Lavender is one of the most popular herbs in the world, grown by both gardeners and commercial operations all around the globe. And yet despite the widespread prevalence of this plant, many people continue to have questions about how to get started growing lavender, specifically when it comes to how to planting lavender seeds.
With that in mind, in this article we will discuss the ins and outs of planting lavender seeds.
Do they need to be cold stratified, should you start them indoors before moving them outdoors, whether or not you should soak lavender seeds before planting them, how to plant lavender seeds both indoors and outdoors, and also how to plant lavender transplants outside once the seeds have sprouted.
Should I Grow Lavender From Seed?
According to some sources, lavender seeds can be difficult to germinate. This leads to many people opting to propagate it from cuttings rather than attempting to grow it from seed.
That being said, it is absolutely still possible to grow lavender from seed. In order to increase your chances of success, however, there are certain things you should do.
One of these things is cold stratifying the seeds. This is done by putting the seeds in the refrigerator for about 4 weeks.
Cold stratifying the seeds fulfills a dormant stage that seeds normally go through in the winter in the wild. By doing this lavender seeds can sprout much quicker and with higher germination rates.
Lavender seeds that are cold stratified will sprout in around 2 weeks instead of possibly 2-3 months.
When growing lavender from seed, it is usually best to start your lavender seeds indoors. This is because lavender seeds germinate more easily in a controlled environment, such as a greenhouse or an indoor location where factors like temperature and light are more easily controlled.
How To Plant Lavender Seeds Indoors
There are a couple different methods when it comes to planting lavender seeds indoors. Some people prefer starting their lavender off in individual pots, while others choose to plant the seeds all together in a nursery seedling tray.
When it comes to using seedling trays, all you need to do at first is spread them out evenly and cover them lightly with soil. Seed starting mix or potting soil are good choices because they’re both a light and airy blend that allows easy movement of plant growth.
From this point on, it’s important to keep the seeds both moist and warm. Which you can do either by placing the seedling trays in a warm and sunny location, or by utilizing specially deigned heating mats that will warm the trays from below. Eventually, if cared for properly, the viable seeds will germinate and sprout.
The second most common method for planting lavender seeds indoors is using small individual starter pots.
Again, you can use soil that is light and mostly sandy, since this type of soil provides good drainage and is similar to the soil found in lavender’s native habitat or use fertilized soil mixtures designed specifically for seeds and seedlings.
You might also like “Best Soil & Fertilizers for Lavender“.
Once you have filled the pots with soil, plant a few seeds into each pot and then cover them lightly with soil, and then keep them warm and moist until they sprout.
In any case, once the seeds have sprouted and grown into large enough seedlings (it is generally recommended to wait until the seedlings have several leaves and are around 6″ tall) you will then need to transplant them outdoors or into larger pots.
How to Plant Lavender Transplants Outside
When it comes to transplanting your new lavender plants outside, it’s generally recommended that you do so in the spring (particularly if you live in a region where it snows or frosts in the winter, because it’s important to wait to transplant your lavender until after the last spring frost).
It is also possible to transplant your lavender outside in the fall, but only if you’re certain that there will be two months of decent weather before winter hits because otherwise the plants will not become established enough to survive the harsher winter months.
In any case, when transplanting your lavender outside it is important to space the plants out at least 18-24″ apart in well draining soil. Lavender plants will grow as large as three feet both tall and wide, depending on variety, so it’s crucial that they have space to grow.
“How Far Apart To Plant Lavender” goes into more detail on plant spacing.
It’s also important to plant them in a location that gets full sun during the day, since they are a plant accustomed to dry, sunny weather and planting them in a location with inadequate sunlight could result in poor growth.
It’s also critical to ensure that your lavender gets enough water after transplanting; it’s recommended to water with a ratio of one gallon of water for every lavender plant (for example, five gallons of water for five plants) for at least the first week after transplanting, and then scale back to half a gallon of water for each plant once the plants are more established and mature, according to Utah State Extension.
Should I Soak Lavender Seeds Before Planting
As mentioned earlier, getting lavender seeds to germinate can be difficult; depending on different conditions, lavender seeds can take anywhere from a couple weeks to a few months to germinate.
Two things that can speed up and increase germination rates are warm soil and soaking the seeds before planting.
