How to Grow and Care for a Lavender Plant, One of Martha's Favorite Perennials

Learn how to cultivate this fragrant, easy-to-harvest herb with tips from our founder and gardening experts.

Lavender is known for its soothing scent and healing properties for hair, skin, and more. And thanks to its drought-tolerant and easy-to-grow qualities, this perennial shrub also makes for a beautiful addition to your garden. The lavender plant is one of Martha's favorite blooms; she grows it in her Bedford gardens and recommends harvesting the stems as they begin to open to gently scent your home. Ahead, we share more of Martha's tips—and other experts' insights—on how to care for lavender plants that will flourish in your backyard and in your home.

english garden with lavender
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Lavender Varieties by Hardiness Zone

You should start by sourcing a lavender cultivar that will grow well in your garden zone, according to Martha. "Choose the variety with the color and height that's best suited for your location, such as tall English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), which is cold-hardy to zone 5, or shorter Spanish lavender (L. stoechas), which grows best in warmer regions (zones 7 to 9) and can handle some humidity," she says. "But take heed if you're in a zone colder than 5: Plants may not survive the frigid temperatures."

How to Grow and Care for Lavender Plants Outdoors

Other than assessing your region, there are other things you need to do to care for your lavender plant and ensure it prospers outdoors.

Soil Requirements

Check that the area you plan to place lavender in has well-drained soil. Lavender thrives in neutral to slightly alkaline soil types, says Deborah Miuccio, the product research and testing coordinator at the Gardener's Supply Company: "[It] won't tolerate saturated soils, especially in winter," she says.

One solution is to grow lavender in a raised bed. "Raised beds tend to have better drainage than in-ground gardens," Miuccio says. "Using a free-draining soil mix to fill the bed is added insurance that your lavender plants won't suffer from root rot."


Providing your lavender plant with the correct amount of sunlight is also crucial to your plant's success—as is hydration and fertilization. "Pick a spot that receives six to eight hours of sunshine," Martha says.


Water the plant deeply but infrequently, especially during dry spells, says Martha.


The best way to fertilize your lavender plant is by adding a thin layer of compost each spring, Martha says. Too much could shorten the plant's lifespan.

cat sleeping by lavender
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How to Grow and Care for Lavender Plants Indoors

Follow these best practices to grow lavender inside your home.


For those who want to grow lavender inside, you're in luck. The plant will sprout under grow lights so long as you provide the correct light conditions, Miuccio says. "You can also place a pot in a sunny south window where it will receive as much light as possible," she says. "In low light, growth may become weak and spindly and the plant will cease flowering. Rotate the pot weekly for uniform growth."

Temperature and Air Flow

The most ideal temperatures to grow your lavender inside would be 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit during the daytime and 45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit at night, Miuccio adds. Good air circulation is also key, but make sure to avoid a direct flow of hot air, she says.


Like you would outdoors, make sure to use alkaline soil, as lavender does not grow well in acidic soil, says Teri Speight, a master gardener, writer, podcaster, blogger, and the author of Black Flora: Profiles of Inspiring Black Flower Farmers and Florists. "Make sure the plant has optimum drainage by incorporating grit or sand into the existing soil," she says. "The soil should be well-draining and lean."


Keep the soil wet by drenching it in water and allowing the pot to drain thoroughly. "Allow the soil to become somewhat dry between watering. Over- or under-watering may cause leaves to turn yellow or wilt," says Miuccio.


Tend to your lavender plant by fertilizing with half-strength houseplant fertilizer once a month, says Miuccio.

Woman repotting lavender
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How to Repot Lavender

Follow Speight's steps to repot a lavender plant.

  • Remove the plant from its pot and prepare a pot that is no more than 2 inches larger. Moisten the potting soil thoroughly.
  • Loosen the roots of the lavender and place in its new pot. "Plant high for optimum drainage," says Speight. "Gently moisten again."
  • After repotting, the plant will show signs of transplant stress, which is normal, she says. Allow the plant to dry up a bit, and it will gradually bounce back.

How to Propagate Lavender

You can propagate lavender by using clean, sharp pruners, says Speight.

  • Using pruners, cut 4- to 6-inch stems from a healthy lavender plant. In the spring, you can take softwood cuttings (which are blooms during growing season), Speight says. These cuttings will root in about two to four weeks. Come summer, you can take hardwood cuttings (which are blooms that happen during dormant months). Hardwood cuttings take root in about four to six weeks, she says.
  • Carefully pinch off the lower leaves on the lower 2 inches of the cutting. Slightly cut into one side of the stem to encourage rooting.
  • Using small pots (around 2 to 3 inches), add damp potting soil and poke holes about 2 inches deep to accommodate the lower stems of the cuttings.
  • Although not always needed, a good quality rooting hormone will hasten the rooting process. Dip the cutting into the rooting powder or simply insert the rooting into the soil and gently tamp.
  • After a few weeks, gently tug at the cuttings, careful not pull them out of the pot. "If roots have begun to form, you will feel a bit of resistance when gently tugging the plant," says Speight. "Do not plant out in the garden until you notice roots protruding from the bottom of the pot or if you see white healthy roots when tugging the rooted plant from the container."

How to Harvest Lavender

After about one to three months, lavender is typically ready for harvest. As for how to know when this perennial herb is ready to be plucked? Both Martha and Miuccio say to watch the flowers: When they begin to open, they are at their most fragrant. "If you're planning to dry the flowers, harvest them by cutting long stems, gather them into loose bunches, and hang them to dry out of direct sun," Miuccio says. "Display the dried stems in a vase or remove the flowers for use in sachets and more."

Harvesting the flowers often stimulates the plants to produce a second flush of booms. To make sure that your lavender continuously thrives—particularly after the first growing cycle—regular watering is crucial; pruning can also encourage new growth, says Miuccio.

Common Problems When Growing Lavender

Keep an out for these issues when growing lavender plants.

Wrinkly Leaves

If you notice that the leaves on your lavender plant look wrinkly and mushy, the plant could have botrytis, a plant disease that occurs when there are air circulation and watering issues. Speight suggests allowing at least 2 feet between plants to allow for better air circulation. Plus, avoid watering from overhead.


Root rot is common when growing lavender plants. Rotting happens when watering overhead. This makes moisture linger near the crown of the plant, says Speight. "This plant loves chalky, sandy soil, and semi-arid conditions," she says. "Too much rich soil and water will cause this plant to die." To prevent this problem, water the root zone instead of the plant's foliage.


The white fly is an insect that usually infests lavender plants. It will not kill the plant, but Speight recommends companion planting lavender with alyssum, calendula, or dil to keep the bug away.

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