Tony O’Neill, gardener and author of the popular “Composting Masterclass” and “Your First Vegetable Garden,” combines lifelong passion and expert knowledge to simplify the art of gardening. His mission? Helping you cultivate a thriving garden. More on Tony O’Neill
Lavender, with its mysterious properties, is enticing, healing, beautiful – and perfect for you to plant in a container.
This fragrant, flowering plant belongs to the Lamiaceae family and Lavandula genus, which contains 48 species with hundreds of hybrids. Lavender is native to the Southern Alps, and different varieties grow wild throughout Provence in France, where precipitation is low.
Introduction to Growing Lavender in Pots
It is always advisable to explore the natural origin of plants we wish to introduce to our gardens, especially if we wish to grow them indoors, or like Lavender, in pots outdoors.
Also, we ideally want to have information on the varieties available to enable us to make informed decisions. So, let’s take a peek at some of the most popular Lavandula species for our potted lavender options.
Most Lavender originates in the Mediterranean basin, in rocky, calcareous areas, but also grows in North Africa, swaths of Europe, and Western India. It was an essential crop to ancient Greece, Rome, and Elizabethan England.
The name “lavender” comes from the Latin verb lavare, “to wash” or “to bathe.” Portuguese (Spike) lavender (L. latifolia) grows wild over a large part of the Mediterranean area, preferring warmer and lower regions than Lavender and lavandin.
Lavandula Varieties for Growing Lavender in Pots
|Common or English Lavender
|Requires perfectly drained soil, preferably on the dry side, and full sun. Safe for human consumption as a natural flavoring.
|The plants are cultivated for their long, gray, linear, tomentose leaves and purple flowers.
|This species is more fragile than common Lavender. It is commonly found in full sun in hot, sunny conditions with dry low-organic matter alkaline soil and has narrow tomentose leaves and purplish flowers. Generally used as a groundcover or rose companion.
|Portuguese Lavender; Spike Lavender
|Prefers hot sun, alkaline soil, and minimal watering.
|Hybrid Lavender; Lavandil
|L. x intermedia
|A cross between L. Angustifolia and L. latifolia produces what is commonly referred to as Lavandil. The species is less hardy but commercially grown for dried flower production.
English Lavender for Pots – USDA Hardiness Zones 5 – 9
|English Lavender Cultivar
|Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote’
|Compact plant with deep purple flowers and silvery leaves growing 20 inches tall
|Lavandula angustifolia‘ Munstead.’
|Compact, early-flowering perennial typically grows to 12-18″ tall and as wide—lavender-blue flowers.
|Lavandula angustifolia‘ Twinkle Purple.’
|Fragrant purple flowers bloom throughout the summer—18 to 23 inches tall and about 12 inches wide. Good container plant.
|Lavandula angustifolia ‘Mini Blue’
|Grows between 12 and 14 inches tall. Add good texture and form. The purple fragrant flower that blooms throughout summer
|Lavandula angustifolia‘ Coconut Ice.’
|Paler, pinkish-white flowers – often work as an effective offset to the darker varieties.
|Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote Superior’
|An improved version of an old favorite with longer, more profuse flowering and better resistance to pests and diseases
|Lavandula angustifolia ‘Jean Davis’
|Paler, pinkish-white flowers – often work as an effective offset to the darker varieties.
French Lavender for Pots – USDA Hardiness Zones 8 – 10
|French Lavender Cultivar
|Lavandula × intermedia ‘Provence’
|Lilac blue blossoms with deep green to gray foliage. Grows to 23 – 29 inches tall and 23 to 27 inches wide.
|Also known as Fringed Lavender, this species is one of the best choices for growing Lavender in pots or tubs to be wintered indoors in all but very mild winter regions.
Spanish Lavender For Pots – USDA Hardiness Zones 7 – 10
|Spanish Lavender Cultivar
|Lavandula stoechas ‘Bandera Pink’
|It offers masses of soft pink star-shaped flowers on purple blossoms with silver-green foliage. Excellent in mixed containers.
|Lavandula stoechas ‘Blueberry Ruffles’
|Part of the ‘Ruffles & Laces’ series grows colorful ruffled blooms, early and repeat blooming, and improved heat, humidity, and drought tolerance. Unlicensed propagation prohibited
|Lavandula stoechas ‘Otto Quast’
|Forms a thick, evergreen mound with fragrant grey-green leaves. Unusual purple flower spikes support swaying mauve petals at the apex. Fantastic for lavender potting.
|Lavandula stoechas ‘Anouk’
|Hardier than other forms, but indoor overwintering. Drought tolerant once established.
