Sequim is the Lavender Capital of North America because of its ideal lavender climate, so we don’t often have to deal with harsh growing conditions of any kind. However, due to the polar vortex turning the Midwest into a popsicle right now, we thought it would be a great time to do a quick blog with tips for growing lavender in extremely cold climates.

“Can I grow lavender in my garden even though our temperature often gets below zero during the winter?”

First off, if you are wondering “Can I grow lavender in my garden even though our temperature often gets below zero during the winter?” the answer is “Yes!”although it will require a little extra attention and care on your part. Lavender originated in the Mediterranean climate, so most varieties will thrive in warm, dry, temperate weather (hardiness zones 7-9). However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t coax them into loving your Minnesota garden as much as you do.

Basic Growing Tips

Here are some basic lavender tips to keep in mind for lavender, regardless of what zone you’re in:

  • Lavender loves light – place it in an area where it will get a minimum of 6 hours of full sunlight a day.
  • Lavender dislikes water – root rot is one of the most common killers of lavender in home gardens, so be sure it has plenty of drainage.
  • Lavender loves space – make plenty of space for air to circulate and keep the plants dry, especially in more humid climates.

Cold Hardy Varieties

“Munstead”, “Hidcote Blue”, and “Phenomenal” are all known for being cold hardy varieties (as low as hardiness zone 4). Before buying plants, your best bet is to google lavender plants hardy to your zone, speak to a local master gardener, or peruse local gardening blogs and articles, and make a list of which varieties will work for your specific area and microclimate.  Don’t trust that the local big box store is going to sell you a lavender variety that is great for your specific hardiness zone. Instead, go to a local small nursery with the varieties you’ve researched, and you’re likely to find one or two in stock (or they’ll be able to get them for you).

Planting Lavender in Cold Climates

Tips for planting lavender outside in colder zones (hardiness zones 4-6):

  • Do not plant the lavender outside until all danger of frost has passed for your area.
  • Young lavender plants need more frequent watering than established plants (the plants have a shorter window of time between “don’t water” and “I’m dying of thirst”), but still do not overwater – always make sure the soil is dry before watering again.
  • In the fall, always prune the plants back (see our tips on pruning) – good pruning will establish a good root ball and help develop a strong woody base for the plant. Strong roots will help the plant to survive harsh conditions.
  • If you don’t get a good reliable snow cover, cover your plant bases with a well draining mulch, such as pea gravel, and/or cover the plant itself with a breathable fabric cover (like burlap or gardening blanket fabric), to protect from wind and freezing temperatures. Remove the covering in the spring when the temperatures warm up.
  • Another option is to dress your lavender in knitted sweater cozies, ideally with lavender themes on the front. This has the added benefit of being completely adorable, and an excellent conversation starter with your neighbors.*

If you live in a hardiness zone 3 or below, or you don’t want to have to cover the plants each year to keep them warm, we recommend you plant your lavender in containers and bring them indoors for the winter.

Planting Lavender in Containers

If you’ve had bad luck in the past and don’t want to risk the trauma of losing your lavender again, or if you live in hardiness zone 3 or below (bless your frozen heart), or you can’t be bothered to knit your lavender little sweaters each winter to keep them warm, you can always plant your lavender in containers and move the plants into a greenhouse or your home for the winter.

  • Choose a variety that is smaller and good for containers, such as “Thumbelina”.
  • Make sure you have a mixture of 25-50% sand in your soil, but do not add a layer of gravel or rocks at the bottom (which is a gardening myth, and can actually lead to more root rot).*
  • You do not need a pot much larger than the plant’s root ball – you do not want the roots sitting in moist soil. The pot should be as big, but not much bigger, than the plant foliage (not including stems).
  • Do not water until the soil is dry at least 1 inch below the surface.
  • Container plants will still need some light, so ideally place them next to a window if you don’t have a greenhouse. If you only have a garage, cellar, or shed with no light, consider a grow light timed for winter’s natural light (here is a great article with tips for that).
  • A cool (rather than warm) room is best for the winter, to keep the plant hardened for when you place it back outside. Again, if you don’t have a greenhouse, perhaps a little used guest room or office (where you don’t turn on the heat), a mud room, or garage with a window are great options.
*Thank you to Marcus, a reader who pointed this out to us. Every good farmer/gardener should be ready to learn and re-learn/unlearn as science evolves and renews our understanding of plants!

“For lavender container planting, the pot should be as big as the plant foliage (not including stems). I suggest a 12” pot for first year lavender starts, moving to a 24” pot the next year when the plant is more mature."

Planting Lavender as an Annual

You can always treat lavender as an annual, rather than a perennial, and let it die each winter. However, the plants will not grow very large or produce many flowers until they are 2-3 years old, so this method will either leave you with noticeably small/new plants each year, or you’d need to purchase large, expensive plants every year to replace them. If you do not get good snow cover and don’t have the patience to worry about covering the plants, I recommend planting in containers instead of the ground.


Obviously there are many nuances, and it may take a couple of tries to find the right combination of tricks to keep your lavender healthy in frigid winters.  As always, let us know if you have any questionsand definitely comment below if there are any tips we missed that you’ve used to successfully overwinter lavender. Stay warm out there!

*I’m kidding – I don’t really think you should knit sweaters for your individual plants.
**If you knit sweaters to dress up your individual lavender plants, please take pictures of your be-sweatered lavender and send them to us immediately.

pssssst – Thanks for reading our blog! Curious about our natural lavender bath & body products? Enter code ehma3jd6 at checkout for 5% off your next bath & body order at our online store!

For the Love of Lavender offers advice for beginners to enthusiasts – from planting, growing, harvesting, and pruning, to uses, products, and lavender recipes – as well as a fun, unique look into the the world of a lavender farming family.

