How to grow lavender from seed

A traditional country garden is not complete without the vibrant herb lavender. And that’s why we encourage even beginner gardeners to grow lavender from seeds each year.

Even if you have a modern garden with clean lines and no-fuss planting, growing lavender can soften edges and create a beautiful backdrop for stone paving, gravel paths, or wooden decking.

Grown for its brilliance of color, sweet fragrance, therapeutic uses, and culinary dishes and beverages, we can all grow lavender from seed. Start lavender indoors in a seed tray or directly in our garden.

Lavender flowering year 2
Lavender yields more flowers in the second season

There are many sorts of lavender. Most lavender is dark blue or purple. However, there are white varieties too. 

To successfully grow lavender from seeds, look for the hardiest variety, Lavandula Angustifolia (also known as English Lavender). The Hidcote and Munstead varieties of Lavandula Angustifolia will give you the best chance of success, and they are both blue-purple lavenders. 

Hidcote lavender offers a deeper purple color flower and a more compact flower head. Munstead has a lighter purple-blue color and a looser flower head.  As a result, when in full bloom, the Munstead variety looks fuller.

French lavender is not usually used in cooking or beverages. It is mainly used by makers of lavender oils, perfumes, potpourri, and lavender sachets for clothing wardrobes.

Starting lavender from seed in 9 easy steps

If you are on a budget or want an extra challenge, you can grow lavender from seed. Follow our guide below on how to grow from lavender seed.

We recommend you start your lavender seeds indoors early in the year. The seeds are slow to germinate, and you will increase the germination rate using a heat mat or placing the pots in a warm location.

  1. Use small plastic plant pots that have been carefully washed and are free of debris. Ensure the pots have holes in the bottom to assist with drainage.
  2. Fill each pot to about 2 cm / 1 inch from the rim with quality potting soil. For healthy growth, add one of the following soil amendments to your soil: compost, sand, peat moss, cocopeat, or perlite  
  3. Adding one of the above helps your soil drain better and gives the soil a better texture. The soil becomes lighter, helping drainage as well as water retention. You want moist soil and a light soil texture to help develop a healthy root system.
  4. Sprinkle the lavender seeds on top of the soil, and cover with a thin layer of soil or vermiculite. Do not bury the seeds deep – lavender seeds need light to germinate.
  5. Water by misting the seeds gently using a spray bottle. Cover pot or seed tray with plastic to help retain soil moisture.
  6. Places pots on a heat mar or other warm surface. You are looking for a temperature of 21-25 degrees Celsius (70-75 degrees Fahrenheit) for best germination.
  7. Water or spray seeds 2 or 3 times a week as needed.
  8. Seed germination time varies. Seeds may take from three to four weeks to germinate. When the lavender seedlings are about 8 cm / 3 inches tall, transplant them into larger pots.
  9. When the frost is over, you can transplant the lavender seedlings outdoors if you like or keep them growing in pots.

When to plant lavender seeds

The best time to plant lavender seeds is indoors in pots, starting at the end of February.

Starting early means you will have robust lavender seedlings that develop a healthy root system before moving them outdoors.

By the time the last frost has been and gone, your plants will be ready to be transplanted into larger pots outdoors or directly into your garden flower beds in April or May.

Lavender grows big when treated right
Grows big when treated righ

Do not forget to harden off your lavender seedlings before moving them outside. This means placing your lavender plant outdoors for a few hours a day over two weeks before moving outdoors permanently.

This way, you reduce the risk of transplant shock as the plant moves from a more regulated indoor temperature and conditions to the outdoors.

Caring for your lavender

Lavender loves full sun and warmth and does not mind direct sunlight. So if you are living in a cooler climate, the best way to get a successful lavender plant is to keep it in a pot indoors in a sunroom during the first winter.

At the end of May, or when the last frost is over, you can move your lavender outside in time for the warm summer months. Lavender prefers neutral to slightly alkaline soil.

