Growing Lavender in Containers
Selecting Your Pot
Select a container for your outdoor potted lavender plant that is large enough to allow it at least 8-inches on all sides to grow and provide some extra soil for water retention. Select a container that is light in color to reflect sunlight. In hot locations, this will help keep the plant cooler. Make sure there are good drainage holes in the bottom. This is important for lavender! Pots that are tapered have better drainage.
Preparing Your Pot
Select a soil-less potting mix for your container; worm castings for nutrients are a good addition. Lavender also likes the addition of a little lime, so sprinkle lime into the mix using the manufacturer’s instructions. Position the pot where you want it to remain for the season. Lavender requires at least six hours of sunlight each day and doesn’t do well in open, windy locations. Pick a spot that is sunny and sheltered, but not directly against anything as it enjoys some air circulation.
Line the inside of the pot with a layer of newspaper. This will help retain moisture and create some insulation from the heat and cold. Don’t cover the drainage hole. Put lots of small stones or pot shards in the bottom for drainage. Make sure that if there is a saucer on your pot, it sits elevated. Lavender should never sit in water on wet rainy days!
Fill the pot 3/4 full with potting soil. Remove the lavender plant from its old pot and inspect the roots. If the plant is root bound, score the roots to encourage new, outward growth. Place the lavender plant in the center of the new pot. Fill the pot with soil to within a couple of inches of the top, making sure to cover the plant to its previous soil level. Firm it in place, tapping the soil to remove air pockets.
Water the pot thoroughly, and make sure that water is exiting the drainage hole. If it looks as though water is trapped in the pot, shift the stones in the bottom by inserting a narrow stick through the drainage hole until the water is released. It is a good idea to place a 1/2-inch layer of mulch on top of the soil to help retain moisture.
Caring for Potted Lavender
Fertilize your potted lavender plant with liquid fertilizer every other time you water, unless you added worm castings. This is necessary because prepared potting mixes are very porous and lose nutrients quickly. Check the plant frequently in the first couple of weeks to make sure it is receiving enough water. To check just insert your finger around the root ball to feel for moisture.
Take special precautions when keeping containers of lavender in areas that experience freezing winter conditions. French lavender can be overwintered indoors, while winter hardy varieties can be placed in the soil, pots and all, and returned to the patio in the spring.
Avoid placing lavender filled containers against walls and fences. Lavender needs good air circulation in a spot that is protected from strong winds.
Keep lavender healthy by pruning back a third of the plant each year after it blooms.
“Ladies fair, I bring to you,
Lavender with spikes of blue;
Sweeter plant was never found
Growing on our English ground.”
By Caryl Battersby