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Lavender is a beautiful and fragrant herb that can be used in many ways, but it can be tricky to grow from seed. While you could certainly start with lavender plants from your local nursery, growing lavender from seed will save you money in the long run.
Most people don’t realize that lavender can be grown from seed and those who do often have trouble getting their plants to thrive. While it can grow slowly at first, once lavender is established, it is fairly hardy. And when it is in full bloom, the rewarding foliage is well worth the effort.
We want to help you learn how to successfully grow lavender from seed with our easy-to-follow planting guide. In just a few simple steps, you’ll be on your way to enjoying your own fresh lavender plants.
Types of Lavender
Lavender is a popular herb known for its relaxing scent and pretty purple flowers. There are many different varieties of lavender, each with its own unique characteristics. Here are some of the most popular species of lavender to grow:
Lavandula angustifolia is the most common species of lavender. It has a strong, sweet fragrance and is perfect for making sachets and potpourris. English lavender is also one of the best varieties for culinary use.
Lavandula stoechas is a tall variety with showy flowers that bloom in early summer. The fragrance of French lavender is less intense than that of English lavender, but it is still pleasant and relaxing. This variety is not recommended for culinary use, as the buds can give food a bitter flavor.
Lavandula spica is another tall variety, but it blooms later in the season than French lavender. Spanish lavender has a more pungent fragrance than other varieties, making it ideal for use in perfumes and soaps. It can also be used in cooking but should be used sparingly due to its strong flavor.
Lavandula x intermedia is a hybrid of English and French lavender. It is a hardy plant that is easy to grow and has a long blooming season. Lavandin has a strong fragrance that some people find overwhelming, so it is best used in products like perfumes and soaps where the fragrance can be diluted.
Lavender Seed Starting Methods
If you want to grow lavender from seed, there are a few different methods you can use. One popular method is the cold stratification method. To do this, mix your lavender seeds with some moist sand and place them in a zip-top bag. Then, put the bag in the refrigerator for 3-4 weeks. After that, sow the seeds in individual pots filled with well-drained potting mix. Keep the soil moist but not wet, and place the pots in a bright location. The seeds should germinate within 2-3 weeks.
Another option is the direct sowing method. To do this, simply sow the seeds in a well-drained potting mix and keep them moist until they germinate. Again, place the pots in a warm location. With this method, it may take a bit longer for the seeds to germinate, but it can be an easier way to get started. Whichever method you choose, starting lavender from seed can be a fun and rewarding experience.
Starting lavender seeds in the ground
While you can certainly try to grow lavender from seed by planting them directly in the ground, this method is much less reliable than starting them indoors. Lavender seedlings need a fair amount of attention, which is challenging if they are out in the elements.
When to Start Lavender Seeds
The best time to start lavender seeds is in early spring, about 4-6 weeks before the last frost date in your area. This will give the seedlings plenty of time to grow and become established before they are transplanted outdoors to their final location.
Preparing Lavender Seeds for Planting
Since cold stratification is the most successful method for germinating lavender seeds, I will explain this method to help you have the greatest chance of success.
First, obtain some lavender seeds. You can either purchase them from a gardening store, shop online, or collect them from an existing plant.
Once you have your seeds, they need to be cleaned and stratified. Cleaning involves removing any debris or extraneous matter from the seeds.
To stratify the seeds, simply place them in a container filled with moist sand or peat moss and store them in the refrigerator for 4-6 weeks. These cool temperatures trick the seeds into thinking they just survived winter and it is now time to sprout.
After stratification, the seeds are ready to be planted. Be patient because germination may take one to three months!
How to Plant Lavender Seeds (step-by-step instructions)
Lavender does best in well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. Plant the seeds about 1/4 inch deep and water them gently. They like moist soil but don’t let it get too wet. Within a few weeks, you should see new growth emerging! Here’s a quick step-by-step breakdown if you need more information:
Lavender Seeds: Make sure to get a variety that is well suited to your climate.
Planting mix: This will provide the ideal environment for your lavender seeds to germinate. You can purchase planting mix from a garden center or make your own by mixing equal parts sand, perlite, and peat moss.
Seed tray or pots: These will be used to start your lavender seeds indoors. If you are using trays, make sure they have drainage holes.
