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Lavender seeds

Lavender Seed Propagation – How To Plant Lavender Seeds

Growing lavender plants from seed can be a rewarding and fun way to add this fragrant herb to your garden. Lavender seeds are slow to germinate and plants grown from them may not flower in the first year, but if you’re patient and willing to put in the work, you can generate beautiful plants from seeds. Read on to learn about starting lavender from seed.

Germinating Lavender Seeds

The first step in lavender seed propagation is choosing a variety and germinating the seeds. Be aware that not all cultivars will come true when you propagate by seed. If you are determined to grow a particular cultivar, you’re better off using cuttings or divisions to get new plants. Some good varieties for starting by seed are Lavender Lady and Munstead.

It can take one to three months for lavender seeds to germinate, so start early and be patient. Also, be prepared to germinate them indoors. Lavender seeds will need warm temperatures, between 65 and 70 degrees F. (18-21 C.). If you don’t have a warm spot or a greenhouse, use a heat mat to keep your seeds warm enough.

How to Plant Lavender Seeds

Use shallow seed trays and just barely cover the seeds with soil. Use a light soil or a vermiculite blend. Keep the seeds moist but not overly wet. A sunny spot is a great location to keep the soil from getting too wet and to add warmth.

Your lavender seedlings will be ready to transplant once they have several leaves per plant. Your first year of growth will not be impressive, but by year two, expect to have large, blooming lavender. Starting lavender plants from seed is not difficult, but does require time, some patience, and a little extra space for your seed trays.

How to Plant, Grow and Care for Lavender

Grow lavender in your garden and you’ll be rewarded with colorful flowers, wonderful fragrance and a feast for pollinators — all from a low-maintenance plant.

Lavender ‘Phenomenal,’ courtesy of Burpee

This perennial lavender has been developed for hardiness, so it stands up to heat, humidity, and winter cold. The plants also resist root and foliar diseases. Even deer leave them alone! Grow a patch of these deep blue flowers with silvery foliage for their incredible fragrance.

Photo by: Image courtesy of Burpee

Image courtesy of Burpee

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Lavender plants produce gray-green leaves that are packed with a refreshing, sweet-herbal scent, and pretty, abundant flowers that bear the same perfume. Both the leaves and flowers are edible, making this plant a must-have for any herb garden. Lavender plants most often open purple blooms, but you can also find different types of lavender that have pink or white flowers. Growing lavender isn’t a difficult proposition. Once you master the basics of giving plants a proper site and pruning regularly, you’re on your way to a gorgeous, productive perennial.

Botanical Name: Lavandula spp.
Common Name: Lavender
Plant Type: Perennial herb, semi-shrub
Bloom Time: Summer
Light Needs: Full sun
Soil Needs: Drier, well-draining, slightly alkaline
Hardiness Zones: 5 to 11

Lavender in Garden Design

In the garden, lavender flowers stage a long-lasting show each summer. The purple blooms beckon all kinds of pollinators, including bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. A host of beneficial insects also visit flowers, making lavender plants an ideal addition to a wildlife or butterfly garden. On the other hand, lavender is one of many deer-resistant plants — which is all the more reason for rural gardeners to plant it.

Consider lavender flowers in a xeriscape design. Established plants are relatively drought-tolerant and do best when they don’t receive supplemental watering (except in times of severe drought). When it’s in flower, lavender has a strong architectural shape that suits modern, geometric garden designs. Surround your plants with gravel to enhance the modern ambience.

As a Mediterranean native, lavender is ideal in a perennial herb garden alongside fellow Mediterranean herbs such as sage, rosemary, oregano and thyme. All of these plants prefer similar soil and sun conditions.

Lavender is also a natural fit in a summer cutting garden. Lavender plants achieve their peak bloom usually during their third growing year, in summer. You’ll reap plenty of bouquets when plants start flowering—and you can also dry lavender to use in bouquets and crafts.

With its strong fragrance and flowers that attract bees and other pollinators, lavender makes a good general companion plant in a vegetable garden or orchard. Its especially useful for repelling pests from brassicas such as cabbage and broccoli.

