Growing Lavender in Pots Over Winter: A Complete Guide

Lavender is a beautiful and fragrant herb that thrives in warm sunny climates. With its stunning purple flowers and gray-green foliage lavender makes a gorgeous addition to outdoor containers and garden beds.

While lavender is considered a perennial in mild climates, it can be grown as an annual or overwintered indoors in colder regions. If you want to enjoy lavender year after year you’ll need to take some steps to protect your potted plants during harsh winter conditions.

Follow this complete guide to successfully overwinter potted lavender plants. With the right care, your lavender will emerge vigorous and healthy when spring arrives!

Choosing the Right Lavender Varieties

To boost your overwintering success rate, choose cold-hardy lavender varieties suited to your climate Some top winter-tolerant cultivars include

  • English Lavender (L. angustifolia): Cultivars like ‘Munstead,’ ‘Hidcote,’ and ‘Twickel Purple’ tend to be winter hardy.

  • Lavandin (L. x intermedia): ‘Grosso’ and ‘Provence’ are two hardy hybrids.

  • French Lavender (L. dentata): Tolerates damp soil better than other varieties.

  • Spanish Lavender (L. stoechas): ‘Otto Quast’ and ‘Richard Gray’ handle humidity well.

When selecting lavender starts for your container garden, check the plant tags for variety names and growing zones. This will give you an idea of their winter hardiness.

Providing Winter Protection for Potted Lavender

Keeping lavender in containers makes it easier to move the plants into protected areas for winter. Here are some tips:

  • Move pots to a sheltered spot before temperatures drop below freezing. An unheated garage, tool shed, or covered porch are ideal.

  • Group pots together and cover with horticultural fleece, burlap, or straw. This insulates the container soil and plants’ root zones.

  • For added cold protection, surround pots with mulch, leaves, or wood chips. This prevents the soil in containers from freezing solid.

  • During warm spells, remove coverings temporarily so plants aren’t shocked going from cold to hot conditions. Re-cover at night if frost is expected.

  • Avoid allowing potted lavender to freeze and thaw repeatedly. Fluctuating temperatures can damage roots and cause dieback.

Proper winter protection prevents damage from harsh winds, heavy snow loads, and frigid temperatures. Sheltering container plants is vital for their survival.

Soil Needs for Overwintering Potted Lavender

Lavender prefers quick-draining soil and won’t tolerate wet winter conditions. Here are some tips for best potting mixes:

  • Use a well-draining commercial potting soil as your base. Mix in added perlite or pumice to improve drainage.

  • You can create a custom blend using equal parts potting mix, perlite, and peat moss. This creates an airy, sandy composition lavender loves.

  • Avoid heavy garden soil which compacted during winter and suffocates lavender roots. Stick with light commercial mixes amended with grit.

  • Allow container soil to dry out between waterings. Excess moisture during dormancy leads to root rot in lavender.

Make sure your containers have drainage holes at the base. Elevate pots on blocks or bricks so excess water can escape. Monitor soil moisture in winter and only water when the top few inches become bone dry.

Pruning Potted Lavender for Winter

Pruning lavender in fall helps promote winter survival for container plants. Follow these tips:

  • Time fall pruning about 6-8 weeks before your first expected frost. This gives new growth time to harden off before winter.

  • Cut back flower stalks to just above the first set of leaves on each stem using sanitized pruners.

  • Remove weak, diseased, or damaged stems entirely back to the base of the plant.

  • Shape plants by cutting 1/3 of the foliage off the top. This prevents excessive wind damage over winter.

  • Clear all fallen leaves and debris from around the base of plants to prevent disease.

  • Rinse pruners in diluted bleach between each cut to avoid transmitting infections.

Avoid pruning lavender past mid-autumn. Pruning too late removes the plant’s protective foliage layer just before harsh weather arrives.

Winter Watering Needs for Potted Lavender

Lavender enters dormancy as winter approaches. During this stage, container plants require little water. Here are some winter watering tips:

  • Allow soil to dry out between waterings until early spring. Wet soil in winter causes root rot.

  • Check soil moisture 2-3 inches below the surface before watering. Only water if the top few inches are completely dry.

  • When watering dormant lavender, moisten the soil without saturating it completely. Use a moisture meter to check levels.

  • Water sparingly during warm spells in winter. Don’t spur plants to break dormancy too early.

  • Resume normal watering in early spring as plants exit dormancy and new growth appears.

Reduce watering frequency but don’t allow potting mixes to totally dry out. Periodically check soil moisture below the surface using your finger or a moisture meter probe.

Fertilizing Lavender Over Winter

Lavender doesn’t require fertilizer during its winter dormant period. Hold off feeding container plants until spring:

  • Avoid using fertilizers after late summer/early autumn. This can spur tender new growth before frost.

  • Slow-release organic granular fertilizers applied in spring will provide nutrients as plants resume growth.

  • Start liquid feeding a few weeks after new growth emerges in spring. Use a balanced flower fertilizer diluted to half-strength.

  • Mix some slow-release fertilizer into potting soil when repotting lavender in spring. This provides a gradual nutrient boost.

  • Excess nitrogen fertilizer causes leggy, weak growth. Use a lower nitrogen formula (like 5-10-10).

Too much winter fertilization can negatively impact blooming and cause damage. Let lavender enter dormancy naturally without late-season feeding.

Signs of Winter Damage in Lavender

Check overwintered lavender frequently for any signs of winter stress:

  • Wilted, shriveled leaves indicate desiccation. Plants need more humidity.

  • Black or mushy roots signal root rot from overwatering. Repot plants in fresh, dry soil.

