Lavender is more than just pretty purple flowers and a lovely smell. It has been used in traditional herbal medicine for thousands of years. However, Lavender is most commonly grown as an outdoor plant.
So, can you grow lavender indoors as houseplant?
Growing Lavender indoors is not as intuitive as some other plants might be. If you’re new to caring for houseplants, growing Lavender indoors might not be the safest bet. But with enough love and attention, you’ll have a thriving, delicious-smelling Lavender plant in your home before you know it.
With careful attention to these small details, your Lavender plants can live a happy life inside:
Benefits of Growing Lavender Indoors
We know that Lavender has been used for its relaxing, restorative, and protective benefits for over 2500 years. Today, Lavender is used widely in essential oils, candles, cosmetics, and even delicious recipes.
Growing Lavender in your home not only provides a beautiful aesthetic and calming scent, but opens a wide range of possibilities for your creativity to flourish.
Here are few ways to use your fresh lavender flowers:
Tips For Growing Lavender Plants Indoors
The most important thing to remember when growing Lavender indoors, is that it is your job to mimic its natural Mediterranean climate as best you can.
Lavender can be a lot less forgiving than most other houseplants. With a proper container, the right soil, enough sunlight, and careful attention, Lavender can be a wonderful addition to your home.
1. Choose Smaller Lavender Varieties For Indoors
The first step in growing Lavender indoors is to do your research. Some varieties of Lavender traditionally grown outdoors can grow up to waist high.
When being grown indoors, it is important to choose a dwarf variety of Lavender which will do much better growing in a container.
Some examples of dwarf Lavender varieties for indoor growing are Goodwin Creek Grey, Munstead, or French Lavender.
It is also important to consider if you plan on using your Lavender for cooking. If so, try to choose a sweeter variety like English Lavender, Munstead, or Lady.
2. Make Sure Your Lavender Gets Enough Light
The most important factor in growing Lavender is light. Since Lavender originates from the Mediterranean, it requires as much bright direct light as possible when being grown indoors. If it does not receive enough light, your plant will be weak and leggy, and it won’t be able to produce many flowers.
A south-facing window will receive the most sunlight throughout the day. You should try to place your Lavender as close to the window as possible. If your pot doesn’t fit on the windowsill, consider using a tall plant stand like this one.
If you don’t have a bright south-facing window, west-facing is the next best option. The plant will receive the afternoon sun for a longer period of time, but it will be less strong than with the midday heat.
If you still can’t get enough sunlight for your plant, it would be beneficial to use an LED grow light like this one, to prevent your plant from getting too leggy and thin.
This will supplement your Lavender with enough light to thrive like back home in its naturally sunny environment.
Be sure to rotate your Lavender plant at least once a week to ensure that all sides of the plant receive adequate amounts of sunlight.
Failing to rotate your plant will cause it to grow unevenly towards the light, having more flowers on one side than the other.
3. Choosing the Correct Soil
In its natural habitat, Lavender is found growing in mostly sparce and sandy soil. Soil that is too rich will hold onto water, which might be helpful for some plants but is the opposite of what your Lavender is looking for.
Instead of regular potting mix, Lavender should be planted in a lean soil mix, or cactus soil. Another strategy is to include a layer of sand or limestone gravel about 1 inch thick at bottom of the pot to help protect the roots from excess water at the bottom.
4. The Right Container for Your Lavender
Since Lavender prefers dryer growing conditions, a terra cotta or clay pot is the best choice. These porous materials allow for the evaporation of water through the pot, giving even the deepest soil an opportunity to breath.
Another factor in soil water retention is the size of the pot. Water will linger in the areas of soil without roots, providing unwanted moisture.
Your first pot should be no larger than 1-2 inches wider than the initial root ball. Once you think the roots have filled the space, you can move up a size.
5. Avoiding Overwatering Your Indoor Lavender
Just as if your Lavender plant were growing outside in its natural habitat, you should water according to the seasons.
