How to Grow a Lavender Tree | Your Plant Care Guide

Discover the secrets on how to grow a lavender tree along with tips for taking care of this popular plant with our complete plant care guide.

English lavender topiary with purple flowers in a planter with white flowers.
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Every spring I look forward to the arrival of lavender topiaries at Trader Joe’s. 

Their elegant forms and deliciously intoxicating fragrance captivate me and I cannot leave the store without grabbing one (or maybe two) of these beautiful plants. 

Despite my love for these lavender beauties, I’ve faced a problem…keeping them alive. When I shared this dilemma on social media recently, I found out I was not alone. 

It turns out that many others struggle with the same issue. 

But rather than resigning myself to the fate of wilted lavender yet again, I decided to take matters into my own hands. 

Armed with sheer determination, I decided to uncover the secrets of growing a beautiful and healthy lavender tree.

What I discovered was that with a few best practices, they really aren’t that hard to grow and care for once you learn what they need & love.

So, if you’ve ever found yourself longing for a vibrant lavender topiary, I’m excited to share my knowledge and the joys & challenges of cultivating these beloved plants.

Lavender plant with purple flowers needs full sun exposure and well-drained soil.

What is lavender?

Lavender is a versatile and fragrant herb that belongs to the genus Lavandula family, which includes over 40 different varieties.

It is prized for its aromatic gray-green leaves and delicate flowers, which range in color from shades of purple to blue, pink, and white, depending on the variety. 

Lavender is native to the Mediterranean region but is now cultivated and cherished worldwide for its ornamental beauty, culinary uses, and therapeutic properties.

Upright flower spikes with gray-green leaves on lavandula angustifolia.

In addition to its delicious fragrance, lavender is known for its calming and soothing effects, making it a popular ingredient in aromatherapy and herbal remedies. 

Lavender essential oils (extracted from the lavender flowers) is widely used in perfumes, soaps, and candles, as well as in natural remedies for stress relief, relaxation, and sleep support. 

One of my favorite ways to incorporate lavender into my daily routine is by making my own lavender linen spray and lavender shower melts.

Did you know?

Lavender’s ability to promote relaxation and reduce stress has been backed by scientific research. Studies have shown that the aroma of lavender oil can help lower heart rate, reduce blood pressure, and induce feelings of calmness & relaxation. 

What are the different types of lavender?

Lavender encompasses a wide array of species, each with its own unique characteristics and growing requirements.

Here are some of the most common lavender varieties…

  • English Lavender (Lavandula Angustifolia): English lavender is a popular variety for both ornamental and culinary purposes known for its sweet fragrance & compact growth habit. 
  • Lavandin (Lavandula x Intermedia): Lavandin is a hybrid of English lavender (Lavandula Angustifolia) and spike lavender (Lavandula Latifolia). It is prized for upright flower spikes and a greater tolerance to heat & humidity.
  • Spanish Lavender (Lavandula Stoechas): Characterized by its unique bracts that resemble rabbit ears. It typically blooms in spring and early summer, producing vibrant purple flowers atop slender stems.
  • French Lavender (Lavandula Dentata): Well suited for container gardening or as a border plant, French lavender is distinguished by its serrated foliage and fragrant flowers.
  • Fernleaf Lavender (Lavandula Multifida): Grown in rock gardens or Mediterranean landscapes, fernleaf lavender features finely cut foliage that resembles fern fronds with clusters of small, lavender blue flowers.

Are lavender plants annuals or perennials?

Lavender is a perennial herb, which means it can live for multiple years and regrow from the same root system each year. 

In favorable growing conditions, lavender can survive for several years producing new growth, foliage, and flowers each spring & summer. 

While lavender is technically a perennial, it is often grown as an annual in colder climates where winters are harsh and temperatures drop below its tolerance level. 

In these regions, lavender may struggle to survive freezing temperatures and may not return the following year. Therefore, those that live in cold climates may treat lavender as an annual, replanting it each spring or growing it in containers that can be brought indoors during the winter months for protection.

What is a lavender tree?

A lavender tree is a cultivated form of lavender that has been trained or pruned to grow in a tree-like shape. 

French lavender blooms purple flowers in late summer in a moss covered pot.

While lavender is typically grown as a low-growing shrub, certain varieties can be trained to develop a single trunk with a canopy of foliage and flowers resembling a miniature tree.

So cute, right?!

Lavender trees are a great way to add a unique focal point to a garden bed, patio containers, or any outdoor spaces. 

They provide the same aromatic fragrance and delicate blooms as traditional lavender shrubs but with a vertical presence that adds height & visual interest to your garden.

