Skip to main content

How to grow lavender from seed to keep your garden and your home smelling fresh

What to know about lavender and growing it from seed

Bees pollinating lavender flowers
Castleguard / Pixabay

Knowing how to grow lavender is a useful skill. Lavender is a beautiful and useful flower to add to your garden. It has many different uses, due its beauty, soothing scent, and delicious flavor. Aside from the ways it benefits us directly, lavender also attracts many beneficial insects and is an excellent addition to pollinator gardens.

Lavender is easy to grow indoors and out, making it a great fit for practically any garden or living situation. Want to get started growing your own lavender? Here’s everything you need to know to grow it from seed!

Planting lavender

Growing lavender from seed is fairly easy, but requires patience. You can sow lavender seeds directly in the garden, but they germinate much more reliably when started indoors inside a seed tray. Use a light, seed-specific potting mix, and gently cover each seed with a thin layer of soil. Lavender germinates more quickly when it’s exposed to sunlight, so don’t cover them entirely. Make sure they’re in a warm location or use a heating mat to keep the seedlings warm.

The soil mix should be well-draining to avoid overwatering the seeds. Lavender seedlings are particularly vulnerable to fungal infections. Letting the soil dry slightly between waterings and keeping the seedlings somewhere with good airflow can help mitigate this. Most lavender seeds will germinate in just a couple of weeks, but some can take up to a month if they are lacking in sun or heat. Lavender grows very slowly at first and will continue to grow slowly during its first year.

When the seedlings are a few inches high and have a few sets of leaves, it’s time to harden them. Hardening is the process of getting seedlings used to outdoor elements, which increases their likelihood of surviving after being transplanted. This means taking the seedlings outdoors for short periods, beginning in a more sheltered location and then moving them into more open areas as time progresses. After a couple of weeks, your seedlings will likely be ready to transplant.

Lavender flowers against pink sky
Janine Joles / Unsplash

Caring for lavender

Transplant your lavender to a location in full sun with well-draining soil. Lavender is fairly hardy and will tolerate drought and heat, but it doesn’t bloom well in full shade and can develop health problems when left in standing water. If your soil is slow to drain, consider adding compost or other organic matter. As the organic matter breaks down, it leaves holes and air bubbles behind, which water can drain through.

Lavender doesn’t need much water overall. While your transplants are establishing themselves, water them once or twice each week. After a couple of weeks, your lavender’s roots should be established, and you can reduce watering to once every two to three weeks. When it begins to produce flowers, increase your watering back to once or twice a week, as plants typically use more water and nutrients when blooming.

Pruning is also important for lavender; it keeps the plant healthy and blooming. After it blooms, use a pair of sharp, clean garden scissors, shears, or a knife and clip the top third to two-thirds of each stem, just below the lowest leaves. This is often unnecessary during the first year of life, especially since some lavender varieties won’t bloom during the first year.  During the first year, just give your lavender a light trim. Prune the lavender a second time during fall to keep new growth from becoming woody, as older, woody growth won’t bloom as much.

Woman kneeling cutting lavender with small clippers
Kaur Kristjan / Unsplash

Pests and diseases

Most insects don’t bother lavender, although you may see the occasional whitefly. You can remove whiteflies by hand or with a water spray, but they aren’t much cause for concern. Aphids are more of an issue, as they are known to spread the alfalfa mosaic virus.

Alfalfa mosaic virus causes yellow patches on lavender plants as well as distorted or stunted growth. It can spread by aphids, but you may also find it in cuttings from infected plants that may not have been tested for the virus. If one such cutting is planted in your yard or garden, or even just nearby, then an aphid can carry the virus from the infected plant to any nearby healthy ones. Sap from infected plants can also spread the virus, so any garden shears or scissors used to cut infected plants must be sanitized thoroughly before being used again.

The best way to keep the alfalfa mosaic virus out of your garden is to avoid taking cuttings from any unhealthy or untested lavender plants and to control the aphid population in your garden. Soapy water and neem oil are both effective at getting rid of aphids when you see them, and some gardeners report that strong-smelling herbs such as garlic, rosemary, fennel, and dill can repel them. These plants also tend to attract ladybugs, which eat aphids. Unfortunately, there is no treatment or cure for the virus once a lavender plant is infected. Although the virus rarely kills the plant, it does significantly reduce its ability to grow and bloom.