Lavandin – USDA Hardiness Zones 5 – 9
|Hybrid Lavender Cultivar
|Lavandula × intermedia ‘Grosso’
|Generally, flowers in midsummer. Forms a bushy mound of grey-green foliage with long spikes of dark purple blooms. Grows 23 – 29 inches tall and 18 – 23 inches wide.
|Lavandula × intermedia PHENOMENAL™
|Flowers a little later than English potted Lavender, in mid-summer. Displays well with long spikes of purple-blue flowers. It grows 23 to 29 inches wide and tall and does well as a potted lavender.
Lavender Natural Growth Needs
Lavenders thrive in full sun and appreciate light, well-drained soil with a neutral to slightly alkaline pH – typical to their Mediterranean habitat.
Check the pH of your soil and add limestone if necessary to balance out acidic soils.
Growing Lavender in pots is a wise choice because you can fill them with the light, sand-based soil They need.
Soil, like peat, that retains too much water and is too acidic is not suitable for lavender, especially in the winter.
You can also grow lavender annually, transplanting it each spring if your conditions are less than optimal. Lavender plants can tolerate drought well once they are established.
Additionally, lavender thrives in containers, where you can fully appreciate its fragrance and beauty. By arranging your lavender pots in drifts, you can replicate the luscious lavender fields of Provence in your yard.
Potted Lavender Growing Habits
Many gardeners are delighted by the easy-to-grow Lavender’s many wonderful attributes. Lavender is comfortable in a xeriscape, requiring minimal water, and is deer and rabbit resistant – snakes avoid it, while butterflies and bees adore it.
Flower wands fill any space with a beautiful, pleasant, fresh smell. Most potpourri bags contain Lavender which has been used for ages to freshen clothing and ward off insects.
Add a little to your meals and drinks to add a delicate flavor.
Spanish lavenders typically have a second or even third bloom cycle later in the summer if spent blooms are deadheaded. Of all the lavenders, they can withstand droughts the best.
English lavender, Lavandula angustifolia, is native not to England but to the mountainous areas of Southern Europe. It is the hardiest, although reasonably short-lived, and must be replaced after 3-5 years.
Blossoms appear on slender flower spikes in early summer and are much daintier and sweeter smelling than any Spanish lavender.
Cultivars offer shades of blue and purple, white, or pink flowers on mounds ranging between 18 and 24 inches tall and wide.
Shearing off faded blossoms and stems helps maintain a compact shape and encourages some cultivars to repeat bloom. ‘Hidcote’ is popular with intense blue-purple flowers; ‘Munstead’ is lavender-blue; ‘Jean Davis’ is pinkish white.
Lavandula x intermedia, also known as lavandin, bloom most from mid-to-late summer. Depending on the cultivar, these grow rather shrub-like after several years in the ground, reaching heights and widths of two to four feet.
The most popular is “Provence” and “Grosso,” renowned for their potent fragrances and suitability for harvesting, drying, and tying flower wands into bundles.
The cosmetic business uses oil from “Grosso,” while many lavender products utilize oil from “Provence.”
Regular pruning is necessary to keep the bottom stems from turning ugly and woody on these hybrids.
The essential requirements in planting Lavender in pots are selecting a site with at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily and providing good drainage.
Potted lavender should be grown in soil rich in compost and gritty material (such as lava rock or perlite) to improve aeration and allow roots to absorb nutrients without drowning.
Your potted Lavender should last five to seven years if adequately sited and pruned. Although Lavender can tolerate drought, it needs enough rain to grow all season.
After planting, it is essential to watch out that the soil doesn’t fully dehydrate around the rootball.
Lavenders can be pruned more severely in the late Fall but never to bare wood. Look for little green buds on lower stems and cut right above them.
In this manner, plants are pruned annually or more frequently to maintain their dense, green branching. Some may even tolerate pruning that occurs close to the ground.
Potted Lavender Care Summary
|Care factors for Lavender in Pots and Containers
|Choose a pot that is at least 12 inches across for your potted lavender. See below.
|Pots made of ceramic, clay, and terracotta perform well because of their porous construction.
|Potting soil for lavenders:
|The ideal lavender potting soil composition and drainage conditions are 50% compost and 50% horticultural drainage material. See detail below.
|Locate potted Lavender where it will get at least 6 hours of full sun for beautiful flowers.
|How often to water lavender in pots:
|If in doubt about watering your potted lavender, don’t. See below for more details for managing lavender in pots water requirements.
|Potted lavender, like in nature, so not need added fertilizer.
|When to Prune Lavender:
|Regular pruning strengthens your potted lavender. See below for more detail.
|Different species flower at different times, with some producing multiple yields per season. See below
|Best lavenders for pots:
|Several varieties are great for potted lavender, and some are even great indoors. See below for details.
|As indicated above, English-, French-, and Spanish lavender species have different USDA Hardiness Zone preferences. For more detail, see below.
