Having your very own lavender hedgerow is something to behold, but buying mature plants can be costly. So why not think about growing your own from seed or cuttings?
Growing lavender from seed can be a quick germination time of around 2 weeks. Getting true leaves can take a whole lot longer though. Having a plant that is mature enough to flower will most likely be a year. Taken from soft wood cuttings they should root after two weeks, with growth looking to occur in the months that follow.
|Germination/ Root Growth||Mature Plant|
|Seeds||2 weeks for first leaves||Possible second year until flowering occurs|
|Softwood Cuttings||2-3 weeks for roots to show||End of first season for flower, new growth will be within 6 weeks|
|Hardwood Cuttings||2-3 weeks for roots to show||Second year for guaranteed flowers, new growth within two months|
So how can you get the best from seeds, softwood cuttings or hardwood cuttings? Let’s have a look at all of these methods and get you on the way to a great aroma filled garden!
Step by Step How to Grow Lavender From Seeds
Step One Soil Preparation
We like to ensure that the soil is thoroughly wet first. I’m going to be snobby and say that you will benefit from a heated propagator here. It’s the constant temperature that the seeds so need. That is your main concern.
With planting them out into the greenhouse or even directly to the ground you cannot control the environment closely enough. Some gardeners in the South of England and France may be able to predict the weather.
However you want to start your seeds nice and early in the season. So around March time, in a heated propagator on a windowsill. This will allow for the daylight that the seeds so desire.
Unlike some other seeds they will not benefit from being soaked overnight. However we have had a lot of luck with ‘faking’ Winter conditions and keeping them in an airtight container in the fridge for around a fortnight prior to planting out.
This gives the lavender seeds the impression of a Winter and recreates the appearance of Spring. Meaning that you can then get them into the warmer conditions of the propagator and simulate that gorgeous heat of the first part of Spring.
We have never had much luck with a heat mat, but the idea would be the same. Do not be tempted at this early stage to plant seeds in a greenhouse or polytunnel as the overnight temperature will be susceptible to dropping too low.
In all of these processes do not go for a ‘normal’ compost. Instead get hold of some fine vermiculite as this will provide both the nutrients and the drainage that is so key to success.
Step Two – Finely Sow the Seeds
This is key here is you want to give each lavender seed a good chance of survival. Make sure that each one is placed with a good amount of space of it’s own. This will also make it easier for you when it comes to transplanting them to their final growing place!
Now take a little soil in between your hands and kind of rub them together from a height.
When you look at the tiny seeds they are light enough to be carried by the wind, so therefore will not require total cover.
If anything Lavender seeds actually benefit from a little bit of sunlight to activate their germination process.
Step Three Misting Your Lavender Seeds
Don’t give in to temptation and keep your seeds under close cover. Try to allow them a bit of fresh air to circulate. So a propagator with a lid that has vents is a good idea. Or you can take the lid and lay it diagonally across the base.
Wet soil will mean rotting can occur and fungi will develop on the seeds themselves. Think damp not wet.
Once you have the initial fine layer of soil on top of the lavender seeds keep them well misted.
The seeds do not mind drying completely during this time, it is better than drowning them at least! So keep them moist and if the top layer dries out that’s not the end of the world, just mist again.
Step Four Germination
About two to three weeks after planting germination will have started. The first seeds will come up and show themselves.
Do not get too excited. You have a lot more waiting to do. So whilst Lavender is in the Nations favourite herbs, it is not in the fastest growing herbs list!
It seems to take a long time until the true leaves appear and this is fine, but just keep the soil moist or dry, but not wet or too dry.
Sorry that seems a bit or a cop out but the top layer of soil can dry out occasionally and it be fine. You want to avoid your lavender seedlings from being wet as they may get sun bleached or rot.
Once they have a few true leaves they are ready to be acclimatised to the greenhouse or poly tunnel overnight. Do this gently and make sure all chances of frost have passed, then leave them in the greenhouse. This will give them a chance to get used to a little bit of colder weather, but also full days worth of sunshine.
You may well plant them into individual pots at the next stage or the ground, depending on the frosts.
Step Five – Once the Seedlings are 3-4 inches
Once the lavender has grown to between three and four inches you are ready to set them out where they are to live.
Keep the soil mix as good drainage and make sure that all frosts have gone if you are to plant them out. If you want to grow them in the ground, now is the time to plant them in their forever home.
Lavender appreciates being left to it once you have planted it out.
Full sunshine is great as is good drainage, if there is shelter from the full force of the wind that also works well.
Propagation of Lavender by Cuttings
Softwood cuttings are bendy and frankly they look fresh, with no bark yet formed. They are much more new and may have fresh leaves and even flowers on them. Ideally you would take a softwood cutting from your lavender in Spring.
How To Root Softwood Cuttings From Lavender
We have used this method with Rosemary to great effect and have grown our shrubs this way every year.
The Lavender should be in the growth phase, pushing those new leaves forward. We tend to take from well established shrubs, but younger ones in their second year are still viable.
- Choose a length of fresh pliable softwood from your lavender, between 3-4 inches in length with leaves on. It must be straight and healthy with no side shoots or buds developing
- Remove any flowers from the cutting (or preferably choose one without any flowers)
- Use a sharp knife to cut the stem, at an angle for preference as it give a larger surface area.
