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How to Care for French Lavender (Lavandula Dentata)

Native to the Mediterranean, French Lavender, with its purple flower spikes, has become a worldwide staple and is a popular choice for many gardens with its iconic serrated leaves and gorgeous blooms.

Though rarer than the usual varieties of lavender, this lavender requires much of the same care. It’s also an incredibly hardy, forgiving plant in climates that are generally difficult to grow in.

Beautiful purple lavandula dentata, flowers, also known as French lavender.

It should be noted that there are two plants commonly known as French Lavender. These are Lavandula Stoechas and Lavandula Dentata. This article is about the latter!

How To Care For French Lavender

Lavandula Dentata Seeds French Lavender Drought Tolerant Fragrant Flowers Ornamental Plant in Gardens Landscapes Outdoor 20Pcs Flower Seeds by YEGAOL Garden

Below, you’ll find out exactly how to care for French Lavender, including:

  • What it is and what it looks like
  • Ideal growing conditions and steps to successful planting
  • Watering, fertilization, and pruning
  • Pest and disease management
  • Common care problems and their solutions

What You Need to Know About Caring for French Lavender

As mentioned above, the scientific name of this plant is Lavandula dentata. However, its common name is French Lavender in reference to its use in France as a perfume ingredient (did you know that there is a lavender museum in Robion , France?). It’s also known as fringed or toothed lavender.

French Lavender boasts evergreen leaves, which are lush and charming year-round, and loves a hot, dry climate. It’s a perennial plant that grows up to 3 feet tall and 5 feet wide.

On the flip side, the plant can struggle in humid, low-sun areas that greatly differ from its Mediterranean origin. Despite this, it’s still a relatively easy plant to care for and can survive a fair amount of neglect (not that you want to do that!).

Ideal Growing Conditions for French Lavender


French Lavender needs a lot of sunlight to thrive – as much as you can provide!

French Lavender can’t get enough, while other plants might droop or wilt from intense, constant sunlight. Don’t be afraid of this when choosing its location. The less sun it gets, the fewer flowers it will produce. So, find a sunny spot for it, and it’ll be happy.

Soil type and pH

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Soil preference is one of Fringe Lavender’s fussiest features. It loves extremely dry, alkaline soil. It’s also very easily overwhelmed by high-nutrient soils, so it prefers poor soil without added fertilizer.

Toothed lavender does well in chalky soil too, though it struggles in clay due to the higher moisture.

You may find your soil is too acidic to support French Lavender well. In this case, you can amend it with some agricultural lime or wood ash to raise its pH to suitable levels.


Lavandula Dentata does well in intensely dry, hot climates that mimic its Mediterranean home.

It’s acclimated to bright sunlight, low humidity, and breezy summer days. It struggles most in humid environments and won’t survive intense frost or snow.

Planting French Lavender

When to plant

French Lavender is best planted in the spring to allow it to establish itself before summer. You can also plant it in the fall if you live in an area without harsh winters. Just make sure soil conditions are optimal!

Choosing a location

French Lavender must be planted somewhere with very good drainage since root rot is its most common killer. Raised garden beds with gravel or sand mixed into the soil are the perfect home for lavender.

It’s also possible to plant French Lavender in pots, especially in cold climates where it needs to be brought inside for the winter.

If you plant in pots, ensure they have drainage holes and a layer of pebbles or gravel at the bottom to encourage drainage.

Preparing the soil

It’s vital to ensure the soil you plant in is well-drained and dry, without high acidity or additional unnecessary nutrients.

You may need to mix in sand, gravel, or pebbles – generally about 30% to 70% of regular soil. Do not add any fertilizer!

Plant spacing

Plant a stem approximately every 12 to 16 inches (30 to 40 cm) if you want a lavender hedge. Otherwise, French lavender isn’t too fussy about being planted close together!

Planting depth

When preparing your soil with sand, gravel, or pebbles, you should dig to a depth of around 18 inches, as this is how deep mature roots grow. Make sure to consider acidity, drainage, and nutrients when doing this!

Watering Needs

How often to water

French Lavender is extremely drought-tolerant and doesn’t need much watering at all. One of the greatest dangers to a lavender plant is over-watering, not under-watering. If in doubt, avoid watering your lavender plant.

When first planted, French Lavender will appreciate a little extra moisture. Give it one very good soak once planted, then water it once or twice weekly until it matures. From this point, you can move to watering once every few weeks or not at all if you get regular rain!

You should regularly water lavender only if there is a severe drought or heat wave.

How much water does it need?

It’s almost impossible to under-water a French Lavender plant, as long as it gets some water now and then.

You may notice brown or yellow drooping leaves if a plant is overwatered. In this case, your best option is to stop water for at least 4 weeks. The damage may be irreversible, but in some cases, the plant can bounce back.

Ensure good drainage

This is key to having a thriving lavender plant. Drainage is its most significant obstacle to success! Ensure the soil is not consistently wet since this can incur root rot and will kill the plant.

Also, overhead watering is not recommended; use drip irrigation instead.