61 Replies to “Lavender Care: Growing Lavender in Cold Climates”

  1. Sue

    I live in MI. Zone 6. I bought lavandula ellagance purple this year. They get tons of sw sun. They are beautiful. How do I prepare them for winter? Should they be pruned? If so, how low? Should I put mulch on them to keep them warm? Thank you

    1. Rebecca Olson[ Post Author ]

      Sue – great questions! The good news is that lavender is a very hardy plant (it’s helpful to think of it as an herb like rosemary, rather than a “flower”). Once you get your plants established, you shouldn’t have to do much to winterize them in the future. We don’t have any lavandula “Elegance” at our farm, but after doing some research it sounds lovely. They should definitely be pruned – you should prune your plants every year, ideally in the fall by mid-October when you live in such a cold climate. Check out our blog post for tips on pruning (even though it is focused on pruning in the spring, the basic tips are still the same for autumn.) Just be sure not to cut into the hardwood of the plant this late in the season, because you don’t want to encourage new growth that will be killed by cold weather.

      We don’t recommend moisture retaining mulch like bark because it will trap moisture and rot the roots. If you have experienced issues in the past with young plants not surviving the winter, you can consider a 2″ layer of sand or gravel mulch around the base of your plants. We have heard about those who cover their young, pruned plants with evergreen boughs after first frost – this can act as a mulch (without trapping moisture) and also protect from wind. You could also try covering your plants with a breathable fabric like burlap or gardening fabric – just be sure to remove it as soon as temperatures warm up in the spring, to ensure the plant gets good light.

      Since we don’t have specific experience with lavender in a zone that can have temperatures below zero degrees in the winter, I recommend you confirm my recommendations with someone at your local nursery, if you have time. A local gardener may have additional tips I’m not aware of. Keep us posted if you learn of anything new! And good luck. 🙂

      1. Laurie

        I did not knit sweaters for my rosemary and lavender trees, but I just finished wrapping them in pink tulle to live in my garage in NC zone 7. They were both Christmas gifts shaped like Christmas trees. 🎄 My garage has windows with southeast exposure. They are so cute……I hope they make it until Spring arrives.

        1. Rebecca Olson[ Post Author ]

          I fully endorse wrapping your lavender in pink tulle! Just remember to get them outside as soon as temps are above danger of hard freezing. We leave lavender in pots outside all winter in zone 7b/8 and they do just fine. If you wrap the bottoms in something warm like a blanket, you could even put them outside now – just place them up against the side of the house with southern exposure (which will help trap heat). If you want to keep them in the garage by the window for a month or two that’s fine this time of year when its dark anyway – just get them outside as soon as you can so they get lots of light. Good luck!

  2. Pam

    Hello, I live in zone 7b, up near Virginia City NV. I have planted lavender this past spring and it thrived this summer. Here it is November and the weather is still in the 60’s, (Not usual) but that can change very fast. Soon the snow will be falling, and temperatures will as well. I am At about 6000 feet Elevation. My question is, when should I prune the lavender back? The snow can be 1 1/2 feet deep at times. Sometimes more or less, depending on Mother Nature. I’m afraid if I don’t prune it, the snow will be too heavy for it to withstand, but I have been researching, and it says to prune it in the spring so not to let the fresh cut be exposed to freezing, which could happen soon. Should I wait till spring? Also, I have read to not prune all the way to the wood. Your advise would be greatly appreciated. Thanks 🙂

    1. Rebecca Olson[ Post Author ]

      Great questions! To begin, I always recommend that you chat with your local nursery or master gardener association to verify any of my suggestions, because different micro-climates have different challenges. While we can give great “rule of thumb” tips, your local professional will know if there are specific regional climate patterns to take into consideration with lavender.

      That being said, pruning in fall or spring are both acceptable. You will not damage the plants if they have last year’s growth on them and then endure a heavy snow pack. In fact, snow is helpful for lavender in cold areas (since it acts as a natural insulator). As far as timing for frost, when we prune in the fall, we are usually done by 4 weeks before our first frost date. If you think a frost could come any day, you have good instincts to avoid shocking the new plants with a 1-2 punch of pruning then immediate frost.

      But – if you think you’ve got a few more weeks before frost, I strongly recommend you prune your young plants before their first winter. Young plants need to be pruned heavily their first 1-2 years in the ground in order to develop healthy root balls. It feels counter-intuitive to cut back such a small plant, but what you are doing is driving the plant’s energy back down into the ground. A healthy root ball will help your young plants survive the cold, and reward you with a more lush, mature plant next summer. If you must wait until spring, do it as soon as temperatures start to warm up (in zone 8 we do spring pruning in March). The sooner you get them pruned, the happier and healthier they’ll be.

      As for pruning into the wood, young plants don’t really have much “wood” yet – so go ahead and prune them down into a nice round shape. While it’s a good general rule for home gardeners who don’t know what they’re doing to avoid cutting the wood (which is why a google search of “Better Homes & Gardens” type articles state this), the truth is that lavender farmers *always* prune a little down into the top inch or two of the woody area (meaning: where the stems grow out of the top of the plant) when shaping the plant – and some of our plants are close to 20 years old. As long as you aren’t cutting all the way through that section down into the bottom, thick base of the plant, you should be fine. Check out my blog about pruning for tips. If you decide to go for it and prune before winter, you could do a light pruning (just cut off the dead stems) and then another heavier pruning in the spring, to really shape the plant.

      Hope that helps – and good luck!

  3. Marie

    I have a lavender plant, still in the pot, outside. I live in CT. Should i take the plant inside or cover it with a plant fabric used in the cold weather? The plant still looks hardy..whenI tried to pick it up, it seemed stuck to the ground ( maybe rooted. I didn’t want to pull on it as I was afraid to upset the roots. What shell I do to preserve this plant.

