How to Grow and Care for French Lavender

How to Grow and Care for French Lavender

The lengthy blossoming season and exquisite scent of French lavenders are prized by people all over the world.

Fortunately, French lavender is simple to grow, however they do need certain particular conditions and care in order to thrive and produce their best flowers.

Scroll down for more information on: Growing and caring for French lavender, which is covered in detail in the following order in this page.

  • Which climate is ideal for French lavender cultivation?
  • What time do they bloom?
  • best time of year to plant?
  • How to water lavender in France
  • The needs for the soil
  • How and when should French lavender be pruned?
  • Where should I space out each lavender plant?
  • What is their lifespan?
  • What dimensions do they reach?
  • Do French lavendar plants require feeding?
  • Can they develop in pots?
  • French lavender winter maintenance

Where French Lavender will Grow?

Knowing which climates French lavender will flourish in is the most crucial factor in growing it.

The best conditions for French lavender cultivation are warm, moderate winters. Because they are not cold-hardy, French lavenders will perish in frost, snow, ice, and subfreezing temperatures. In USDA zones 7 to 11, most kinds of French lavender are hardy.

Therefore, if your climate has cold winters, you cannot plant French lavender outside; nevertheless, you can grow them outdoors in pots and bring them inside for protection during the winter. (To learn more about the safety measures to take, see my post on whether French lavender will survive the winter.)

French lavender will not do well in locations with consistently excessive humidity, as would all lavender species and variants.

Similar to its native Mediterranean climate, French lavender thrives in hot settings with little to no rainfall during the growing season (spring to early fall).

When do they Flower?

If the faded flowers are frequently deadheaded, which promotes additional blossoms, French lavender has an unusually extended flowering season that can last for several months.

The first flowers appear in the spring, typically in May or June, and if the growing circumstances are ideal, they may continue to bloom well into the fall, as late as September.

Always grow in full sunlight. French lavender is indigenous to the Mediterranean-coasting nations of Southern Europe. In their natural habitat, where temperatures are high and humidity is low, they spend the entire day in the full sun.

They produce the most oil, blooms, and greatest scents in these conditions.

French lavender will grow with 6 hours of sun every day during the growth season, but planting it in the garden’s most sunny location will yield the finest results.

The chance for blossoming increases with sun exposure. In the shadow, lavenders will not thrive and will wither away quickly.

Best Time for Planting

Early spring is the ideal time to cultivate French lavender. This will give the plant a chance to establish its roots in the new soil and grow. Once established, the roots will be better equipped to absorb water before the summer’s severe heat and sunlight threaten to dry out the plant.

There is greater flexibility for the timing of your lavender planting because French lavender is adapted to mild climes and does not need to prepare for a cold winter with frost and snow.

Anytime from early spring to early fall is an excellent period to plant French lavender cultivars.

I would advise planting in the summer during the height of the lavenders’ flowering because planting in the summer may cause the plant stress, which could affect flowering.

Watering French Lavender

Watering French Lavender

If there has been a lot of rain since you last watered the lavender, wait a few more days before watering and check to see if the soil is dry first. If you find any wetness, wait about a week before watering again.

French lavenders can withstand droughts and grow well in seemingly unfavorable weather circumstances including scorching sun, high temperatures, little rain, and sandy soils.

Simply put, this is a climatic adaption for their native Mediterranean region. French lavender overwatering causes more issues than underwatering ever can.

Frequent watering will keep the soil moist and cause root rot in French lavender cultivars, therefore avoid doing so. Brown foliage and a droopy appearance are indicators of an overwatered lavender plant.

For ideal outcomes…

  • If there hasn’t been any rain, French lavender that has been planted for more than a year needs to be watered once every two weeks in the spring, summer, and fall. If there has been a lot of rain, wait a few days before watering to let the soil dry out.
  • French lavender that has just been planted will need more care. Although lavenders can withstand dryness, they can be somewhat vulnerable to the effects of heat when they are newly planted or moved since their roots have not had enough time to fully take root in the surrounding soil. Freshly planted French lavender should be watered right away. Watering should continue every three to four days for the first month, and then once per week for the following three months. Reduce watering to once every two weeks after three months. This will lessen transplant shock and aid in the establishment of the lavender in its new environment.
  • French lavender shouldn’t be watered in the winter. Lavender is particularly susceptible to root rot in the winter, and watering will only make matters worse. If left outside over the winter, French lavender will get enough moisture from the environment. Water your planted lavender once every 4-6 weeks if you bring it inside to avoid a frost damage. (Read my article on care for lavenders in winter for more details.)

Always give each lavender a good soak and make sure the soil is moist around it; however, the soil should also drain quickly and not retain any moisture.

Water potted French lavenders until there is a trickle of liquid coming out of the drainage holes in the pot’s base. To choose the finest pot for lavender, read my post on picking the best pot for plants.

Soil Requirements for French Lavender

French lavender has a reputation for thriving in neglect, but it does have a certain set of soil requirements that it needs in order to develop and flower.