If you want to move lavender from your pot into your garden, choose a sunny spot with well-drained soil. If planting multiple plants to grow a lavender hedge, you will need about three plants per meter, evenly spaced.

Water carefully and occasionally. Over watering will result in rotting roots, and the plant will die.

As a perennial, you can have a beautiful lavender plant that will last you years. But you need to care for it properly to ensure you get new growth each year and the best harvest possible.

How to harvest lavender leaves growing lavender from seeds

Most people use the flower buds on the lavender plant. Using a pair of kitchen scissors just cut the fresh flower buds immediately under the flower head.

Wash the lavender thoroughly before using it. Dry with a paper towel.

If you find you have a healthy plant but no flower heads left to harvest, you can also use the leaves. Start by harvesting the leaves furthest down the stems.

How to prune your lavender plant

Lavender is a perennial, so properly cared for it will have new fresh growth starting each spring. 

Prune mature lavender at the end of August, which is the end of the flowering season. Prune before the first risk of frost. 

Cut the plant down low to encourage fresh growth. You should be able to see the start of new fresh growth lower down on the stems, as little green buds.

Cut the stems back to about 20 cm / 8 inches tall and also trim the sides of the plant to about 20cm / 8 inches wide. This way you allow sunlight to reach the new growth.

Careful not to prune the lavender back too far, otherwise you will cut off the new growth for the following year.

The cut stems will harden off and be ready to resist the next winter’s frost and cold temperatures. 

Propagate lavender for new plants next year

Lavender is one of the easiest herbs to propagate. You can take cuttings from plants that are 2 to 3 years old. 

Propagate in the spring before the lavender flowers. Alternatively you can propagate lavender in the autumn after the last flowers have died off. 

Choose a hardwood stem that looks healthy. If the stem snaps easily then it is dead and should be discarded.

Lavender also attracts pollinators
Lavender and sage are great for attracting pollinators

With a sharp pair of scissors, make a clean cut to get a stem that is about 10-12 cm tall.

Strip the leaves from the bottom 5 or 6 cm of the stem. Put them to one side to use in your cooking or beverages such as a lavender latte.

Place the stem in a glass of water. Ensure remaining leaves are above the water.

Change the water several times a week. It will take 4 to 6 weeks to see roots starting to develop from the cuttings.

When you see a healthy root system, plant out your new lavender into a pot filled with soil. Water well but do not soak the plant. Soon you will have a whole new lavender plant.

Place your new lavender plants in a sunroom or anywhere that there is light and good air circulation.

How to collect lavender seeds

Once you have grown your first lavender plants, you can have an endless supply of lavender seeds to grow more lavender the following year.

Collect lavender seeds from your plants before you prune at the end of the growing season.

Snip the dead lavender flower heads from the plants and place in a paper bag.

Fold the top of the bag over to stop the flower heads dropping out, and shake the bag gently.

The lavender seeds drop from the dried flower heads into the bag. If they don’t, place the bag in a warm environment for a couple of days and try again.

Once you have collected the seeds, place them in a paper towel into an airtight glass jar, such as an old jam jar, ready for planting in February.

Buy lavender plants from your local garden centre

If you choose to buy a lavender plant from your local garden centre instead of wanting grow lavender from seeds, choose a good sized plant.

The smallest size and therefore the cheapest lavender plants will be very new and young. These can be difficult to establish successfully in your own garden. 

You will have more success when the plants are already established and larger. Look for plants grown in at least 1.5 liter pots.

The larger plants will have a larger root system and you will get more flowers the first year after purchase.

Lavender latte – A great way to use your garden lavender!

A latte is a espresso coffee blended with steamed milk, and finally a light layer of foamed milk on top. Adding the aromatic herb lavender to a latte will give you a fantastic, fragrant cup of lavender latte. And it’s surprisingly delicious.