    1. Rebecca Olson[ Post Author ]

      Great question! Your best option would be to move the plant into a garage, shed, greenhouse, etc. that is protected but still gets light. However, since your pot is stuck to the ground and you can’t move it, you’ll need to wrap the pot to protect the roots. The top of the plant should do fine with snow and light freezing – but plant roots are meant to be in the earth, which is warmer than the air, so roots that are “outside” and exposed to fluctuating temperatures are less likely to survive.

      I recommend you wrap the base of the pot in a blanket, bubble wrap, or burlap, etc. – just make a good cozy perimeter around the base. When snow starts to accumulate around this barrier, that will also act as an extra insulator. Again, you only need to wrap the pot itself (to protect the roots) – the top of the plant that is outside is far more cold hardy, and snow will not damage it (and you want this part of the plant to be exposed to sunlight).

      Good luck!

  4. Sharee Fenderson

    I have a concern. I have several potted first year lavender plants I started from seed. I had them growing in my high tunnel unheated . I’m in zone 6. So before our first frost, I brought them inside the house. I put them in my upstairs bedroom. It’s a cold room, and I hardly get a lot of sunlight in the window now. Now I have fungus growing on the surface of the soil and it’s turning the base of my plants have died and turned brown. What should I do? I never over water. They’re in black plastic pots. Should I take them back outside in my greenhouse? Should report them in different soil? Or just use fugusicide? Please help I can’t loose my babies again!?

    1. Rebecca Olson[ Post Author ]

      Sharee – Since I am not a Master Gardener, I hesitate to give you such specific advice concerning fungus/soil quality, etc. If you have access to a local nursery (rather than a big box store) I recommend you go in and speak to an expert there, perhaps bringing one of your plants with you. I do recommend that if you have a greenhouse, and it stays above freezing inside, that is the best place for your plants. Indoor temperatures can fluctuate, and as you’re learning, the light from a window isn’t as great as 365 degrees of sunshine all day long. We leave our small plants in the greenhouse on seedling mats (turned down low) and only water 1-2 times a week – this keeps the roots warm even when the outside temperature is cold. It also keeps the soil dry. It is possible if you have a fungus, that the soil isn’t drying out (even if you aren’t watering much) – the cold and lack of light might be keeping the soil just damp enough for the fungus to thrive – and may be causing root rot.

      If your plants already look dead, it may be too late – but they may also not be dead. Depending on how old your seedlings are, there is a point when the base of the seedlings turn from the fresh green of a new plant to a more mature, woody base – so it is possible that this is what you’re noticing. In addition, lavender is very hearty
      – and we’ve brought many a lavender plant back from the brink just by not giving up. But the fungus on the soil is not good, and if nothing else you should try to remove it. Again, I strongly recommend you talk to a professional who can look at it and strategize what your best plan of action is (whether it is re-potting, fungicide, or simply scraping the fungus off the top of the soil).

      Good luck!

  5. Brittney

    Hello there!
    I am new to gardening but have always had a passion for lavender, hints I got married at a lavender farm! This spring we decided to put a lavender garden in but I am nervous come fall/winter! I live in western WA zone 8b, any good suggestions? We typically dont get much snow where we are but every so often we get hit with a good snow storm?
    Our garden is very rocky soil but afraid of freezing temps damaging the plants…

    1. Rebecca Olson[ Post Author ]

      Brittney – the great news is that you’re in the same zone we are! So your lavender should be fine over the winter, so long as your soil has good drainage and the rainy season doesn’t rot the roots. It sounds like that’s the case, since your soil is rocky – the only other issue might be if your water table is high in the winter and comes up above the root level (I wouldn’t worry about it, it’s just something to consider if you have difficulty with the plants and can’t figure it out – most people forget about water table). If you planted them up in mounds, or they’re on a hill/incline, then that definitely won’t be an issue!

      If you didn’t prune them when you planted them, just make sure to give the new plants a serious prune this fall (late September is good). It will seem counter-intuitive to cut them back when they’re so young, but it will drive the plant’s energy back into the roots and help it grow a nice, strong root ball (which will help it survive the winter). There’s no need to worry about covering the plants, and don’t be concerned if they look dead – the plants will go dormant and look brown/grey all winter, but you should start seeing green again in March of next year. Good luck!

  6. Simone

    Mi. Zone 6. My lavender did nicely first year. 2nd year, phenomenal! This year, 4 were dead. Next to sidewalk. I did use sparingly, plant safe sidewalk salt. The lavender away from sidewalk but near these 4, are fine. Mild past Winter.
    Any ideas?

    1. Rebecca Olson[ Post Author ]

      A few quick questions first: 1) Were the dead plants completely dead, mostly dead, etc.? Did you take them out of the ground early, or did you wait until now to make the call that they’d died? 2) When you pulled the dead plants out, did the branches pull out off the stem easily, and/or did the primary stem look black and wet?

      In zone 6 with a mild winter it’s very unlikely that the cold killed your plants. The biggest killer for lavender is root rot because the plants don’t have good drainage. Sometimes young plants will do great for the first year or two because they love a lot of water. However, when they start to mature, their roots reach deeper soil that is compact or affected by a high water table right when they stop needing as much water. Is it possible that the area closer to your sidewalk is near a drain or gutter, or the ground is lower, or less rocky/sandy than the area where your other plants are thriving?