Best Pots and Containers for Growing Lavender
Your pot size and type are essential for growing lavender in pots. I have covered each topic in depth below.
Best Pot Sizes for Potting Lavender
If the pot size is not appropriate, it might cause congestion of roots, deprivation of adequate nutrients, and ultimately, dying of the plant. It is, therefore, vital to pick the correct pot size for your plants.
Lavender pots need to be at least 5 gallons. Below is a table of different pot sizes. Generally, the diameter of a pot is equal to its depth.
|Pot Sizes in inches
|Pot Size in US gallons
|Suitable Plant Types
|Seedlings, Nursery Containers Plants
|5 to 6-inch pot
|Small Succulents, Annuals
|7 to 8-inch pot
|Large Succulents, Indoor Plants
|Lavender, Chili Plant, or Chard
|Rosemary, Large Herbs
|Raspberry, Small Shrubs
|Evergreen Shrubs, Dwarf Citrus Trees
|Apple, Sweet Corn
The above table is a guideline, not a rule. Essentially you’re looking for a pot that will provide you with a one to two-inch gap between the root ball and the pot wall. If your plant is still small, make allowance for some growth.
When growing Lavender in pots, remember that they prefer crowding to grow well in their natural habitat, so they replicate their natural environment.
If the plant’s rootball size and container size are poorly paired, there’s a risk your potted Lavender will develop root rot, its greatest threat.
Why the Terracotta Option is Best For Growing Lavender in Pots
Plastic pots are great for when you need to maintain a moist environment for your plant, but they are unsuitable for potting lavender.
The same goes for glazed pots unless you’re double potting, i.e., placing an unglazed terracotta or clay pot inside a more aesthetically pleasing glazed pot.
The de facto accepted flower pot is made of terracotta with drainage holes. Before the invention of plastics in the early 1900s, terracotta was the ultimate option for planting containers.
In addition to being a great plant potting option, terracotta offered a unique aesthetic appeal.
Part of that appeal is how each pot develops a unique character with a beautiful patina. Add to that the fact that it works exceptionally effectively and doesn’t require much special attention.
The Pros of Terracotta Pots for Lavender Potting
- Because they are porous, terracotta pots aid plants in transferring air and water.
- When compared to other materials, terracotta pots are less expensive.
- Pots of terracotta are chemically inert and don’t leach into the ground.
- Terracotta pots are typically suitable for the majority of outdoor environments.
It’s simple to understand why terracotta pots could be a wise choice for growing Lavender. Although they are not the only pot available, they are ideal for the task.
There haven’t been any significant developments in flower pot technology that have replaced them – why fix what’s not broken? In addition to being perfectly suitable, they’re also affordable.
There is, rightfully, a growing awareness of the environmental impact of plastic production. Gardeners are particularly aware of nature’s strength and vulnerability to excessive abuse. While plastic is cheaper, its cost to the environment for many is irreconcilable.
The Cons of Terracotta Pots for Lavendar Potting
- Broken terracotta pots can’t be mended.
- Because they are hefty and brittle, terracotta pots shouldn’t be placed on slanted or weak ledges or shelves.
- Terracotta is susceptible to cracking in freezing weather
These are some of the drawbacks to using terracotta for potting lavender. Yet, they are a great option with proper care, mainly for their air and water management capabilities.
Even though these are undoubtedly disadvantages, these can be anticipated.
Terracotta pots aren’t the best choice for every job, but they work well for growing Lavender in pots, which is how they came to have such a legendary status in modern gardening.
You can now buy terracotta in various colors and textures that complement your potted lavender. Of course, the traditional terracotta pot remains timeless, a piece of art that improves with age.
The soil dries out more quickly in clay pots, which helps avoid root rot. On the other hand, you should be aware that Lavender grown in terracotta pots will require more frequent watering if placed in a scorching environment.
The main disadvantage of using terracotta is that it is brittle and will break if you drop the pot. Terracotta has been known to crack in extremely cold conditions. Still, I would advise you to use ceramic pots instead.
How To Care for Lavender
Lavender watering changes significantly depending on the season and location. Indoor lavender requires less watering than outdoor plants.
Lavender may require weekly watering in hot summer temperatures above 77 ⁰F, especially if planted on very gritty soil. Lavender should not be watered when the soil is moist.
Having grown Lavender in pots for several years, a central theme emerges – these beauties are tougher than I first realized, but their Achilles’ heel is over-watering.
