Did you know that lavender grows well in containers? This is all about planting lavender in pots including the best soil mix to use and how to do it.
Lavender, that quintessential Mediterranean plant, is not only fragrant and appealing to the olfactory sense but is very useful too.
Did you know that this attractive ornamental plant does well in containers? It thrives as long as the soil mix and other conditions are to its liking.
This is focused on planting lavender in pots to grow outside. If you want to bring yours indoors for the winter, I touch briefly on that towards the end of this post.
There are many different species and varieties of lavender offered on the market.
You can buy English, Spanish, French, Dwarf Lavenders as well as those with white or pink flowers.
This soil mix and method of planting apply to all of them.
In my professional gardening days (long before I was a content creator!) I planted and maintained a lot of lavender plants in the San Francisco Bay Area.
On a personal note, my mother lived in Sonoma (a wonderful climate for growing lavender) and I put quite a few in her garden both in pots and raised beds. Lavender and I go way back!
I now live in the Sonoran Desert in Tucson so I thought I’d give a lavender plant a go.
Lavender isn’t crazy about cool coastal climates or hot inland deserts (although lavender loves heat, the desert sun and heat can be too extreme) but I thought I’d give it a try anyway.
If it heads to the great compost pile in the sky, it won’t be from improper planting.
Do you have questions about growing lavender? Check out our Lavender Q & A. Hopefully we answer them for you here!
How to Plant Lavender in Pots
Soil For Lavender In Pots
All lavender, big or small, needs a soil mix with a bit of grit that is very well-drained. Although it isn’t fussy about the soil, it needs to be on the alkaline side, moderately fertile, and well aerated.
Lavender is subject to root rot and a mix that drains helps to prevent that. You know I love to topdress container plants with compost and worm compost to naturally nourish them. Lavender doesn’t like to be smothered in mulch or compost so skip the topdressing, especially if you’re in a more humid climate or grow yours indoors.
This is the mix I used with approximate measurements:
- 3 parts potting soil (this along with a bit of compost add richness)
- 1 part clay pebbles (these aerate & up the ante on the drainage)
- 1 part pumice (ditto on the above)
- I did throw in a handful or 2 of compost when planting & topdressed with 1/4″ of worm compost. You can adjust this blend to suit your climate.
- 1 part potting soil / 1 part horticultural sand
- 1 part potting soil / 1 part pumice or perlite
- 1 part potting soil / 1 part fine rock
Plant Choice / Pot Choice
The larger your lavender grows, the larger the pot will need to be. Some of the lavenders get to be 3′ x 3′ so they need a sizeable base to accommodate the roots, the size of the plant, and to enable the best blooming.
I chose Lavender ‘Munstead” which is one of the compact English varieties. It gets 18 x 18″ so the 12″ pot which I planted it in is fine. A 14 to 16″ pot would have worked too.
The larger lavenders will appreciate pots which are 20 – 24″. It’s essential that whatever pot you use has at least one good-sized drain hole to make sure the excess water drains out.
Tip: I did this in my gardening days when the perennial or shrub I planted was small and looked way out of scale with a large pot. I planted annuals in and around because they grow fast and take up quite a bit of space. As the plant grew, I’d scale back or eliminate the annuals.
A Video Guide to Planting Lavender in Pots:
Steps to Planting Lavender in Pots
The lavender was watered the day before planting. A dry plant is stressed so I always water 1- 3 days before planting or repotting.
I mixed up the soil components in a pail to make sure they were well blended.
I turned the plant on its side & pressed on the grow pot to loosen the root ball from the pot.
Gently massage the root ball to loosen the fine roots. This makes it easier for the roots to spread out & grow in the new mix.
Mix was added in so the top of the root ball was about 1/2″ or so below the top of the pot. You want to leave a little room at the top so when you water it easily absorbs in & doesn’t spill out of the pot.
The plant was put in & the mix was added in around the root ball. I tossed in a couple of handfuls of compost at this point. If you’re in a cool or very humid climate, it’s best to avoid the compost.
I pressed down on the top of the soil to straighten the plant in the light mix. A light sprinkling of worm compost was applied to the top.
I moved my lavender to a spot under the pink grapefruit tree where it gets filtered sun. Remember, I’m in Tucson so this works rather than the full sun it likes and needs in other locations. It also gets good air circulation in this location which is a big plus.
I watered it thoroughly right away. Lavender needs more water when settling in (especially in a dry and hot climate) so don’t let it completely dry out. After it’s established, it’s more drought tolerant.
When to Plant Lavender
In most climates, planting in spring and early summer are fine. Here in Tucson (or any extremely hot location), early fall would have been better because the plant could have settled in when the temps cooled a bit but before a 1st freeze night.
I planted it in late spring to get the video and post done for you! The plant is settling in fine, but I have to water it every few days now that the temperatures are over 100F.
There are 2 things I think you should know. When planting lavender in pots and bringing it indoors, smaller plants and smaller pots are easier to handle. There are quite a few lavenders that stay 2′ or under.
You also want to make sure the soil is very well-drained (you might want to add a bit of extra pebble, sand, pumice, or perlite to the mix) so it doesn’t stay too wet when overwintering the plant in your home.
We love lavender because the fragrant flowers are used in potpourri, sachets, tea, arrangements, and cooking. The silvery/green foliage is a nice contrast to all the greens in the garden.
It’s well suited to growing in pots so give one a try. You’ll be happy on a warm summer evening when breezes cause that lavender scent to go wafting by!
More useful gardening guides just for you!
- Repotting Plants: Basics Beginning Gardeners Need To Know
- Roses We Love for Container Gardening
- How To Successfully Plant Perennials
- How To Successfully Plant Shrubs In The Garden
- The Best Way To Feed Roses Organically & Naturally
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Cheryl Clements says
Does lavender grow well in Oklahoma and does it do good in sun or shade.
Nell Foster says
Hi Cheryl – I’m not sure what zone you’re in so I can’t say. As to sun or shade: lavender is thought of as a sun-loving plant, but where I live in the AZ desert, the sun is too strong & it doesn’t like this much heat. Nell
Ruthanne LaQua says
Hi- I LOVE your site and frequent it often having moved to the Phoenix valley a couple years ago from the Midwest and appreciating your desert comments. I am wondering about an update on the lavender- is it still alive? We have temps up to 10 degrees warmer than Tucson and this summer has been crazy hot with many plants dying that have never been problems before but in a normal summer, would lavender become a perennial in AZ?
Hello! I am in Tucson too and am SO HAPPY to find your page! I am having a difficult time growing anything- of course I picked the middle of summer to grow things. I think I am overwatering, I have killed several lavender plants already. How often should I be watering my lavender these days?
Nell Foster says
Jami – Hi neighbor! Lavender likes sun & heat, but our intensity of both makes it difficult to grow here. Spanish & French tolerate more heat so give those a try. Shade from the hot afternoon sun is important in the summer months. How often you water depends on pot size, the location, & soil mix. It needs a fair amount of water to get going & then you can back off. Nell
Nell Foster says
Ruthanne – To be honest, mine is struggling in this heat. Ever since May, the temps have been crazy. It’s technically a perennial here but with more summers like this, that may not be the case. Nell
I absolutely love the large iridescent looking container in the first picture. Any chance you can tell me where you found it? Thank you!!!
Nell Foster says
Hi Taylor – It’s lovely! That photo was taken at a resort in Santa Barbara. I don’t know where the pot was purchased. Nell