It takes one blooming season to decide that you want to have lavender in your garden year-round, every year. But can Lavender grow back after frosty winter?
English lavender and Lavandula x intermedia are cold-hardy enough and will survive and come back.
But not all lavender will grow back every year. French and Spanish lavender cannot come back as they are not as tolerant to frosty winters.
However don’t give up hope, weaker lavender plants can be grown indoors so long as you put them in pots.
Provide the right conditions and care and French lavender can even flower indoors and keep growing next season as well.
Factors Affecting Whether Lavender Comes Back Or Not
Sometimes even healthy plants don’t come back after winter and there is nothing you could have done to change it.
It takes more than just gardening efforts to make a plant survive. Besides, you can’t bring a row of huge lavender bushes into your home!
There are in fact a few factors that decide whether or not a lavender plant will make it to see another year or not.
While some have a slight genetic advantage of being a bit more hardy, other types of lavender are genetically disadvantaged.
1. Lavender Type
The lineage of a plant does have a lot to do with a plant’s ability to spring back after winter or an unexpected spell of weather.
But for lavender, it is even more important since not all lavender plants share the same tolerance to winter.
Not all lavenders have the ability to come back! If you want your lavender to come back after winter, you will have to plant the most hardy lavender type.
The two most hardy types of lavender are:
– English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
This lavender is hardy to USDA zones 5 to 9, making it the most hardy and desirable lavender to grow.
English lavender easily makes it through the winter with very little help from you and it certainly doesn’t need to be brought indoors.
– Lavandula x intermedia
This lavender is actually a hybrid created by crossing English lavender and another lavender variant.
This lavender also inherits the hardiness of the English lavender, making it suitable as an outdoor plant that survives winter.
Avoid planting those lavenders that are intolerant to cold weather let alone harsher winter. These are the least hardy or most intolerant lavenders:
– French lavender/Spanish lavender (Lavandula stoechas)
This rather delicate lavender can only survive winters if it is brought indoors out of the cold. When talking about its ability to survive outdoors, it is hardy to USDA zones 7 to 9.
– Fringed lavender (Lavandula dentata)
Fringed lavender is also a form of French lavender meaning that they share their intolerance to cold weather. This lavender is tolerant to USDA zones 8 to 11.
You’ll have to bring it to the house but that’s not bad because it makes for an appealing house plant.
– Portuguese lavender (Lavandula latifolia)
These lavender variants can grow in USDA zones 7 to 10.
All lavenders can tolerate cold up to USDA zone 5. But English lavenders are the most likely to survive colder winters.
In particular, the ‘Hidcote’ and ‘Munstead’ variants are the most tolerant to ice, frost, and snow.
2. Season Severity and Climate
Winter could have two different meanings depending on which side of the USA you live in. For some people, it is mild while for other people it is severe.
This factor does actually matter because it affects plants the most.
States like Washington, Oregon, and New York suffer some of the worst winters. If you live in these states you would want to get the most hardy lavender variant to grow.
If you have a weaker lavender type, you have to plant it in pots and bring it indoors or they will perish.
In states that have warmer climates like California, Las Vegas, and Florida, winters are not that much to talk about.
There definitely won’t be any chances of snow and ice, meaning your lavender (even the weaker ones) can stay outside.
Warmer winters provide higher chances for your dormant lavender to spring back to life and blossom for years to come.
That’s why people in warmer states should plant less tolerant lavender while people in colder states should plant cold hardy lavender.
3. Health of Plant
An ill plant will have lower chances of coming back after winter. Its systems will be compromised even though it will be dormant and not growing at all in winter.
The plant still needs food and small amounts of water to survive.
Signs that your lavender is sick or diseased heading into winter are:
- Wilting foliage
- Discoloration of foliage (brown, yellow, gray)
- Stunted growth with no flower production
- Infestation of insects – lesions on leaves, small dot-like structures on stem nodes
- Browning of the bottommost stem (caused by overwatering)
The presence of any of these symptoms can suggest that something is already ailing your lavender plants. Their ability to sustain themselves and heal will be very minimal.
You must diagnose the issue and preferably before winter arrives!
Failure to cure a disease or pest problem will reduce any lavender’s ability to come back after winter. Even if it does come back, it won’t be long till the illness proves to be fatal!
