germination process from the issues you faced, lights used, soil temperatures, etc.
Growing & Caring for Lavender
Congratulations on successfully germinating your lavender seeds! We could say the trickiest part’s over, but you now need to make sure it thrives in your garden environment.
To ensure your patience and effort are rewarded, stick to the following care tips, and you’ll soon be enjoying your matured lavender plant in all its aromatic beauty!
Lavender is thankfully tolerant of poor, dry garden soil, but you should mix free-draining compost into your planting bed to help it thrive.
You can also lighten up heavy garden soil by adding horticultural grit to the planting hole.
Keep the bed weed free throughout the summer, and replace the top layer with fresh compost as needed.
As a Mediterranean-native herb, lavender will prosper best in a full-sun location of your landscape (at least 8 hours of direct sunlight).
Watering & Fertilizing
Lavender needs consistent watering during its first growing season – water 1-2 times weekly, and provide enough to keep the soil evenly moist.
Once it reaches its mature height (which varies between varieties), it can cope well with periods of drought, so let rainfall do the work for you.
As for feed, add a small handful of bone meal (I use this one) into the dug hole before planting.
Bone meal is rich in phosphorus and acts as a natural fertilizer to strengthen your lavender plant’s roots and encourage more show-stopping flowers!
Harvest once the flower buds have opened halfway, and take cuttings in the morning for the most fragrant essential oils.
Gather a bunch of stems and, using some heavy-duty pruning shears, cut just above soil level so that you’re trimming just above the woody stems at the base.
Hang bunches upside down to dry in a warm, sheltered area for 7-10 days.
Lavender Common Questions:
Is Lavender Hard To Grow From Seed?
Lavender requires a little more patience to grow from seed than some other herbs due to its slow growth and poor germination rate.
The seeds need reliable sunlight levels, a consistent soil temperature of 65-75°F and light, even watering to minimize issues.
How Long Does It Take To Grow Lavender From Seed?
Growing lavender from seed to fully matured plant will take around one year.
Depending on the variety of lavender, maturity will occur within 90-200 days, but plants will not display full blooms until the spring/summer after their planting date.
Can You Plant Lavender Seeds Directly Outside?
Yes, lavender seeds can be planted directly in the ground outside.
Sow seeds outside during winter as this allows them to undergo cold stratification before the soil warms up naturally – coaxing them from dormancy to germination with greater success.
As with seedlings, direct-sown seeds need a full-sun area and consistent watering until established.
Why Are My Lavender Seeds Not Growing?
Lavender seeds may fail to germinate due to being placed in soil that was too warm/cold, having insufficient lighting that cannot replicate full-sun conditions, or overly soggy fungal-prone soil.
Planting the seeds too deep into the soil or using very old seeds can also be factors.