I’m not having luck starting lavender from seed. Would starting with plants be better?
—Shirley Lyon, Mariposa, CA
Lavender seeds don’t have a long shelf life, so be sure you’re starting with fresh ones. Plant them directly in the garden in late fall or spring in mild climates such as California, or in spring in cold-winter climates. Plant them in well-drained soil. Keeping them too wet—especially over winter—is the kiss of death.
If you germinate the seeds indoors, first give them a cool treatment by keeping them in moist growing medium in your refrigerator for four to six weeks. When you plant them, make sure the potting mix stays at least 70ºF. They should sprout in two to three weeks.
Starting with plants would be an easier way to grow lavender. When you grow lavender from seed, you have a more limited selection, a low germination rate, and a slow growth rate once seeds sprout. Check with local garden centers or garden clubs to find out which lavender grows best in your area. ‘Munstead’ lavender (Lavandula angustifolia ‘Munstead’, Zones 5 to 8) is an early-blooming variety that tolerates heat particularly well, and is a good choice where summers are hot.