4. Care and Conditions
English lavenders are the most long-lived lavenders around. But, they only get to that age if extremely well looked after. This means gardeners are also somewhat responsible if their lavender does not come back!
Caring for and creating the best conditions for lavender is a life-long commitment. Some of the care efforts include:
- Minimal but adequate watering
- Long hours of full sunlight
- Porous soil with low to medium nutrient quantities
- Sheltering in winter (if required)
If these conditions and care activities are provided to the plants, they stand a good chance of coming back when winter ends.
One particular lavender caring chore stands out, that’s pruning. A large number of novice lavender growers don’t take pruning seriously.
They either do it incorrectly or avoid it altogether! Both circumstances are dangerous to your lavender plants.
5. Pruning Lavender To Help It Come Back
Pruning is an important part of growing lavender as it does a lot to make your lavender look appealing and long-living.
It should be undertaken by all lavender growers. The good thing about starting pruning early is that even if you are inexperienced, you will get lots of practice!
Lavender is rather forgiving and will still grow even if mistakes are made in the beginning.
There are different pruning measures that should be taken for lavender plants at different age ranges.
– Pruning Young Lavender
There is no such thing as pruning lavender too early. If anything it will promote thicker growth among your lavender plants.
For this you won’t need pruning shears, instead, you can just pinch off newly grown tips. This will result in the branching and growth of blooming foliage.
Waiting too long to prune a young lavender bush will result in woody growth that is hard to shape.
– Pruning Established Lavender
Established lavender can be pruned the most. Once flowers are spent, you can cut back ⅓ of the green growth from the top of the plant.
These mature lavender plants can undergo pruning twice a year.
Once in summer and once just before the fall. When they shoot back they will do so in an appealing mound-like shape.
– Pruning Old Lavender
Continue pruning as you would normally but avoid reaching the woody area. Instead, stick to the sections above the woody growth as these can rejuvenate.
As a measure of how much to prune, using your finger, feel up to the third node. The node will feel like a raised bump in the stem.
Cut everything that sits above the third node from the woody stem area. The point of this is that these bare nodes should sprout a shoot and grow.
How Does Pruning Help A Lavender To Come Back?
Pruning Lavender definitely counts as an activity that strengthens a lavender. Not only does it help a lavender survive winter, but it also helps a lavender live longer.
Regular pruning stimulates lavender root system growth. Completely functional roots become important when winter requires the plant to store food.
It makes the stem woody and more tolerant to a range of climates and terrains. The stem is the foundation of the plant and if it is weak it won’t be able to hold up the plant.
We all know that lavender can get quite bushy and a thick hard stem is mandatory.
This is usually carried out in an attempt to increase the bloom capacity and the tendency of flowering plants, particularly lavender.
Deadheading is a common gardening term referring to the removal of spent flowers (faded or dead flowers).
Apart from improving a plant’s flowering performance, it also works with pruning to improve the appearance of the plants.
When Will Lavender Come Back?
Understandably, lavender plants must become dormant during the winter season. If the plants were to grow and shelter themselves from the cold, they would perish.
The wisest thing to do is to stop growing. But after winter when will the plants really grow again? They will grow in spring.
During spring temperatures increase and the plants can easily get many more hours of full sunlight. This triggers the plant to shoot and show more fresh greenery.
By the time late spring ends and summer approaches, the lavender plants should be flowering or getting ready to flower.
It is definitely possible for lavender to come back after winter and it may take some initiative from you.
But, even if you make conditions favorable, French/Spanish lavender will not survive winter outdoors unless you live in a warm state.
Factors that influence the possibility of lavender coming back are:
- Lavender variant
- Season severity
- Plant’s health
- Care and conditions available to the plants
- Pruning tendencies and frequency
To make less tolerant lavenders grow after winter, plant them in pots and bring them indoors till winter ends.
English and Lavandula x intermedia lavenders are the most hardy types and can be left outside during winter.
Depending on the type of lavender, these plants can live for up to 15 years. English lavender lives for 10-15 years while other types like French lavender can live for 3-5 years when cared for properly.
But just because a plant can live for so many years doesn’t mean it will.
Some lavender plants like the English and Lavandula x intermedia variants are capable of surviving winter outdoors will little help.
However, French and Spanish lavender needs to be brought indoors to have any chance of surviving winter.