Fertilization and Soil Care

There is no need to fertilize French Lavender. It does best in dry, poor-quality soil.

Adding fertilizer may overload the plant with nutrients and lead to poor flowering or yellow, unhealthy growth.

Pruning and Maintenance

Lavandula dentata needs to be pruned every year, and if you live in warmer areas without cold winters, you can prune it 3 to 4 times a year. Pruning it often, especially when the plant is young, will encourage growth and profuse blooming. It will also help the plant fill in any gaps in foliage.

Pruning should be done in the spring. If you do it in the fall, the new growth won’t be winter hardy and you might lose the plant. Make sure only to prune new growths with young, tender shoots and leaves 2 to 4 inches below the top of the plant. If you cut old, woody stems, it won’t produce new shoots.

It would help if you snipped off dead flower stems to encourage more blooming.

Here’s a short, 2-minute video showing how to trim this lavender.

Pest and Disease Management

French Lavender is incredibly resistant to most diseases and pests.

Its primary risk is root rot from poor drainage or over-watering. Besides this, there aren’t many diseases you need to worry about.

It’s also a pest repellent, meaning it can be planted around vulnerable plants like roses to protect them from pests like aphids. Butterflies love the flower’s nectar, but caterpillars won’t eat the leaves.

Winter Care

Protect French lavender in colder climates

Unfortunately, French Lavender won’t survive extreme frost or snow. If you live in a climate like this, you may have to pot your lavender to be brought inside during the winter, treat it like an annual plant, and repurchase it yearly.

Place the plant somewhere sheltered but with as much bright light as possible. Ensure drainage is always excellent.

Mulch for frost protection

If cold spells are sustained or reach 19F or lower, you can mulch the soil around the plant to improve its resistance to the cold.

This is best done with mineral mulch such as pebbles.

Tips for overwintering outdoors

As winter arrives, remove any dead, organic matter from the base of the plant and avoid watering to ensure moisture is at a minimum. You shouldn’t water your lavender plant at all throughout winter!

Harvesting and Uses Of Lavandula Dentata

Harvest the flowers and hang them in upside-down bunches somewhere dry and cool. Once dry, lavender can last for months or years.

Over the years, French Lavender was used for a wide variety of purposes, such as:

  • in perfume
  • for bath salts
  • to scent linens
  • to protect clothing
  • as medicine

In the modern day, it remains a lovely tool for scenting clothing or indoor spaces, especially in the form of essential oil.

It’s a great way of perfuming laundry or can be placed in a small cotton pouch to freshen the air in any small space.

Common Problems And Their Solutions

Yellowing, droopy leaves

In most cases, lavender with yellow, droopy leaves suffers from over-watering.

These symptoms usually mean the opposite in other plants (more water is needed). This means many people accidentally worsen the problem by watering more once they notice this.

Instead, stop watering for at least three weeks and let the soil and roots dry thoroughly. The plant can’t always recover from this, but it may sometimes.

Yellowing or browning leaves may signal the soil is too high in nutrients or humidity. To remedy this, avoid fertilizers and add something like sand or gravel to offset the issue with the soil.

Weak or stunted growth

Various reasons can cause gaps in foliage or stunted growth. These include:

  • incorrect soil quality or pH
  • poor drainage
  • over-watering
  • use of fertilizer
  • too little sun
  • fungal disease
  • humid climate
  • transplant shock

Your best bet is to work through these potential issues to identify which is causing your plant’s problem.

If you can’t identify the issue, plant a new lavender bush to layer the old one – filling in the gaps. This tends to work quite well with French Lavender.

Failure to flower or poor bloom

Generally, the healthier and happier the lavender plant, the more flowers will bloom!

Again, you should consider factors like soil quality and pH, watering, fertilizer, and climate. Make sure your plant receives a lot of sunlight and is planted in the right environment.

Dead flower heads should be trimmed off regularly and removed from the soil to encourage growth.


Can French lavender be used for culinary purposes?

No, French lavender is not edible. While it won’t hurt you, it won’t taste great either.

Is Lavandula dentata a perennial or annual flower?

The Fringe lavender is a tender perennial, which means it will overwinter well in zones 7 through 9, but won’t survive in cooler climates. If you love it but live in a colder state, use it as an annual flower and plant it every year, or bring it indoors for the winter months.

What can you do with dried Frige lavender?

Use it in your sachets, household cleaning, and beauty products: it has a lovely fragrance!

Learn more About Growing Lavender

How to Grow Lavender for Fun and Profit: Lessons Learned from Planting Three Hundred Lavender Plants

As long as you don’t over-water it, French Lavender is a hardy, forgiving plant to grow. This is especially true if you live in a hot, dry climate where it will easily thrive.

Just remember: moisture is the absolute biggest threat to French lavender! Plant on raised, dry soil and avoid overwatering at all costs.

How to care for French lavender.
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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 out her books below:

How to Grow Lavender for Fun and Profit: Lessons Learned from Planting Three Hundred Lavender Plants

How to Raise Chickens for Eggs: A Guide to Raising Happy, Healthy Chickens for Nutritious, Organic Eggs at Home

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