How To Plant Lavender Correctly

A herb garden without the strongly fragrant and versatile lavender is unthinkable – especially in a Mediterranean bed together with rosemary, thyme, oregano & Co. The pretty, lush blue to purple flowers are eye-catchers in any garden. In this article, we reveal the best tips & tricks on how you can also grow lavender in your garden – or on the balcony.

Lavendel pflanzen

Where does the lavender come from?


Coming from the labiates family, lavender originally comes from the Mediterranean region, where it still grows wild today. In the High Middle Ages, traveling monks of the Benedictine order brought the medicinal herb across the Alps, where it quickly found a new home in many monastery and also farm gardens. In the meantime, however, the sun-hungry lavender is widespread in almost all climatic regions of the world.

What does lavender look like?


Lavender botanically belongs to the semi-shrubs. At the base, the shoots, which grow up to 60 centimeters long, become woody. The leaves are gray-green, felt-like hairy and curled outward at the edge to reduce evaporation. The flowers are mostly purple, but some varieties are white, pink or dark blue. They stand at the shoot tip in so-called false spikes. First you see the colored calyx, from which the intensely fragrant flowers unfold.

What can I use lavender for?


The flowers in particular contain essential oils – which are responsible for the plant’s beguiling scent – coumarins and flavonoids. In addition, there are tannins and bitter substances. Young shoot tips and leaves flavor herbal sauces, fish soups, stews and lamb dishes. They are similar in taste to rosemary. Used internally, lavender has a calming effect and helps with flatulence. A tea made from the flowers is therefore ideal for states of stress, but is also said to be helpful for cardiovascular problems. However, you can also use lavender as a bath additive or drive away headaches with the help of the beguiling scent of lavender oil. Moths are also not very enthusiastic about this smell. Scented pillows with dried lavender flowers help to keep the vermin out of closets. Furthermore, lavender plays a major role as a scenting agent in perfumes and soaps.

Where can I get plants?


Young plants are available at any garden center or at many nurseries. However, you can also buy seeds and grow your own lavender plants. Keep in mind, however, that lavender grows very slowly.

Is lavender a perennial or an annual?


Lavender is a perennial plant, but it requires vigorous pruning and is also quite sensitive to cold. Especially in colder regions, lavender needs winter protection made of brushwood, and some varieties can even only be kept in pots in our area. This includes the particularly aromatic crested lavender, which does not tolerate cold very well and should therefore be overwintered frost-free, but cool and as bright as possible.

What kind of location does lavender need?


Ideal is a sunny place, protected from the wind. Here, if possible, the sun should shine from morning to evening. This is not only important for the lavender to thrive lushly – you will be able to taste and smell the difference clearly. It’s not for nothing that Mediterranean herbs like lavender are so particularly flavorful and aromatic. A half-shaded location is rather suboptimal, as the herb then cannot develop its full intensity. Beware of depressions in the soil: Cold night air collects in them, which the heat-loving lavender does not appreciate at all.

Does lavender fit into a herb spiral?


Ideal for growing herbs – especially in a small garden – is the herb spiral. This is simply a mound of earth erected in a spiral or spiral shape and bordered with stones. Plan the spiral as generously as possible, because if it is too small, the plants will crowd each other and suffer from lack of light. A possible planting could look something like this: You can plant moisture-loving herbs such as chives and parsley at the base of the spiral wall, and drought-loving herbs such as savory, marjoram, hyssop, burnet or sage higher up. The south and west sides, on the other hand, provide ideal conditions for thyme, rosemary and lavender. On the north and east sides, chives, mint, cress, lemon balm and sorrel feel particularly at home.

What soil does the herb prefer?


As a typically Mediterranean plant, lavender has low moisture and nutrient requirements. Therefore, you should keep the small shrub, which after all originates from rocky regions, as lean as possible. Ideal locations are therefore a dry meadow or a sunny rock garden. The soil should be permeable and slightly calcareous.

What distance does lavender need?


Lavender requires quite a lot of space, because the plant grows bushy. Therefore, you should plant the individual seedlings at a distance of about 30 centimeters.

When can I pre-grow lavender plants?


If you enjoy growing your own, you can sow the fine seeds in March in a warm cold frame or in trays on the windowsill. The seeds usually germinate irregularly and take between two to three weeks to emerge. Lavender is a light germinator, which means you must never cover the seeds with soil. Starting in May, you can plant the seedlings in the garden.

How can I propagate lavender?


Usually lavender is propagated by division or by cuttings. To propagate cuttings, cut off a few shoot tips in spring – before flowering time – and put them in a sandy substrate. Before that, you can still dip the cutting in rooting powder. Keep the substrate slightly moist, but not wet. Don’t be surprised that the cuttings don’t seem to grow – it takes a long time for the young plants to take root.

Can I grow lavender in a pot?


Lavender is excellent for pot culture, but it needs sufficiently deep and large pots. The plant develops a very deep taproot, which is why shallow containers – such as bowls or even balcony boxes (54,00€ at Amazon*) – are unsuitable. The crested lavender in particular is made for keeping in a container on the balcony or terrace.

When do I need to repot lavender?


However, lavender needs quite a lot of space, so you should repot the plant better once too often than once too little. The best time for such an action is spring, before the first new shoots begin to sprout.

Can lavender also be planted in the garden bed?


Yes, lavender feels very comfortable in company with other (Mediterranean) herbs, but also in the vegetable or flower bed. However, not all varieties are suitable for planting outdoors, for this purpose it is best to choose true lavender.

When does lavender bloom?


Depending on the variety, lavender blooms throughout the summer: Flowering time is between June and September. It is best to cut away wilted flower spikes right away.

Is lavender poisonous?


No, lavender is not poisonous. On the contrary, the herb has been known for centuries as a fragrant, spicy and medicinal herb.

What parts of the plant can I use and how?


Mainly the flowers of lavender are used, mostly dried, but also freshly picked. Used sparingly, the young leaves can also be used as a spice.

When and how can I harvest?


You can cut young leaves and twigs at any time as needed. For drying, cut the flower shoots as soon as the small florets have opened. To do this, cut the flower stalks in the midday sun and dry them at a moderate heat. Then reel off the flowers and store them in a dark container.

Can lavender be planted as a hedge?


You can plant low hedges with lavender shrubs. This is a wonderful way to border herb and rose beds in particular.

Good neighbors / Bad neighbors
Lavender harmonizes particularly well with other Mediterranean herbs, but also with fragrant roses.

Tips & Tricks
If you want to plant lavender in pots, they should have a diameter of at least 20 centimeters. In addition, a drainage hole in the bottom ensures that no waterlogging can occur. To grow lavender, pots made of clay or wood are recommended, because they can retain moisture and thus prevent the plant from drying out.

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