How to grow lavender in a pot: tips for lavender care

How to grow lavender in a pot: tips for lavender care

Not everyone has enough room for large lavender hedges at home. Fortunately, lavender can also be cultivated in pots on terraces or balconies. Here are some tips on how to do that and what is important for successful growth.

In its original habitat, lavender (Lavandula) usually grows on sparse soils that are low in nutrients. Therefore, it also has little requirements for the soil it is planted in. Thus, when only little space is available, this sun-loving half-shrub can easily be cultivated in a pot.

While the English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), also known as true lavender, is hardy, the French lavender (Lavandula stoechas) and the Portuguese lavender (Lavandula latifolia) need to be protected, especially during the cold winter months. Therefore, planting frost-sensitive varieties in a pot right away makes the process of overwintering the plants much easier.

Planting lavender: in pots or beds?

Hardy lavender varieties can easily be planted in the garden bed. Lavender develops an extensive root system and consequently requires a lot of space. Due to its large taproot, it can easily supply itself with water and nutrients from deeper soil layers. But even when planted above ground, lavender can grow very large under optimal growing conditions. Frost-sensitive varieties, on the other hand, are better planted in a pot, so that they can easily be moved indoors in winter. If it is planted in a small pot, lavender cultivated in this way requires a little bit more care. What one should keep in mind when planting this herb is explained in the following.

Planting lavender in pots

Lavender should be planted immediately after it is purchased, since the roots need lots of space. Therefore, it is best to choose a big pot that leaves enough room for them to grow. Clay pots are particularly suitable in this case, because they let the water evaporate easily. Besides, a drain hole on the underside of the pot and a matching underpot allow excess water to flow off and thus prevent waterlogging.

Unlike lavender that is planted in the garden, potted lavender needs to be watered on a regular basis. Therefore, when planting the herb, ensure optimal drainage of the pot and place a layer of drainage material, such as pebbles or clay fragments, in the lower section of the pot. After that, a substrate that is suitable for lavender should be placed on top. It needs to be low in nutrients and calcareous. Furthermore, the permeability of the substrate can be improved by adding sand to it. A high-quality herbal soil should be used for this.

After planting, it is important to water the lavender well and then remove the excess water from the underpot in order to prevent root rot.

Summary: planting lavender in pots

  • Choose a pot that is large enough and has a drain hole
  • Insert drainage layer
  • Add some soil (preferably organic and tailored to the needs of herbs)
  • Place the lavender plant in the centre of the pot
  • Fill it up with soil and press down lightly
  • Water it well and then remove excess water

Caring for lavender in pots

For potted lavender to thrive well, a few care measures need to be taken throughout the year. Pruning the plant regularly, repotting it once a year and overwintering it correctly are crucial for successful growth.

Pruning potted lavender

Potted lavender should be pruned twice a year. In spring, cut back about one to two thirds of the lavender shortly before it starts sprouting. After it withers at the end of the season, lavender can be pruned back so that only about half of the plant remains. Regular pruning of the lavender shrub is important for its health, as it keeps it in shape and prevents bare branches. However, it is crucial not to cut into the woody part of the plant, otherwise the plant will have to use up a lot of energy to regrow.

Repotting lavender

Particularly vigorous lavender plants should be repotted when necessary. Choose a pot that is about 10 centimetres larger than the root ball of the plant. Then place a layer of drainage in the new pot and replace the old substrate with fresh potting soil. Before planting, the root ball should be carefully be loosened. In case the old pot was already too tight for the plant, its roots can also be cut back a little. This stimulates root growth and promotes the absorption of nutrients. Finally, the lavender should be watered well. After that, it only needs to be watered again whenever the soil gets very dry.

Overwintering lavender in a pot

Before the first frost of the season, it is best to take the potted plant inside and place it in a dry room with no heating. A bright place in the cellar or garage is ideal for overwintering the lavender plant. If there is not enough space inside, one can also resort to the parking space in the garden, because it is usually free of frost, sheltered from the wind and tends to be in shade.

Lavender can be overwintered in a bright place in a cellar or a shed [Shutterstock.com/Ania K]

Terracotta pots are perfect for winter, as they absorb excess moisture and thus protect the roots from freezing. In order to protect the plant from ground frost, the pot can be placed on a base made of styrofoam or wood. However, if temperatures fall below zero for a longer period of time, the pot should be brought indoors or at least covered with some straw (or similar crop covering material) for warmth insulation. This prevents the lavender from freezing to death.

Best lavender varieties for pots

Different lavender varieties also differ quite a bit in height. For space reasons, low-growing lavender varieties are ideally suited for pot cultivation on the balcony or terrace. However, larger species such as the Portuguese lavender can also feel very comfortable when planted in appropriately sized pots.

French lavender does not grow as tall and is extremely sensitive to frost. Therefore, this species is well suited to be cultivated in a pot. Here are some of the varieties of French lavender described in more detail:

  • ‘Otto Quast’: grows about 40 – 60 cm tall; aromatic French lavender variety with flowers in pink to purple; dense and broad growth; can be cultivated in a bucket
  • ‘Anouk’: grows up to 60 cm tall; can be planted in buckets or tubs; dark purple flowers; long flowering period (May to August); intense and pleasant aroma

English lavender, on the other hand, is quite hardy and can also be overwintered outdoors, if it is sheltered. If one does not own a garden or if there is not enough space, it can also easily be planted in a pot. The following varieties are particularly suitable for this:

English lavender, on the other hand, is quite hardy and can also be overwintered outdoors, if it is sheltered. If one does not own a garden or if there is not enough space, it can also easily be planted in a pot. The following varieties are particularly suitable for this:

  • ‘Blue Cushion’: Light blue lavender variety; dwarf cultivar with a natural height of up to 30 cm; very suitable for bed borders
  • ‘Peter Pan’: compact growth; grows up to 45 cm tall; bicoloured inflorescences with light and dark purple flowers
  • ‘Nana Alba’: white-flowered; bushy and compact growth; grows 10 – 15 cm tall; flowers from July to August
  • ‘Dwarf Blue’: flowers in deep purple from July to August; bushy and compact growth; grows 20 – 30 cm tall
  • ‘Blue Scent’: very compact growth; grows up to 30 cm tall; flowers in violet to blue from June to August; intense aroma


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