It is our responsibility as gardeners to duplicate the native environment’s soil characteristics.

The soil needs for French lavender are as follows:

  • pH 6.5 to 8 for the soil. French lavenders will tolerate some minor acidity but prefer to grow in alkaline soils (soils with a pH above 7 but below 8).
  • It’s crucial for soil to drain well. For water to drain efficiently and for the roots to breathe, the soil must have an open, porous structure. The soil around the roots of French lavender plants must dry out between waterings in order to prevent the fungus root rot.
  • soils with low to moderate fertility. Most gardeners are frequently surprised by this soil quality because most plants thrive in rich, high fertility soils. The French lavender is evolved to grow in sandy soils with fewer nutrients and is endemic to Southern Europe, not only France. They produce the nicest flowers and the purest perfumes on these soils. They will suffer if you plant them in high fertility soils since they will grow leggy, have yellow leaves, and produce fewer flowers.

If you want your soil to resemble these circumstances, you’ll need to add some sand or gravel such that they account for at least 30% of the planting mix’s volume and the remaining soil is organic.

Increased drainage, improved soil structure, and soil fertility will all be benefits of the sand or gravel addition (as sand and gravel are relatively low in nutrients).

The pH of acidic soil can be changed to alkaline by adding lime to the soil, which is a good option if you have acidic soil. Lime is accessible online and at any reputable garden supply store. See my post for more information on growing lavender in acidic soils.

Before purchasing French lavenders, it is a good idea to find out your soil’s pH if you are unsure. The simplest way to achieve this is with a soil gauge, which I personally use from Amazon. It does not require any scientific expertise because it just provides a clear reading of the pH of the soil and is reasonably priced.

Since chalk soils include all the qualities of the ideal soil type, they are perfect for growing French lavender.

Pruning French Lavender

French lavender needs to be pruned each year because pruning:

  • slows down the growth of woody stems from the plant’s base, extending the life of the lavender.
  • Encourage the growth of flower-bearing stems
  • keeps a lovely, compact shape
  • prevents lavender from growing long and messy

When to prune: There is some disagreement regarding the ideal season for pruning French lavender. French lavenders can be properly pruned in the early spring and in the fall after blossoming.

With a pair of shears or pruners, cut the lavender’s green growth back. As a general guideline, trim the green growth back by a third to form a nice and orderly mound.

Never cut a lavender plant down to the woody base since this area does not recover well and you risk killing the plant or drastically reducing the number of strong stems and blooms that can develop.

French lavender is less vulnerable to harm from the cold in warm locations with mild winters (within USDA zones 7-11), therefore you can prune it in the fall there. Wait until after the plant has flowered, then circle the plant to avoid it growing lanky or splitting at the base’s delicate woody structure.

You could also prune it in the early spring. This will encourage the growth of new stems, increasing the possibility of more flowers. Whether you prune your lavender at the beginning or the conclusion of the growing season, the same guidelines apply.

Check out the following YouTube video for a helpful visual guide about what to do:

How Far Apart to Plant French Lavender

How Far Apart to Plant French Lavender

Lavender appreciates air flow through the foliage, thus they benefit from being separated from one another. This lessens the possibility of a fungal disease by helping to dry up any moisture that can pose an issue.

Additionally, the roots require room to spread out and acquire water and nutrients without being overrun by rival plants’ roots.

Notably, planting each lavender should be done at a distance of 2-3 feet from the plant’s outermost leaves rather than at a distance of 2-3 feet. I have a piece about how much room lavenders need to develop to be the healthiest plants if you’d want further details.

How Long do they Live?

French lavenders are multi-year-living perennial plants. Because they are grown in climates where French lavender cannot survive the winter and must be replaced each year, some people mistake French lavenders for annuals.

English lavenders have a longer lifespan than French lavenders. French lavender can live for around 5 years if the conditions are suitable for growth and it is clipped annually.

Compared to English lavenders, which, under ideal conditions, can survive up to 15 years, this is a substantially shorter period.

The most affordable approach to maintain a supply of lavenders is to grow your own, which is a really rewarding garden endeavor.

Compared to trying to grow lavender from seeds, which requires a very specific sequence of changing conditions and has a lower success rate, reproducing lavender from cuttings is considerably simpler and more effective.

If you’re curious, check out this YouTube video that demonstrates how simple it is to grow fresh lavender plants from cuttings.

What Size are French lavenders?

Depending on the cultivar and whether it has received the best care and conditions, French lavenders can range in size.

Sunlight is typically the most significant aspect, and the more sun the better. Other important factors include well-draining soil, occasional watering, and alkaline soils. Popular and commonly accessible varieties from garden supply stores or online are:

  • The most recognizable cultivar of Lavandula stoechas, “Regal Splendour,” is prized for its delicious aroma and lengthy flowering season. It may reach heights of 30 inches (76 cm) and widths of 24 inches (60 cm). This is the size at full maturity, and under ideal circumstances, it will only reach its full size (full sun, well draining soil etc.)
  • Another well-liked lavender variety is Lavandula stoechas ‘Ballerina,’ which reaches dimensions similar to those of ‘Regal Splendour’ at 30 inches (76 cm) tall and 35 inches (89 cm) broad.
  • The smaller cultivar Lavandula stoechas ‘Anouk’ typically matures to a height and width of 12 inches (30 cm) and 18 inches (45 cm), respectively. This lavender can bloom for several months during the growth season, making it ideal as small decorative hedges.