5 Steps for Lavender Tree Care Outdoors

Caring for a lavender tree outdoors is actually quite easy once you understand its specific needs.

I’ve learned these five things make a big difference in the health and beauty of our lavender tree, and they can for yours too!

Choose the Right Location

This is one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made in the past. 

I wanted lavender trees to flourish in a certain spot of our home that I thought would be pretty & perfect, but it turned out to be too shaded for them to thrive.

English lavender topiary with purple flowers in a planter with white flowers.

One of the secrets of growing lavender…they love sunlight.

 Plant lavender in a spot that receives at least 6-8 hours of sunlight per day. 

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Prepare the Soil

Lavender prefers slightly alkaline soil with good drainage. 

Before planting, amend the soil with some sand or gravel to improve drainage, and you can add some lime to raise the pH of your acidic soils.

Plant Carefully

Dig a hole slightly larger than the plant’s root ball and place it in the ground so that the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface. 

Backfill the hole with soil and gently tamp it down around the plant.

Avoid Overwatering

Lavender does not like to be over-watered. 

Excessive soil moisture can lead to root rot and other moisture related issues, ultimately causing the lavender to decline and eventually die.

Overwatering lavender can cause root rot so make the plant doesn't get too much water.

Water deeply but infrequently, allowing the soil to dry out between waterings.

I’ve found watering every other day has become a comfortable routine for my lavender plant. However, you’ll want to make sure to adjust your watering schedule based on your climate, soil type, and the specific needs of your plants.

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Prune Regularly

Pruning is essential for keeping lavender plants healthy and promoting vigorous growth & abundant flowers.

Trim back the spent flower stalks and about one-third of the plant’s foliage in late spring or early summer. 

This not only improves the plant’s appearance but also encourages the growth of new shoots and increases flower production. Use sharp pruning shears or scissors to make the task easier and ensure clean cuts that heal faster. 

Make small bunches of lavender to create lavender products like candles, potpourri, and sprays.

Note: Don’t discard pruned lavender sprigs! Instead, air dry them to create small bunches for sachets or infuse them into oils, vinegars, or syrups. You can also use them in craft projects like candles or potpourri for a fragrant lavender aroma throughout your home.

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Can a lavender trees be kept indoors?

Yes, lavender plants can be kept indoors under the right conditions.

You’ll want to make sure to pay attention to these things to keep your lavender happy and healthy…

  • Choose a sunny spot for your indoor plant where it can get full sun exposure each day. 
  • Lavender trees prefer temperatures between 60°F-70°F. Avoid placing your plant near drafty windows or heating vents, as temperature fluctuations can stress your plant.
  • Use a well-drained soil potting mix for your lavender tree. Choose a container with drainage holes to prevent water from pooling around the roots. 
  • Lavender trees are drought-tolerant plants and prefer slightly dry conditions. Water your indoor lavender tree sparingly, allowing the soil to dry out between waterings. 
  • Remove any dead or yellowing foliage, as well as spent flower stems, to encourage new growth. 

FAQs: Caring for Lavender Trees

How often should I prune my lavender tree?
Pruning frequency depends on the growth and health of your lavender tree. Generally, light pruning to remove spent flowers and shape the tree can be done frequently. More extensive pruning to maintain its size can be done in early spring before new growth begins.

How tall will a lavender tree grow?
The height of a lavender tree can vary depending on many factors including the specific variety, growing conditions, and pruning practices. Generally, lavender trees can range in height from 2 to 4 feet when full size, although some varieties may grow taller under the right conditions.

What are common pests and diseases that affect lavender trees?
Lavender trees are relatively resistant to pests and diseases, but they may occasionally encounter issues such as aphids, spider mites, and fungal diseases like root rot or powdery mildew. To prevent pest infestations, maintain good airflow around the plant, avoid overwatering, and inspect the foliage regularly for signs of pests or disease. Treat infestations promptly with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil, and prune away affected foliage as needed.

Where can I buy a lavender tree?

I like to buy lavender trees from our Trader Joe’s, however you will only find them at TJ’s for a couple of weeks each spring.

You can also find lavender topiaries at your local nurseries or garden centers (Lowe’s carries the same variety as Trader Joe’s), farmer’s markets, or online retailers.

Spanish lavender is a popular variety for a rock garden, garden bed, or containers.

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I look forward to sharing more of my home with you and inspiring you to have a well loved home! Follow me on FacebookInstagramPinterest, and LIKEtoKNOW.it.

xoxo, heidi

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English lavender topiary with purple flowers in a planter with white flowers.
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