Lavender is a beautiful shrub that can provide not only a great fragrance but also (and for some even more importantly) a stunning pink or purple display of flowers in the warmer months. However, to keep this perennial shrub thriving during the year, it is important to provide the right amount of water. How to water then lavender.
Lavender watering changes significantly depending on the season and location. Indoor lavender requires less watering than an outdoor one. Lavender requires frequent watering (once a week) in hot summer (25C and above) especially if planted on very gritty soil. Lavender should not be watered when the soil is moist.
I have grown herbs both indoor and outdoor for many years now. What I have learned is a simple rule. Plants are more resistant than we think and more often than not it is the excess of care (and watering) that cause them to suffer.
Hence, lesson number one.
Lavender watering issues are often due to overwatering rather than underwatering. Indeed, lavender is a shrub that thrives in semi-dry and dry soil. The overwatering issue is particularly true during cold seasons and if indoor. The only exception is for outdoor lavender during very hot summer months where long dry soil might be actually the issue.
Lavender is a living being that grows and evolves. As such, lavender watering needs to change, not only through the year but also within months.
Here, another lesson.
Lavender should be watered with a way lower frequency during the winter and autumn months. Indeed, the reduction in sunlight and drop in temperature slows down significantly the growth process of lavender, leading to a way less need for water.
Lavender, like any other herbs, does not follow precisely any rules and it does not have any precise amount of water you need to provide.
Here, another truth about lavender.
There is not a specific amount of water or frequency that will make the lavender thriving. What is important is to provide a minimum amount of water and avoid more importantly to overwater a plant.
Hence, below you can find how I do personally water lavender. To make your life easy I will also give you some rules of thumb on how much water to provide but, in general, there is no precise science. What I will give you are just simple rules of thumbs and, more importantly, you need to adapt them to the seasons.
Lavender is a shrub native of the hot and semi-arid Middle East and India area. It is widely spread on the Mediterranean coast, especially in France and Italy.
Below a picture showing a natural growing lavender. Did you notice something? It is growing among rock cracks!
The way you water lavender is affected by the surrounding conditions. Lavender is way easier to grow outside but I also have quite good success with indoor ones. Its location is important to know when this plant should be watered.
Despite I specialize in indoor herbs, many came across to ask suggestions regarding outdoor lavender as well. Hence, if you grow this shrub on your balcony or outdoor garden keep reading.
During winter and autumn outdoor lavender does not need watering. The rain (once a week at least) is often more than enough to satisfy the water needs of lavender. Moreover, the drastic reduction in the number of sunlight hours makes the plants go into a dormant stage where their growth is slowing down significantly and so its water requirements.
No fertilizer should be applied to lavender in winter.
In this case, the frequency of watering greatly depends on which area you live in. Are you experiencing scorching of western Texas or somewhere more mild as in North Dakota? This makes a massive difference in your watering routine.
If the soil is very well-drained and the air temperature is above 30C during day time, then lavender might need daily watering.
I know a few friends living in Texas that water their lavender even twice a day during their scorching summers!
If the soil is less gritty and you experience some sort of rain at least once a week or every two weeks the lavender can be watered once or twice per week.
Lavender can be grown indoors. However, it is way more challenging than other herbs and it does require a good amount of sun (or artificial light) to develop. However, if you attempt to grow it on your windowsill (well done!) here some watering suggestions for you.
Remember the obvious. You need to be more constant and keep an eye on the plant as it relies totally on you. Go on holiday for 2 weeks leaving the lavender on the windowsill with no watering system in place and you might find a dry plant at your return.
Indoor lavender does not receive water from the sky so even during the cold season needs to be watered.
During winter and autumn, indoor lavender should be watered once a month or less. Water only if the soil beneath the surface feels dry at the touch. Do not confuse cold soil with wet soil.
Indeed, the surface can be dry but beneath it can be quite moist. This is the place that matters as the roots are not on the surface.
The reason number one for dying lavender indoors is overwatering. Especially for a dry lover plant as lavender is way better to stay on the dry side.
Lavender outdoor behaves the same way as indoor lavender. Higher air temperature and longer sunlight hours promote growth and so the need for more water. Also, the higher temperature increases the water evaporation from the soil leaving less for the plant.
In spring and especially in summer lavender requires more frequent watering, up to once a week. In case the potted lavender is placed in a very sunny spot even twice a week is recommended.
In the case of outdoor lavender, I would go with a gallon of water per grown plant (a nice bush). However, there is not really a strict rule. Remember, that in an open garden you are going to have a way better drainage than in a planter as the water is not limited to a defined volume
In the case of indoor lavender water until the water starts dripping from the drainage holes. This means that the soil has absorbed as much as it can.
If lavender is outdoors in a very dry and hot climate I would recommend using mulch. This will keep the lavender soil moist for longer avoiding it to dry out. Use only a thin layer. You should be able to reach the soil by just scrubbing away the top of it.
As discussed in the best soil for lavender article, you should use only a limited amount of compost, especially if you live in a wet climate. Lavender does not require a large amount of nutrients (and compost does not have much anyway), just a small amount. If your soil has a high compost volume you might need to water less but more frequently. This is because the compost has a high retentive capability but should not let it dry (as otherwise, it will take hours to reabsorb water again).
Never water your lavender if the soil feels wet at the touch.
Terracotta containers are the best for lavender but they dry quicker. So this is something that you want to keep in mind especially if you live in a dry area.
If you buy a plant from the supermarket (or delivered it to you) its soil can be very dry. In this case, do not hesitate to soak it in water (just drop a large amount of water into the soil until heavily dripping from the drainage holes). Don’t put it in full sun straight away but after a day.
Lavender will wilt if there is not enough water in the soil. However, if you water it in time it will revive. This is not the case if wait too long (more than a week) before the next watering.
Here a few things to remember when watering lavender
- Lavender outdoor requires way more watering than lavender indoor
- In case of scorching summers and very draining soil even once a day might be necessary
- High drainage soil in a planter with drainage holes is essentially for indoor lavender
- Lavender in winter does require only minimal care.
I am very glad you arrived here and I hope you will take some of my experience with you. Enjoy your lavender! (it can last up to 20 years!)
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