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How To Grow Lavender From Seed

  • 4 min read

Lavender is one of the most popular and well-known flowering herbs. We use it for its soothing fragrance, delicate flavor, and beauty when blooming. As popular as it is, lavender can be challenging to grow from seed, but you can use some helpful tips and tricks to grow this perennial herb successfully.

The most challenging aspect of growing lavender from seed is getting the seeds to germinate. Like many perennial plants, lavender seeds have a built-in safety mechanism that prevents the seeds in the wild from germinating prematurely and dying due to cold or frost. To help the seeds sprout when we want them to, we can cold-stratify seeds before sowing.

How to Cold Stratify Lavender Seeds

Cold stratification is a process where we expose the seeds to moisture and cold to trick them into thinking they have successfully survived winter and it is now safe to germinate. Because lavender seeds are very small, we find the easiest way to stratify the seeds is with some moist sand. Another method is to spread seeds on a damp paper towel as explained in a previous blog post.

Sand Method of Cold Stratification

  1. Take some clean sterile sand (sandbox/play area sand works just fine) and moisten with water. Do not saturate the sand. Just get it wet enough that it will clump together if you squeeze.
  2. Sprinkle your lavender seeds on the sand and mix them in.
  3. Place sand in a sealable plastic bag or container. Be sure to label your container with the variety and date.
  4. Keep the container in your refrigerator for 3 to 4 weeks.
  5. To sow the seeds, simply sprinkle sand and seeds across your seed starting mix and barely cover with some additional soil.

Lavender Germination Tips

When choosing soil for starting lavender seeds, make sure it drains well. Some recommend using a mix that is half potting soil and half either sand, pumice, or perlite to create soil that will give your seedlings nutrients, but also prevent the roots from rotting. Cactus soil mix can be a good option if you don’t want to make your own.

In addition to the cold stratification, lavender seeds need light and heat to germinate. A seedling tray heat mat may improve your success. Grow lights should be placed about 2 inches above the starting tray until seedlings appear.

Be patient. It may take up to 30 days for your lavender seeds to germinate. Keep the soil moist, but not wet, and maintain warm bright conditions until they appear.

Keeping Lavender Seedlings Happy

lavender seedlings

Once your seedlings have sprouted, continue to keep them warm. Lavender is a Mediterranean plant and does not like a wet environment. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings. Using a mister instead of direct watering will prevent their delicate roots from rotting due to too much moisture. Make sure they are getting at least 6 hours of direct light each day.

Once your seedlings are at least 2 inches tall, carefully transplant them into larger pots. Keep them watered lightly with a mister, being careful not to overwater.

When to Transplant Seedlings

When outdoor daily temperatures reach 65°F it is safe to move your seedlings outside. If you are putting them into the ground, make sure that your soil is well-draining. Clay soil will need amending with a potting mix to improve drainage. If you will be growing in containers, terra cotta pots work well because they allow moisture to evaporate. There is no need to fertilize lavender.

Things to Keep in Mind about Lavender

Lavender seeds

You can directly sow lavender, ideally in the fall after the first killing frost. Sprinkle seeds on the top layer of soil and allow winter to cold stratify them. This will only work if you have cold wet winters.

Lavender grows slowly. It may take a couple of years before you see the fragrant purple blooms we associate with this plant.

There are many types of lavender: English, French, Portuguese, Spanish, and Lavandin (a hybrid version of lavender). English Lavenders are known to be among the most fragrant. We offer two varieties. Lavandula augustifolia ‘Vera’ is an heirloom English lavender known for its fragrant oil and cold hardiness. Lavandula agustifolia ‘Munstead’ is another heirloom English variety which has a compact growth habit making it great for hedges.

There are many popular uses for lavender. It has been used in aromatherapy for centuries to soothe nervous disorders and promote sleep. Lavender oil can be used to treat fungal infections, eczema, acne, and other skin ailments. It is a popular fragrance added to soaps and perfumes. Lavender is edible and can bring a unique floral flavor to recipes like ice cream and lemonade.

The key to successfully growing lavender from seed is patience. Prepare the seeds with cold stratification, keep them warm, and give them plenty of light to get started. Make sure the plants never get too wet and always have lots of sun. Eventually, you will reap the benefits of this beautiful, fragrant herb.

Lavender oil and flowers

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