Soaking seeds before planting is a technique that has been used for a wide variety of plants throughout the years, lavender included. Soaking seeds before planting them can be beneficial because soaking the seeds helps to soften the seed coat, which in turn allows the plant embryo within the seed to sprout out of the seed easier.
Moisture also activates catalysts within the seed that start the germination process. It also mixes with starches and/or proteins within the seed to create a soluble that feeds the small plant embryo nutrients as it grows into a seedling.
There are a couple different methods to choose from when it comes to soaking your lavender seeds before planting.
You can simply place the seeds in a bowl of water and leave them to soak. In this method you can leave the seeds in the water overnight or up to 24 hours. Don’t let them soak more than that.
Another method that some people utilize is to store the lavender seeds in a plastic ziplock bag along with some sort of damp water-absorbent material.
Some people use man-made materials like sponges or paper towels, while others prefer more natural material like sphagnum moss (the key to this storage method is to periodically add more water to sponge or moss as needed, to maintain moisture in the bag).
Then store the bag in a secure and warm place that’s somewhat shaded and eventually the seeds will germinate and have sprouts sticking out of them.
Warmth is also a key factor when it comes to germination, enough so that some people will utilize specially designed heating mats to keep seeds at the optimum temperature for germination.
If you do use a heating mat, remove the seedlings after around 50% of them have sprouted. Most seeds like warmer temperatures to germinate but small seedling plants like cooler temperatures around 55-75 degrees to grow in.
Ultimately, the method you choose is a matter of personal preference. Personally I don’t soak any seeds before planting because I’ve had mixed results with it. Either way it’s imperative to keep the soil around newly planted seeds moist because moisture is essential to the germination process.
How To Direct Sow Lavender Seeds Outdoors
Starting lavender seeds inside can help you save time by speeding up germination and allowing you to get a jump on the growing season, since planting indoors allows you to start your seeds anytime. That being said, successfully sowing lavender seeds outdoors is still very much possible as long as you remember some key points.
The first thing to remember is that if you’re sowing your lavender seeds outside, you should probably wait until winter has passed and the weather has begun to warm before planting.
This is because lavender seeds typically need warm soil temperatures to successfully germinate and continue to grow. How cold hardy lavender is depends largely on the variety.
An option for growers that want to grow a specific variety of lavender but don’t live in the right zone for it is to grow in containers that can be moved indoors for the winter to keep the plants alive for the next season.
Another important thing to remember when sowing lavender seeds outdoors is spacing. Just as you need to leave space between lavender seedlings when transplanting them outside, you also need to leave enough space between where you’re sowing the seeds in order for the lavender plants to have room to grow into. Having the plants clustered too close together could negatively impact their ability to grow.
Lavender can grow in a wide range of soils but it is crucial that the soil has sufficient drainage so that the ground doesn’t become waterlogged since lavender is naturally a drought-tolerant plant that can succumb to root rot when it is over-watered.
It is also very important that you sow your seeds in a location that gets at least six hours of direct sunlight a day, since lavender needs a considerable amount of sunlight to thrive.
In any case, once you’ve ensured that planting conditions are optimal for growing lavender, actually sowing your seeds outdoors is a fairly straightforward process.
Sow lavender seeds every 6″ and then later when the plants are around 8″ tall thin them down to every 18-24″. Take care to only lightly cover the seeds with soil. Burying the seeds too deep can prevent them from getting enough sunlight to successfully germinate. Aim for 1/4-1/2″ deep.
Once the seeds germinate and sprout, you should water regularly until the plants become established and then dial back your watering regimen so as to not risk root rot and other problems that can arise from lavender growing in soil that is too moist.
Check out “Watering Lavender (How Often & Tips)” for more on that.
Once established, your lavender plants will grow healthily a long as you maintain optimal growing conditions (and in many cases, some of your plants may even self-sow if you leave some of the flower-heads on the plants when they bloom, enabling you to grow a self-perpetuating lavender crop).
Ultimately, the important thing to remember is that lavender plants have very specific needs when it comes to germination and growth; as long as you meet these needs (sufficient warmth for germination and enough moisture to encourage growth without subjecting the lavender to over-watering) planting lavender seeds successfully should be succesful.
We hope you’ve found this article helpful and informative for better understanding your options when it comes to growing lavender, specifically how to plant lavender seeds both indoors and outdoors (as well as whether or not you should soak lavender seeds before planting them and how to transplant your lavender outside once it has sprouted).
Please comment below with your own thoughts and experiences with growing lavender!