  7. Lee Sheldon

    I’m new in the lavender business so I find these to be great questions with helpful suggestions! I live near La Crosse Wi and am wanting to prepare a plan for my phenomal and munstead babies for this coming winter. I’m wondering if it’s safe to cut back the lavender even though they have not seen a winter yet? If so, when is a good date? Also, I am looking to buy a quantity around a hundred plants for next spring. Any recommended advice and places to buy from? We bought lavender through high country this past spring,8 hidicote, 8 munstead and 0 phenomenal died. Half of them were dead when delivered. I’d like to avoid that. Thank you

    1. Rebecca Olson[ Post Author ]

      Lee – hello! First of all, yes, you definitely want to cut the small plants back this fall. I’m not sure what zone you’re in, but here in zone 8 we finish pruning no later than 10/15 – if you’re colder, you may want to push it to 10/1 or even 9/15. You just need to give the plants about six weeks after pruning before the first frost. If you’re worried about frost, you can do it as early as 9/1, but I wouldn’t go much earlier than that – you don’t want the plants pushing out new growth. I know it seems counter-intuitive, but by pruning back all the green, you’re telling the plant “stop focusing on leaves – focus on your roots!” and a strong, healthy root ball is essential for keeping the plants alive for the coming winter.

      Our local lavender nursery Victor’s Lavender is a great place to start! They focus almost entirely on lavender, and sell to most of the lavender farms in this area (and around the country). I’m not positive what varieties Victor will have in the spring, but I definitely recommend you contact him. In terms of what varieties to buy, he could probably give you some great advice – but in general (for farming) the varieties you choose will depend on what you want to do with them (fresh lavender for customers to U-cut? Dried bundles? Essential oil? Bud? Culinary?) etc. Once you’ve got an idea for what you want to focus on (at least in the beginning), it’ll help steer you to which varieties to plant. Good luck!

    2. Rand

      Lee, I see you’re in La Crosse Wi. My wife and I are starting a Lavender farm right near Pepin WI. Given your only about 70miles from us thought it would be good to reach out and introduce myself. My email is It would be great to connect at some point. Please feel free to reach out and we can try to coordinate a discussion.

      Rand & Kim
      River Bluff Lavender Farm

      1. Rebecca Olson[ Post Author ]

        Wonderful! I love seeing lavender farmers connect. 🙂 Good luck with your new farm, and feel free to reach out if you’ve got more questions!

  8. Alison

    What a great blog and website! I’m raising Lavender up on the coast of Maine, and am new at it. So far so good!
    Your blog is hugely informative and helpful. Thank you so much!

    1. Rebecca Olson[ Post Author ]

      I’m so delighted you’re finding it helpful! Good luck, and don’t hesitate to ask questions.

  9. Aino Millikan

    Hello! I love your website, so glad to have stumbled across it.
    I live in zone 5, New Hampshire, in June I planted Lavendula Augustifolia “Blue Vicenza.”
    It’s predicted to rain steadily all day today never stopping and then transitioning to snow in the night and going well below freezing. I am afraid the freezing rain will be bad for the plants? But I wonder whether covering with straw is almost worse because everything will just get soggy and freeze together?

    1. Rebecca Olson[ Post Author ]

      Aino – Hello! The good news is, you planted an angustifolia, which are known for being the most cold-hardy of the lavenders. Another bit of good news is that snow isn’t an issue for lavender so long as you pruned it (or if it’s young, like yours) – snow actually acts as an insulator, so the only potential for damage with snow is if the plant is large and unpruned (woody and leggy), because the weight of the snow can break the branches off.

      Now for the potentially bad news: Lavender (especially the lavandula angustifolia varieties) can survive regular frosts, though ongoing deep hard freezes can be a problem, depending on the variety – but they grow lavender successfully up in Ontario, Canada, so it definitely can be done. However, prolonged cold, damp soil is actually the most problematic for lavender roots. The first, most important question, is: Did you amend your soil by adding sand or gravel before planting? Or, did you not need to amend because you tested the soil and found it was at least 30% rocky/sandy? If so, you’re in great shape! Go ahead and add some light mulch to the top (like pea gravel) and cover with white breathable garden cloth, and it’ll do fine. The fabric will provide some insulation (without trapping moisture). I’m not positive why white is best, but that’s what I’m told (I believe it’s because white reflects light and helps keep the lavender more dry, much like light mulches) If you can’t get white since this is an emergency, just go to your nearest hardware store and get whatever garden fabric you can find that is breathable, with a plan to order white and replace it when it arrives. Do not use water retaining mulch like wood chips, and remember to pull the cloth back in early spring.

      Even if you did not amend the soil, a mulch like sand or pea gravel at the top will add some insulation without trapping water. Go ahead and add a gravel/sand mulch and cover the plant with the garden fabric, and then make a plan to amend the soil in the spring when it warms up (carefully dig the plant out of the ground) – if it’s just a year old, you should still be able to easily get the lavender out of the ground without damaging the roots and replant it after fixing the soil. However, with un-amended soil you do run the risk of the plant not surviving, not because of the cold, but because of the wet.

      If you’re worried because you know your soil is really soggy, there is also another option: you could instead dig the plant out today and pot it (the potting soil also needs to be amended) – look at the “Planting lavender in containers” section above.

      Good luck!

  10. Sandy Holton

    I am growing lavender from seed throughout the winter. What should the watering schedule be?

    1. Rebecca Olson[ Post Author ]

      Sandy – hello! That’s a great question. I’ve never grown lavender from seed, because with lavender seed it is difficult to ensure that the variety will stay true to it’s parents (this isn’t an issue for most home gardeners, but for lavender farmers, we need the plants to be exactly what we planted). Therefore, lavender farmers almost always grow from cuttings.

      That being said, I imagine a lavender seedling needs the same things as any other young seedling or start. In a greenhouse, I’d water the seedlings just as you’d water anything else during the winter, perhaps once every 2-3 days, depending on how warm you’re keeping them and how quickly their soil dries out. However, assuming you’re growing them outside, your watering schedule will depend entirely on your zone/climate. Most likely, you probably don’t have to water at all during the winter/spring. In our zone we do not water young lavender starts during the winter – we typically wait to turn on the watering for young plants until the beginning of summer, and turn it off in the fall. Again though, this is for slightly more established starts (not baby seedlings.) My *guess* is that unless you’re in a very arid region, the seedlings will get enough water from the natural climate/soil/air during the winter that they’ll be fine without any help from you. If you are in an arid area, I recommend you go to a local nursery and talk with them about what they suggest for young seedlings – I wouldn’t want to suggest something incorrect. Good luck!

