Feeding lavender: when, how much & what fertiliser?


I am currently studying agricultural and food economics. As a keen hobby gardener, plants take up most of my free time. A few years ago, I got especially interested in herbs, which is why I completed my studies to become a certified herbalist in 2018.

Favourite fruit: apples, cherries
Favourite vegetables: potatoes, fennel

Lavender is accustomed to poor soil. Find out here if it still needs fertilising and if your lavender requires lime.

Putting fertiliser on a lavender plant
Lavender is a fairly undemanding plant, but can grow even better with fertilisation [Photo: bane.m/ Shutterstock.com]

The real lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is not very demanding of the soil in which it is planted and does not need much to take root. Its native habitat is in the Mediterranean region, which is why it is accustomed to arid, nutrient-poor and stony soils. Below, we show how you can still give your purple darling a little help by fertilising.

Should you feed lavender at all and, if so, when? What fertilisers are suitable for lavender and how best to proceed with fertilisation? We have summarised the answers to these questions for you in this article.

Why fertilise lavender?

Like any other plant, lavender needs adequate nutrients to thrive. In its original home, the coastal regions of the Mediterranean, it grows on dry and rocky slopes. So basically, the Mediterranean herb prefers nutrient-poor soil. Therefore, do not fertilise too much otherwise the lavender will be sensitive to frost and will lignify faster. In the worst case, overfertilisation can even lead to the death of the plant. Therefore, you should know the exact requirements of lavender. By fertilising as needed, the lavender will thank you with magnificent growth and many fragrant flowers.

Lavender plant field
Lavender prefers nutrient-poor, rocky soil [Photo: Catalin Petolea/ Shutterstock.com]

Feeding lavender: when and how often?

In general, lavender does not really need fertilisation as it is accustomed to nutrient-poor soils. Regular fertilising is therefore by no means necessary and can even be rather harmful. With an excess of nutrients, the shoots shoot through and the lavender loses its winter hardiness. It also becomes more susceptible to pest infestation. One-time fertilisation by preparing the bed before planting is more than enough. In subsequent years, an annual application of fertiliser at the beginning of the growth phase (March/April) is sufficient. It is best to use plant food with a long-term effect, such as our Plantura All Purpose Plant Food. These provide your lavender with sufficient nutrients in the long term and are also particularly gentle on plants, soil and animals in the garden.

All Purpose Plant Food, 1.5kg
All Purpose Plant Food, 1.5kg
  • Perfect for a variety of plants in the garden & on the balcony
  • Promotes healthy plant growth & an active soil life
  • Long-lasting fertiliser that is free from animal products - child & pet friendly

For lavender grown in pots, an additional second fertilisation at the beginning of summer (end of June/beginning of July) will provide optimum support for your lavender. Also, when growing in pots, be sure to replant the lavender annually in a larger pot and top it off with fresh substrate.

Summary: When to feed lavender?

  • When planting
  • Basic fertilisation in spring (March/April)
  • Second fertilisation (June/July) in pot culture
A bouquet of lavender in a white jug
It is enough to fertilise the lavender bed once [Photo: Kotkoa/ Shutterstock.com]

Feeding lavender: the best fertiliser

There are several options available for fertilising your lavender as needed. In addition to the use of organic fertilisers and mineral fertilisers, you can also support the development of the Mediterranean herb with natural fertilisers.

Fertilising lavender organically

If you want to fertilise your lavender with your own compost, a single application in late autumn or early spring is quite sufficient. However, fertilisers containing nitrogen, such as rotted manure, should be used sparingly. It is better to completely avoid mulching, for example, with lawn clippings. The organic mulch material retains too much moisture, which is not at all to the liking of lavender, which does not tolerate waterlogging.

If you do not have natural fertilisers available in your own garden, you can also use natural slow-release fertilisers from specialist stores. These have many advantages when fertilising lavender, for example:

  • Long-term nutrient supply of the lavender through slow decomposition via microorganisms in the soil
  • Promote healthy, active soil life (good for microorganisms, earthworms, etc.)
  • Particularly gentle on the environment due to the absence of chemicals
healthy lavender in field
Instead of natural fertiliser, organic slow-release fertiliser can also be used [Photo: PLfoto/ Shutterstock.com]

Our Plantura All Purpose Plant Food consists primarily of organic raw materials. It is ideal for your lavender care because of its nutrient composition. The high nitrogen content promotes plant growth and leaf formation, especially at the beginning of the growing season. Sufficient phosphorus and potassium then ensure abundant flowering later in the year. Production from vegetable residues from the food, feed and luxury food industries is also particularly sustainable and resource-saving.

But of course, fertilisation according to needs depends not only on the nutrient composition, but also on the amount of fertiliser. To ensure that you provide your houseplants with the right amount of nutrients, we have prepared detailed fertilisation instructions for you.

Slow-release fertiliser: instructions and dosage amounts for lavender

  1. Before planting: work 40 – 60 g/m² (3 to 5 tablespoons) of our Plantura All Purpose Plant Food into the upper soil layers
  2. Water the soil and the freshly planted lavender well so that the granules can dissolve
  3. Fertilise annually in spring (March/April) about 30 – 50 g/m² (2 to 4 heaped tablespoons)

For lavender grown in pots, an additional second fertilisation at the beginning of summer (June/July) will provide optimum support for your lavender.

All Purpose Plant Food, 1.5kg
All Purpose Plant Food, 1.5kg
  • Perfect for a variety of plants in the garden & on the balcony
  • Promotes healthy plant growth & an active soil life
  • Long-lasting fertiliser that is free from animal products - child & pet friendly

Feeding lavender with mineral fertilisers

In addition to natural slow-release fertilisers, various mineral fertilisers such as blue grain or liquid fertilisers are also available in specialist stores. However, these are only suitable for fertilising lavender to a limited extent. It is true that mineral fertilisers contain many nutrient salts in concentrated form, which can be absorbed directly by the plant from the soil solution in a very short time. However, the high solubility causes excess nutrients to leach into deeper soil layers where they can contaminate groundwater. Organic fertilisers, in contrast, act much more slowly but also provide the lavender with sufficient nutrients in the long term. They also promote soil life and sustainably improve soil structure.

Hands holding mineral fertiliser
There are various mineral fertilisers, but they are only suitable for lavender to a limited extent [Photo: RossHelen/ Shutterstock.com]

Feeding lavender with coffee grounds

In principle, conventional coffee grounds are also suitable as fertiliser. These accumulates in almost every household anyway. The actual waste product contains many nutrients as well as keeps pests away from the plants. However, you should be careful when fertilising lavender. In fact, the Mediterranean herb prefers calcareous soils with a neutral to slightly alkaline pH. Acidic coffee grounds can lower the pH of the soil in the long run and should therefore be used very sparingly.

Do lavender plants require lime?

It is more important to pay attention to the fact that the lavender prefers calcareous soil. Soils low in lime – such as sandy soils – can be improved in spring with a handful of commercial garden lime. You can simply sprinkle this evenly around the plant and work it in with a rake. Over time, the rain ensures that the lime is also evenly distributed in the root zone. However, you should not just lime it. Of course, the optimum pH for lavender between 6.5 and 8 must be maintained. A good indication can be obtained by inexpensive soil pH metres. But beware: make sure that it really is true lavender that is in your garden. After all, there are close relatives – such as French lavender (Lavandula stoechas) – for the growth of which calcareous soils are rather disadvantageous. You can read about and compare lavender varieties in our special article.

For more information on pruning and caring for lavender, see our dedicated article.

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