Lavender is a beautiful shrub that can provide not only a great fragrance but also (and for some even more importantly) a stunning pink or purple display of flowers in the warmer months. However, to keep this perennial shrub thriving during the year, it is important to provide the right amount of water. How to water then lavender.
Watering lavenders changes significantly depending on the season, location, and soil texture. Indoor lavender plants require less watering than outdoor ones. Lavender plants may require daily watering during hot summers (above 90°F or 32°C)—especially if planted in very gritty garden soil. Lavender should not be watered when the soil is still moist.
Do you know the lavender water requirements? Or how often to water lavender? If you don’t that’s perfectly fine because I’ll teach you all about these things in this article!
As a general rule, gardeners should only give lavender plants 0.25–1 gallon every 1–2 weeks. Younger plants require more water than established or mature lavenders. Despite being drought-tolerant it flowers more with regular watering.
Lavender is a flowering shrub native to the hot and semi-arid Middle Eastern and Indian regions. It is widely spread on the Mediterranean coast, especially in France and Italy. So as you might’ve guessed, it doesn’t need a lot of water.
Below is a picture showing a naturally growing lavender. Did you notice something? It is growing among rock!
The way you water lavender is affected by environmental conditions. Lavender is way easier to grow outside but I also have quite good success with indoor ones. Its location is important to know when this plant should be watered.
Depending on the location where it’s grown and the season in the area, lavender may need to be watered daily, as when they’re grown outdoors during very hot summers. Alternatively, potted lavenders indoors only need to be watered once a month or so.
Either way, it’s best to avoid watering lavender from overhead as this can cause their leaves to get too wet and not dry completely once the night comes. It’s best to directly water their soil so that the lavender’s roots can effectively absorb the moisture they need.
Also, improperly watering your lavender plants can negatively affect how much they bloom.
Find out more in our article on why your lavender isn't flowering!
How Much Water Do Lavenders Need?
In the case of outdoor lavender, I would go with a gallon of water per grown plant, a nice bush. However, there is not really a strict rule.
Remember, that in an open garden, you are going to have way better drainage than in a planter as the water is less easy to retain in the ground than in a container.
Once indoor lavender has water dripping from the drainage holes, it means that its potting soil has absorbed as much as it can already.
Moreover, because these plants aren’t directly exposed to external elements including sunlight and strong winds, they’re less likely to need a lot of water.
How to Water Lavender Outdoors
Despite my specialization in indoor herbs, many come to me to ask for suggestions regarding how to correctly water outdoor lavender as well. Hence, if you grow this shrub on your balcony or outdoor garden keep reading.
How Often Should You Water Lavender Outdoors in Autumn?
During autumn, outdoor lavender does not need watering. Also, keep in mind that if it rains at least once a week, your lavender is likely satisfied enough with how moist its soil has become thanks to mother nature.
How Often Should You Water Lavender Outdoors in Winter?
The drastic reduction in the number of sunlight hours in the winter months induces lavender plants to go into a dormant period.
So in winter, when their growth has substantially slowed down, outdoor lavenders need little to no watering. No fertilizer should be applied to lavender in winter either.
Learn other ways to keep lavender alive in winter!
If the soil is less gritty and you experience some sort of rain at least once a week or every two weeks in spring, your lavender plants outdoors can be watered as frequently as once or twice per week.
Meanwhile, when your lavender’s soil drains easily and very well, you can water it daily during springtime.
How Often Should You Water Lavender Outdoors in Summer?
In summer, the frequency of watering lavender greatly depends on which area you live in. Are you experiencing the scorching in western Texas or somewhere milder than in North Dakota? This makes a massive difference in your watering routine.
Lavender plants grown in well-draining soil can be water daily in the summer when outdoor air temperatures rise above 90°F (32°C) during day time.
Actually, I know a few friends living in Texas who water their outdoor lavender plants as often as twice a day during their scorching summers!
Lavender can be grown indoors. However, it is way more challenging than other herbs and it does require a good amount of sun—or full-spectrum artificial light—to develop.
However, if you attempt to grow it on your windowsill (well done!) here are some watering suggestions for you.
Remember the obvious. You need to be more constant and keep an eye on the plant as it relies totally on you. Go on holiday for 2 weeks leaving the lavender on the windowsill with no watering system in place and you might find a dry plant on your return.
Indoor lavender plants don’t receive water from the sky in the form of rain and snow, so even during the cold season, they need to be watered.
When autumn comes, indoor lavenders should only be watered more or less once a month. They soil should be allowed to dry first before they are watered once again to prevent overwatering.
For winter months, indoor lavender plants should be watered as often as once a month. It may even go a full month without watering if its soil is still moist.
Remember to only water it if the soil beneath the surface feels dry at the touch. Do not confuse cold soil with wet soil.
The reason number one for dying lavender indoors is overwatering—especially for a low-water plant like lavender. So it’s way better to stay on the drier side of things.
