Growing Lavender in Garden Beds for a Beautiful and Fragrant Garden

Lavender is one of the most popular herbs to grow in any garden. With its beautiful purple flowers and soothing fragrance, this Mediterranean plant makes a gorgeous addition to beds, borders, and containers. While lavender thrives in warm climates, it can be grown successfully in colder zones as well if you give it the right conditions.

When planting lavender in your garden, there are a few key things to keep in mind. Proper sunlight, well-drained soil, and good air circulation will help ensure your lavender remains happy and healthy year after year. In this article, we’ll cover how to grow lavender successfully in garden beds and borders.

Choosing the Best Lavender Varieties for Your Garden

There are over 40 different lavender species, with hundreds of cultivars to choose from The most common types grown in home gardens are English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), Spanish lavender (Lavandula stoechas), and French lavender (Lavandula dentata)

English lavender is the most popular variety grown. It has beautiful purple flower spikes and a strong, sweet fragrance. This type is hardy to zone 5 and does well in cold winters. Some recommended English lavender cultivars include ‘Hidcote’, ‘Munstead’ and ‘Jean Davis’.

Spanish lavender has showy, pinecone-shaped flower heads on top of long stems. It tolerates heat and humidity better than other types. Good choices include ‘Richard Gray’ and ‘Folgate’.

French lavender has pretty toothed leaves and a lighter fragrance. It grows well in zones 7-9. Try cultivars like ‘Grosso’ and ‘Provence’.

When to Plant Lavender

If you plant lavender in the spring, after the risk of frost has passed, it will grow best. This gives the roots time to establish before hot summer weather arrives.

If you live in zones 8-10, you can also plant in fall. Just be sure to mulch well for winter protection.

Ideal Spring Planting Times:

  • Zones 3-4: Mid to late May
  • Zones 5-6: Mid April to mid May
  • Zones 7-8: Early April
  • Zones 9-10: February to March

Purchase young lavender plants from a local nursery. Plant seeds indoors and move seedlings outside when they are 4 to 6 weeks old.

Choosing the Best Spot for Planting Lavender

Now that you have your lavender plants, it’s time to find the perfect spot to plant them! Here are the ideal growing conditions:

Sunlight: Lavender thrives in full sun – at least 6-8 hours per day. Morning sun is especially important. Too much shade will cause weak, leggy growth.

Soil drainage: Excellent drainage is key! Lavender hates wet feet. Choose a spot that drains rapidly after rains. Avoid low areas where water collects.

Soil pH: Aim for a neutral to slightly alkaline pH of 6.7-7.3. Lavender won’t tolerate acidic soils. Test your soil and amend with lime if needed.

Air circulation: Good airflow prevents foliar diseases like mildew. Space plants 1-3 feet apart depending on variety.

Convenience: Situate lavender close to paths or seating areas where you can enjoy the fragrance. Plant it near the kitchen for easy harvesting.

Preparing the Soil for Lavender

Lavender thrives in lean, sandy soils that drain quickly. Take time to prepare the planting area by amending the soil with:

  • Coarse sand or gravel – improves drainage

  • Compost – provides nutrients, retains a small amount of moisture

  • Espoma Organic Lavender Tone – formulated for lavender’s needs

Dig down 8-12 inches and mix amendments into the soil. Create raised beds or berms if drainage is poor. This gives lavender’s roots a higher, drier area.

How to Plant Lavender

Follow these simple steps when planting your new lavender:

  1. Dig a hole twice as wide as the root ball and just as deep.

  2. Place the plant in the hole with the base of the stems at soil level.

  3. Backfill around the plant with your prepared soil mix. Tamp down gently.

  4. Water thoroughly until the soil is moist but not soaked.

  5. Add 2-3 inches of mulch like gravel or wood chips around plants to retain moisture and suppress weeds.

  6. Water newly planted lavender regularly until established. Then water only when the top 1-2 inches of soil become dry.

Ongoing Care for Growing Lavender

With proper care, lavender plants can live 15 years or longer. Here are some tips for keeping your lavender thriving:

  • Water wisely: Let the soil dry out between waterings. Too much moisture causes root rot.

  • Prune annually: Cut back each plant by 1/3 after flowering to promote bushy growth.

  • Fertilize lightly: Use an organic balanced fertilizer in spring. Lavender is adapted to poor soil and doesn’t need much.

  • Protect from winter wetness: Improve drainage before winter. Mulch well once the ground freezes.

  • Watch for pests & diseases: Monitor for common issues like root rot, woolly aphids, weevils and fusarium. Treat organically at first sight.

  • Harvest often: Cut fresh lavender stems frequently to encourage more blooms. The best time is just after the flowers open.

Getting Creative With Lavender – Fun Ways to Use it in Your Garden

Beyond using lavender in beds and borders, there are so many creative ways to highlight this beautiful herb in your garden:

  • Create a stunning lavender hedge along a path or property line. Trim it into shapes if desired.

  • Include lavender in a pollinator-friendly garden to attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.

  • Line your vegetable beds with lavender as a decorative edging and natural pest deterrent.

