Home Gardening How to Grow Lavender Plants in Pots or Containers in 5 Steps

How to Grow Lavender Plants in Pots or Containers in 5 Steps

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lavender flower in pot

The fragrant thorns of lavender flowers aren’t just for those with huge Mediterranean gardens.

In fact, you don’t need an outdoor garden at all to grow lavender. Thanks to the development of dwarf varieties and container growing techniques, this elegant plant can be grown at home or on the patio. In some cases, potted lavender may even be better in a pot than in the ground.

Potted lavender is a joy if your climate is too hot or cold, or you don’t have enough outdoor space to grow mature lavender shrubs. You can use containers for a nice porch display in the summer and a pretty windowsill houseplant in the winter.

So, are you ready to add some lavender to your container garden this season? Let’s take a look at 5 easy steps to grow lavender in pots or containers!

5 Steps to Growing Lavender Plants in a Container

Now that you know a little about the pros and cons of growing lavender in containers, it’s time to go through every step you want to follow to get it right. Let’s dig!

Step 1: Choose high-quality pots and pans

When planting in containers, 16-24-inch terracotta, clay, or ceramic pots are recommended.

First, determine how big your container is. At a minimum, lavender needs a pot that is at least 12 inches in diameter. The ideal size is a 16-24″ container that provides mobility and space for future growth.

If you choose a very large planter, be sure to be prepared to move it indoors. You don’t want to strain your back trying to lift a giant plant! There are several types of heavy-duty mobile planting containers that can be used to transport potted plants ahead of winter.

In terms of materials, terracotta, pottery or ceramic pots work best. Given that lavender can be kept in containers for up to 5 years or more, you need to make sure your pots are naturally weather resistant for longer life.

Terracotta has been known since ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt, and plastic and metal containers can deteriorate and become brittle in less than a year. These cheap pans are not great as they are usually thin and tend to get hot in the sun.

Finally, make sure your container has a drainage hole that is at least 2 inches wide. Large drainage holes are perfect as this plant likes to filter quickly. Avoid pots with saucers or “self-watering” mechanisms. This will restrict drainage and may cause stunted growth or root rot.

Step 2: Choose a dwarf variety

There are many different varieties of lavender to choose from. Technically, any type can be grown in pots and trimmed to the desired shape. However, dwarf varieties are specifically bred for compact growth, and they still produce prolific blooms in tight spaces.

Our favorites are white lavenders like “Nana Alba” and “Crystal Lights”, as well as Spanish “Fathead” lavender and English “Thumbelina Leigh” lavender.

When choosing a variety, consider your climate and whether you want to move your plants indoors during the winter or keep the pots outside year-round. You don’t want to choose the wrong size strain for your pan.

While they may not look as classic as English and French lavenders, they’re still quite fragrant. Compact varieties like ‘Kew Red’, ‘Fat Man’ and ‘Ballerina’ are great for containers.

If you live in a cold northern climate, the hardy English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) can withstand temperatures as low as -30°F at rest. It does extra insulation in a large, thick clay pot. However, many zone 3 and 4 growers still grow in containers and bring them indoors for the winter.

Step 3: Use a Well-drained Potting Mix

Use well-drained gravel or sandy soil with good drainage. Lavender is native to the Mediterranean and grows well in gravel or sandy soils that drain quickly. This becomes especially important in containers where water can easily accumulate or get wet. You’ll want to fill your pot with well-drained potting soil.

You can save money by making a good homemade potting mix. You can create your own soil mix using 1 part coarse garden sand, 1 part pumice or perlite, 1 part clay pebbles or fine gravel, and 1 part soil. Mix them all together until it’s grainy and rough. This is ideal for drought-tolerant lavender roots.

Lavender also prefers slightly alkaline soils with low fertility. You can adjust the pH by adding a tablespoon of lime to each pot. Avoid adding fertilizer to potting mixes

Step 4: Cut and Transplant

Whether you’re growing lavender from seeds, lavender cuttings, or buying seedlings from a nursery, you’ll need to transplant it into a new container so it can establish and grow over the next year or so.

While small seedlings can be transplanted as-is, lavender containers that are 6 inches in diameter or larger should be trimmed before transplanting into new pots. Use sterilized scissors or pruning shears to remove about one-third of the green plant material.

Leave a few inches of stem above the crown, being careful not to cut into the woody part of the base. This pruning before repotting ensures that the plant uses its energy to root in the new pot.

To start planting, fill a container with potting soil and place the plant in the center. Start backfilling with soil until the roots are completely buried and the top of the canopy is 1-2 inches above soil level.

Make sure you don’t bury the crown! Gently fix the soil to make sure the roots are in place. Be careful not to compress the soil too tightly.

Place the container on a draining dish and check that the plants are evenly pressed against the new home. Water thoroughly from above until water comes out of the bottom drainage holes. This deep initial watering ensures that the lavender can begin to take root into the surrounding pots.

Step 5: Store in a warm, Sunny Place.

Depending on the variety, you can keep lavender in pots outdoors year-round, or move it indoors during certain months. For example, cold northern gardeners can repot in the spring and bring the container outside after the threat of frost has passed. This will allow it to fully root in the open summer sun.

Alternatively, hardy English lavender varieties and some lavender hybrids can be left outdoors all winter in zones 5 and above, especially if the pot is in a sheltered spot. Ceramic or terracotta insulation will keep the roots slightly warmer than in the ground until the soil freezes completely through.

Step 6: Water Sparingly

Make sure the soil is not flooded, as this can cause root rot.
Regardless of the season, you need to pay attention to the amount of water for lavender growing in containers. It is naturally drought tolerant and hates wet soil. Although potted plants have improved drainage due to their higher root system, they may be more prone to waterlogging.

How to Care for Lavender Plants

  • Growth Habit: Lavender grows as a round, bushy shrub in warm climates. In cold climates, it is a low-growing perennial. In humid climates, provide adequate airflow to prevent fungal or powdery mildew. Look at the varieties you grow to determine their mature size.
  • Bet: Lavender plants stand 1 to 3 feet tall and need no support.
  • Watering: Seedlings are well watered. Once established, lavender is drought tolerant and does not require frequent watering. Overwatering is a common cause of stress on lavender plants.
  • Fertilizer: When it comes to fertilizing, lavender is better than watering. You don’t need to feed lavender plants.
  • Mulch: Since lavender is drought tolerant, it doesn’t need mulch to retain moisture in the soil, except in extreme cases. If you’re mulching, use a small piece of bark or gravel, and be sure to leave a few inches around the crown of the plant, or your lavender may rot. A light-colored gravel or sand mulch helps with drainage and keeps the soil and plants warm.
  • Pruning and pruning: Lavender flowers in summer. The pedicels can be picked and used fresh or sun-dried. Even if you don’t harvest lavender flowers for use, wilt (cut off) the wilted flowers after they fade to brighten the plant and encourage a second bloom. Lavender is a woody plant. It produces the best, most fragrant leaves and flowers from tender stems. Prune seedlings 2 years old and older in spring, and trim off the lignified stems by one-third. This will encourage new growth, resulting in better leaves and flowers.

Final Words

Growing lavender in a pot is as easy as growing it in the garden. It needs full sun, warmth and drainage. Choose a compact variety that suits your climate and aesthetic preferences. Remember to choose the right clay pot and fill it with a well-draining potting mix.

You can transplant it in the spring, let it grow outdoors in the summer, and move it indoors in the cold winter. Avoid overwatering and remember to prune in spring and fall for optimal airflow.

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