  11. Brandon Creel

    We planted our phenomenal lavender just a couple of months ago in zone 7. 450 plants to be exact. Question is some leaver have turned black and we have had it covered to protect from frost. However I believe with not alot of direct sun and air flow we may be doing more harm than good with water evaporation. We have good drainage with 16 tons of river sand and 8 tons of pea gravel implemented into.our soil before Hillingdon our rows. Would it be ok to remove the frost fabric at this stage. I know its cold weather hardy, but I know it needs a little more. If it will survive frost then I can remove the cover and treat fungus issues appropriately. And help is greatly appreciated

    1. Rebecca Olson[ Post Author ]

      Brandon – great question! I always suggest with micro-climate specific farming questions like this that people find a local master gardener or lavender grower in a similar climate (or at least zone) to use as a resource – I’d hate to give you bad advice and kill off a new lavender field. If you can’t find a farm in a similar zone, please use the contact form on our website and I’ll give you the names of several farms we know in the Eastern part of the state who are in zones 7 and 6, and have much harsher winters than we do.

      All that being said, I think your instincts are correct that the covering may be causing problems. The key to covering lavender is using a breathable fabric (not plastic) so that the lavender is protected, but still gets plenty of air flow and circulation. Again, I hesitate to say to take it off right as things are about to get really chilly for you – but if you’ve got plastic or a non-breathable fabric on there, that is definitely going to be an issue – high humidity kills lavender (which is why it’s so difficult to grow in the Southeast US). Whether or not it’s worse to risk the cold than the damp, again, it’s hard to make that call for you. Like with parenting, I think you have to trust your gut. If nothing else, try to find breathable fabric (or get it ordered) so you can replace the plastic before winter sets in.

      Please don’t hesitate to use our contact form, and I’ll be happy to pass along the websites of friendly farmers who may be able to answer this question more specifically for you! Good luck. 🙂

  12. Katie

    So I bought three small lavender plants recently and potted them. I thought that all danger of frost had passed so I put left them outside one night since it has been very warm here recently (PA-Zone 6b). There was frost on the ground this morning and two of my three plants are wilted. I have been giving them all the same amount of water. Is there any way to tell if they were affected by the frost? Also, is there any way to revive them if they were?

    1. Rebecca Olson[ Post Author ]

      Katie – oh no! I’m so sorry to hear this. Lavender established in the ground in your zone should be tolerant of light frosts, though late spring frosts (when the plant is coming out of dormancy) can damage new growth. We get a few light frosts every winter here at the farm, and our field plants are fine – but we’re in zone 8 and rarely have to deal with hard frosts.

      However, small plants in pots are going to be less tolerant and more likely to have permanent damage, since the roots are above ground and the plants are young and not truly hardened yet. I found this great article from Ontario, Canada about frost damage to lavender, with some pictures and tips for how to proceed. It’s focused on plants in the ground, but the principles are the same.

      You should prune back the dead material, being careful not to prune off any new buds that are healthy (if there are any). If it seems like everything above the root mound is dead, try pruning all the way back to the root ball (the woody base of the plant). If the roots weren’t damaged in the frost as well, then the plant will hopefully start pushing out new growth once the light is let in. Here’s hoping your little ones survive – keep me posted!

  13. Kristin C.

    Hi, Great site! I just bought a home in the metro Boston area (zone 6b) and I’m new to having a lawn and garden as big as I have now and am very much a novice.

    There were two decent sized lavender bushes planted in the yard. But we moved in during the winter so I have no idea if and when they were pruned before. And now it’s spring and I think they might be dead. There is nothing green at the base and there aren’t even any dried leaves clinging on to the stems. I cut a couple of the branches about an inch from the base to see if there was any green, but I’m not seeing any and the ends of the branches are pretty brittle.

    Things are just starting to bud and flower so I don’t want to assume the’yre dead. Should I go ahead and prune them back and see what happens? I want to give them a chance if there is some life still in them.

    1. Rebecca Olson[ Post Author ]

      Kristin – since the plants were large and well established when you bought the house, I would wait a few more weeks. It sounds as though the previous owners pruned the lavender back in the fall (which is the correct thing to do) which explains why there aren’t dead leaves/stems on the plant. Lavender plants really do look dead in the winter, even though they aren’t. If in a few weeks everything else in your garden is green and the lavender is still brown and entirely brittle, then they’re probably dead. But a large lavender plant that has survived many cold winters is really unlikely to die suddenly, unless the most recent winter was abnormally cold with a long hard freeze. Check out my other blog post “How to tell if your lavender survived the winter” (if you haven’t already) and it’ll lead you through some steps. But my gut tells you not to give up hope yet! As I say in the other post, every year it looks like our entire field is full of dead lavender, and every spring we wake up one day to a field of lavender covered in green fuzz.

      If the plants are dead, waiting a few weeks to replace them with new lavender isn’t a problem – lavender can be planted at any point in the spring/summer/fall, so long as you are sure to water it appropriately. So there’s no rush! Good luck, and keep me posted.

  14. Cathy

    Looking to see how successful I can be growing lavender in 2b. Any suggestions to make this possible?

    1. Rebecca Olson[ Post Author ]

      Unfortunately, I think 2b is too cold for lavender (the coldest I’ve heard it surviving is Zone 3.) Also, I’m not an expert in growing anything in those really cold conditions. If you have a local nursery or master gardener center (or local Facebook gardening group) you would probably find a lot more expertise there.