Watering problems with potted lavender are frequently caused by overwatering rather than underwatering. Lavender is a shrub that grows well in dry and semi-dry soil.
The overwatering problem is more prevalent in the winter and indoors. The sole exception is outdoor lavender in the sweltering summer, where long, dry soil may be the problem.
Lavender is a perennial, and potted lavender watering needs fluctuate throughout the year.
During the winter and autumn, lavender has to be watered much less frequently. Indeed, the growth of lavender is substantially slowed by the decrease in sunlight and the dip in temperature, necessitating far less water.
Like all other plants, potted lavender doesn’t do well if the watering regime is strictly time-based, for instance, a strict schedule of weekly waterings on Wednesday mornings.
Your relationship with your potted Lavender should be responsive to its needs, i.e., watering when the soil is dry.
Watering Potted Lavender: How Much and How Often
Lavender is a shrub native to the hot and semi-arid Middle East and India, and it is widely spread on the Mediterranean coast, especially in France and Italy.
The way you water lavender is affected by the surrounding conditions. Lavender is way easier to grow outside, but I have also had great success with indoor lavender pots.
As it is a light living plant, light is more of a challenge indoors than water.
Watering Lavender Grown in Pots Outdoors
In the section above, The Best Hybrids for Growing Lavender in Pots, I provide a USDA Hardiness Zones guideline for the different hybrids. These are for growing Lavender in pots outdoors or even on a balcony. Here are the seasonal watering guidelines:
Watering Potted Lavender in Autumn and Winter
Outdoor lavender doesn’t require irrigation in the winter or autumn. Lavender enters a dormant phase where its development and water requirements are considerably reduced.
No fertilizer should be applied to lavender, especially in winter.
Watering Potted Lavender in Spring and Summer
Your specific location significantly impacts how often you need to water your potted lavender in summer and spring. It stands to reason that warmer climates may require more watering.
The golden rule; let your potted Laveder’s soil humidity be your guide.
Potted Lavender may require frequent watering if the soil is exceptionally well-drained and the daytime air temperature exceeds 77 °F.
A warm, dry, sunny plant needs more frequent watering than one in a cool, low-light environment.
The rule of thumb is to water when necessary. The following methods may be used to determine when to water:
- Touch the soil: The most accurate test for soil moisture is to feel how dry the potting soil feels. If the mixture is dry at your fingertip after inserting your finger up to the second digit, it needs water.
- When potting mix in a clay pot starts to dry up, it shrinks away from the pot’s sides. Use a stick or your knuckles to tap the pot’s side. Water is required if the sound is hollow; if the sound is dull, the soil is moist.
- Estimate weight: It’s easy to see a weight reduction as potting mixtures dry up.
- Assess soil color: As potting combinations dry, their color will shift from dark to lighter.
Watering Indoor Lavender
Lavender can be grown in pots indoors, adding a lovely feeling of tranquillity and can hardly go unnoticed.
Lighting levels indoors should be high, with the plant getting more than 6 hours a day, and a south-facing windowsill will probably be the best option.
If you opt for indoor Lavender growing, here are some watering suggestions.
Indoor Potted Lavender in Winter and Autumn
Indoor lavender has to be watered no more frequently than once monthly in winter and fall. Only water if the ground beneath the surface is dry.
The top may be dry, yet the interior, the most important part, may be very wet. That said, the main cause of potted Lavender demise is overwatering.
Maintaining a dry environment is best, especially for plants that enjoy dry conditions like lavender.
Indoor Potted Lavender Watering in Summer and Spring
Longer daylight hours and warmer air temperatures encourage growth, increasing water requirements. Additionally, the increased temperature causes more water in the soil to evaporate, leaving less for the plant.
Lavender needs more frequent watering, up to once per week, throughout the spring and summer. Be guided by the soil’s humidity levels and the environmental specifics.
The Best Potting Soil for Lavenders in Pots and Containers
Lavender comes in four different kinds and is frequently cultivated in gardens. If you reside in a humid environment, I advise you to cultivate Spanish lavender in pots.
Spanish lavender features thick, purple flower buds with spiral petals 2 feet tall and broad.
Lavandin, English, and French lavender do not enjoy excessive humidity.
Gardeners in humid climates may find it challenging to cultivate lavender in pots successfully because the plant thrives in hot, dry environments.
Both soil environment modification and adequate soil drainage are necessary. For this reason, growing lavender in pots is a wise decision.