- Then trim the bottom two inches of leaves and gentle cut back the outer skin of the stem.
- Use a terracotta pot for preference as it retains heat better than plastic. Fill with a mixture of vermiculite and peat free compost. The grittier the better. Moisten this mixture before popping the cutting in
- Dip the end of the cutting into the rooting hormone, you can order organic one from amazon here, then push a twig into the soil to create the hole.
- You want to sort of tilt the twig away and drop the cutting along side it, whilst you then pull the twig out. Put the cutting into the mixture in your pot, about two inches deep to cover the stem you have exposed.
- Then with a finger either side of the cutting firm it in place.
- You need to create a warm environment for your young cuttings and make sure that they do not have direct sunlight. I think a windowsill is great, but wrap you can also ensure they remain covered.
- 3-4 weeks later give them a tug test to see if they have rooted. Very gently try to lift them, if there is resistance there are roots!
How to Take Hardwood Cuttings From Lavender
Hardwood cuttings are far less bendy and will snap like wood. They have an outer bark and can be harvested from Lavender in early Spring or early Autumn time.
By taking hardwood cuttings at these times you are not harming the lavender itself.
- Make sure that you choose a healthy stem to take the cuttings from. Straight and hard, not bendy or in between hardwood and softwood. You want to take a cutting that won’t inhibit the rest of the shrub, so go for a stem that wont be about to burst into flower!
- Find where the node is on the hardwood – it should be a bump that is about to become several different stems. Using a sharp knife cut the stalk you want at about 3-4 inches in length.
- Remove any flowers and prepare the cutting by also removing the lower 2 inches of leaves.
- Then cut the bark back on one side to allow the rooting hormone to do it’s job. To be fair lavender is quite a survivor and will not necessarily need the rooting hormone, however it prevents the chance of rotting and will encourage even root growth.
- Whichever type of cutting you take propagation works well in the 50/50 mixture or vermiculite and peat free compost. If you don’t have vermiculite you can substitute with perlite instead. Keep it gritty and free draining.
- Pop the cutting into the rooting hormone, covering those last two inches then pop it into your pre-made pot.
- Bring indoors to a warm windowsill without direct sunlight. Keep it covered so you do not need to water again.
- 4-6 weeks later give it the gentle tug test to see if the roots offer any resistance. When you find that they do you can then pot on, or provide liquid feed.
How To Love And Care For Your Young Lavender Plants
From the moment they are put into the gritty potting mix you are looking out for them. Root rot will be your biggest enemy. So by putting them under cover you will not need to water them until they take root. The pots will retain the moisture you added from the first day.
However if you wrap them in a plastic bag you need to make sure that none of the plastic touches the cutting. This will create a cold spot where moisture can gather and therefore develop into a rotting situation.
Once you know that you have roots you need to think about your tender new plant and how best to care for it.
Think about the climate in France and where they grow wild. Try to replicate that to the time of year where you are.
If you want to put into pots, think about keeping them inside to get more established but you do not want to disturb roots too much. Lavender likes to live in it’s forever home.
I recommend early Spring for your hardwood cuttings as they take a little longer to get established and therefore can then go straight outside. Similar timings to the softwood cuttings.
Planting out means you need to chose a site with good drainage and lots of sunlight. Protect your early cuttings with a cloche or covering. This will mean that frosts will not affect them adversely.
Lavender Hedge or Grow In Pots
Growing lavender from cuttings can give you the results you need for a successful garden. So then just decide how you want to show it off!
If you are transplanting to a pot make sure to get the soil mixture correct with a mainstream compost mixed with a higher level or perlite. This will promise you the drainage that is needed.
IF planted in pots Lavender make for a wonderful gift and they will not need much in the way of feeding. We prefer an organic mix of fertilisers and really try to avoid using them when we can.
Lavender can then be harvested in the second year and dried to be used in many recipes or as a heady addition to your relaxation routine.
Benefits of Propagating Your Own Lavender
Lavender is going to form the foundations of many gardens. You can use it as a hedge and pathway cover or towards the back of a larger plot. As a perennial shrub you will find plenty of places to buy lavender in the shops. However they can get expensive.
Learning how to take cuttings in particular is key to growing your crop without any extra expense.
Cuttings are different to growing from seed as you are promised a like for like replica of the original plant when you take cuttings. There is no room for variations or diminished colouring like there could be from seeds.
Lavender is used in so many ways by the wildlife in your garden and forms an excellent focal point for all pollinators. Enjoy your free plants and make sure to keep adding to your collection each year.
For total inspiration I would highly recommend a visit to Cotswold Lavender In England. We loved our visit and the acres of lavender is picture perfect!
In conclusion, growing lavender from cuttings is easy. You will find that you get a very good yield and to be fair it is better than growing from seed. We do still love to grow from seed though as it gives us that thrill of seeing a new plant shooting into life.
However the practical side of me can’t resist a bargain and a free hedge of gorgeous aromatic lavender, all for the price of one shrub, it’s too much!
So get out there this weekend and try to make the most of what you have already! Alternatively pop to your local nursery or online specialist nursery and buy your dream lavender, really splash out on the nicest one your heart could dream of. Knowing that this one plant could fill your balcony with scent, or your entire plot in five years time!
Now all you need to know is how to dry and store your lavender!