How to Manage Pests

Pests in Gardens and Landscapes

Cultural Tips for Growing Lavender

In This Guide

Site selection

Lavender grows best if the plant receives full sun for 6 hours or more each day. Try to plant away from areas that will be watered by lawn sprinklers. Whenever possible, select a location that is not heavily infested with weeds, especially weeds that can be hard to control with hand weeding. Also avoid areas that have had previous disease problems. Planting on level ground may be easier to work on than sloping ground.

Herbs will do well on a wide range of soils and especially in well-drained soils. If your soil forms a clump when squeezed, then it is too wet; if the soil crumbles easily, it is a good soil to use. Damp soil surfaces encourage snails, slugs, sowbugs, and root diseases.

Adding organic matter (compost, peat moss, manure, sawdust, ground bark) makes clay and sandy soils easier to work with. Lime or gypsum can be added to soils low in calcium.

Soil recommendation

Well-drained soils with pH of 6.5 to 7.5.

Soil improvement

Any type of soil can be improved with soil amendments. A more coarse-grained amendment can improve drainage and aeration for growing lavender. Work amendments into soil by rototilling, raking, or double-digging.

Soil preparation

The preparation of your soil is just as important as adding fertilizer and soil amendments. Before working the soil, make sure it is moist but not thoroughly wet.

  1. Use a shovel, rototiller, metal bow rake, or all of them together to loosen the top 1 to 2 inches of soil. Rake the area to remove weeds and old crop debris. Be sure to dig out roots.
  2. Irrigate the plot deeply to encourage the germination of weed seeds.
  3. In a week or two, after a substantial number of weeds have germinated, work the area again to kill the weed seedlings. Be sure to break up the clods in the soil, as seeds planted in cloddy soil will germinate poorly and won't live long because the soil dries too quickly.
  4. Form soil into beds if desired, and plant while soil is still wet.

Time to plant

Transplant lavender in spring after last frost or in fall before danger of frost.

Planting Dates for Lavender in California*
North and North Coast
Monterey County north
April – May
September – November
South Coast
San Luis Obispo County south
April – May
Interior Valleys
Sacramento, San Joaquin valleys
Desert Valleys
Imperial and Coachella valleys
*Planting dates are only approximate as the climate may vary greatly within the regions denoted. Contact your local UC Master Gardener program and experiment on your own to find more precise dates.

Planting Lavender

Lavender can be propagated from seed, by cutting, or division. Seeds can be started indoors, but for most varieties, growing from seed can be a slow process. Space plants 3 feet apart in rows and 4 to 5 feet between rows. Plant in full sun.


If needed, a fertilizer can be incorporated in the early growing season. All commercial fertilizers are labeled by the percentages of N-P-K; nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). Some common mixed fertilizers are 5-10-5, 5-10-10, 8-16-16, and 12-12-12. For lavender, a 10-10-10 fertilizer at a rate of 1/2 to 1 pound per 100 square feet can be incorporated prior to planting. Once plants are established, sidedress fertilizer in narrow bands or furrows during the early part of the growing season and water thoroughly after application. Avoid fertilizing during flower development. Mature lavender does not require fertilizer.

Watering Lavender

In dry areas, irrigation is necessary when plants are being established. Proper watering is very important during flowering. Drip irrigation is recommended as overhead watering can damage plants and promote disease.

Harvesting and Storing Lavender

Lavender flowers can be cut at any time. If you are going to dry flower heads, the flowers should have only a few florets open. Prune plants after flowering is done to help lavender plants grow.

More Information

Lavenders for California Gardens (PDF), UC ANR

Spanish lavender.

Spanish lavender.

Seed bed preparation.

Seed bed preparation.

Amending soil to prepare for planting.

Amending soil to prepare for planting.

Drip irrigation system.

Drip irrigation system.

Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
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