  • Dieback of stems and foliage is caused by extreme cold. Prune damaged areas and keep covered.

  • White mold or bluish-green foliage shows fungal disease. Improve air circulation and treat with fungicides.

  • Blown over or uprooted plants happen after strong winds. Add supports and shelter from gusts.

  • Leaves dropping prematurely can result from drastic temperature swings. Move plants to a more protected area.

Address any issues promptly to get lavender healthy again after winter dormancy. Damaged plants often recover well with improved care.

When to Move Lavender Back Outdoors

Lavender can be moved back outdoors once all danger of frost has passed. This is usually mid to late spring after temperatures have warmed up.

  • Set potted lavender plants outside during the day first if temperatures remain above 55°F at night.

  • Transplant into the garden or place pots in their permanent outdoor spots after your last expected spring frost.

  • Introduce potted lavender to sunlight gradually to prevent leaf scorch. Start with just an hour or two of morning sun.

  • Watch weather forecasts closely and be ready to take protective actions if a late cold snap occurs in your area.

  • Resume fertilizing and normal watering schedules as plants come out of dormancy.

Always observe proper hardening off procedures when moving overwintered lavender back outside. This avoids shock and sun damage to new growth.

Enjoy Years of Lavender Beauty

With the right overwintering practices, gardeners in cold climates can keep potted lavender thriving season after season.

Follow these tips to help your lavender successfully survive harsh winter weather:

  • Choose hardy lavender varieties suited to your zone

  • Shelter containers in protected areas like garages or sheds

  • Use sandy, fast-draining potting mixes

  • Prune back plants in early fall before heavy frosts arrive

  • Reduce watering during winter dormancy

  • Avoid fertilizing dormant lavender

  • Check frequently for winter damage or pest issues

  • Gradually reacclimate potted lavender to sun in spring

Is Lavender a Perennial or Annual?

Lavender is a flower that grows best in the sun and is native to Europe and Western Asia. It is a colorful and fragrant plant. The type of lavender you grow and where you grow it will determine whether it blooms every year or every other year. If you live in USDA Hardiness Zone 5 or warmer, you can usually keep lavender outside as a perennial plant as long as you grow the right kind for your area.

English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is the most common and hardy species. We grow a variety called ‘Hidcote’ that has dark purple flowers. Despite its name, this plant is not native to England; it stems from Europe’s warm Mediterranean coast.

English lavender is hardy in Zones 5 and up, and it usually does fine in the ground outside over the winter without any extra care. If there isn’t any snow in the winter, we might put a thin layer (1 to 2 inches) of straw or shredded leaves on top of them to keep them warmer.

Spanish lavender (L. stoechas) and fringed or French lavender (L. dentata) are much more tender and hardy outdoors, only in Zone 8 and warmer. They have to be moved indoors to survive the winter in colder zones. That being said, lavenders are small plants that do well in containers, which makes it easy to move them indoors and outdoors.

If you are re-potting them, don’t use a pot that is too large. Only give them an extra inch of soil around the root ball. Too much extra soil will stay soggy, which these plants won’t tolerate. The soil does not have to be rich, either. They need potting soil that drains quickly, so mix two parts potting soil with one part perlite or coarse sand. Before putting the potting mix in the lavender pots, add one teaspoon of lime to it to make it more like the soil in the Mediterranean, which is alkaline.

Overwintering Perennial Lavender Indoors and Outdoors

Lavender grows best outdoors, but you can also keep these aromatic gems alive inside through winter. Plus, lavender is not only pretty—its scent also brings a sense of calm to every room. Here are some lovely lavender varieties and advice on overwintering lavender.

How to Prune Lavender in Winter: Top Tips!! – Lavender World


How do you keep potted lavender alive in the winter?

Water when the soil is dry and then drench so that water flows freely out the bottom of pots. Overwintering: If you live in a climate where the winters are harsh, store your potted lavender plants in a garage or indoors during the winter to protect them. The plants need very little water from November to February.

Will potted lavender come back?

Lavender is a perennial, so it will come back every year as long as you care for it properly, which includes giving it plenty of sun, a little bit of water, and a lot of love. If all of its needs are met, you can expect your lavender plant to bloom every year, for about three to five years.

Does lavender need to be cut back for winter?

(1) Prune lavender only in the spring, while the plant is still in winter dormancy or once green growth is noticed, but prior to bud formation, if possible (usually the month of May). Do NOT prune lavender in the fall in northern climates, as this may kill the plant. (2) Prune up to 1/3 the branch’s length.

Can lavender grow in pots?

All lavender plants grow well in pots and containers due to the favorable drainage conditions. However, from experience, some lavender cultivars are more suited to growing in pots than others. My personal favorite lavender that I recommend for growing in pots is the English lavender ( Lavandula angustifolia ):

Can lavender survive winter?

English lavenders are cold hardy and can survive winter in pots up to USDA zone 4 with the right care and preparation. French and Spanish lavender pots will need protection from Winter cold and should be brought indoors in the Fall before the first frost of Winter. The larger the pot the better.

Do lavender pots need winter protection?

French and Spanish lavender pots will need protection from Winter cold and should be brought indoors in the Fall before the first frost of Winter. The larger the pot the better. Bigger pots contain more soil which helps to insulate the lavender roots from the cold.

How do you keep lavender plants alive in winter?

1. One of the keys to keep potted lavenders alive over winter is to plant them in a relatively big pot, even if it is a smaller variety of lavender. The bigger the pot is, the more soil it will contain. The soil will act as insulation for the roots when the temperature decreases, protecting the roots from frost.

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