Not everyone has space for large lavender hedges. Fortunately, you can plant lavender in pots on the terrace or balcony. We reveal how to do it.
In its native habitat, lavender (Lavandula) tends to grow in poor, nutrient-poor soils and therefore makes few demands on the soil when cultivated. Therefore, those who have limited space can grow the sun-loving half-shrub very well in a pot. While true lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is hardy, French lavender (Lavandula stoechas) and spike lavender (Lavandula latifolia) require special protection during the cold months. Plant frost-sensitive varieties immediately in a pot, this greatly facilitates the wintering.
Planting lavender: in pots or flowerbeds?
Hardy varieties can be easily planted in the garden bed. Lavender forms a very large root system, which requires a lot of space. Thanks to its large taproot, it can very well supply itself with water and nutrients from deeper soil layers. But even above ground lavender can grow very large under optimal growing conditions.
Frost-sensitive varieties, on the other hand, are better planted in a pot from the outset, so that they can easily be moved indoors in winter. Due to the small volume of the pot, lavender in this form of cultivation is somewhat greater demands on care. Below we explain what you should already pay attention to when planting.
Planting lavender in pots
After purchase, the lavender should be used as soon as possible to give the roots more space. To do this, it is best to choose a pot or tub that is large enough and still leaves room for the roots to grow.
Clay pots are particularly suitable, because here the water can evaporate better. A drainage hole at the bottom of the pot and a matching saucer also allow excess water to drain away and prevent waterlogging. Because unlike garden lavender, pot lavender requires regular watering. Therefore, already at the time of planting, ensure optimal pot drainage and add a layer of drainage material – for example, pebbles or shards of clay – in the lower part of the pot.
On top of it comes a substrate suitable for lavender. This should be rather low in nutrients and calcareous. The permeability can be increased by adding sand. Ideally suited for this is a high-quality herbal soil such as our Plantura Organic Herb & Seeding Compost. It is perfectly adapted to the requirements of Mediterranean herbs such as lavender. After planting, water your lavender well and then remove excess water from the saucer to prevent root rot.
- Perfect for herbs as well as sowing, propagating & transplanting
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Summary: Planting lavender in a pot
- Select sufficiently large pot with drainage hole
- Insert drainage layer
- Add herbal soil such as Plantura Organic Herb & Seeding Compost
- Place lavender plant in the centre
- Fill with soil and lightly press down
- Water well and remove excess water
What site requirements lavender has and what to consider when planting in the garden bed, we explain in our dedicated article on the topic of planting lavender.
Caring for lavender in a pot
In order for your potted lavender to grow and thrive well, some maintenance is necessary throughout the year. Regular pruning, annual repotting, and appropriate overwintering are critical to success.
Pruning lavender in pots
Pruning should be done twice a year. In the spring, cut back about one to two-thirds of the lavender just before bud break. After flowering in the summer, you can cut it back to half. Regular pruning promotes health, keeps the lavender shrub in shape and counteracts thinning. However, this should never cut into the woody part of the plant, so as not to spend too much force to regrow.
You should repot particularly vigorous lavender plants as needed. To do this, select a pot that is about 10 cm larger than the root ball of the plant. Then reintroduce a drainage layer into the new pot and replace the old soil with fresh substrate. Before planting, you can carefully loosen the root ball a little with your hands. If it has already become too tight for the plant in the old pot, the roots can also be cut a little. This stimulates root growth and promotes nutrient uptake. Finally, water the lavender well. Later again only need to water when the soil feels very dry.
More detailed information about watering lavender can be found in our dedicated article.
Overwintering potted lavender
Before the first frost, it is best to bring the potted plants indoors and place them in a dry, unheated room. A bright place in the cellar or garage is ideal for overwintering. If you have no space indoors, the place in the garden should in any case be frost-free, protected from the wind and semi-shaded. Terracotta pots are good in winter, because they bind excess moisture, protecting the roots from freezing. As a protective measure against ground frost, you can put the pot on a base of polystyrene or wood. But if the temperature drops below zero for a long time, you should bring the tub indoors in the meantime, or at least wrap it with straw mats for thermal insulation, so that the lavender does not freeze.
In our dedicated article you will find more tips and tricks for successful overwintering lavender.
Suitable lavender varieties and species for growing in a pot
Different varieties of lavender can grow quite different heights. Therefore, for reasons of space, low-growing varieties of lavender are usually more suitable for cultivation in pots on the balcony or terrace. In specialised stores, such varieties are also often offered dwarf lavender. In appropriately large containers, however, if necessary, larger species such as spike lavender feel very comfortable.
Skull lavender does not grow so large and is extremely sensitive to frost. Therefore, pot cultivation is very suitable for this species. Let us take a closer look at the following varieties:
- ‘Otto Quast‘: Grows to about 40-60 cm tall; fragrant French lavender with pinkish-purple flowers; dense, broad habit; can be grown in containers.
- ‘Anouk‘: Growing height up to 60 cm; suitable for containers or troughs; dark purple flowers; long flowering time (May to August); intense, pleasant fragrance.
True lavender, on the other hand, is relatively hardy and can also be protected outdoors for the winter. But if you do not have your own garden or not enough space, it is also very good to plant in a pot. The following varieties are particularly suitable for this purpose:
- ‘Blue Cushion‘: Light blue cushion lavender; dwarf form with a growth height up to 30 cm; also very suitable for bed borders.
- ‘Peter Pan‘: Compact, cushiony habit (up to 45 cm tall); bicolour inflorescences with light and dark purple flowers.
- ‘Nana Alba‘: White flowering; bushy, compact habit; height of growth 10 – 15 cm; blooms from July to August.
- ‘Dwarf Blue‘: Deep purple flowers from July to August; bushy, compact habit; height of growth 20 – 30 cm.
- ‘Blue Scent‘: Very compact habit; grows to 30 cm tall; violet-blue flowers from June to August; intense fragrance.
Of course, there are many more varieties of lavender in all imaginable colours and shapes. A comprehensive collection of varieties of true lavender can be found here.