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Growing Lavender From Seed – Top Tips

Lavender growing

Thanks for visiting my blog! In this article, I will outline top tips for growing lavender from seed successfully. On this page, I have included links to products that can help you to get set up for growing, if you choose to purchase through a link from this page, I may make a small affiliate commission that will contribute towards the maintenance costs of my site.

Where does Lavender originate from?

Lavender is a genus of around 47 species related to the mint family, it is native to temperate regions in the Mediterranean and from Northern and Eastern Africa to Southwest Asia according to WikipediaGrow your own herbs book

Lavenders are versatile low-maintenance shrubby perennial plants that can be planted in pots, garden beds or be used as hedges. The plants thrive in hot summer climates with shady afternoons and low-moderately fertile, slightly alkaline soils. Lavender has many uses, to name just a few; it’s great for attracting insect life to your back yard, can be used as a culinary herb, for its relaxing calming fragrance, and for its beauty in floral displays.

Growing lavender plants from seed can be a worthwhile and fun way to incorporate this delightful herb into your back garden. Lavender seeds are not quick to sprout, and crops grown from them wouldn’t normally flower in the initial year of growth, but if you’re dedicated and willing to invest the time, you can create beautiful fragrant plants from seed, which is so fulfilling!

lavender butterfly

Do I need to refrigerate lavender seeds?

Cold stratification is necessary for some seeds. The idea is that when sowing these seeds, a cool period followed by a warmer period is needed to break their dormancy and invite germination. Sometimes gardeners will advise sowing lavender seeds into dampened soil then placing in a cold greenhouse or refrigerator for a few weeks before then placing them onto heat mats. This is generally not necessary as with fresh seeds, germination is fairly easy, it just takes a bit of time. However if you are struggling you may want to consider utilizing this method of cold stratification to see if you can achieve greater success in germinating your seeds.

Where to Germinate Lavender Seeds

The initial step is choosing a good variety of lavender. It is important to know that not all types will be easy for growing lavender from seed. Sometimes cuttings are a quicker and easier way to produce new plants. A good variety to start off with is Munstead, this can take up to 90 days to germinate, so be patient. You can start them off in late winter and you should get good-sized seedlings by the beginning of the summer. Germinate the seeds indoors, they require warm temperatures between 65-70 degrees Farenheight (18-21C). If your home isn’t warm and you don’t have the use of a hothouse or greenhouse it may be necessary to use a heat mat and/or grow lights to maintain the warmth necessary for your seeds.

Aquaponics

Sowing Lavender seeds

Sprinkle the seeds into shallow trays of moistened earth around 0.5-1 inch apart and apply just enough soil on top to lightly cover them. A vermiculite soil or a sterilized seed starting mix are good blends to keep the seeds just moist enough but not too waterlogged. If you can, cover the tray with a clear domed lid with ventilation holes in it (you can re-use an old fruit or veggie tray for this purpose or a large clear plastic bag with holes in). Be sure to allow circulation of air a couple of times a day by removing the lid and then replacing it.

To water, you can either mist the soil regularly to keep it slightly damp or sit the tray into a shallow dish of water, avoid pouring water directly over the seeds. Once your seeds have germinated keep the soil moderately damp but not soaking wet.

Place your seed tray in a sunny spot, or alternatively, you can choose to hang grow lights above them, adjust the height to keep the light to around an inch above the seedlings at all times as they grow.

Watch this amazing video which shows growing lavender from seed (time lapse)

Transplanting lavender seedlings

Your seedlings will need to be carefully transplanted to their own pots once each plant has several sets of leaves on it (usually after around 6 weeks). To do this, fill a pot ¾ full with a light potting mix soil and poke a hole in it that is just large enough to accommodate the roots. Once placed gently into the hole, lightly pack extra soil all around the transplanted lavender plant stem to hold it in position. You will need to continue to keep these transplanted lavenders indoors until they are bigger (at least 3 inches), this can take 1-3 months.

