Lavender plants (Science name: Lavandula angustifolia; Family: Lamiaceae) are easy to grow, but it’s worth knowing a little about them to get the best displays and prevent them from becoming thin and straggly. And while you’re picking up tips on how to grow lavender from seed, take a look at our full range of evergreen lavender plants to suit all types of garden. There are many species of lavender with countless varieties, from the traditional purple-flowered plants through to those with white blooms and dwarf cultivars. The most commonly available varieties can generally be broken into 3 main groups: English Lavender, French Lavender, and Lavandin hybrids.
Most people prefer to buy pre-grown lavender plants, but if you’re on a budget or enjoy a challenge, you can grow your own lavender plants from seed.
Sow lavender seeds from February to July on the surface of moist seed compost. Cover the seeds with a sprinkling of vermiculite or finely sieved compost.
Place the seed tray in a propagator at 21-25°C (70-75°F) or seal it inside a clear polythene bag until germination, which can be up to 21 days.
Keep the compost damp but not wet and do not exclude light as this helps germination. When the seedlings are large enough to handle, transplant them into 7.5cm (3″) pots and grow lavender plants in cooler conditions until they are well established.
When all risk of frost has passed, gradually acclimatize young lavender plants to outdoor conditions over 7 – 10 days before planting outdoors.
Given its Mediterranean origins, it should come as no surprise that Lavender enjoys free-draining soil in full sun. Lavenders tolerate chalky soils well and cope reasonably well with dry conditions once established. They make useful shrubs for coastal positions and hot, dry gravel gardens. You can even plant lavender as a low hedge for a lovely informal edging that will attract plenty of pollinating insects to the garden.
Avoid planting lavender in the wet ground as this will cause the plants to rot. Heavy soil conditions can be improved with the addition of coarse grit or sharp sand prior to planting. Alternatively, grow lavender in containers, using a well-drained soil-based compost such as John Innes No. 3. Mix in some slow-release fertilizer prior to planting to get your plants off to the best start. Each lavender plant will need a container measuring at least 30cm (12″) diameter.
After planting lavender it’s important to water regularly during the first growing season until your plants are fully established. This is especially important during periods of hot, dry weather. Once established, lavender is reasonably drought tolerant.