HomeGrowing TipsContainer GardeningThe Complete Guide to Growing Gorgeous Lavender in Pots

The Complete Guide to Growing Gorgeous Lavender in Pots

Lavender is one of the most beloved herbs for gardens. With its refreshing fragrance and stunning purple blooms, this Mediterranean plant looks and smells divine. Though lavender thrives in outdoor beds and borders in warm climates, it can also flourish in pots on patios, porches, and decks. With proper care, you can grow lavender in containers nearly anywhere.

This complete guide provides tips for selecting the best lavender varieties for pots, caring for them throughout the seasons, and maximizing their flowers and fragrances. Follow these simple steps and you’ll be rewarded with abundant lavender blossoms and scent.

The Complete Guide to Growing Gorgeous Lavender in Pots

Choosing the Right Lavender for Pots

When you’re looking to grow lavender in pots, the variety you choose is crucial. There are over 40 different lavender species and hundreds of hybrids. Luckily, some varieties are better suited for pots than others. Here are the most important factors for choosing lavender for containers:

Look for Compact, Dwarf Varieties for Lavender in Pots

Full-size lavender plants can grow 2-4 feet tall and wide in ideal garden conditions. For pots, it’s best to select dwarf or miniature varieties that only reach 1-2 feet tall at maturity. These compact varieties fit well in smaller pots:

  • English lavender – Try ‘Hidcote’ or ‘Munstead’ which max out around 18 inches tall.
  • Spanish lavender – ‘Compacta’ only grows 12 inches tall and wide.
  • French lavender – ‘Jean Davis’ is an excellent dwarf at 12-15 inches tall.

Consider Hardiness Zone

Lavenders native to warmer zones 8-10 can thrive year-round in pots. Cool climate gardeners in zones 5-7 may need to provide winter protection. Choose hardy varieties like English lavender.

Select Extended Flowering Period

To maximize colorful blooms, look for lavenders with longer flowering like English lavender ‘Hidcote Superior’ or French types like Grosso. Avoid lavenders that bloom just once in early summer.

By selecting compact, hardy lavenders with prolonged bloom time, you’ll set your potted plants up for success!

Lavender in a Pot
Image Credit: Allan Henderson

Selecting the Right Pot and Potting Mix

The right pot is essential for successfully growing lavender in pots. Choosing the perfect pot and soil ensures your lavender thrives in its container. Follow these tips:

Pot Size

Select a container at least 12-16 inches wide and deep. This gives lavender adequate room for the rootball and growth. Dwarf varieties still need sufficient soil volume. Avoid cramped pots.

Drainage

Lavender hates wet roots. Ensure your container has ample drainage holes at the base. Add extra holes if needed. Use pot feet to elevate pots to improve drainage.

Materials

Terracotta, ceramic, concrete, and resin pots are ideal choices. Avoid cheap plastic pots that degrade in sunlight.

Potting Mix

Use a premium potting mix blended with:

  • 1 part potting soil for nutrients
  • 1 part coarse sand or perlite for drainage
  • 1 part compost for moisture retention

This customized mix prevents soil from getting compacted and provides excellent aeration.

How to Plant Lavender in a Pot

The Complete Guide to Growing Gorgeous Lavender in Pots

Planting lavender in pots requires some specific steps to ensure healthy growth. Once you’ve chosen the ideal pot and soil mix, it’s time for planting:

  1. Fill the container about 2/3 full with potting mix.
  2. Remove the lavender plant from its nursery pot. Tease apart any circling roots.
  3. Place the lavender in the pot, positioning it slightly high than ground level.
  4. Add more potting mix around the base, covering the roots. Firm the soil gently.
  5. Water thoroughly until excess runs from the drainage holes.
  6. Allow the soil to partly dry out before watering again.

If planting multiple lavenders in a larger container, space them 12-18 inches apart so they don’t overcrowd as they grow.

Optimal Placement and Growing Conditions

To grow lavender in pots successfully, you’ll need to mimic its natural Mediterranean environment. Lavender thrives in hot, sunny Mediterranean environments. Replicate these ideal conditions for your potted plants:

Sunlight

Place pots in the sunniest, brightest location possible. Lavender needs a minimum of 6 hours of direct sunlight daily (more is better).

Avoid Wet Feet

Excess moisture is lavender’s enemy. Elevate pots off wet ground with pot feet or bricks. Pour out excess water in saucers.

Air Circulation

Encourage good airflow around plants. Stagnant humidity invites disease.