Sterile knife or scissors: You will need this to carefully sow your lavender seeds.
Heat mat: You may have better germination if you keep the seed trays warm with a heat mat underneath. You can also just put the tray in a sunny, warm spot. Avoid putting them in full sunlight to prevent them from drying out.
With these supplies in hand, you will be ready to get started! Here’s how to turn these supplies into a new mature lavender plant.
1. Fill your planting trays or pots with planting mix and moisten it with water. Be sure to wait until the planting mix is evenly moist before proceeding to the next step.
2. Using a sterile knife or scissors, make a small indentation in the planting mix of each pot.
3. Place anywhere from one seed to 3 lavender seeds in each indentation.
4. Gently press the seeds into the planting mix and cover them with a thin layer of mix.
5. Water the pots gently, being careful not to disturb the seeds.
6. Place the pots in a bright location, out of direct sunlight.
7. Keep the soil moist, but not soggy.
8. Within a few weeks, you should see your seedlings emerging!
9. Once the seedlings have 2-3 sets of true leaves, they can be transplanted into individual pots. It will take them awhile to develop a strong root system and for you to see good growth.
10. When all danger of frost has passed, your plants can be moved outdoors and planted in your garden.
With a little patience and care, you will soon have gorgeous lavender plants blooming in your garden!
Lavender Germination Time
Lavender seeds typically take 4-6 weeks to germinate. However, there is a fair amount of variation between varieties.
You may see signs of sprouting after a couple of weeks or it may take up to three months for them to truly sprout.
Be patient and keep an eye on your seedlings, watering them as needed. Soon enough, you will see them poking through the soil!
How to Care For Lavender Seedlings
Once your seedlings have germinated, they will need some tender, loving care to grow into strong plants. Here are a few tips for caring for them:
– Water them regularly, making sure the soil is evenly moist but not soggy.
– When transplanting them into individual pots, be sure to use a well-draining potting mix.
– Place them in a bright location, out of direct sunlight.
– Fertilize them every 2-4 weeks with a water-soluble fertilizer.
– Pinch back the tips of the plants to encourage bushier growth.
With proper care, your lavender seedlings will soon grow into strong, healthy plants!
Tips for Growing Lavender in Pots
Growing lavender from seed is much easier when you start indoors. While you can transplant an established plant, you can also keep it indoors permanently instead. Here are a few tips to keep it healthy and happy.
Choose a sunny spot:
Lavender needs full sun to thrive, so pick a spot in your home that gets plenty of light. If you don’t have a spot that gets direct sunlight, you can also use grow lights.
Give it good drainage:
Lavender does not like wet feet, so make sure your pot has plenty of drainage holes. You can also add some gravel or rocks to the bottom of the pot to help with drainage.
It’s important to not overwater your plant.s Water it when the soil is dry to the touch and be sure to empty any standing water that collects in the saucer underneath the pot.
Give it some airflow:
Lavender likes good air circulation, so place it near an open window or door. You can also use a fan on low speed to help circulate the air around the plant.
Transplanting Lavender Seedlings
So, you want to grow lavender outside and need to transplant your lavender seedlings into the garden.
Here are a few tips to help you get started:
Choose a sunny spot: Lavender needs full sun to thrive, so pick a spot in your garden that gets plenty of light.
Give it good drainage: Lavender does not like wet feet, so make sure the spot you choose in the garden has good drainage. You can also add some gravel or rocks to the bottom of the hole to help with drainage.
Don’t plant it too deep: When transplanting your seedlings, be sure not to plant them too deep. The top of the root ball should be even with the surrounding soil.
Space them out: Lavender plants need room to grow, so space them out accordingly. They should be spaced 12-24 inches apart. It may seem like a lot, however, when they are in full bloom they will need the space.
Lavender is a perennial herb in many areas, which means make sure you put it somewhere that it can grow undisturbed for years to come. Once you have it established, you don’t want to transplant it and risk damaging the roots.
Harvesting Lavender and Drying
Once your lavender plants are blooming, you can begin harvesting the flowers. Here are a few tips to help you get started:
Cut the stems early in the day: For the best quality lavender, cut the stems early in the day when the flowers are fully open.