Rising temperatures and longer sunny days in spring prompt indoor lavender plants to start growing actively once again. During this time, they can be watered weekly.
Indoor lavender plants can behave similarly to those grown outdoors. Higher air temperatures and longer daytime in the summer promote growth so they need frequent watering during this season.
This also causes water to evaporate from the potting soil faster, leaving less moisture for the plant’s roots to absorb. So they need to be watered at least once a week as well.
But if the potted lavender is placed in a very sunny spot indoors, you may need to water it as often as twice a week every summer.
Now, I hope you have a good grasp on how often to water lavender!
I have grown herbs both indoors and outdoors for many years now. What I have learned is a simple rule. Plants are more resistant to drought than we think.
In fact, more often than not, it is excessive and over-the-top care—and watering—that causes them to suffer!
1. Overwatering is a Bigger Problem for Lavender
Lavender watering issues are often due to overwatering rather than underwatering. Remember, lavender is a shrub that thrives in semi-dry and dry soil.
Unfortunately, overwatering issues are particularly common during cold seasons—even more so for lavender plants kept indoors.
The only exception to this is a lavender plant grown outdoors during very hot summer months when its soil can dry up pretty quickly, potentially causing issues in the long run.
Lavender is a living being that grows and evolves. As such, lavender watering needs to change, not only through the year but also within months.
2. Colder Weather Means Less Water for Lavender
Lavender should be watered with a way lower frequency during the winter and autumn months.
Indeed, the reduction in sunlight and drop in temperature slows down significantly the growth process of lavender, leading to a way less need for water.
Lavender, like any other herb, does not follow precisely any rules and it does not have any precise amount of water you need to provide.
3. Watering Lavender is Not an Exact Science
There is not a specific amount of water or frequency that will make the lavender thrive.
What is important is to provide a minimum amount of water and avoid more importantly overwatering a plant.
Hence, in the following section, you can find how I personally water lavender.
Practical Tips for Watering Lavender Plants
Below are important things to keep in mind when watering lavender plants.
1. Mulching During Hot Seasons
If lavender is outdoors in a very dry and hot climate I would recommend using mulch. This will keep the lavender soil moist for longer avoiding it to dry out.
Use only a thin layer. You should be able to reach the soil by just scrubbing away the top of it.
2. Reduce Compost in Cold Weather
As discussed in our article on the best soil for lavender, you should use only a limited amount of compost, especially if you live in a wet climate.
Lavender does not require a large amount of nutrients (and compost does not have much anyway). Just a small amount will do.
3. Don’t Water Nutrient-Rich Soil Often
If your soil has a high compost volume you might need to water less but more frequently.
This is because the compost has a high retentive capability but should not let it dry (as otherwise, it will take hours to reabsorb water again).
4. Feel the Soil Before Watering
Never water lavender—regardless of location and season—if its soil still feels wet at the touch. Otherwise, you’ll run the risk of overwatering and killing your lavender plants.
5. Match the Pot With the Climate
Terracotta containers are the best for lavender but they dry more quickly. So this is something that you want to keep in mind especially if you live in a dry area.
6. Soak Newly Bought Plants
If you buy a plant from the supermarket, or you just had it delivered to you, its soil can be very dry. In this case, do not hesitate to soak it in water.
Generously water the soil until it drips heavily from the drainage holes. Also, don’t put it in full sun straight away but after a day to prevent shock.
7. Save Wilting Plants By Watering
Lavender will wilt if there is not enough water in the soil. However, if you water it in time it will recover and continue to thrive. So familiarize yourself with it and learn how to tell if lavender needs water.
This is not the case if wait too long before the next watering. Hydrate underwater lavender in more or less a week to save it. So remember how often to water lavender plants correctly to avoid such problems!
How often to water lavender in pots?
The material as well as the placement of the pot they are in will affect how to water lavender plants. Lavender in plastic pots indoors, for instance, will require watering less frequently. Outdoor lavender plants in terra cotta planters exposed to full sun, however, could require a more frequent watering schedule—up to 4–7 per week.
How to tell if lavender needs water?
Underwatered lavender plants typically dry up and become pale in color due to lack of water. So a withering lavender needs to be watered. Otherwise, the plant may die. If the lower leaves are yellow and the plant has softened or turned mushy, it’s an overwatered lavender.
Lavender plants grown outdoors require way more watering than those kept indoors, with easier-to-control growing environments. However, high drainage soil in a planter with drainage holes is essentially for indoor lavender to avoid overwatered lavender plants.
In case of scorching summers and very draining soil, it may be necessary to water lavender plants at often as once a day. Conversely, lavender requires very minimal care and watering in winter as it enters a period of dormancy.
- “Lavender” by n/a in PlantVillage
- “English Lavender in the Garden” by Keenen Crummitt and Dan Drost in the Utah State University
- “Lavender creates beauty and fragrance in your landscape” by Laura Murphy in The University of Arizona
I am very glad you arrived here and I hope you will take some of my experience with you. Enjoy your lavender! (it can last up to 20 years!)
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