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How to Grow Lavender in Pots Like an Expert

How to Grow Lavender in Pots Like an Expert

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Lavender, with its enchanting fragrance and lovely purple blooms, has captured the hearts of gardeners for centuries. Whether you’re looking to add a touch of Provence to your balcony or want a convenient and compact herb garden, growing lavender in pots is a fantastic solution.

It’s a myth that these fragrant perennials only thrive in vast fields in France; they can flourish right on your porch with a little know-how.

As an experienced gardening blogger, I’m here to walk you through the nuances of potting and pampering your very own lavender plants—let’s turn your thumbs a shade greener!

Does Lavender Grow Well in Pots?

Absolutely, lavender can grow remarkably well in pots! In fact, potted lavender can be quite the showstopper with its vivid color and sensory-pleasing scent.

The key to success lies in replicating its natural growing conditions: plenty of sunshine, good airflow, and well-draining soil. Lavender is originally a Mediterranean plant, so it thrives on neglect rather than fuss. Overwatering and heavy, moisture-retaining soils are its nemeses.

When you choose the right pot, you mimic the dry, rocky hillside homes this herb naturally loves. A terracotta pot, for example, with its porous nature, helps manage soil moisture levels, keeping those roots nice and dry.

Ensure your pot has drainage holes, and consider elevating it on pot feet to enhance drainage and air circulation. A sunny spot is also crucial—aim for at least six hours of direct sunlight a day. Remember, more sun equates to more blooms and a stronger fragrance.

I always say, treat your lavender like a cat in the sun; it can never have too much of those warming rays!

Best Lavender Varieties for Pots

Not all lavender is created equal when it comes to container gardening. Some varieties adapt better to the confined spaces of pots and have growth habits and blooming cycles that are well-suited for your patio or windowsill garden.

Here are three top-notch varieties that I’ve had personal success with and am excited to share with you.

1. Munstead

‘Munstead’ is a classic English lavender known for its hardiness and sweet aroma. It’s a more compact variety, making it an excellent choice for pot cultivation. This variety tends to stay at a manageable size, reaching about 12 to 18 inches both in height and spread.

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‘Munstead’ is also remarkably cold and hardy, able to survive winter in many climates, provided it’s protected from harsh conditions. Its blooms are vibrant, and its leaves are a silvery green that creates a lovely contrast in any garden setting.

2. Hidcote

Another English variety, ‘Hidcote’ is prized for its deep purple flowers and silver-gray foliage. This is the variety I recommend if you’re aiming for that quintessential lavender color. It’s a bit more compact than ‘Munstead’, usually growing up to 12 inches tall.

‘Hidcote’ is perfect for creating a bold statement in a small space. Plus, its flowers are ideal for drying and using in sachets or potpourris, which is a lovely way to bring a bit of your garden indoors.

3. French Lavender (Lavandula dentata)

French Lavender, or Lavandula dentata, is distinguishable by its serrated leaves and a more relaxed, less upright growth habit. It’s not as cold-hardy as English varieties, so it’s perfect if you live in a milder climate or are looking for a lavender to bring in during the cooler months.

The flowers last a long time, and they bloom almost continuously in the right conditions. I love French Lavender for its somewhat whimsical appearance and longer flowering season.

How to Grow and Care For Lavender in Pots

Nurturing lavender in pots isn’t just about planting it and waiting for nature to take its course. It requires a little bit of art, a touch of science, and a dash of love.

I’ll guide you through each step to ensure your potted lavender not only survives but thrives!

Planting

When planting lavender, choose a terracotta pot for its moisture-regulating properties. Spring is the ideal time for planting; handle the roots with care to avoid damage. Add a layer of gravel at the bottom of the pot for improved drainage.

Position the plant so that the soil surface is level with the top of the root ball. Gently fill in the soil around the plant, taking care not to compact it too much, which can impede root growth.

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Pot Size

Choosing the right pot size is like picking the perfect house for your plant—it needs room to grow but not so much that it feels lost. A pot that is just right will be about 1 to 2 inches larger than the root ball of your plant.

As lavender doesn’t like to sit in wet soil, too large a pot can hold excess moisture. I’ve found that starting with a pot that’s around 12-16 inches in diameter works well for most young plants.

Light

Lavender needs a generous amount of sunlight to flourish – aim for at least six hours of direct sun daily. Choose a sunny spot in your garden or balcony, or if growing indoors, place the pot near a south-facing window.

In regions with intense summer heat, provide some afternoon shade to prevent scorching. Sun exposure is key to achieving vibrant blooms and a strong fragrance.

Soil

The right soil mix is essential for lavender. Combine potting soil with coarse sand and a little lime to create a well-draining, slightly alkaline environment.

Lavender thrives in soil that isn’t too rich or clay-heavy, mimicking the rocky, Mediterranean conditions it originates from. Ensure the soil mix allows good air circulation around the roots, which is crucial for the health of the plant.

Water

Overwatering is the quickest way to harm your lavender. Let the soil dry out between waterings, and when you do water, do so thoroughly until it runs out of the drainage holes.

Always empty the saucer under the pot so the plant isn’t sitting in water. During the hotter months, I check the moisture level more frequently but still err on the side of too dry rather than too wet.

Temperature and Humidity

Lavender is pretty tough when it comes to temperature, thriving in anything from 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. It doesn’t appreciate high humidity, though.

If you’re in a particularly humid climate, good airflow around the plant is essential. In winter, if you’re in a colder zone, bring your potted plants indoors or to a sheltered area to prevent freezing.

Fertilizer

Fertilizing lavender should be done sparingly. In early spring, apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer to encourage healthy growth.

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Avoid over-fertilizing, as this can lead to lush, soft growth that’s atypical for lavender. Proper fertilization supports the plant’s flowering and aromatic qualities, but remember, less is often more when it comes to feeding lavender.

Pruning Potted Lavender

Pruning is not just a maintenance chore; it’s a way to communicate with your plant, encouraging it to grow full and bushy rather than long and lanky.

Lavender, with its woodier stems, responds particularly well to pruning and can become quite the centerpiece with the right technique. The best time to prune is in the early spring or just after the first flowering.

I like to remove about a third of the overall height, making sure to cut just above the new growth. Don’t cut right back into the old wood, though—lavender can be shy about regrowing from these parts.

During the growing season, I also deadhead the spent flowers. This not only keeps my plants looking tidy but also encourages a second bloom. And remember, the act of pruning is like giving your plant a little pep talk, telling it to spread its energy to grow more vigorously.

Overwintering

Overwintering lavender can sometimes feel like preparing for a hibernation. If you live in a region where temperatures drop below freezing, you’ll need to give your potted lavender some extra TLC.

Ideally, move your pots to a sheltered location like a garage or a cold greenhouse. If this isn’t possible, wrapping pots in burlap or frost cloth can help insulate against the chill.

I find that the key to successful overwintering is to avoid letting the roots freeze, which can be a death sentence for lavender.

Also, cut back on watering significantly, as your plant’s water needs decrease drastically during this dormant period. Keep an eye on the moisture level of the soil, aiming to keep it just on the edge of dry—but never let it become bone dry.

As spring approaches, I start to reintroduce more sunlight and a little more water to ‘wake up’ the plants. With the right winter care, your lavender will emerge from its winter sleep ready to burst into lush, fragrant growth once more.