General Potting Mix Considerations
Every plant has seven growing medium considerations, which are:
- Moisture management – a balance between drainage and moisture retention
- Air Management – avoidance of anaerobic conditions
- Nutrient management – an ability to store and release essential plant nutrients
- The most undervalued attribute – a hospitable environment for soil microorganisms
- Plant requirements for acidic or alkaline soil (pH requirements)
- Plant anchorage – ensuring the media isn’t so light that the plant cannot remain reasonably erect in winds
- The plant’s pH requirements
Create the Perfect Soil Mix for Lavenders
Ideally, you want a potting mix that is slightly alkaline and drains exceptionally well while retaining some moisture.
Inexpensive yet effective components with good drainage and water absorption include perlite, calcine clay, bark, pea gravel, and granite grit.
|Saturated Porosity (SP) – Air
|Field Capacity (FC) – Water
|Calcine Clay (Turface or Haydite)
|40 – 60%
I include some oyster shells as they assist in maintaining the soil’s alkalinity and promote the growth of your potted Lavender.
The addition of compost to potting soil introduces a soil food web to the root environment. The inclusion of these microorganisms offers hundreds of benefits, but here is a list of 5 of them:
- Compost improves the cation exchange capacity (CEC), improving the soil’s water and nutrient availability and management
- Compost acts as a pH buffer, adjusting the soil’s pH to the plant’s needs
- The microorganisms in compost improve soil aggregate formation, increasing water retention and drainage capacities.
- The microorganisms in compost improve the plant’s resilience against pests and diseases
- Compost adds organic matter, an essential for root health.
Locate Potted Lavender Where They Get at Least Six Hours of Sun per Day
When I think of the Mediterranean, I get a sensory overload of picturesque beaches, food, sunshine, and warm days, and I think of vineyards, fig orchards, and olive groves.
This region is in the 39th latitude, where the average monthly temperatures are more than 71 ⁰F and the shortest day is longer than nine hours.
It is in the Mediterranean region that lavender flourishes. Ideally, you want to provide your potted Lavender with only six hours of sunlight daily.
Does Potted Lavender Require Fertilizer?
Generally, lavender grown in beds doesn’t need feeding. Because you’re using a potting medium with good drainage fortified with vermiculite, perlite, and pea gravel, you should apply an excellent 3 to 4-month slow-release fertilizer twice a year.
This is because potted lavender and all potted plants, for that matter, leach nutrients. Still, this isn’t essential for growing lavender in pots – they do well in anemic soil.
Pruning Lavender in Pots
Pruning works wonderfully on lavender. Once a plant is established, it should be pruned annually to boost flowering, which only grows new shoots. Pruning should start when green leaves appear at the plant’s base in the spring.
To shape the plant and keep the center from opening up, trim the stems after the lavender flowers.
Just as the buds begin to open, gather fresh-cut flowers. Before the first flowers open, pick 20 stems of lavender and trim them immediately before drying.
Hang upside-down in a well-ventilated area away from the sun. Soon enough, they will be ready for sachets and potpourris.
Take about a third of the top off. Pruning prevents the plant from fracturing and becoming overly woody. Harvest in the early morning as the oil peak and about half of the flower buds have opened.
Make the stems as long as possible using a sickle or pruning shears. Lavender that has been harvested should be dried in a cool, dark area with excellent airflow.
Frequently Asked Questions on Growing Lavender in Pots
Is Lavender a difficult plant to grow?
Because lavender needs so little water and no fertilizer, it’s really easy to grow. It still needs a lot of light, warmer temperatures, and annual pruning for best results.
What lavender species is best for growing in humid climates?
If you live in a humid environment, I advise cultivating Spanish lavender, which features thick, purple flower buds with spiral petals and grows 2 feet tall and broad.
What is the ideal soil mix for growing lavender in pots?
Mixing 50% compost and 50% of perlite, Calcine Clay (Turface or Haydite), peat gravel, or granite grit provides great drainage for growing lavender in pots.
In which USDA Hardiness Zones Can I Grow Lavender in Pots?
Lavender can be grown in USDA Hardiness Zones 5 to 10, depending on the species:
English Lavender: Zones 5 – 9
French Lavender: Zones 8 – 10
Spanish Lavender: Zones 7 – 10
Lavandin: Zones 5 – 9
Does pruning my potted lavender help it blossom better?
Pruning works wonderfully on lavender as the beautiful fragrant flowers only grow on new shoots. Once a plant is established, it should be pruned annually to boost flowering, which only grows on new shoots.
When should I prune my potted lavender?
Pruning should start when green leaves appear at the plant’s base in the spring.
The most critical factor to successfully growing Lavender in pots is heat, light, and soil composition, which should be 50 percent inert aggregate and 50 percent organic material. Growing Lavender in pots is rewarding and easy.