Now, serious coffee connoisseurs rarely dabble with the perfection of a good cup of coffee.

But as we all know in the world of coffee there are way too many varieties for us to even get to the end of the beverage menu in any coffee shop. We usually know what we are going to order before walking through the door.

At home, however, making coffee – and any glorious variation such as a lavender latte – has been made simple thanks to the numerous home coffee machines on the market to choose from.

Think drip, single serve, french press, pour over, percolators and grinders. You get the picture.

Simply put, everyone wants to become their own barista.

What is a lavender latte?

A lavender latte is a new take on the traditional and beloved coffee latte. It’s an ideal morning drink, at breakfast or for a mid-morning coffee break that you can make at home.

Quite simply, a latte is a large cup of milk with an added shot of espresso (30 ml of espresso). 

What the lavender brings to a regular latte is a dimension of fragrance and sweetness that is unique and yet easily identifiable.

Long known for its calming and soothing properties, lavender is very floral and very aromatic. Both the flowers and the leaves of a lavender plant can be used in the kitchen in your beverages and recipes. 

In cooking, our favorite ways to enjoy this versatile herb are in lavender shortbread, lavender bread, lavender cupcakes and lavender marinades for dark meats.

And our favorite lavender beverage is in a lavender coffee latte. An even better way to enjoy a lavender latte is to add a sprinkle of chocolate powder over the top of the latte just before serving.

This enhances the semi-sweetness of the lavender even more.

Can I use garden lavender in A lavender latte?

Absolutely! Fresh lavender is essential to make a great lavender latte.  You can use fresh lavender from your market or grow your own at home, inside in a pot or directly into your herb garden.

How to make lavender syrup to use in your Lavender Latte

Lavender syrup is fantastic for adding to coffee and a variety of lavender cocktails and also to cake baking. Make your own easily at home. It lasts for about 2 months in a sealed jam jar in your refrigerator.

Ingredients

  • 1 part water
  • 1 part sugar
  • About 5 heads of fresh lavender flowers

Preparation

  1. Bring the mixture to the boil, stirring. Turn off and put the lid on the saucepan. Let the lavender infuse for about an hour.
  2. Strain the mixture and discard the lavender heads. When the syrup is cool, store in an airtight glass container in the fridge.

How to make the perfect lavender latte

For anyone who is a coffee lover and needs a special cup of coffee in the morning or to impress your friends, make a lavender latte easily following this recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 shot espresso(30ml)
  • 100ml steamed milk – use your favorite: whole, skimmed or reduced fat. You can even use wheat milk, almond milk or soy milk which work fantastically well. If you do not have a coffee machine, whisk your milk by hand until it is foamy.
  • 1 tbsp lavender syrup
  • Chocolate powder to sprinkle

Preparation

  1. Pour the warm milk into a tall mug
  2. Add the espresso
  3. Stir the lavender syrup into the coffee
  4. Using a small sieve, sprinkle dark chocolate powder lightly on the top of the lavender latte and decorate with lavender flowers.

Iced lavender lattes for summer months

If you are looking for a cool variation of a coffee beverage for the summer months without sacrificing your coffee fix, then try an iced variety.

Preparation

  1. Following the method above for making your lavender latte, use regular cold milk instead of warm frothed milk.
  2. Place 3 or 4 ice cubes in a tall glass. 
  3. Pour over a shot of espresso and swirl in half a tbsp lavender syrup
  4. Add vanilla pod seeds scraped from the inside of a vanilla pod that you buy from your local market
  5. Top up with ice-cold milk straight from your fridge.
  6. Stir thoroughly and sprinkle with chopped lavender leaves

Not only does this look great when serving to friends, it is an ideal chilled drink for a warm summer morning.

Meet the author: Mattias is an experienced gardener spending most of his free time on his knees among herbs, plants and garden vegetables. For the past two years he has been sharing gardening projects and how-to tutorials on the NordicLavender website and YouTube channel.