Lavender, also known as Lavandula angustifolia or English lavender, is a flowering plant native to the Mediterranean. It is famous for its calming floral scent and beautiful purple coloring.
Over the years, it has become a popular crop to grow for profit thanks to its many beneficial uses. The stunning fragrant plant is also called common lavender, garden lavender, and narrowhead leaf lavender.
Are you thinking of starting a profitable lavender farm, or just want to grow a garden for yourself? If so, proper care is the key to success.
From soil types to lighting requirements, everything you need to know to successfully grow lavender is below!
Lavandula plants need soils that are hot, dry, and sandy or rocky in nature. The soil should also be free-draining. If you have a problem with drainage, try planting elsewhere in a location that slopes. That will help the water flow more freely and yellowing foliage from oversaturation. It’s also important to note that the plant thrives in soils with a pH between 6.4 to 8.2.
When establishing common lavender, it will need one-gallon water once or twice a week. It is drought tolerant once mature and does not need frequent watering. A half gallon of water every two to three weeks is sufficient until buds form, and then once or twice weekly watering is necessary. Overwatering can cause root rot and turn foliage yellow.
Lavender thrives where it can receive six to eight hours of full sun. Even partial shade can be detrimental to the plant.
Humidity & Temperature
As previously stated, common lavender is drought tolerant and does best in low-humidity locations. It flourishes in hardiness zones five through nine and can withstand temperatures -20°F to 10°F or -28.89°C to -12.22°C.
If you use compost when planting lavender, you should not need fertilizer for the first year. In subsequent years, use slow-release fertilizer once during the growing season (early spring through late summer).
The best way to propagate common or garden lavender is through cuttings. To do so, find a vegetative stem and cut it just below a leaf joint or node. Then remove three to four of the lower leaves and coat the cut’s end in rooting hormone. Finally, place your cutting in moist soil that is around 70°F or 21.1°C. Always keep the plant moist but never saturated or overflowing with water. You can expect roots to form in 30 to 40 days.
Diseases & Pests
Over-fertilization can make the plant more susceptible to cold weather injuries and diseases. Phytophthora root rot can also affect lavender plants if they receive too much water and do not have adequate drainage. Large grasshopper infestations can also cause problems for less-established lavender plants and reduce yields.
For the best results, prune the plant yearly after flowering. Cutting back the plant to half its size can promote new growth and produce more vivid and lush plants. Pruning will also promote plant longevity.
Lavender has a wide blooming time frame. In some locations, blooming can start in early spring. Blooms can also occur all through the summer and sometimes into fall.
How to Grow Lavender
Growing lavender takes skill and knowledge. You need to know the best locations to grow the plant and how to start the process.
The best locations to grow Lavandula angustifolia are in zones five through nine. The plant will need access to full sun for roughly eight hours a day and low to moderate humidity. High moisture levels are detrimental and cause fungal diseases and root rot.
Most seasoned lavender growers do not grow the plant from seed because it is slow to germinate and may not resemble its mother plant. It can take three months for seeds to germinate, and they will need to be moved indoors during the winter to survive.
Propagation through cuttings is the most effective method for growing lavender. You can learn more about how to propagate through cuttings in the propagation section of this article.
If you still wish to grow the plant from seed, you will need to place the seeds in a seed-specific potting mix. They should germinate in a location with plenty of sun and warmth. You can place a heating mat under them to ensure the seeds stay warm.
Once you see a few inches of growth, you can begin the hardening process. The hardening process helps the plant acclimate to the outdoors. First, move them to a slightly sheltered outdoor location and then increase their outdoor exposure over a couple of weeks. After the couple of weeks are up and they have acclimated to the outdoors, you can transplant them.
Ensure that their new soil is well-draining and water weekly until mature. You can reduce watering to every two to three weeks once it matures.
Types of Lavender
Throughout this article, we have been referring to Lavandula angustifolia. But did you know that Lavandula is a genus of 47 known species? There are even different varieties of English lavender or Lavandula angustifolia, but their only notable difference is coloring.
Some varieties of lavender are more sought after than others to make specific products.
Below you will find information about some of the most common varieties.
French lavender, scientifically known as Lavendula dentata, has a distinct aroma of traditional lavender scent mixed with rosemary. It has compact flower heads with bracts that are light purple and grayish green foliage. Although, sterile bracts are slightly deeper in color. With proper care, the plant blooms non-stop from summer to fall. It has mid-length spikes and can reach between 12″ and 36″.
Lavandin is a hybrid of English and Portuguese lavender. It has the cold-hardiness of English but the heat tolerance of the Portuguese variety. The plant has white to dark violet blooms, grayish-green foliage, and is extremely fragrant. It is considered compact and grows to be 30″ tall.
Commonly known as Portuguese lavender, spike lavender has pale purple flowers with distinct long stems. The variety has one of the strongest scents, even richer than the standard English lavender. Once mature, it can reach 3′ tall and blooms from late spring through late summer.
Spanish lavender or butterfly lavender is a popular variety for making potpourris and essential oils. It has aromatic leaves that are slightly silver in color. Its flowers have a pinecone shape and are deep purple with sprouting ears on top. Once mature, it reaches a mere 18″ to 24″ in height.