Always allow the soil to dry at least 1 inch deep between waterings, however, the amount of time this will take depends on the time of year.
This is because spring and summer are periods of growth and prosperity, which requires more water as the plant uses more energy. In this time, you should water deeply and a little more often.
Then in the fall and winter, your Lavender plant will slow its pace and likely be less showy due to the shorter days and lacking sunlight.
During this time, you should be watering less often and allowing the soil to completely dry between waterings.
When watering Lavender, be sure to avoid getting any on the leaves or flowers. Wet flowers or damp foliage can create water pockets for insect pests or mold and mildew to thrive.
6. Pruning to Promote Bushiness
Snipping stems and branches provides the opportunity for more side shoots and encourages your Lavender to grow bushier, rather than tall and thin.
This should be done after the first flowering and then again in the fall right before growth slows down for winter.
When pruning the stem of any plant for bushiness, always remember to snip just after the node (towards the outside of the last set of leaves).
You can prune up to two-thirds of the plant but must be careful to avoid cutting down to the woody parts of the stem.
Pruning flowers off the tips of your Lavender stems will promote new growth, but it will decease flowering if done too often. Be sure to give your plant enough time to recover between pruning.
7. Feeding Lavender
Lavender does not have a high nutrient requirement. Since it does prefer a slightly more alkaline environment, you can crush up eggshells and incorporate them into the top layers of soil about once a month. A little bit of lime can help the soil from turning acidic as well.
For fertilizer, an all-purpose water-soluble houseplant fertilizer will due. It should be used at half-strength about once every 4 weeks during the spring and summer months. This will give your Lavender a gentle boost of energy to promote flowering.
During the winter months, your Lavender plant will be almost dormant. Without a full display of flowers or much new growth, simple water is just fine.
8. Temperature Management
Although Lavender generally prefers the heat, we cannot forget about the importance of the seasons.
Lavender plants require slightly different temperatures in the winter versus the spring and summer months.
In the winter, Lavender is better off in a cooler room in your house. Make sure that your Lavender plant is not being blasted by a nearby furnace vent in the winter.
Providing cooler winter temperatures will give your plant the break it needs to be ready for a burst of color in the spring.
9. Humidity and Air Circulation
Many houseplants require extra humidity however, Lavender prefers a low humidity climate around 40%. This happens to be around the usual humidity of a home.
Consider organizing your plants into groups based on ideal growing conditions and separating them by rooms in your home. This way you can provide extra humidity for those who need it, and not for those who don’t.
Always remember to leave enough space between plants to allow for good airflow. This will help prevent pests like insects and mildew.
A gentle breeze from an open window or ceiling fan is always welcome, ensuring it is not too strong causing wind damage.
10. Possible Diseases and Pests
One major benefit enjoyed by many aromatic herbs like Lavender is the natural pest deterrence caused by its strong scent.
However, there are still a few pesky insects and diseases to keep an eye out for.
The most common insect pests for Lavender are aphids, whiteflies, and spittlebugs. Weak or unhealthy plants are especially susceptible to diseases and pests.
Aphids are by far one of the most common pests for indoor houseplants. They are able to reproduce exponentially each day and quickly damage anything in their path.
These tiny green or brown pear-shaped bugs will cluster themselves in a mass on the stem of the plant.
Here, they vigorously suck the sap from the stem and secrete “honeydew” in the process. Aside from seeing the mass of bugs huddled on the stem, other signs and symptoms are deformed foliage and eventual leaf drop.
Aphids can be controlled by gently wiping the plant clean with a damp cloth, or spraying a diluted dish soap and water solution.
Whiteflies are closely related to aphids and damage your plant in the same way by sucking the sap from the stem and leaving honeydew behind.
These however, look like tiny white moths and will quickly disperse and fly away when the plant is disturbed.
