Updated November 28, 2021 by Mark Marino
Formally known to botanists as ‘lavendula’, lavender is a famously fragrant perennial that is associated with nearly 50 species. Native to parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa, lavender is grown worldwide today. While its telltale lavender hues add an attractive and certainly fragrant touch to any garden, lavender plants have long been grown for their use in cosmetics, alternative and folk remedies, and even in cooking. Here, we’ll explore how to grow this versatile plant indoors.
How to Grow Lavender Indoors: Materials
To grow lavender plants indoors, you’ll need to start with lavender seeds or seedlings purchased from your area garden center or online. Other supplies include:
- Seed tray (if starting with lavender seeds)
- Lavender seedlings
- Potting soil
- Slow-release fertilizer
- Pot with drainage holes (lavender prefers terracotta pots)
- Indoor garden kit
Types of lavender Varieties
Which lavender plants grow best indoors? Although English lavender is the most widely cultivated lavender plant worldwide, French lavender is regarded as the best lavender to plant indoors. However, given the proper care, you may have luck growing many other types of lavender as well. Here is an overview of some of the most popular lavender plant varieties:
Canary Island Lavender
Featuring beautiful blue-lilac flowers, Canary Island lavender is often planted as a lavender hedge because of its woody structure. It has, perhaps, the softest scent of lavender plants, so if you’re growing lavender to make essential oils or scented sachets, this might not be the ideal variety. However, it does boast a long flowering period and is a good candidate for transplanting to your outdoor garden.
Sometimes referred to as French lace lavender, fernleaf lavender is a great lavender option for essential oil production, making scented sachets, making bath bombs, or using the fragrant dried flowers in crafts. Native to the Mediterranean region, this species of lavender lavandula is often grown for its attractive growth habit and potent scent.
English lavender (aka Lavandula angustifolia) boasts vibrant purple flowers, which makes it a garden favorite. English lavender has a rich, aromatic scent, so it often winds up in scented sachets, potpourri, and essential oil products. A botanical classic, Lavandula angustifolia is ideal for growing a low lavender hedge if you choose to transplant it to your outdoor garden.
French lavender, popular among ancient Romans, is actually not as widely cultivated in gardens as English lavender even though we often envision it growing in vast fields of Provence. It is cultivated in France and is great for growing indoors, but it is not as hardy, so it will not be a great candidate for transplanting outdoors as it may not survive the winter. On the other hand, if you are planning to grow lavender indoors for oil production or for dried flowers, it’s a terrific option with its lovely scent and rich lilac blooms.
Known formally as Lavandula stoechas, Spanish lavender is a fragrant herb that features either purple or bright pink flowers. Its rich scent is similar to English lavender’s fragrance, but it grows better in warmer climates. If you are planning to transplant this lavender plant, you should keep in mind that it is only hardy to root zone 8.
Fortunately, when it comes to growing lavender indoors, you can generally follow the same planting tips for most any lavender variety. Lavender is a sun-loving plant, so you should keep it near a south-facing window or use a grow light to ensure it gets the light it needs. It should have 3-4 hours of direct sunlight at a minimum.
If you are planting lavender seed, you can use a seed tray filled with potting soil. Plant each seed just beneath the surface of the soil–not too deep! The seeds need sunlight to germinate. If you’re concerned that you’re not getting good sun to support germination, add a heating mat under the tray.
If you are planting lavender indoors using lavender seedlings, you’ll need a pot that’s no more than two inches larger than your plant’s root ball. Lavender requires–insists–upon well-draining soil. You can add pebbles to the bottom of your container to promote good drainage.
Caring for lavender Plants
As mentioned, your lavender plant needs at least 3-4 hours of direct sunlight whether you’re growing it from seeds or lavender seedlings. Lavender prefers bright light.
A lavender plant grows best in slightly alkaline or neutral soil. You typically will not need to amend your soil with organic material when growing lavender indoors; however, some people prefer to add crushed eggshells to the soil as fertilizer.
Lavender thrives in dryer climates like the Mediterranean. Lavender prefers well-draining soil and light watering. Less water is more when it comes to this plant; definitely do not overwater your lavender plants.
Temperature and Humidity
When growing lavender indoors, be sure your plants are kept warm during the winter season. Don’t keep them where they’ll be subject to cold drafts. Most species of lavender prefer a hot and dry climate. Therefore, there’s no need to mist your lavender plants.
Many gardeners avoid fertilizing their lavender plant in the garden, or will only fertilize in the spring. However, when grown in a pot, your lavender plants can’t get nutrients unless they’re found in the potting mix. So, you can add some slow-release fertilizer to the soil or sprinkle coffee grounds occasionally on the surface of the soil or crushed eggshells. Fertilizing your lavender plants will encourage it to grow more flowers.
When you grow a lavender plant indoors, you can harvest it year-round! You can harvest your lavender when its buds are fully open; at this point, the flowers are in full bloom and the plant’s scent is strongest at this time. This is also the best time to harvest the plants for oil production.
Lavender enjoys being pruned. The more you prune your indoors lavender, the more you’ll encourage it to grow and produce more flowers. Use sharp scissors or small pruning snips to cut the lavender stem above its leaves and side branches.
Because you can never have too much lavender, you should consider propagating it as your indoor lavender plants begin to thrive. You can start new lavender from either soft or hardwood cuttings. Be sure the cutting you take is vibrant and healthy in order to support root growth. When potting your cutting, you may want to use growth hormone for best results.
Potting and Repotting
As discussed, terracotta pots are ideal for planting lavender indoors because they are porous. This means that moisture can escape the pot, which reduces the risk for root rot. You may need to repot your lavender plants over time. Choose a pot that’s no bigger than two inches larger than your lavender root ball.
Uses for Lavender
Lavender has been used since ancient times to add fragrance to perfumes and essential oils. Its dried flowers are often added to sachets and potpourri because of their subtle scent. Many alternative healthcare providers report that lavender’s scent offers stress relief. This herb can also be used to add flavor to confections and pastries (not all species are edible. Choose English lavender if you intend to cook with it).
Benefits of Lavender
In addition to its potential for stress relief, lavender is a stunning plant that can add curb appeal to your outdoor garden if you choose to transplant your mature lavender plants. If you’re planning to host an outdoor party on your patio, bring out your lavender pots and set them on tables. Lavender is known to have mosquito and other insect-repelling properties.
Indoor Lavender FAQs
How long does lavender take to grow indoors?
When growing lavender indoors, it typically takes seeds two weeks to germinate. It will take about a month longer before leaves develop. Lavender grows slowly in its first year. Keep in mind that pruning will help you encourage growth later on.
Which lavender grows best indoors?
French lavender is ideal for growing indoors; however, English lavender varieties are also popularly grown indoors and may easily be transplanted to your outdoor garden if you choose.