Benefits of Lavender
Lavender has a wide variety of benefits thanks to its versatile nature. The fragrant plant can become an essential oil that aids with minor ailments, including period pain and headaches. It also relieves stress and reduces itchiness from bug bites. Additionally, there is research suggesting that when used as aromatherapy, it can improve melatonin levels. Another study shows a reduction in colic symptoms in infants when used for aromatherapy massages. 
The fragrant flower can also repel insects. Some homeowners use it to keep spiders and mice at bay.
Natural skincare users also apply the oil diluted to treat acne. Although evidence is currently minimal, lavender essential oil may also have antinociceptive, immunomodulatory, and anti-inflammatory properties. 
Its dried form is also fantastic for culinary purposes, including delicious desserts. It’s also arguably the most popular for soothing tea mixtures.
Lavender has a long history as well.
It was used to disinfect hospital floors and walls in World War One. Ancient Egyptians also used the flower to make perfume and incense. Greeks and Romans commonly used it for herbal-infused baths. And in the Middle Ages, it was a symbol of love and considered an aphrodisiac.
How to Harvest Lavender
Harvesting lavender can be quite a labor-intensive process because, unlike many other crops, it is predominantly done by hand. It is also important to note that depending on what you wish to use the lavender for will determine when you can harvest it. Less mature crops are useful for essential oils, but culinary lavender must reach a higher level of maturity before doing so.
But the easiest way to harvest lavender for the average gardener is through drying flowers.
Simply snip the stems before the flowers bloom. Gather as many as you want or need, and then tie the end of the stems together. Finally, hang them to dry in a secure indoor location.
Farming lavender can be a rewarding and lucrative venture. But before you dive into this venture, there are a few things to learn, including how many acres needed, lavender profit per acre, and where to sell your harvest.
For a bountiful yield that produces a profit, having at least one acre is best. That will allow you to plant 30 rows of 80 plants. Per acre, you can make around $30,000 when a harvest is bountiful. But with changing weather conditions and other uncontrollable factors, max profits are never a guarantee. Your lavender profits per acre will ultimately come down to your start-up and maintenance costs, how much and what you sell, and taxes. After calculating those three factors, which vary and are individualized, you will have your profits.
Where and how you sell your harvest plays a defining factor in if you have a successful lavender farming business. Some industry professionals make $10 for every fresh or dried lavender bouquet. But as we know, lavender can be made into other products, including essential oils, which is a high-selling item.
If you do not wish to wholesale your product to a company for them to make into other products, which is not standard. You can sell your harvest directly to customers at local and nearby state farmers’ markets.
Lavender vs Lavandin
When referring to lavender, most people are speaking of the common variety, English lavender or Lavandula angustifolia. The common variety is known for its cold tolerance, making it great to grow through zones five to nine.
There is also a variety of lavender known as Portgeues lavender that has better heat tolerance. It can thrive in zones six through eight.
Lavandin is a hybrid of these two lavender plant types. It was made to exhibit the cold tolerance of English lavender but endure the heat that Portugues lavender can. That helps the plant withstand the varying weather conditions seen through zones five to nine.
Frequently Asked Questions
With one acre of land, you can plant 30 rows of 80 lavender plants. Some growers may make around $30,000 from a bountiful harvest. But growing and selling lavender is not a get-rich-quick scheme. According to the United States Lavender Growers Association, all of their wealthy lavender farmers were wealthy to begin with.
Lavender does best in hardiness zones five through nine. The plant requires full sun for six to eight hours daily and needs well-draining soil.
Lavandula or common lavender is a perennial plant. That means it lives for more than two years. The plant usually survives around eight to ten years.
English lavender will reach its full size of 18” tall and 24“ to 30“ wide in around three to four years.
Lavender spreads between 2‘ and 4‘ wide. If you keep the deadheads on a lavender plant, you can multiply it because the deadheads will drop seeds and self-sow.
Yes, according to ASPCA, lavender can cause nausea, vomiting, and inappetence in dogs, cats, and horses. Linalool, a chemical compound within the plant causes the toxicity.
Yes, lavender simply requires sun and well-draining soil. It can flourish planted in the ground or in a pot.
Rodríguez , R. V., Hernández, M. G. P., Melgoza, J. A. M., López, Á. G. H., Rojas, A. M., Gómez, B. A., & Vásquez, C. (2019, October 5). The effect of aromatherapy with lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) on serum melatonin levels. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved November 8, 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31780012/
Çetinkaya, B., & Başbakkal, Z. (2012, April 18). The effectiveness of aromatherapy massage using lavender oil as a treatment for infantile colic. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved November 8, 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22435980/
Silva, G. L. da, Luft, C., Lunardelli, A., Amaral, R. H., Silva Melo, D. A. da, Donadio, M. V. F., Nunes, F. B., Azambuja, M. S. de, Santana, J. C., Moraes, C. M. B., Mello, R. O., Cassel , E., Pereira, M. A. de A., & Oliveira, J. R. de. (2015, August 4). Antioxidant, analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects of lavender essential oil. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved November 8, 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26247152/