This makes whiteflies slightly harder to deal with than their aphid cousins. A whitefly attack will likely cause yellowing leaves, stunted growth, and eventual leaf drop.
Spraying your Lavender plant with a strong stream of water can help remove the whiteflies and disrupt their ability to fly away.
Spittlebugs, as described by their name, are easy to identify by the foamy globs of spittle they create when drinking the sap from the stem of Lavender plants.
This foamy substance acts as a protective barrier, hiding the spittlebug nymphs and protecting them as they mature.
Although distracting from the beauty of the Lavender, a minor spittlebug infestation is no cause for alarm.
They can be controlled by simply removing the bugs by hand, since the spittle protects the nymphs from any pesticide attempts.
Alfalfa Mosaic Virus
Alfalfa Mosaic Virusis an extremely common disease in Lavender production which results in lowered yields, inability to survive the winter months, and the increased risk of infection by other diseases. You can identify Alfalfa Mosaic Virus by its distinctive mosaic pattern of blotches found on the leaves.
This virus is most often spread by aphids, so monitoring your plants for aphids is extremely important. Once your Lavender is showing signs of infection by this virus, it likely cannot be saved.
Shabis a type of fungus which is especially powerful and efficient at killing Lavender plants, even when they are healthy and strong. It appears as tiny black specks on the stems of the plant and spreads very quickly. Soon after infection your Lavender plant will start to wilt and die, as the fungus takes over.
Once shab has found your Lavender plant there is little, to no hope of saving it. Be sure to immediately cut away infected foliage or dispose of the entire plant before it has a chance to spread to any other plants in your home.
Caring For Lavender As A Houseplant FAQ
Is Lavender A Good Indoor Plant?
Lavender is not usually grown as an indoor plant due to its need for direct sunlight. But if placed in a bright south-facing window or supplemented with an LED grow light, Lavender can thrive indoors.
Can Lavender Grow In Pots?
Not all Lavender varieties can be grown in pots in the living room. Carefully selecting the right type of Lavender to be grown indoors is an important step. With proper light and care, it is possible to grow Lavender indoors.
How Much Light Does An Indoor Lavender Plant Need?
An indoor Lavender plant needs about 3-4 hours of direct midday sunlight. This will be achieved by placing the plant in a south-facing window.
If you don’t have a south-facing window, west-facing will be the next best option for prolonged afternoon sun around 5-6 hours, even if less direct.
However, supplementing with an LED grow light might be the best option if light is your limiting factor.
Can Spanish Lavender Grow Indoors?
Spanish Lavender is usually grown as an outdoor plant. However, it can be brought indoors if necessary. It is less hardy than other varieties, but can survive indoors in the proper conditions. If given lots of sunlight, low temps, and cautious watering, bringing Spanish Lavender indoors is a way for cold climate gardeners to save it from harsh winters.
Is Lavender Hard To Maintain?
Lavender is actually a very easy plant to grow once the proper conditions are met. When given “lean’ sandy soil, lots of direct sunlight, and a terra cotta pot, your Lavender plant requires very minimal maintenance and watering.
Why Is My Potted Lavender Plant Dying?
There are a few common reasons why your lavender plant could be dying, some more obvious than others. Sunlight is the most important resource for Lavender.
If your plant is growing unevenly or leaning to one side, has thin and stringy branches, or doesn’t seem to produce flowers, it is a sign that it’s not getting enough light.
If the leaves of your Lavender plant seem off-color, wilted, or start to die back, this could be a sign of root rot caused by overwatering.
Always make sure to allow the soil to dry between waterings. Using sandy soil with a terra cotta pot which is not too large, is the best water to control extra moisture.
You can check for root rot by turning the pot upside down and gently removing the plant as if you were about to transplant.
Observe the color of the roots, they should be white and clean looking. If the roots are brown and slimy, they have started to rot.
If caught early enough, a plant can be saved from root rot by cutting back the dead roots to expose fresh healthy ones and transplanting into fresh soil.