      But if you want to give it a shot, I’d recommend you keep your lavender in pots and move them inside a greenhouse once temperatures dip below freezing. Stick to lavandula angustifolia varieties (they are the most cold hardy) and choose small varieties that are known to grow well in pots (like “Lavanite Petite” or “Thumbelina”). There’s no need for a formal walk-in greenhouse if you don’t have one – depending on how many lavender plants you’ve got, you could get a small plastic greenhouse with a zipper front. Place it in a sunny, protected spot (like up against a south wall of the house). Keep the pots in there until it warms up again in the spring, then start moving them outside during the day and back in at night until you’re past the final frost.

      The key is to make sure the lavender is protected from freezing, but still gets plenty of sunshine (lavender doesn’t do well as an inside house plant.) Remember that the roots of potted plants will freeze more quickly than those in the ground, since they don’t have the warmth of the earth to protect them – so if temperatures start to dip so low that it’s below freezing inside your greenhouse, you’ll need to consider wrapping the pots with burlap, old towels, etc. at the very least. If possible, you might consider a seed tray warming mat set at a really low temperature. You don’t want to confuse the lavender and have it *hot* in the greenhouse, but you do want to keep the roots from freezing, so just try to shoot for 32-40 degrees inside the greenhouse during the coldest months.

      There are lavender farms in Ontario, Canada, so you may try to contact one of them in a colder zone to see if they have any more/better cold weather tips for you. Good luck!

  15. Anni

    I have a Buena Vista Lavender (Angusti folia) and live in Northern VA (zone 6b-7a). My plant is currently in a pot outside, was planning on putting it into the ground potentially this week but was wondering if this might not be great for it? I’m trying to get it to last through the year but bringing it inside isn’t an option (my cat) and I want to plant more in the yard in the spring as well. Is this a good idea? Or should I winterize it in its pot, prune, and cover in burlap and keep it protected on the porch?
    Thank you!!!

    1. Rebecca Olson[ Post Author ]

      Hello! That’s a tough call, but my gut tells me that lavender in the ground almost always is happier than lavender in pots during the winter (since the ground acts as such a good insulator, and they get natural sunlight and water, etc.) I’d plant it, making sure the soil is prepared with excellent drainage. Give it 3-4 weeks to get established, then go ahead and prune it. I imagine you get snow in that area, and snow can damage lavender (even young lavender) by breaking the wood if stems are left long (the weight on the long tips of untrimmed stems will pull them to the ground, and can split the wood down at the base).

      If you’re worried that you’re going to get a hard freeze before the plant would have time to establish, and you decide to leave it in the pot until spring, here’s what I recommend: Put the pot somewhere with direct sunlight during the day, but ideally protected from wind (like up against the side of the house). Then, tuck some blankets or burlap around the base. Your key concern is keeping the roots from freezing. Zone 6b/7a isn’t *extremely* cold – it’s not much colder than where we are, and we have numerous lavender plants in pots that we pretty much ignore during the winter – but also, we’re a lavender farm so we have numerous plants and if we lost one, it wouldn’t be traumatic. When you’ve only got one plant that you’ve bonded to, I’d recommend a little overkill and just make sure it’s protected. The other key is to not forget to water it, if you pull it up somewhere you’re not used to seeing it. It won’t need to be watered frequently in the fall/winter, but you still don’t want it to die of thirst. Good luck!

  16. Pat

    Hello! how fun to see so many lavender lovers! I am in northern Wisconsin, zone 4, and have had 2 hardy plants for three years. This year, one bloomed as usual and looked gorgeous, while the other looked about three quarters dead. Now, at the end of the season, I have new growth lavender plants growing about a foot from the mother plants. Clearly they traveled underground (like raspberry canes do). I would like to gather these new growth plants and re-plant them for a new bush, since they have moved themselves in my garden and are not esthetic at this point. I broke off all the old dead branches and left the new growth, trimming back second blooms. The “good” bush is about two feet across and 18″ high. Should I leave it all until next spring and try to re-plant them at that time? Or, what?

    1. Rebecca Olson[ Post Author ]

      Pat – how wonderful that your plants were so healthy they grew little lavender offspring for you! Lavender doesn’t grow underground like raspberries, but it does drop a lot of seed. In the right soil and conditions (which you clearly have) the lavender will self-seed and start anew. Since your plants are a few years old, most likely it dropped some seed last summer/fall and the plants grew up this spring/summer for you. We pull up many little lavenderettes from the field every spring as we’re weeding (and I keep them all, because it’s always fun to see what they grow up to be!) Keep in mind that lavender is one of those plants that doesn’t always grow true to the parent – you could end up with exactly the same variety, or you could end up with a neighbor’s variety (or your very own unique cross-breed!). It’s all very exciting.

      I would recommend you leave the little ones in the ground where they are now, since in your zone it’s already cold and about to get a lot colder. Wait until spring when it’s past freezing (March? April?) to pull up the dying lavender and replant the new ones where you want them. Also, you *could* try a secret lavender farmer trick: plant one of the young ones in the new space left from where you cut out the dead wood of the unappealing plant. If it gets enough sunlight, it will grow inside/around/within the older plant, and once it’s large enough (2-3 years) you can trim it and shape it so it looks like the same plant. The benefit to this is that you’ve got the basic shell/shape of the big lavender already in place while the young one grows (for your aesthetics) – but there’s no need to do it if you’re happy to just tear out the old plant. Good luck!

      1. Pat

        Thank you Rebecca for the tips! My garden sense was telling me to wait until spring (at least mid-May to trust planting outdoors—I usually wait until June 1 though that is so hard to wait) to move anything. So thanks for confirming that. What a surprise to learn those little new ones are from seeds! In 2020 both bushes bloomed just gloriously, with so many blossoms. So it was disappointing that half of the one bush died this past year. I think it was winter kill.
        This year I am thinking of covering them with burlap, hopefully to prevent winter kill. Is there a proper way and time to do this?