Lavender thrives along a rock wall that absorbs heat and allows for excellent drainage around roots.

Photo by: Shutterstock

Lavender thrives along a rock wall that absorbs heat and allows for excellent drainage around roots.

Planting Lavender

Growing lavender well starts with planting lavender well. All types of lavender need full sun to thrive. Native to the western Mediterranean, lavender is a sun worshipper and can take up to six hours of direct sun daily. The exception is in the Deep South and Southwest, where a little protection from sizzling afternoon sun is welcome. You can amplify the heat plants receive by using a stone mulch or tucking lavender into planting areas near surfaces that radiate heat, like a stone wall, driveway or south-facing building wall.

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In Zones 3 to 7, plant lavender in spring after all danger of frost has passed. If you must plant in fall, do so at least eight weeks before the average frost date. Lavender grows fastest in heat, so as temperatures drop in autumn, growth slows down dramatically. Fall-planted lavender needs ample time to develop a sturdy root system to survive winter. In Zones 8 and warmer, planting lavender can be done in spring or fall.

While lavender can be grown indoors in a pot, this plant far prefers to be grown outdoors rather than being treated as a houseplant.

Soil Prep

When planting lavender, you want soil that drains well and is slightly alkaline. Drainage is vital because lavender plants often die from root rot due to soggy soil. In regions where lavender is winter hardy, consider winter drainage, too. Soils that tend to hold water in winter can kill lavender quickly.

Many gardeners enhance drainage by planting lavender into raised soil mounds 12 to 24 inches tall. This provides the sharp drainage that lavender demands and it also helps in situations where native soil is clay that doesn’t drain well. Mix sharp sand or small limestone fines into soil to enhance drainage.

To achieve alkaline soil, mix some crushed oyster shell or limestone gravel into planting holes. You might even excavate a slightly deeper planting hole and fill the bottom two-thirds of the space with limestone gravel. This helps improve drainage in heavy soils and provides an alkaline environment for roots. Some gardeners also add a mixture of lime, bone meal and compost to planting holes to get alkaline pH and jump-start growth. Aim for about a half-cup total using equal parts of those items.

Spacing and Planting

This is one perennial that doesn’t take well to overcrowded conditions. When planting lavender, give it enough elbow room to accommodate flowers. Ideally, try to space plants as far apart as they’ll grow tall. Lavender needs good air circulation to grow at its best.

Most gardeners plant lavender transplants rather than starting from seed. When you’re planting lavender transplants, dig a hole that’s deep enough for the plant’s roots and tuck the plant into place, snugging soil around it. Plant lavender no more more deeply in the ground than it sat in its nursery pot.

When planting lavender, prune plants lightly, removing all growing tips. This encourages the plant to branch. Use this same technique every year as new growth starts to appear. Water until plants show steady new growth.

Starting From Seed

Most lavender is grown from cuttings, which helps get a plant true in characteristics to the parent plant. That’s why most gardeners plant from transplants rather than seed. Growing from seed is difficult, but it’s not impossible.

If you want to try starting lavender from seed, sow seeds in a sterile seed starting mix. Barely cover seeds, because they need light to germinate. Lavender seeds can take as long as a month to germinate, although sometimes they’ll sprout in as little as 14 days. Help the germination process by placing seed trays in a warm spot: 70 degrees is an ideal temperature. Some gardeners refrigerate seeds in a sealed plastic bag for 21 days to prepare them for sprouting and help improve germination.

Transfer seedlings to 2-inch wide pots when seedlings have sprouted several sets of leaves. Lavender is a slow grower and may take one to three months to reach transplanting size. The greatest threat to lavender seeds and seedlings is fungus. Keep soil mix moist, but provide good air circulation to help reduce disease outbreaks. Acclimate seedlings to outdoor growing conditions when lavender plants are 3 inches high.

Growing and Harvesting Lavender

Once established, lavender grows best with neglect. If you plant your lavender in a sunny spot in well-draining, slightly alkaline soil, maintain good airflow through pruning and don’t overwater. Your lavender should grow beautifully.

