How to Care for Lavender

The popularly fragrant plant 

Written by Gabrielle Smith

What does a Lavender plant look like? The Lavandula, also known as Lavender, English Lavender, or True Lavender is a beautiful fragrant herb with bright purple flowers. Although native to the Mediterranean, the English Lavender also flourishes in the damp, colder climate of the United Kingdom. Historically, there have been many uses for the lavender plant. The aromatic notes of the English Lavender has a long history that dates back to the court of Queen Elizabeth I in which she would spread Lavender around her palace to protect from the strong stench of the plague.

In modern times, the lavender plant has a multitude of uses and benefits. The lavender plant benefits include using lavender for anxiety and getting to sleep. Both of these health benefits are found in essential oils, particularly lavender sleep spray, which is believed to support calmness and sleepiness for those struggling to get their zzz’s. Another popular use of lavender is lavender essential oil for hair, which is know to add strength and shine to your locks. If you like an adult beverage, lavender gin and lavender vodka are becoming increasingly popular in trendy cocktail bars.

If you would like to add a low maintenance plant to your indoor plant collection or outdoor garden you're in luck! The lavender plant is fast growing with minimal needs, requiring full sun and water about every 10 days.

Botanical Name:Lavandula angustifolia
Common Name(s):English Lavender, True Lavender, Garden Lavender,
Narrow-leaved Lavender 
Plant TypeHerb
Place of Origin:Southern Europe
Sun Exposure: Full sun 
Watering Schedule:Every 10 days
Seasonality: Spring and summer
Bloom Time: Summer
Toxicity:Unsafe for cats and dogs

LAVENDER LIGHT REQUIREMENTS:

Your lavender plant should be placed in a location where it receives full sun exposure. Full sun is when your plant is placed in a location where it receives direct exposure to the sun’s rays. The ideal indoor location for your lavender is about 2 to 3 feet away from a southern or western facing window. This location will provide direct sunlight whilst protecting your plant from being scorched!

Although it is ideal for your lavender to receive natural light, if your home does not have a lot of natural light, this can be supplemented with a full spectrum LED grow light. Ensure your lavender plant is positioned about 12-24 inches below the LED grow light to protect the leaves from becoming burnt from too high temperatures. The closer your plant is to the grow light, the more intense the temperature your plant will be exposed to. Depending on the climate of your home, adjust your grow light accordingly.

LAVENDER WATER REQUIREMENTS:

The English Lavender is drought resistant and does not have complicated watering needs. Water your lavender every 10 days with about ½ an inch of filtered water or until the top inch of soil is moist. Only water your lavender plant once the soil is completely dry. During the colder winter and autumn months, water your indoor lavender once every four to six. If your lavender is outdoors, it will not need to be watered during the winter or autumn. 

LAVENDER TEMPERATURE REQUIREMENTS:

Lavender plants are typically native to Mediterranean climates, but are pretty resilient to various temperature conditions. An ideal temperature for a lavender plant ranges between 60 degrees Fahrenheit and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Although moderate to high temperature is preferred, a typical house climate is also suitable for your lavender plant.

How cold can a lavender plant tolerate? Nothing Below 40 Degrees Fahrenheit! Although resistant to cold temperatures, typically lavender can not be exposed to temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The only lavender species that is resistant to the winter frost is the English Lavender. These little guys are known to fight through the winter cold and typically can survive most winters. Be cautious as cold temperatures can cause damage or death to your plant.

LAVENDER HUMIDITY REQUIREMENTS:

Contrary to the typical humidity levels of their native Mediterranean, the ideal humidity for your lavender plant is actually low humidity! Low humidity is between levels of 20-35%t. Be aware if your lavender is exposed to too high levels of humidity, it can cause potential damage and root rot to your plant.

Wondering how to lower humidity for your lavender plant? Try a dehumidifier!  Using a fan or dehumidifier will increase air circulation in your home and lower humidity levels.

LAVENDER SOIL:

Lavender plants grow best in a loamy, all-purpose soil mixture. Look out for mixtures containing vermiculite and peat moss to keep your plant happy! Adding some bark to the mixture can also help with drainage! 

LAVENDER FERTILIZER:

Being such a fast growing, resilient plant the lavender does not need frequent fertilizing. The perfect amount of fertilizer for your plant is only once a year! The best fertilizer to use is a slow-release fertilizer. 

Slow-Release Fertilizer and your Lavender Plant:
A slow-release fertilizer gets its name from, you guessed it… It’s ability to release slow and small amounts of nutrients into the soil! This fertilizer will naturally support the soil to break down and decompose, therefore assisting your plants growing process.

LAVENDER REPOTTING:

The best time to repot your lavender is once a year during late winter or early spring. Lavender tends to enjoy being a bit root-bound, so you don't necessarily have to transfer your plant to a much bigger pot size. As long as there is enough room for the plant to grow, then your lavender plant should be happy! 

LAVENDER PROPAGATION:

Depending on the time of year and the type of lavender plant, suggested propagation methods differ. A similar characteristic of every type of propagation is the type of cutting. Always ensure you are cutting a healthy, strong stem from its root. The best stem to choose is one with no buds and a bright color. Once you have cut a 3 to 4 inch stem, remove all leaves from the bottom 2 inches. Prepare your container with a soil mix of vermiculite and peat moss with a little piece of bark to support proper drainage. After you have prepared your propagation container, stick the bottom 2 inches of the stem into the soil. Cover the stem and container with plastic to create a miniature greenhouse. Once you see your cutting is beginning to develop roots, remove the plastic covering. 

Types of Lavender Cuttings:
01. Hardwood Cuttings:
Hardwood cuttings can be propagated in both the spring and fall. Hardwood cuttings have less buds on their stems and are typically better for propagating for a flowering lavender. Be weary when handling hardwood cuttings, they can often be brittle and can easily snap. The typical time frame for a hardwood cutting to take root is about 4 to 6 weeks.

02. Softwood Cuttings: Unlike hardwood cuttings, softwood cuttings are only found in the springtime. Softwood cuttings are from the soft, flexible tips of newly grown lavender. Due to typically having more buds on their stems, softwood cuttings can sometimes be harder to propagate. The good news is, they are plentiful in the springtime and are less likely to cause harm to their host plant. The typical time frame for a softwood cutting to take root is about 2 to 4 weeks

LAVENDER COMMON PESTS/DISEASES:

Although very resilient, the Lavender plant does have its limits! If neglected, your Lavender plant can be susceptible to numerous diseases and pests.

01. Root Rot - One of the most common diseases that can affect the lavender plant is root rot. Root rot occurs when your plant has been overwatered and the soil is not able to drain and dry out properly. In order to protect your plant from root rot it is essential to only water your lavender when the soil is completely dry and draining sufficiently. 

02. Spider Mites, Mealybugs, Aphids, and Whiteflies - In addition to root rot, spider mites, mealybugs, aphids, and whiteflies can cause growth and health issues for your lavender plant. These pests typically begin their infestation at the base of the plant’s leaves and feed on the fluids inside the leaves. The best way to protect your plant from these pests is by regularly removing all dead leaves from the pot and removing dust from leaves using a damp cloth

LAVENDER TOXICITY 

The lavender plant itself is not necessarily harmful to cats and dogs, however the essential oil derived from it is. If inhaled or ingested in large amounts, your furry friend will likely experience some side effects. 

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