Lavender or Lavandula angustifolia has a lovely, delicate fragrance. It has a wide range of benefits too! This lovely plant is antimicrobial and antiviral, making it a great addition to homemade cleaning solutions. Plus, the scent of lavender is also relaxing; It can help you rest even better when you tuck in for the night.
With so many delightful benefits, lavender is a popular addition to countless home gardens. There are several types of lavender to choose from as well, which depending on the variety, can grow through zones 5 to 9. With such great options, it’s time you learned how to grow lavender from seed so you can harvest this fragrant flower at home.
Before you start putting seeds in the soil, make sure you have the essential materials on hand to make gardening a breeze.
- Lavender seeds
- Potting soil
- Watering can
Growing Lavender From Seed Step by Step
Growing lavender from seed is a great project for an intermediate gardener as it’s more challenging to grow lavender from seed than to cultivate lavender cuttings. So, if you have some time on your hands, and some extra ambition, tackle a new gardening endeavor with the following steps!
Step One – Pick Your Type of Lavender
You can’t grow every lavender cultivar from seed. So, before you start your project, it’s important to pick out the right variety.
‘English lavender’ is one of the best varieties to grow. Though it requires patience, it can grow from seed.
You can also grow ‘Spanish lavender’ from seed, this variety is great at reseeding. Once you plant it, little ‘Spanish lavender’ plants will pop up nearby.
The primary type to avoid is ‘French lavender.’ This is a hybrid variety that does not grow from seed.
Step Two – Refrigerate Seeds
Before you plant your seeds it is important to refrigerate them. This gives them a cold treatment or cold stratification. Essentially this provides the seeds with the illusion of spending winter in the ground. If you directly sow seeds in the ground in autumn, then you don’t have to worry about this step. The seeds will naturally experience cold stratification in winter when temperatures drop below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, if you’d like to jump in and start planting when spring arrives, pop your seeds in the fridge for three weeks to a month. Simply wrap them up in a damp paper towel, tuck that in a plastic bag, then place this in the fridge.
Pro Tip – A great alternative to wrapping your seeds in a moist paper towel is to put the seeds in little pots with potting soil. Next, water the soil, and let the pots drain. Then, place them in the fridge for about a month in plastic bags.
Step Three – Start Seeds in a Greenhouse
To give your lavender seeds the best start, begin growing them in a small greenhouse. Don’t worry though, you don’t need to build a whole new greenhouse in your backyard — There are plenty of neat ideas for mini indoor greenhouses.
In your greenhouse, fill a few pots with well-draining soil. Lavender prefers soil that is a bit on the acidic side, with a pH of 6.4 to 7.5. Place the seeds on the surface and lightly cover them with soil. Then set the pots in full sun, where they will get six to eight hours of sunlight daily. Keep greenhouse temperatures in the range of 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit to help the seeds germinate.
Water to keep the soil moist, but be careful not to overwater lavender seeds. Lavender is a type of plant that is drought-tolerant, when the soil gets soggy it can cause foliage to turn yellow. You don’t want your first few sprouts to die! So, as a general rule of thumb, gently touch the soil and if it is dry 1 inch deep, it’s time to water the seeds again.
Step Four – Wait Patiently
One of the most challenging steps in growing lavender from seed is patience! Lavender seeds take about one to three months to germinate or between 14 and 21 days. The plant can then take between 90 and 200 days to completely mature. It can then live up to 10 years! So, your patience will reward you with many years of enchantingly fragrant lavender plants.
Step Five – Overwinter Seedlings
Lavender seedlings take a long time to show their bright green foliage above the soil. They will be too fragile to sow in the ground their first winter if you leave them exposed to the winter weather. A mature lavender plant will need straw mulch to survive temperatures below 20 degrees Fahrenheit in winter. Considering that winter temperatures can impact mature plants, it is especially important to shelter your sprouts. If they are already outside, cover them with a DIY cold frame. Alternatively, you can continue to keep them warm in an indoor greenhouse.
Pro Tip: Remember, for best success, choose a cultivar that thrives in your region. ‘English’ lavender can survive in zone 5, while ‘Spanish’ lavender needs warmer temperatures and grows best in zones 7 to 9.
Step Six – Plant Outside in Spring
When the bright days of spring arrive, it’s time to plant your lavender outdoors in full sun! Plant them in late spring, after the last frost of the season.
Ideally, spring temperatures should be at a minimum of 45 degrees Fahrenheit as lavender grows best between 45 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Ensure you place each plant 2 to 3 feet apart — Lavender can grow quite large, as big as 1 to 3 feet high.
Step Seven – Caring For Your Lavender
Now that your plants are outdoors in the ground, it’s important to continue caring for your lavender! A great idea is to spread a thin amount of mulch around the base of the plants using pea gravel or oyster shells. Wood mulch can trap too much moisture which can lead to a type of root rot known as Phytophthora root rot. This fungus can cause the plant to wilt, foliage to brown, and ultimately kill your lavender plant.
As well as using the correct mulch, watering the right way will help prevent root rot. Lavender prefers its soil on the dry side. So, you only need to water once or twice a week when plants are young, then as they mature water every two to three weeks.
You can prune plants when you see green leaves growing at the base. Prune up to one-third or six inches off the top of the plant every two to three years. This will help keep the plant healthy and stop it from becoming leggy.
Pro Tip: Avoid pruning any woody areas as these won’t grow back. Also, remember to stop pruning in later summer, and wait until spring before pruning again.
Lavender is a lovely plant to cultivate! Though growing it from seed can be more challenging as it will take up to three months to germinate, it is still rewarding. With patience and care, you can master this gardening challenge and cultivate lavender from seed. Once grown, keep lavender happy with well-draining soil, a bit of water every few weeks for mature plants, full sun, and pruning.
Have you ever grown lavender from seed? What tips would you recommend? Share your gardening experiences in the comments below to help fellow gardeners succeed!