I love the smell of lavender, which has many benefits, but getting them to start from seeds can be frustrating. Lavender seeds are notoriously difficult to grow from seed, but I learned the secret of how and will share it with you!
Have you tried to unsuccessfully grow lavender plants from seeds or are you trying for the first time and want to do it right? I’ll teach you how to germinate lavender seeds to have beautiful fragrant lavender plants in your garden.
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Lavender Seeds Need Cold Stratification
For several years I tried to start lavender seeds without success. I planted them directly in the ground. I planted them in pots. They did not come up. Not a single one.
This year I wanted to try again but had heard from many people that they are difficult to germinate. I looked up how other people germinate lavender seeds and found out I was missing an important piece of information: Lavender seeds need to go through a cold stratification process to germinate.
What is Cold Stratification?
Stratification is the process of exposing seeds to cold and moisture in order to help them germinate. The Illinois extension writes, “Many plants require a period of cold temperatures to break their dormancy cycle with woody plants and herbaceous perennials being some of the more common species.”
Certain seeds have a harder exterior to protect them from germinating in the wrong season. Better Homes and Gardens states, “Many perennials produce seeds in late summer or fall; if they germinated immediately, their seedlings would likely not survive winter. So, before they germinate, the seeds of many hardy plants must first experience a period of cold temperatures, known as seed stratification (or cold stratification).”
What does that mean for your lavender seeds? It means that you as the gardener will have to simulate that cold period so the hard outer shell of the lavender seed can be broken to allow the lavender plant to emerge.
How do you do that? I’ll teach you how.
I am an affiliate with Trueleaf Market and High Mowing Organics.
Where to Buy Lavender Seeds
Before I tell you how to germinate your lavender seeds, I’ll first give you a few options of places to buy them.
Step #1: Get a Plate and a Paper Towel
The first step in getting your lavender seeds to sprout is to get a plate and a paper towel. Wet your paper towel so that it’s damp but not dripping wet. Place that paper towel on your plate. You could also place a wet paper towel in a clear plastic container instead.
At this point, you can sprinkle your lavender seeds on the moist paper towel. I sprinkled mine very liberally because I didn’t expect many of them to germinate.
Step #2: Put it In a Cold Place
Now that you have your seeds on the moist paper towel, place them in a gallon-sized ziplock bag. Next, place the entire thing in the refrigerator. Your refrigerator can simulate the cold temperatures of winter so the seeds think it’s time to germinate once they are removed.
Step #3: Leave it Alone for 3-6 Weeks
Leave the sealed seed bag in your refrigerator for 3-6 weeks. I wrote it on my calendar so I would remember when to take them out. If you’re more technologically prone you can set a reminder on your phone or device.
Step #4: Set the Seeds In a Warm Bright Place
Lavender seeds require warmth and light in order to germinate. You can place them in a sunny window or use a heat mat and grow lights to help them sprout.
Step #5: Be Patient Again
I did the cold stratification process with my lavender seeds and expected them to germinate quickly afterward. That was not the case with mine. It took several more weeks before I saw the tiny little green leaves emerging from the seed casing.
It’s also important to note that they did not all germinate at the same time. They germinated over several additional weeks.
Eventually, I started more lavender seeds than I could provide space for and I threw away the seeds that had yet to sprout.
Step #6: Plant Your Seedling Starts in Soil
Once the tiny sprouts emerge, you can place them in the soil. I put mine directly in potting soil in plastic containers, but you could use a seed starting mix if you prefer. Mine did fine in potting soil.
Your little lavender starts will appear to be stagnant for a while. That’s because they take a long time to develop their roots and they’re slowly growing in general. They won’t germinate and grow quickly like your tomato or basil plants.
An Alternative Way to Start Lavender Seeds: Winter Sowing
Winter sowing has gained quite a lot of popularity in the last few years because it’s economical and easy for many gardeners.
What is winter sowing, you ask? It’s the process of placing seeds in milk jugs that act as small greenhouses so seeds can start outside before the main planting season.
Many people believe this is a great method for growing hearty plants and help you avoid the need to harden off any plants before placing them in your gardens or raised beds.
This method is perfect for lavender seeds because it gives them the opportunity to go through cold stratification outside.
To winter sow lavender seeds, start early. You can put them out as early as January or February and then simply wait until they sprout.
I was able to successfully start lavender seeds this way and it’s an easy no-fuss way of doing it.
To use this method follow these steps:
Step #1: Prepare Your Milk Jugs
Step #2: Fill With Moist Potting Soil
Fill your milk jugs to your cut line with moist potting soil. I usually get a bucket and fill it with potting soil and added enough water to make my soil moist but not sopping wet. The soil should be formable but not soaked.
Step #3: Plant Your Seeds
Next, you will plant your lavender seeds in your milk jug. I usually plant seeds in the four corners and in the center of the milk jug. I planted more than one seed per spot because I didn’t know how many would germinate and the seeds are small. If extra seeds germinate you can separate the seedlings and repot them.
Step #4: Seal Up Your Jugs and Place Them Outside
Label your milk jugs with the date and variety of lavender that you used. I use duct tape to seal up the sides of the milk jug where I previously cut the milk jugs open.
Set them outside where they will receive sunlight and won’t be in your way. I have mine on my back porch. Other people put them in their raised garden beds or alongside their house.
Remove the lid of your jug before placing outside.
Step #5: Wait Patiently (Or Forget They Exist)
At this point, it’s a waiting game. I mostly forget about mine until they germinate. I check on them from time to time but they don’t really require any maintenance.
Step #6: Separate Seedlings If Necessary
Once your seeds do germinate, you may want to separate seedlings if you planted more than one seed per spot and they all germinated.
Do this very carefully so as not to break the stem or harm the roots. Place in a small pot or planter with moist potting soil.
How to Care For Your Lavender Plants
- Lavender plants enjoy full sunshine, well-draining soil, and warm weather.
- Lavender plants are perennials and some varieties, such as English lavender, can live in zones 5-9. Spanish and French lavender plants are only hardy in zone 8 and above. Mulching can help protect lavender plants that winter outside.
- Lavender plants can be kept indoors in pots. You can also bring potted lavender plants inside in the winter and take them outside during warmer months.
- Avoid overwatering lavender plants.
What to Do With Lavender Plants
Growing lavender plants sound fun, but what can you do with them once they’re grown? Here are so ideas for your plants.
- Add dried lavender to a potpourri
- Add lavender to baked goods
- Create a lavender wreath
- Add lavender to a cut flower bouquet
- Grow lavender in your flower beds for their aesthetic
- Grow lavender to repel harmful pests
- Lavender is great for pollinators — specifically bumblebees
- Make a lavender salve or other apothecary items
- Make a lavender tea or add it to an herbal tea mix
- Simply smell your lavender to help calm down and lower anxiety
- Make a lavender linen sprat
- Use lavender for cooking
- Make a lavender lemonade
Now You Know How to Germinate Lavender Seeds!
And that’s it! You now know how to germinate lavender seeds and you can grow loads and loads of lavender from a $3-$5 seed packet. We’re overloaded with lavender here — so much so that I was contemplating starting a little herb seedling side hustle. Mayybe.
Have you tried growing lavender seeds before? Were you successful? Let me know about your strategies in the comments below. I’d also love to hear from you if you have any questions!
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