  • Design a soothing meditation space with lavender, benches, and winding paths.

  • Craft decorative items like lavender wands and dried wreaths for your home.

  • Fill concrete planter boxes and window boxes with cascading lavender.

  • Plant miniature varieties in a rock garden or succulent planter.

  • Add lavender to outdoor containers on decks, patios and porches.

Growing Lavender Successfully in Cold Climates

Don’t let winter stop you from planting lavender! Just take these extra precautions:

  • Choose cold-hardy English varieties like ‘Munstead’ and ‘Hidcote’.

  • Plant lavender on southern exposures for maximum winter sun.

  • Improve drainage by planting in raised beds and adding sand.

  • Mulch heavily each fall with gravel, leaves or straw.

  • Cover plants with row covers, cloches or hoop houses when hard freezes arrive.

  • Prune back by 1/3 in spring to remove winter dieback.

With a little preparation, gardeners in zones 5 and even 4 can have success with lavender. It just might take a season or two to get your plants fully established.

Troubleshooting Common Lavender Problems

Even when given ideal growing conditions, lavender can sometimes struggle with issues like:

Dying foliage at the base: This is likely due to overwatering. Improve drainage immediately.

Leggy, weak growth: Increase sunlight and prune back stems to promote healthy new growth.

Failure to bloom: Lavender needs full sun to flower properly. Fertilize lightly in spring.

Brown foliage spots: Fungal diseases often strike after wet seasons. Improve airflow and prune back damaged areas.

Pests: Treat aphids, mites, weevils and caterpillars with organic neem oil or insecticidal soap sprays.

Catch problems early and adjust care as needed. Remove any plants that fail to thrive. Fall is a good time to replace dead lavender with new, healthy plants.

Harvesting Lavender for Enjoyment All Year Round

One of the best parts of growing lavender is harvesting all those wonderful flowers and fragrant foliage. Here are some ways to use your homegrown lavender:

  • Cut fresh stems for gorgeous indoor floral arrangements.

  • Hang bundled stems to dry for potpourri, sachets and crafts.

  • Make lavender water and lavender tea with the dried buds.

  • Add flowers and leaves to your recipes for a flavorful punch.

  • Create soothing lavender bath products like bath salts and shower steamers.

  • Craft lavender wreaths, bundles and bouquets to give as gifts.

The Joy and Relaxation of Growing Lavender

I hope these tips have inspired you to add lavender to your garden this coming season. Its beauty and fragrance bring such joy and relaxation to any outdoor space. With a little TLC, you’ll have success growing lavender even in challenging climates.

Be sure to experiement with lavender in creative ways beyond just beds and borders. Before long, you’ll have plentiful blossoms to harvest for flower arrangements, DIY projects, gifts and more. Happy gardening!

5 Tips to Grow Perfect Lavender


Can I plant lavender in a garden bed?

Growing lavender can be a challenge for gardeners who live in moist climates (especially those east of the Mississippi) because it requires well-drained soil. The perfect solution is to create a “dry garden” by building a raised bed.

What should not be planted next to lavender?

Lavender prefers dry, well-drained soil and doesn’t tolerate water-logged conditions or over-watering. Therefore, it doesn’t pair well with plants that prefer moist or wet soil. Plants such as ferns, hostas, and many varieties of hydrangeas that thrive in consistently moist soil should not be planted with lavender.

Is lavender good for your garden?

Like other plants in the mint family, lavender will repel bugs such as mosquitos, fleas, moths, and ticks. Not only is it great at repelling nuisance bugs, but lavender also attracts beneficial pollinators to its fragrant blooms. Adding lavender to your garden will attract butterflies, bees, and other helpful insects.

Where should I put lavender in my garden?

Light: Lavender needs full sun and well-drained soil to grow best. In hot summer climates, afternoon shade may help them thrive. Soil: Lavender grows best in low to moderately-fertile soils, so don’t amend the soil with organic matter before planting. Lavender performs best in neutral to slightly alkaline soils.

Can lavender be used as a landscape plant?

Lavender is a versatile and attractive plant that can be used in a variety of landscaping situations. Here are some ways to use it in your landscape: Garden beds: Lavender is a great addition to any garden bed. It can be used as a border plant, a filler plant, or as a focal point.

How do you design a garden bed with lavender?

When designing a garden bed with lavender, keep in mind the mature growth of surrounding plants and give lavender a spot where other plants won’t cast any shade on it. Give each lavender plenty of space to promote good air circulation. Spacing should be at least 18 to 24 inches depending on the variety.

Can you grow lavender in a garden?

Lavender plants thrive in a garden, raised beds, or even indoors. You can grow lavender in pots, making it easy to protect from the cold. Or you can make it a part of your perennial gardening practice, and let it die back in winter. Aromatic herbs are a great addition to a garden for pest control.

Can lavender grow in raised beds?

Many commercial lavender growers use raised beds to improve drainage, a technique that can be borrowed for the home garden. Soil pH is also a factor. Lavender grows best in neutral to alkaline soil with a pH of 6.5 to 8.2. Test your soil (turn to your local Cooperative Extension Service for assistance) to be sure.

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