Use a sharp knife or pruners: This will help prevent crushing the delicate flowers.
Gather them into bunches: Tie the stems together in bunches using string or rubber bands.
Dry the blooms: To dry fresh lavender, hang the bunches upside down in a cool, dark place.
Once the lavender is fully dried, you can remove the blooms from the stems and use them however you like.
Lavender Pests and Diseases
Of course, growing lavender organically is the best choice for you and the planet. But sometimes pests and diseases can be difficult to avoid.
Here are a few of the most common problems and how to deal with them. (I always recommend organic methods when possible, however, not all diseases and pests can be controlled without pesticides.
Do your research and choose organically approved products like Neem oil or diatomaceous earth whenever possible.
Mildew: This fungal disease is caused by too much moisture on the leaves. To prevent it, make sure your plants have good air circulation and aren’t being watered from above. If you do see mildew, you can remove the affected leaves and dispose of them.
Aphids: These small, sucking insects can cause damage to your lavender plants. To get rid of them, blast them off with a strong stream of water or use insecticidal soap.
Spider mites: These tiny pests are hard to see but can cause big problems for your plants. To get rid of them, you can use a miticide or insecticidal soap.
What to do with Fresh Lavender
Looking for ways to use your lavender now that it is so abundant? Here are a few ideas:
Make a lavender sachet: Fill a small bag with dried lavender flowers and place it in your dresser or closet to keep your clothes smelling fresh.
Add it to homemade potpourri: Mix dried lavender flowers with other dried herbs and spices for pleasant smelling home decoration.
Make lavender sugar: Add a few tablespoons of dried lavender to a cup of sugar and store it in a covered container. Use it to sweeten tea or coffee, or bake with it for a lavender-infused treat. Check out my post on how to make lavender sugar for the recipe and directions.
Infuse oil or vinegar: Add a few sprigs of fresh lavender to olive oil or vinegar and let it sit for a few weeks. This makes a great dressing for salads or cooked vegetables.
Make lavender tea: Steep fresh or dried lavender in hot water for a relaxing and fragrant tea.
Lavender Seed Planting FAQ
Here are answers to 10 of the most common questions about lavender seed planting.
What is the best time of year to plant lavender seeds?
Lavender seeds can be planted any time from spring to fall. However, it’s best to plant them in early spring so that they have a longer growing season.
Where should I plant lavender seeds?
Lavender seeds should be planted in an area that receives full sun and has well-drained soil. Avoid planting them in low-lying areas where water might pool.
How deep should I plant lavender seeds?
Lavender seeds should only be planted about 1/4 inch deep. If you plant them too deeply, they may not germinate.
What is the best way to water lavender seeds?
Lavender seeds should be kept moist but not wet while they are germinating. Once they have sprouted, seedlings should be watered deeply but infrequently, allowing the top few inches of soil to dry out between waterings.
How often should I fertilize lavender plants?
Lavender plants should be fertilized about once a month with a balanced fertilizer. However, you may need to fertilize more frequently if your plants are growing in poor soil.
When can I harvest lavender flowers?
Lavender flowers can be harvested any time from late spring to early fall. However, they will be most fragrant if you wait to harvest them until after the plant blooms.
What is the best way to dry lavender flowers?
Lavender flowers can be dried by hanging them upside down in a dark, cool place. Alternatively, you can lay them out on a screen or drying rack in a well-ventilated space.
How long do dried lavender flowers last?
Dried lavender flowers will last for several months if they are stored in a dark, cool place. However, they will lose their fragrance over time.
What is the best way to use dried lavender flowers?
Dried lavender flowers can be used in sachets, potpourri, or infused in oil or vinegar. They can also be added to baked goods or used to make lavender tea. Try making a DIY lavender milk bath for a relaxing bedtime soak.
If you’re looking for a unique herb to add to your garden, lavender is a great choice. The process of growing lavender from seed can be challenging but very rewarding.
In addition to the lovely fragrance, this herb has a number of uses, making it a wonderful addition to any backyard herb garden. Lavender is also a fabulous aromatic herb to grow inside. Have you ever tried growing lavender from seed? What tips would you share with other gardeners? Let us know in the comments below!