Pruning Lavender

Pruning is key to successfully growing lavender. Prune lavender in late summer to fall — after the plant flowers — to help open the plant’s interior to allow good air circulation and remove some of the branches, which can ultimately help prevent winter damage. Pruning lavender in spring to remove stems that suffer in winter is also sometimes necessary in coldest regions.

When you’re pruning lavender plants that are established, aim to remove at least one-third of all growth. Don’t cut into the woody area because the buds on those stems won’t sprout.

How To Grow Lavender From Seed & When To Plant

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Growing lavender from seed can be difficult, especially for new gardeners. But once you learn how, you will have better success! In this post, I’ll show you everything you need to know about when and how to plant lavender seeds, step by step.

If you struggle to successfully grow lavender from seed, you are not alone. When it comes to growing your own seeds, this is one of the most difficult to get the hang of. I get asked about it all the time.

Starting lavender seeds requires some extra steps, plus a few that may seem counterintuitive. It’s definitely tricky and needs some practice.

Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered! Below I will give you all of my tips and techniques for the best results possible.

You’ll learn exactly how to plant lavender seeds step by step, and get details about caring for the seedlings to ensure success.

Here’s what you’ll find in this detailed step by step guide…

Table of Contents

Growing Lavender From Seed

While sometimes problematic, successfully growing lavender from seed is really rewarding once you know how long it will take, and the best methods to use.

Types Of Lavender Seeds To Grow

In general, there are three main types of lavender seeds you can grow: English, Spanish, or French. But these days, there are also some great hybrids to choose from.

A few of my favorites are Hidcote dwarf, Munstead, and Provence blue. Don’t worry, the instructions below will work no matter which type you choose.

English lavender seed packet

Recommended Lavender Seed Starting Methods

The best method to use for growing lavender from seed is to start them indoors. They can take a long time to germinate, and tend to sprout unevenly.

Keeping them inside in a controlled environment will give you the most consistent germination rate.

Of course, you could try direct sowing them. They’re also a great candidate for winter sowing, since they do require cold stratification. So go ahead and experiment to see which method works for you.

How Long From Seed To Harvest

When you grow lavender from seed, it takes a year for them to bloom to their full potential. They can flower lightly the first year, and you may get a few buds from them.

Then they should come into full bloom by their second season, giving you tons of delicious smelling flowers to enjoy.

Mature lavender in my garden

Planting Lavender Seeds

Successfully planting lavender seeds requires some special tricks. These cold hardy seeds need a bit of extra help in order to germinate. But don’t worry, it’s easier than you think.

When To Start Lavender Seeds

Plant lavender seeds indoors 10-12 weeks before your average last frost date. If you want to direct sow them, you should do that in very early spring, as soon as the ground is workable.

You could also try planting them in your garden in late fall, so they will sprout in the spring. Or winter sow them as soon as the temps stay below freezing in your area.

Preparing to sow my lavender seeds

Preparing Lavender Seeds For Planting

In order to germinate, lavender seeds need a period of cool temperatures called “cold stratification”.

If you skip this step, you may still have success. But most likely, you’ll see a very low germination rate.

The easiest way to cold stratify lavender seeds is to place them in moist soil, then put them into the refrigerator for 3-6 weeks before planting.

How To Plant Lavender Seeds Step-By-Step

Planting lavender seeds takes a little bit more planning than other types of flowers. To really set yourself up for success, gather all of your supplies ahead of time.

Supplies Needed:

Step 1: Prepare the soil – If you plan to use pellets, moisten them before placing them into the seed trays. Otherwise, fill the plastic cells with the soil mix.

Step 2: Decide how many seeds to plant – Since they tend to germinate unevenly, I recommend planting 2-3 lavender seeds per hole or pellet.

If you’re direct sowing them outside, space them in groupings about 2″ apart, and thin them to 18″ later on.

Step 3: Plant the seeds – Since they need light to germinate, I prefer to drop my lavender seeds on top of the soil and leave them there.

You can cover them with a thin layer of dirt if you prefer, but take care that they aren’t more than 1/8″ deep.

