French Lavender is perhaps the most appealing lavender type. Its flower blooms are colorful and these plants can even flower up to three times a year!
Conditions favoring the growth of French Lavender include porous soil, Infrequent watering, Full sunlight, Low humidity, Constant pruning, and no Fertilizer. Also, you have to bring them indoors in frosty winter if you want them to live for their full 5 years!
French Lavender Growing and Caring Tips
If you are looking to try and grow it or any of its variants, there are certain conditions you must meet! Failing to meet them will lead to poor growth. This can affect the outcome of flowers, their fragrance, and their colors.
To avoid disappointment and have your lavender that lasts 4 – 5 years, follow these tried and tested growing and care tips.
French lavenders tend to thrive best in the sunniest spot in the garden. While other plants may droop or wilt in the garden, this plant will grow optimally!
Sunlight is crucial to lavender because it helps them grow and flower. It also helps to dry the soil and air around the plants. All lavender plants hate moist environments regardless of how high temperatures are.
Before planting your lavender plants, observe your garden. Choose the spot that receives the most intense sunlight.
But make sure the sun lasts for several hours before it fades away. Also, this particular location shouldn’t have anything that can potentially block the sun.
French lavender plants will appreciate full sunlight for around 6 hours. Even if you are planting your lavender indoors, make sure it is in a sunny window. Long hours of intense sunlight can stimulate better blooms in French lavender.
If lavender plants only receive half their sunlight requirements, they are unlikely to thrive. Ill effects will be visible when it becomes unbearable for the plants.
To save your plants, you will have to remove anything obstructing the sunlight’s path. Or, you may have to transplant your lavender to an area of more intense sun or longer sunlight coverage.
If you want your Lavender to survive winter, you have to grow it in pots and bring it indoors!
Carefully monitoring your watering routine could just save your French lavender plants.
Any lavender type you decide to grow will share the same watering frequency as this lavender. Generous waterings infrequently are enough to pacify lavender.
Water French lavender once every two weeks during the summer growing season. Decrease watering if it has rained lately.
In winter, you can water these plants once every 4 to 6 weeks. But, this only applies if the soil is dry!
Watering French lavender too frequently with too much water can spell disaster for the plants. The situation is made worse when water-retaining soils are used.
The saturation of moisture in the soil affects the roots.
Constant soil waterlogging will cause overwatering which then induces root rot. Roots usually lose their structure and function when root rot affects them.
A lavender plant that lacks a fully functional root system will perish.
This makes watering and soil type two very impactful factors for growing and caring for lavender.
3. Temperature and Climate
Ever wondered why lavenders originate from and do so well in the Mediterranean and similar climates?
If you study such climates you will notice something common in all of them. They have high temperatures and infrequent rainfall. This suits French lavender well!
French lavender cannot tolerate cold, frost, or high rainfall. Unfortunately, this lavender is the least hardy of all lavenders. French lavender can only tolerate USDA zones 8 to 11.
Leaving your French lavender outdoors during winter will definitely end in death.
Because of its lack of tolerance for cold, French lavender is best for hot or moderate climates only! That’s if you want to grow it outdoors.
Bringing your lavender indoors may be enough to help it through winter. Plus, this lavender can even flower while indoors.
Humidity affects all lavenders.
If it is high, it negatively affects the plants. If it is low, it positively affects the plants. Monitoring the humidity will save your lavender plants as they are very sensitive to humidity changes.
Plus, high humidity between plants can harbor an environment that favors fungal growth.
It means that your lavender plants risk being infected by a fungus. Once this happens, your plant will start to change color as the infection becomes detrimental.
To avoid humidity issues, space your French lavender at a distance between 1 to 3 feet away.
Provide spacing depending on the variant of lavender you are growing. 1 foot for smaller lavender plants and 3 feet for larger lavender plants.
Providing this much space between plants will prevent high humidity. Air currents will be able to surround plants and remove moisture from the plant’s surface and the air.
Also, sunlight will be able to encapsulate each plant and dry up the soil and air.
So, lack of sunlight can also contribute to high humidity. Choosing the right soil also helps to avoid overwatering and high humidity as you will find out.
Choosing the best soil is highly important since it decides a few factors that directly affect the lavender plants grown in it.
Soil is responsible for having the right pH, adequate nutrients, as well as having excellent water draining ability.
Let’s discuss them separately, one at a time to understand them better.
Well-Draining Soils For French lavender
Don’t attempt to grow this lavender without well-draining soil. If there is one strict demand lavender makes, it is the soil requirements.
Unlike most other plants, lavenders hate to sit in moist soils. Especially those that create water-logging.
Overly wet soils can make roots rot (root rot) and prevent these vital parts from respiring. Microbial spores are already present in the soil.
If the soil becomes moist and warm, these spores can induce fungal root infections.
When measuring the exact properties of your soil, pH is a major feature. It determines the suitability of your soil for French lavender.
