Lavenders are perennial sub shrubs that can live for 10 -15 years with the optimal care. Non-English lavenders can only survive for one year in cold climates if they are not protected from frost. French lavenders are more durable than English lavenders, with a 5-year life expectancy.
Lavenders can only last a long time if taken care of properly. Lavenders can be relatively easy to care for, but it is necessary to recreate the conditions that they used to grow in their Mediterranean environment. However, lavender does not require a Mediterranean climate to thrive.
Keep reading for to learn how easy it is to replicate the optimal conditions for lavender growing so they can live and bloom for up to 15 years…
How To Ensure Lavenders Last Longer
Below I have listed the top factors that affect how long lavenders live, which will ensure best flowers and fragrance.
- Choose the right lavender for your climate
- Plant lavender or create the optimal soil conditions (in terms of drainage, fertility, soil pH)
- Water established lavender only in times of drought and do not feed lavenders.
- Lavenders need full sun to live longer and produce the best blooms
- Prune lavender twice per year to significantly increase longevity
Choose a Right Lavender to Your Climate
This is the most important thing to consider when selecting lavenders for your garden. The English lavender species (Lavandula angustifolia) are the only lavenders that are cold hardy and will reliably tolerate frosts, snow and ice over winter.
English lavenders are also more tolerant to wind and exposure than other plants.
The Spanish and French lavender species are more suited for Mediterranean climates and can be killed by cold temperatures. This is why lavender is often mistaken as annuals rather then perennials that can live for many years.
*If you live in colder climates, you should only plant Spanish and French varieties in pots. Pots are a good choice for lavenders of any variety, as they can thrive in a wide range of drainage conditions. Potted lavenders have the advantage of being able to take them inside for winter protection and then bring them outside in the spring for summer.
(For more information and best practices check out my article on growing lavenders indoors).
Lavender species are not able to grow well in humid climates because they are adapted to the dry and hot Mediterranean region of Europe. In humid climates, lavenders are less likely to survive and more vulnerable to fungal diseases.
The Best Lavender Soil to Live a Long and Healthy Life
The right soil conditions are crucial for lavender plants’ longevity.
All Lavender species can be found in the Mediterranean region of Europe. They are used to sandy soils with low fertility and little water retention.
To ensure your lavender lasts as long as possible, you need to reproduce the soil conditions in the lavender’s home area.
Lavenders will not live long if they are planted straight into water retaining clay soils or soils that are moist and contain a lot of organic matter.
To grow lavender, you must amend the soil with sand or gravel. Fine sand is not recommended as it will cause the soil to lose its porous structure, which allows water to drain quickly and air to reach the roots.
If lavender is planted in water retaining soil it will develop the fungal disease root rot and not live for as long as they should.
Ensure that sand or grit makes up at least 30% of the potting mix when planting lavender. It’s better to have too many sand and grit than not enough.
Chalk soils are perfect for growing lavender as they are well draining, hold very little moisture and are alkaline rather then acidic.
Soil pH. Lavenders won’t survive in acidic soils for long. The ideal soil pH for lavender is 6.5 – 7.5, which means that lavender will tolerate some mild acidity but it notably prefers soil that is either pH neutral or somewhat alkaline.
This is indicative of the soil conditions in which lavenders can thrive naturally along the Mediterranean coast of Europe.
To grow lavender that lasts many years, it is essential to determine the soil pH. If the soil has a pH of less then 6.5 then you will have to amend the soil with garden lime or wood ash in order to raise the pH to neutral or alkaline to suit lavender growing.
Water Not Often and No Fertilizer For Healthy Lavender
Lavenders can be neglected, but they thrive when given the right conditions. Overwatering is the main reason why lavenders don’t live as long as necessary.
Lavender plants are adapted to the dry Mediterranean region of Southern Europe where it rains infrequently, particularly during the spring and summer months.
To ensure that lavender lasts as long as possible, you should recreate the watering conditions as often as possible. If the temperature is extremely high and it hasn’t rained for at least two weeks, lavenders need water. Even if it hasn’t rained for two weeks, lavenders can withstand drought conditions and are resilient to heat.
Potted lavenders will need to be watered once every two weeks as pots tend to dry out quicker but bear in mind lavenders would rather be too dry then to wet so test the soil to a fingers depth to see if it is still moist. You can skip watering if the soil is still moist.
Lavenders don’t need water during winter dormancy. They can easily get enough moisture to meet their needs.
Lavender brought in for winter protection will require watering every four weeks.
Lavenders need to be planted in low to medium fertility soil for maximum longevity. They are used to growing in sandy and gravelly soils. The soil does not receive much nutrition from sand and gravel.
Although it may seem counterintuitive, lavender can thrive in low fertility environments. It will reduce the lavender’s life span significantly if it is planted in fertile soil that is rich in organic matter and is fed regularly.
Lavender grown in high-nutrient soils can turn yellow, which is a sign that there has been too much nitrogen. It will also appear wilting.
(If this has happened to your lavender, read my guide for more information on how to solve this problem).
Established lavenders do not need any additional feeding thanks to the adaptation to lower fertility soil. Fertilizing lavender can lead to excessive foliage growth and no flowers, which will reduce the plant’s lifespan.
Prune Lavenders Regularly for Longevity
Lavenders thrive on neglect in terms of watering and fertilizer but if a lavender is going to live as long as possible then ideally you should prune it twice a year with the goal of attaining a mound shape in appearance in order to resist weather damage.
It is imperative to only trim the top third of the flexible, soft green growth. Do not cut down the brown wood at its base.
The woody base of lavender doesn’t regenerate after it is cut. It is also more vulnerable to moisture and snow weight damage.
The wood continues to grow throughout the life of the lavender. Regular pruning reduces wood growth and prolongs the plant’s life. It is similar to pollarding a tree each year.
For more information on this topic, read my article on the importance of pruning lavender to slow down the woody growth.
Sunshine for Lavender Longevity
Lavenders ideally need full sun in order to live as long as possible. Sunlight is essential if lavender is to reach its full potential in terms size, aroma, oils and blooms, as well as its longevity.
Lavenders can live up to 6 hours per day in the growing season. However, the more sunlight they get the more flowers they will produce.
Lavender will not live in full shade and will not survive for very long in partial shade.
Lavenders need full sun if they are going to live to their 10-15 years maximum life span.
- English lavenders can live up to 15 years if they cared for and grow in the optimal conditions.
- French lavenders tend to only live for 5 years even with good care.
- Lavenders are at their healthiest and bloom their best when they are cultivated in a way that recreates some of their native Mediterranean conditions.
- Sandy or chalky, alkaline, low fertility soils, that drain very quickly are the lavenders preferred soil type.
- The most important factor in lavender longevity is their location in full sunlight. The more sunlight lavenders get, the healthier they will become and the more oil and flowers they can produce.
- Lavenders thrive on neglect when it comes to watering and fertilizer. In times of drought, lavenders in the garden will not need to be watered and do not require feeding.