Cold Hardiness

In zones 5-7, situate pots next to a south-facing wall for winter protection. Move containers to an unheated garage or indoor space once temperatures dip below freezing.

Follow these conditions closely and your lavender will prosper in pots.

Ongoing Lavender Care

Once your lavender in pots is established, ongoing care is relatively straightforward. Just be attentive to their needs:

Watering

  • Water thoroughly whenever the top few inches of soil become dry.
  • Lavender prefers infrequent deep watering to frequent light sprinkles.
  • Drooping foliage is a sign plants need water.
  • Ensure drainage saucers never collect standing water.

Pruning

  • Prune potted lavender plants each spring.
  • Cut 1/3 of the plant back by trimming above leaf nodes.
  • Remove spent flower heads as needed through the season.

Fertilizing

  • Lavender grows well in poor soil and requires little feeding.
  • If desired, apply a balanced organic fertilizer in early spring.
  • Excess nitrogen causes floppy, excess foliage.

With proper sunlight, air circulation, occasional watering, and pruning, potted lavender is easy to maintain!

Maximizing Lavender Flowers and Fragrance

To encourage an abundance of lavender blooms and aromatic oils in containers:

  • Grow from nursery transplants rather than seed.
  • Choose long-flowering varieties for extended blossoms.
  • Prune plants in spring to boost flower production.
  • Water thoroughly before the flowering period.
  • Harvest lavender stems when about 1/3 of the flowers on the spike have opened.

Follow these tips and your lavender pots will reward you with blossoms and scent galore for months!

The Complete Guide to Growing Gorgeous Lavender in Pots

Overwintering Potted Lavender

Lavender species from warmer climates like Spanish lavender need winter protection in chilly zones 5-7:

  • Move potted plants to an unheated garage or indoor bright space before frost.
  • Water sparingly, just enough to prevent complete soil drying.
  • Resume watering when new growth appears in spring.
  • English lavenders are quite hardy and can remain outdoors with insulation.
  • Wrap pots in burlap and place them near a sheltered wall.
  • Apply organic mulch around pots. Remove in spring.

With proper overwintering care, your lavender will thrive season after season. Avoid Cutting Back Lavender in Fall: Avoid These 5 Fatal Mistakes for Healthier Plants.

Troubleshooting Common Lavender Problems

Even when you’re growing lavender in pots, you might encounter some common issues. Growing lavender in pots is quite easy, but occasionally issues pop up. Here are some common problems and solutions:

Leggy, woody growth – Prune annually and ensure optimal sunlight.

Loss of fragrance – This can indicate overfertilizing. Avoid excess nitrogen.

Yellow or browning leaves – Often caused by overwatering. Allow soil to dry out further between waterings.

Root rot – Improve drainage. Repot with fresh mix and discard affected roots.

Pests like spider mites – Wipe leaves with neem oil or insecticidal soap spray. Improve air circulation.

With correct care, potted lavender will grow beautifully and abundantly all season long. Avoid overwatering, allow lots of sunlight, provide air circulation, prune each year and your lavender pots will thrive!

Conclusion

Growing lavender in containers is a rewarding way to enjoy this beautiful, fragrant herb even if you don’t have space for in-ground plants. With the proper selection of compact varieties suited to pots, lavender thrives with minimal care. Position your lavender pots in a sunny spot, take care not to overwater, and prune plants yearly for maximum blossoms. Lavender adds its sweet floral scent, texture, and color to any patio, porch, or deck. With this complete guide, you can successfully grow abundant lavender in pots to enjoy year after year.

FAQs

What size pot does lavender need?

Use at least a 12-16 inch wide pot. Lavender’s roots need ample room to grow in the container.

Should I fertilize potted lavender?

Lavender grows well in low-fertility soil. If desired, apply organic balanced fertilizer in early spring but avoid excessive amounts.

How much sunlight does potted lavender need?

Lavender requires at least 6 hours of direct sun daily. More sun is better for maximum blooms.

How often do I water lavender in pots?

Allow the soil to dry out on top before watering again. Drooping foliage signals plants need a drink. Take care not to overwater.

When should I prune my potted lavender?

Prune lavender in early spring, cutting back about 1/3 of the plant above leaf joints to shape it. Remove spent blooms during the season.

How do I overwinter potted lavender plants?

Tender varieties like Spanish lavender need indoor protection. Hardy English lavenders can remain outdoors with insulation like burlap around pots.

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