      2. Pat

        I thought I sent a reply but don’t see it showing here. Thank you for the tips, I feel more secure about my “gardener’s gut”. I do have one more question. I bought some burlap thinking I would cover the lavender plants to hopefully avoid winter kill (which is what I think happened this past year). Can you give me advice on when and how to best cover them? Before frost? Before the ground freezes? Would it work to use a cut-down small tomato support as a base for the burlap? More tips, please—thanks 🙂

        1. Rebecca Olson[ Post Author ]

          Pat – sorry for the delay, I have to approve all comments before they appear on the site. I do not have personal experience covering lavender because it doesn’t get cold enough in our zone to warrant it. However, I know that those in really cold climates do sometimes cover their plants. If it’s cold enough that your lavender might develop ice on the stems (or a long hard freeze where the roots might freeze in the ground) then covering is probably a good idea. I’ve heard of using evergreen boughs, but a farmer we know in Eastern Washington uses a white fabric/garden cloth to cover her rows, so that’s what I typically recommend for people who want to cover (I always defer to those with more experience.)

          The important thing to remember is that you don’t want to trap moisture over the roots or plant (because root rot will kill the plants as quickly as a hard freeze.) So whatever you use to insulate, it needs to be breathable – heavy mulches, for example, are a bad idea – which is why I hesitate to tell you to use the burlap, which could trap a lot of moisture. I’m also not confident about when the best time to cover would be, though obviously it would need to be before the first big freeze. Lavender needs sun, and air circulation, and dry conditions – so any time spent wrapped up and potentially shaded and/or humid isn’t good for the plant. So the least amount of time you can have it wrapped (while still insulating against potential ice freeze) is best.

          I highly recommend you talk to someone at your local nursery, or contact a lavender farm located in your zone. There are many healthy lavender farms up in Canada, so I’m sure that those farmers have hands on experience with covering lavender to protect from ice damage! Good luck.

  17. Pat

    All good ideas, thanks for all your help!

  18. Why Is My Lavender Turning Grey? – Gardening Mentor

    […] should also make sure that you’re prepared for the upcoming winters. There are a few simple tips you can use to do this. First, you’ll want to water the plant more […]

  19. Tom Floren

    I planted these in late October from small cuttings. I live in zone 8 and they are turning purple. I water about 1-2/week when they dry out. Has only been below freezing a handful of times and for only a couple of hours each time.
    Wish I could post photos of the plants but having technical issues. Thanks!!!!

    1. Rebecca Olson

      Tom – congrats on your cuttings! Do you have a question for me, or were you just hoping to share and post some photos?

      1. Tom Floren

        Thanks for the reply. I planted some Grosso in the ground on a raised bed with very good draining soil. Within the last week the leaves are turning purple. I’ve been watering once/week when the soil dries out as I live in the high desert area of New Mexico and it’s super dry the last 4 months or so. Thanks for any advice!

      2. Tom Floren

        I was wondering what may be the cause of the leaves turning purple all of a sudden. Nothing in the routine changed (watering when dry and here in New Mexico it’s super dry), temperatures haven’t been too cold (dips below freezing for a couple hours on occasion), plenty of sun, etc.

        1. Rebecca Olson[ Post Author ]

          Tom – that does sound strange! I’ve never seen lavender leaves turning purple, so I don’t have any hands on experience with this issue. Since you’re a farmer and could lose an entire row (not just a homeowner with a single plant) I hesitate to armchair diagnose and tell you the wrong thing. However, there are three things that come to mind as possibilities:

          1. It seems counter-intuitive, but young lavender actually needs to be watered fairly frequently. You don’t want the roots to sit in wet soil, but if you’ve got the plants mounded up and well drained (which is great!) in an arid climate, the ground around the roots probably isn’t retaining any moisture past a day or two at most. While your mature Grosso will have roots reaching down 18”-24” to gather moisture for several days at a time, the young cuttings are just getting started. In your arid climate, I would recommend you water the young plants at least once every 2-3 days minimum until they are well established. You want the soil to dry out, but not for long. Young lavender can go from “it’s humid in here” to “I’m dying of thirst” in a very short window of time.

          2. Even though it hasn’t been very cold, the starts are newly planted and the roots didn’t have much time to establish before the temperatures began to dip. Lavender can stand the cold, but little starts are still babies in the plant world, and even a couple of days below freezing could potentially have done some damage to the roots. However, in zone 8 this is really unlikely (unless it got colder than you realized overnight).

          3. I did a little research, and sometimes when herb leaves turn purple, it indicates a phosphorus deficiency. However, lavender typically prefers nutrient poor soil, so it’s unlikely this is the case (unless when you mounded them up you planted them in 100% gravel and sand with no soil in it.)

          I highly recommend you reach out to a New Mexico lavender farm in your general region, and see if they have any ideas – or at the very least, check with a local nursery, master gardening group, or university ag extension group. Those experts would have a much more nuanced idea of your specific microclimate and may have experience with herbaceous leaves turning purple. Good luck!

  20. Is Lavender An Easy Plant To Grow? – Fallsgardencafe

    […] If you don’t get a good reliable snow cover, cover your plant bases with a well draining mulch, such as pea gravel, and/or cover the plant itself with a breathable fabric cover (like burlap or gardening blanket fabric), to protect from wind and freezing temperatures. via […]

  21. Sr.. Christina

    Can lavender successfully be grown and overwintered in raised beds?

    1. Rebecca Olson[ Post Author ]

      Hello! I replied two days ago, but it doesn’t look like it saved, so I apologize if this is a repeat for you. Yes, lavender can be planted in raised beds, assuming you’re in a climate where it can be grown in the ground. Be sure to allow for a minimum of 24″ deep for the boxes (36″ would be better) and 3 feet square per plant. As always, ensure that the soil in the bed has really good drainage (both the soil and the bottom, if you’ve got weed fabric down) – you don’t want the roots sitting in wet soil. I recommend you stick to smaller angustifolia varieties like “Hidcote” or lavandula stoechas varieties – avoid intermedia varieties (like “Grosso” or “Provence”) because they are larger, and will be unhappy being confined by a bed. Plant lavender at least 36″ apart on center, if you plan to plant more than one – when they are mature this will still create a nice continuous hedge affect, but not be so close that the plant stems entangle and trap humidity.