Hardening off lavender plants

Once the last day of frost has passed in your area, this is the right time to move your seedlings outdoors to harden them off. In order to reduce shock and acclimatize them to the outdoor setting, take your plants outside in their pots for a few hours each day, gradually increasing the length of time they’re outdoors. After around a week, your lavender should be ready to be planted out into the garden.

To plant out, choose an area that receives direct sunlight and has a well-draining soil type (if needed you can mix a bit of gravel into the soil to improve drainage). Lavender can grow in other poorer soil types but do benefit from having a little added organic matter.

During the first year your new lavender plants will be growing roots and establishing, they will need more regular watering but only if the soil has completely dried out. Once established they are much more resistant to droughts.

Cutting off any stems that start flowering in the first year will encourage more vegetation growth so you will have a bigger flowering plant the following year.

During the winter place a mulch or gravel around the base of the plant (but not too close to the stem), to keep the soil warmer.

growing lavender

Maintaining lavender plants

Each spring cut plants back just as their new growth starts but only on the green parts, (don’t trim back to the woody part of the stems). This will encourage a spurt of growth and bloom. Trim them back again in the autumn after the flowers are gone for best results the following year.

After a few years lavender plants can become quite woody, growing new young plants can give you an economical way of re-invigorating your garden displays by transplanting young plants next to old. The bees and butterflies will thank you!

Harvesting Lavender

In the first year the plant will concentrate on root structure and establishment, but in the second year you should have a much bigger lavender plant that begins to bloom.

Lavender is best harvested when it has formed buds but not yet opened to flowers, this allows the fragrance and color to stay for much longer once dried. Make sure to leave at least two sets of leaves either side of where you harvest on the green growth of the plant, don’t cut into the woody stem as it will not regrow from here once pruned.

Drying Lavender

The easiest way to dry lavender is to gather small handfuls together with twine or elastic band and hang upside down somewhere warm with good airflow. This method can take weeks to months depending on the climate.Herbal Medicine book

Alternatively, you can try to speed things up by drying out the sprigs using a dehydrator, make sure you use a low setting of around 100F and spread in only a single layer. It can take 1-2 days to fully dry out.

When ready, the main lavender stem should snap rather than bend and the buds should feel dry and crumbly and break up easily. For maximum longevity store in air-tight containers in a cool dark and dry area.

Harvesting lavender

Growing lavender from cuttings

If you wish to try to grow new plants from cuttings here are a few tips:

  • Make sure you have permission from the plant/garden owner first!
  • Choose to take cuttings from large well-established plants with a strong fragrance
  • Avoid plants that have just recently flowered
  • Choose a plant with long stalks with a good amount of green leaves at the top and some brown leaves at the bottom.

Take approximately a 3 inch long cutting from the lower stems of the plant. Remove all but a few green leaves at the top of the stem. To speed up the process you can first dip the bottom of the stem into rooting hormone powder (optional), before planting into a pot of moistened compost. Place the pot in a warm area but away from direct sun and mist every few days when the soil is dry. In around 3-6 weeks you should see new leaves growing which means your cuttings have rooted!

Then, follow the same steps as the plants grown from seeds for transplantation and hardening off.

Where can I find lavender seeds for sale?

To try growing lavender from seed, you can buy seeds at garden centers or online (even from Amazon!). A good option for success is to find a local retailer who collects their seeds from plants that have been used to growing in your climate. Choose a non-GMO organic seed source for the healthiest option.

Quick and Easy ways to use Dried Lavender

lavender bath

Summary

Lavender can take quite a while to grow from seed, if you’re finding it hard, you may need a heat mat and grow lights or try using cold stratification techniques. Alternatively, you can try rooting cuttings or buy an established plant from your local garden center.

This beautiful fragrant plant is great for attracting bees and butterflies and other lovely insects into your garden and can be utilized in so many ways.No matter how you acquire your lavender plants you’re sure to be hooked on their hardy versatility which will leave you wanting to grow more and try out the other amazing varieties available!

Let me know if you found this Growing Lavender from Seed post helpful, or if you have any ideas for future topics by contacting me here.

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