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How to Care for a Lavender Tree

Vigorous and hardy, yet visually stunning with an incredible aroma, lavender trees are an excellent addition to any garden. Add a lavender tree to your patio or front door for daily happiness. Here’s how to care for a lavender tree to keep it in top shape and enjoy it for years to come.

Lavender trees in a metal shopping cart.
Image Credit: Backyard Garden Lover

Lavender trees, also known as lavender topiary or lavender standard, have a tall, bare wooden stem topped with a ball or spray of gray-green leaves, depending on how you shape it. Lavender trees are exquisite when in bloom, but even before or after blooming, they are a beautiful addition to a patio or front yard garden.

How To Care For a Lavender Tree?

To keep your tree healthy and flourishing, it’s important to plant it correctly in the right environment; regular pruning, feeding, and managing pests and diseases all contribute to a lavender tree’s well-being.

Best Lavender Varieties To Train Into Trees

Lavender trees are created when lavender is grown from one singular stem and pruned into the shape of a tree rather than the standard bush form. There are many different types of lavender varieties, but some will be better than others when training lavender into a topiary or tree.

  • Lavandula x intermedia, known as ‘Grosso,’ has long and sturdy stems – making it a great candidate for a lavender tree.
  • Silver Anouk Spanish lavender is another excellent pick, with its vibrant flowers and dense foliage.
  • There is also the Goodwin Creek Gray lavender, which can grow up to four feet tall – making it perfect if you want a tall lavender tree!

Ideal Planting Conditions

If you plant your lavender correctly and in an optimal environment, it is highly unlikely that you will have any serious issues down the line.

Here are some key factors to consider when planting a lavender tree:

Soil type

Lavender needs a soil that drains well and is slightly alkaline. Using soil with a pH that is between 6.7 and 7.3 is ideal. Using a gritty soil mix rather than a pure, dense soil is also a good idea.

Planting lavender in soil that doesn’t drain well will cause a buildup of moisture around the base of the plant, often leading to root rot.

Try to select a soil mix that contains some gravel or sand, as this grit is going to ensure that the lavender roots do not become too damp!

Learn more about the right potting soil for lavender.

Sunlight needs

Sunlight is essential for lavender to grow. These plants do not like the dark and damp and require at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily! They will need even more sunlight during the growing season, around 8 to 10 hours daily.

This is why you must select a location where your lavender will get plenty of sun.

You also do not want to plant lavender too close to other plants, as it needs plenty of room to breathe. As such, try to keep your lavender at least 8 to 12 inches away from other plants!

Climate considerations

If you live in a warmer climate, then you’re in luck! Lavender originated in the Mediterranean, meaning it loves hot and dry climates.

While lavender plants will thrive in hotter temperatures, they are sensitive and at the most risk during cold and rainy seasons. Keep an eye on your lavender plant during the rainy season and ensure it is not overwatered or rotting.

Watering Needs

Due to its Mediterranean origins and love of the heat and sun, lavender needs little watering.

A freshly planted lavender must only be watered every two weeks with approximately half a gallon of water. Once buds form and the plants begin to flower, increase watering to one to two times a week.

As soon as the blooming season is over, it is OK to go ahead and decrease the watering again. Lavender is a highly drought-resistant plant and generally does not require frequent hydration.

However, if the soil is overly dry and the flower stems drooping considerably, this can be a sign of underwatering.

Pruning the Lavender Tree

The best time to prune the lavender is typically early spring after the plant has finished flowering. It will refresh the plant and maintain the plant’s shape. 

Using a pair of pruning shears, cut off any dead stems of flowerheads to encourage branching and dense growth. From there, trim back around ⅓ of the plant to create your desired shape. When pruning the base of the plant, be sure not to prune below the woody section of the stem, as this can kill the plant!

Pest and Disease Management

A few pests and diseases to watch for when growing a lavender tree: aphids, garden weevils, and mealybugs. Blasting them off with water and controlling them with a standard insecticide should generally do the trick!

The most common disease to worry about is root rot, caused by excess water in the soil. If your lavender is planted in well-draining soil and is not overwatered, this problem shouldn’t crop up. If it does, mix a bit of sand or gravel into the soil and ensure you are not overwatering the plant.

Feeding and Fertilization

Lavender is hardy and must only be fertilized once a year, typically at the start of the growing season. A slow-acting, organic fertilizer is the best pick for lavender – standard flower fertilizers contain too much nitrogen and acid for this plant.

Adding around one inch of basic organic compost to your lavender once or twice a year will be more than enough fertilization! Over-fertilizing your lavender can stunt its growth and lead to a decrease in flower production. Learn more about fertilizing lavender.

Winter Care

Generally, lavender doesn’t need any special care during winter. With that being said, if you live in a particularly extreme climate, there are some measures you can take to ensure your plant stays healthy (and alive) during the colder months.

Add a layer of mulch to the soil and cover the plant with a breathable fabric to help protect it from harsh weather.

If your lavender tree is potted, it might be a good idea to bring it inside during the winter months. If this is the case, keep the lavender in a location with good airflow and direct sunlight. As previously mentioned, lavender prefers dry soil, so don’t overwater it during this time.

Harvesting Lavender Flowers

The ideal time of year for harvesting lavender flowers changes depending on what you intend to use them for.

It is best to harvest early in the season for dried lavender bundles that can be used in cooking or crafts, just as the buds first open. For essential oils, harvest later in the season once the buds have bloomed more.

Repotting and Root Care

If you have a potted lavender tree and notice it is getting too large for its home, it may be time to re-pot it! This is relatively simple to do. When repotting, select a pot 4 to 6 inches larger than the root ball of the lavender.

It is a good idea to add something to the bottom of the pot to encourage swift drainage, such as small rocks. From there, add your well-draining soil to the pot, transfer the lavender, and add a few more inches of soil on top.

Lavender tree care is not complicated: most of it is the same as every other lavender plant. A potted lavender tree is perfect for your front door, a back patio, or a focal point for your front garden.

How to care for a lavender tree.
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Adriana Copaceanu is a passionate nature lover living in the country on her dream property where she grows vegetables, lavender, and wildflowers that she shares with the wildlife they attract. When she's not in the garden, she loves spending time with her chickens and planning her next nature project. Check your her books below:

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