French lavender thrives in alkaline soils, but it should be above pH 7 and below pH 8. But in some instances, these plants will tolerate the mildest of acidic soils.
Don’t know what’s the pH of your garden soil? No worries, just use a store-bought soil test kit to get an accurate pH reading.
In case it turns out that your soil is acidic, it’s not the end of the world! You can amend your soil by adding lime.
Get horticultural lime from your local department store’s gardening section. Alternatively, you can buy it online without having to go out looking for it.
French Lavender Thrives In Poor To Medium Soils
Coming to the nutrient value present in the soil, the less the better for French lavender! Almost all plants love and flourish in nutrient-rich soils. However, French lavender plants (or all lavenders) are different.
But take a look at the soils in the Mediterranean, France, and Southern Europe. They are the same. Indeed, they all have sandy soils.
All sandy soils are naturally less fertile than regular soils due to the high sand and grit content.
Soils with low to medium fertility are best for lavender plants. Highly fertile soils could make your lavender plants leggy and reduce flowering tendencies.
Choose the correct soil to avoid this from happening. After all, a beautiful and full lavender bloom is your ultimate goal!
French lavender plants are resourceful and are capable of finding nutrients themselves. They get them mostly from the soil.
But this doesn’t mean you should feed them! Their nutrient needs are very minimal and easy to over-feed.
So, in this case, it is best to let them be instead of giving them unwanted nutrients.
Avoid providing your French lavender plants with fertilizer. Since this will drastically affect their flowering ability.
Fertilizer doesn’t just refer to adding extra chemicals or solid material. Fertilizing material like compost can also be present in the soil.
Pruning French lavender has several advantages that you can’t afford to miss out on. Here they are:
- It maintains a neat manageable shape
- Stimulates growth of flower-bearing stems
- Lengthens the life of your lavender plant by adapting the lower stem
- Prevents leggy growth
People are usually split over when to prune French lavender. We suggest pruning them in Spring (early) and the Fall.
Prune in the fall if you are in a warmer climate with mild winters. Or, prune in early spring as this will encourage the growth of flowering stems.
Start off by pruning back ⅓ of the green growth, do not surpass this measurement! Cutting into the woody stem can reduce the strength and stemming potential of your lavender.
Pruning into the woody stem may even cause the splitting of the plant trunk.
Stick to the actual measurement to prevent any ill effects caused by over-pruning French lavender.
Growing French Lavender In Pots
Of all the lavenders, French lavender, and particularly the dwarf variants are commonly selected as house plants. This lavender type grows well in pots.
If you live in a cold climate, bringing French lavender indoors is inevitable. They only tolerate USDA zones 8 to 11.
French lavender grows well in pots since they like the fast-draining capacity and warm temperatures available with it.
Here are some tips for growing French lavender in pots.
- Choose a pot that is wide enough and deep enough, the preferable size is 12-16 inches in width and a depth no less than 10 inches. Plus the pot should be made from clay or terracotta to aid drying. Adequate drainage holes should be available on the bottom of the pot.
- A newly planted French lavender needs more watering than a mature plant. Water your mature plant once every two weeks.
- Placement counts. Avoid placing the pot in areas of high humidity (bathrooms and kitchens). Place them on a sunny window where the window only stays open for a few hours.
- Fertilizer is not required by these plants as they love poor soil.
- As for soil requirements, keep to a ratio of 70:30 (potting mix or soil: sand/grit)
Follow these growing and caring tips for potted French lavender and you can’t go wrong!
Best Time To Plant French Lavender
Naturally because of its intolerance towards winter (cold and frost), French lavender will be most suitable for warm climates.
So, these plants won’t have to worry about preparing for winter. This gives a wider window for which you can plant them.
The planting season for French lavender lasts from early spring through to the fall. But, the planting timing with the most benefits is in the early spring.
Why this timing? Planting in early spring allows the lavender to develop and anchor its roots.
Thereafter it will be able to source water and nutrients during the summer season. The plant will be more than ready to flower when summer arrives!
Summer planting should be avoided at all costs! This is because at the time of planting ‘transplant shock’ may occur.
If the French lavender suffers from this in summer, flower output will be poor due to stress.
French lavender has similar requirements to most other lavender plant types. Except they are less hardy and more sensitive to overwatering.
Otherwise, they want more intense sunlight for long hours.
Soil pH must be between pH 7 and 8 with poor nutrient levels. Pruning is important and so is its timing.
A major part of caring for French lavender is keeping it sheltered from the cold as it only tolerates USDA zones 8 to 11.
Stay on track with these tips and hopefully, you will have a flowering French lavender plant that lives for years!
Keeping French lavender alive involves providing dry conditions and avoiding moisture and fertilizer. These plants are also incapable of surviving winters outdoors. You must plant them in pots and bring them indoors to help them stay alive.
A few types of French lavender are:
Lavandula stoechas ‘Anouk’, Lavandula stoechas ‘Regal Splendour, Lavandula stoechas ‘Ballerina’