Step 4: Water the soil – If it’s not already damp, then water the soil until it’s evenly moist.

It’s a good idea to water the trays from the bottom, rather than over the top, to avoid displacing the tiny seeds.

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Step 5: Cover the trays – Put the plastic dome lid on top of the trays. This will help to keep the soil moist during germination.

Step 6: Give them plenty of light – Place them in a bright location, or turn on the grow lights. Remember, they need light in order to germinate, so give them plenty of sunshine if you don’t have a plant light.

Step 7 (optional): Monitor the temperature – Ideally, you should keep the soil between 60-65F degrees for the best germination rate. Use a soil thermometer to monitor the temperature.

Lavender Germination Time

As I have already mentioned a few times, lavender seeds are extremely slow to germinate. Some are a bit faster (2-3 weeks), but most can take a month or more to sprout, so be patient.

It’s also important to note that germination tends to be very uneven. You’ll probably notice that some will sprout faster than others. This is normal, so don’t give up on the slow pokes too soon.

What Do Lavender Seedlings Look Like?

The first two leaves that form right after germination are called the “seed leaves”. They are slightly oval shaped, and rounded on the ends.

Everything that grows after that are called the “true leaves”, and they look exactly like tiny baby lavender leaves.

Baby lavender seedling germinating

How To Care For Lavender Seedlings

The success of growing lavender seeds also depends on caring for the seedlings properly. Once your seeds have sprouted, it’s important to give them lots of light and nutrients.

Light

After germinating, the seedlings can get leggy very fast. So keep your grow light 1-2″ above them at all times. A sunny window won’t be good enough to prevent legginess.

Water

It’s important to keep the soil evenly moist, but never soggy. I recommend using a soil moisture gauge to get it just right.

Fertilizer

When they have 3-4 true leaves, you can start feeding lavender seedlings with a 1/2 dose of liquid fertilizer, or compost tea each time you water.

Potting Up

After they are twice the height of the seed tray, pot them up into deeper containers. I like plantable pots, but you could certainly use plastic ones if you prefer.

True leaves on lavender seedling

Transplanting Lavender Seedlings Into The Garden

It’s best to wait until all chance of frost is gone before transplanting lavender seedlings into the garden. Also, wait until they are at least 2-3″ tall for best results.

But, before you can do that, you must acclimate them to living outside. If you skip this step, then they probably won’t survive the move.

Transplanting lavender seedlings outdoors

Since growing lavender from seed can be unpredictable, you may still have a few questions. Here are answers to some of the most common ones I get. If you can’t find an answer to your question here, ask it in the comments below.

How many lavender seeds do I plant per hole?

Since they are usually unpredictable, I recommend planting 2-3 lavender seeds per hole, pellet, or seed cell. If more than one grows, you can thin them out later.

How deep do you plant lavender seeds?

Since lavender seeds need light to germinate, you should not plant them very deep. Just cover them lightly with soil, but no more than 1/8″ deep.

Why aren’t my lavender seeds germinating?

When lavender seeds don’t germinate, it can be caused by several things. The soil was too warm or wet, they were planted too deep, didn’t get enough light, or the seeds were old and no longer viable.

For best results, give them plenty of light during germination. Also make sure the soil temperature is between 60-65F (using a soil thermometer), and that it stays consistently moist.

Do you need to stratify lavender seeds?

Though it’s not absolutely required, I do recommend that you take the time to cold stratify lavender seeds before planting them. Doing this will give you the best possible germination rate.

Growing lavender from seed can be tricky, but it’s incredibly rewarding. It takes time and patience, but having a bunch of lavender seedlings to plant in your yard will make you feel great about your hard work.

Are you tired of struggling to figure out how to grow your seeds by trial and error? Then you should take my Seed Staring Course. It’s a fun and comprehensive online course that will walk you through everything you need to know in order to successfully grow any plant you want from seeds. Sign up and get started right now!

Otherwise, if you’re just looking for a quick refresher to get going fast, then my Staring Seeds Indoors eBook is what you need. Download your copy here.

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