Does French Lavender need Feeding?

Lavenders thrive in soils with low to moderate fertility, comparable to the sandy soils of their native Southern European habitat. French lavenders don’t require feeding or fertilizer. With the application of nitrogen-based fertilizers, the plant will become lanky, develop yellow foliage, and bear fewer blooms.

Instead of receiving the regular care that certain plants require, French lavender thrives on harsh, careless treatment.

If anything, you might need to add sand or gravel to the soil to balance the nutrients. Read my article on the ideal soil mixture for lavenders for additional details on this.

Avoid covering the lavender with a mulch made of organic materials (like compost or manure), as this can increase the soil’s fertility and cause it to hold more water, both of which will harm the lavender.

Instead, some industrial producers employ a mulch of white stone to reflect more sunlight onto the plant—more sunshine is better—reporting that this increases flowering and oil production.

Will French lavender Grow in pots?

French lavender cultivars thrive in pots (as do all lavenders), where the drainage conditions are ideal for lavenders, which like dry soils.

Since French lavender is not cold tolerant, planting lavenders in pots allows you to take the plant indoors during colder months. If you live in a frigid climate, French lavenders can survive the winter this way.

Since they are small and may fit on a sunny window sill and thrive at room temperature, dwarf kinds of French lavender are also thought to be the best plants for indoor potted lavenders.

If you keep them out of the damper rooms, such bathrooms and kitchens, they will bloom within and release their particular scent.

You can find a detailed guide in my article on how to cultivate lavender indoors.

French Lavender Care in Winter

It is crucial to stress that French lavender is not cold resistant and will not endure freezing temperatures, frost, snow, or ice outside (most varieties are hardy to USDA zones 7-11).

It will survive outdoors without issue if your environment has mild winters like those seen in the Mediterranean region of southern Europe, where French lavenders are native. However, there are some helpful tips for caring for French lavenders over the winter, including:

  • Lavender should be planted in a well-draining soil mixture that contains at least a third sand or gravel. As a result, the roots are in cold, damp soil where water can drain swiftly.
  • If kept outdoors, avoid watering during the winter because doing so will keep the soil moist and raise the risk of fungus. With more water, the plant will get enough water from the environment during winter.
  • Remove any leaves or other organic matter that may be retaining moisture from the area around the lavender.
  • Make sure the pot is at least 16 inches across if you are planting in one since this will ensure that there is enough dirt within to protect the roots from the cooler weather.

If you live in a region where the winters are chilly, you can grow lavender in a container outside throughout the growth season and bring it inside before the first frost.

Even though indoor lavender is dormant during the winter, it still benefits from sunlight, so always place it by the sunniest window in the house.

Read my article for further information on how to care for potted lavender in the winter.

Key Takeaways:

  • The ideal growing conditions for French lavender include full sun, hot temperatures, little to no rainfall, infrequent watering, well-draining sandy soils, low to moderate fertility, and a soil pH of 6.5-8.
  • They flower from spring through early fall, with spring being the optimal period for planting.
  • The smaller ‘Anouk’ cultivar only reaches heights of 12 inches and widths of 18 inches at maturity, whilst ‘Regal Splendour’ can reach heights of 30 inches and widths of 24 inches.
  • —————————-—————————————— Read my article on the ideal soil mix for lavenders for more details.
  • Avoid adding an organic mulch, such as compost or manure, as this will increase the soil’s fertility and cause it to absorb more water, both of which will be detrimental to the lavender.
  • Instead, some industrial producers utilize a mulch of white stone, which helps the plant reflect more sunlight (the more sunshine the better), supposedly increasing flowers and oil production.
  • The drainage qualities of pots are highly favorable to lavender’s predilection for dry soils, therefore French lavender cultivars grow quite well in pots (as do all lavenders).

FAQ

Does French lavender come back every year?

Being able to transfer the plant indoors in cold weather is a benefit of growing lavenders in pots since French lavender is not cold tolerant. In a frigid area, French lavenders can last the winter in this way.

Does French lavender need full sun?

Due to their diminutive size and ability to thrive in a roomy environment at room temperature, dwarf cultivars of French lavender are also thought to be the best plants for indoor potted lavenders.

What is French lavender good for?

They will bloom indoors and release their particular scent if you keep them out of the damper rooms like bathrooms and kitchens.

How do you care for potted French lavender?

Read this article for a comprehensive instruction on how to cultivate lavender indoors.

Is French Lavender a perennial?

The fact that French lavender is not cold-hardy and will not endure freezing temperatures, frost, snow, or ice outdoors must be made clear (most varieties are hardy to USDA zones 7-11).

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