A basket of harvested lavender cuttings
Proxima13 / Shutterstock

How to harvest seeds from your lavender plant

Now that you know how to grow lavender from seed, you might want to harvest seeds from your lavender plant in order to grow more. Start looking for seed pods in the fall, after your lavender plant has bloomed. The flowers should have already faded, leaving behind little gray or pale purple pods. Leave them on the stem until they are dry, to ensure the seeds have plenty of time to develop.

Then carefully cut the stems off the plant, placing them in a bag or bowl so you don’t lose any seeds. Once you’ve collected your stems, brush or shake the seeds loose with your hand. Store them in a sealed container in a cool, dry place until you’re ready to plant them.

Lavender is a wonderful perennial herb and flower with many uses. It isn’t difficult to grow, but it does take some patience and care. Starting lavender from seed can be tedious, as it grows slowly, but it’s ultimately quite rewarding. Once your lavender is grown, you can cut and dry the stems, propagate it for more lavender, or just enjoy the sense of calm it brings to your garden.

Editors' Recommendations

Cayla Leonard
Cayla Leonard is a writer from North Carolina who is passionate about plants.  She enjoys reading and writing fiction and…
The colors of fall flowers can be striking: 11 flowers that’ll have your garden bursting with autumn colors
Keep your fall garden gorgeous and colorful with these flowers
Beautiful light purple asters

When you imagine a beautiful flower garden, you might picture it in spring or summer. The colors of fall can be just as striking, though! As your summer garden fades, why not replace it with a stunning fall flower garden? No matter the climate you live in or the colors you prefer, there are plants that will look great in your autumn garden. These 11 flowers can satisfy any gardener, whether you’re looking to fill a full flower bed or just one or two containers to spruce up your porch. Here are our favorite flowers to bring the colors of fall to your home or garden!

Celosia, also sometimes called cock’s comb or wool flowers, are sure to stand out in any garden. These unique flowers come in shades of pink, orange, red, yellow, and purple. They can be shaped like fox tails (triangular and bushy) or like coral, wide and wavy. They grow easily in containers or gardens. Celosia are low-maintenance flowers. They enjoy full sun, although they will tolerate some shade, and do best in well-draining soil. Celosia won’t tolerate standing water or wet feet, so let the soil dry between waterings.

Read more
How to make sure your garden is set up to transition from summer to fall
How to get your garden ready for fall
Blooming perennial flower garden along a walkway

Taking care of a vegetable or flower garden during spring and summer is fairly straightforward, as long as you know what your plants need. The transition from spring to summer is simple, too. Preparing your garden for fall can take a bit longer, though, as you'll need to start fortifying your garden against cold weather. It can feel overwhelming if you aren't sure where to start, but don't worry! This simple guide on how to transition your garden from summer to fall will walk you through each step. You can even use it as a checklist to make sure you're fully prepared.

When should you begin transitioning your garden?
Depending on the climate zone you live in, you can begin to transition your garden from summer to fall from July to September. In general, you should start your preparations before the nights get too cold. In addition to your local weather forecasts, the plants in your yard and garden can provide valuable information about the changing seasons. Many summer fruits and vegetables are ready to harvest during the transitional stage, and you should begin seeing a few leaves changing color as well. This is a good indicator that it's time to start your preparations.

Read more
Curious when pumpkins grow? Here’s our guide to growing your own
Get your timing just right for a healthy pumpkin harvest
Medium-size pumpkin growing on a vine

Pumpkins are a fun seasonal gourd with so many uses. There are pumpkins for pies, jack-o'-lanterns, and displays. You can grow tiny pumpkins or massive pumpkins. If you’d like to start growing pumpkins in your garden but aren’t sure what to expect, then you’ve come to the right place! While there are some differences between pumpkin varieties, this general guide for pumpkin plant growth is a great place to start. Understanding when pumpkins grow and when to harvest them will ensure that you get the freshest picks for fall.

Pumpkin germination
Growing pumpkins from seed is easy and fun, but there is something to be aware of first. Different pumpkin varieties will grow at different speeds. When buying seeds, the packet should tell you how long it takes to be ready for harvest. If not, you can look up the specific variety you have. If you aren’t sure what type of pumpkin you have, though, most pumpkin varieties take between 90 and 110 days to fully mature and produce fruit.

Read more