      For overwintering, I don’t recommend mulching the soil surface, because that has a tendency to trap moisture (which will kill the plant faster than the cold). If you must mulch on the surface, use something that won’t trap water, like pea gravel, or breathable garden fabric. If you’re in a really cold zone with regular or long hard freezes, you could help that by choosing thick wood for the box (the thicker the better). Depending on how cold things get where you are, you may decide to wrap the outside of the boxes to keep the roots warm (assume that the soil/root temp in a box or container is about 10 degrees colder than the soil temp).

      Hope this helps, and good luck!

  22. Esther Marcen

    I actually believed the sweater thing, and I went to google to see pictures of it., just after reading all the articles I discovered it was a joke, lol . that was so cool. thanks for the laugh.

    1. Rebecca Olson[ Post Author ]

      Ha! You’re welcome. But seriously, if someone knits little lavender plant cozies *please* send me pictures.

  23. sandra gulla

    I have been reading through the questions and your answers are wonderfully detailed. I have lost 2 beautiful phenomenal lavenders this year because I forgot to cover them. We live in Southwest NH and it gets cold here. Some articles claim that this is zone 4 or 5 but I thinks zone 3 is more appropriate as we live near the mountain with higher elevation. I will try to salvage one of them and I bought two more to replace the ones I’ve lost. My question concerns the hardiest lavender. I thought Phenomenal lavender was the hardiest, it that true? For three years I had bumper crops from my lavender plants then over this past winter it appears that they have died. Thanks for your website, it’s so helpful!

    1. Rebecca Olson[ Post Author ]

      Hello! I’m so sorry about the loss of your plants – that’s really frustrating. It is quite possible that you’re in a microclimate that is slightly colder than the surrounding area. Lavender is a heat/dry loving plant, so trying to keep it alive in the colder zones isn’t impossible, but it’s certainly going to take more work and planning. We don’t have any “Phenomenal” at the farm, though we’re planning to get some, so I can’t personally speak to its hardiness. I can say that it’s a lavandula intermedia, which typically are not as cold tolerant as lavandula angustifolia – so it’s quite possible that “Phenomenal” is the best intermedia for cold, while not necessarily being the best lavender overall for cold. From what I’ve read, the “Hidcote” varieties (Hidcote Superior, Hidcote Blue, Hidcote Giant) are all excellent choices for cold hardiness (rumored to survive up to -20°) – and they’re also common, so they should be easy for you to find. Good luck!

  24. Tonny

    Hello, I wish you well, I am new in this field, I would like to ask you about Lavenders, I live in the western Balkans in continental climate zone and I was hoping to open a farm and plant some Lavenders, but I am not sure for the type of plant and climate, is it suitable, is it better to plant as a seedling or as a seed, and any advice to follow.

    Thank you
    I wish you all the best

    1. Rebecca Olson[ Post Author ]

      Hello! What type of lavender to plant depends not just on your climate, but also what you’d like to do with the lavender (do you want to distill essential oil? harvest for bud? bouquets? culinary?) I recommend you do some research on the ways to farm and use lavender, and based on that information, you can start to select the species and varieties that will suit your needs! Once you have that information, you can start doing the math for how many you can plant (based on how big the mature plants will be).

      I’m not familiar with the European climate zones, but I know that Bulgaria has many, many successful lavender farms, so it is definitely possible in that part of the world. I recommend you contact a lavender farm closer to you to ask their advice on what types of lavender work in your climate.

      Finally, I definitely recommend you grow from cuttings (not seeds). Lavandula intermedia cannot be grown by seed (it is a sterile hybrid) and lavandula angustifolia seed is not “true to the parent” – you can never be certain that the seed that you grow is the variety it came from. Cuttings are the only way to guarantee you’re getting the variety you want.

      Hope all this helps – good luck!

  25. Marcus

    I know this article is old but I have to point out that this –

    “consider a layer of gravel at the bottom of the pot to assist with drainage.”

    – is a myth. Gravel at the bottom of a pot merely reduces the amount of soil in the pot.

    1. Rebecca Olson[ Post Author ]

      Thank you so much for bringing this to our attention! The information has been corrected above.

  26. Susan

    The little sweater idea is fabulous. I sowed a few Munstead Lavender seeds, and then rooted cuttings from the best of the tiny babies. They are SO SLOW but I am determined to keep a few alive. My special needs daughter loves to loom knit toques (we are Canadian lol) so I may ask her to whip me up a few lavender hats for their first winter. LOL.

    1. Rebecca Olson[ Post Author ]

      If you knit hats for your baby lavender plants, you are required to take a picture of them wearing the hats and send it to me.

      (Kidding aside, don’t actually keep the hats on them though, because that might trap moisture. But definitely do a photo shoot.)

  27. Tabitha

    Hi, I live in southern WI by Lake Michigan. We’re having a lot of fluctuating temperatures right now, which has me worried for my lavender plants. It dropped down into the low 30’s and upper 20’s which I read is about when you want to cover your lavender, which I did. Now it’s getting into the upper 30’s and will eventually get into the low 50’s this weekend. It looks like the weather is going to be going up and down in temperature the next couple of weeks. What do I do with my lavender to keep it from dying? I’ve pruned it and covered it with burlap. It also has sand mixed in with the dirt so it has good drainage.

    1. Rebecca Olson[ Post Author ]

      Hi there! I wouldn’t worry about the cold unless you’re in zone 4 or lower (with temperatures regularly below zero for long periods of time.) Temperatures above zero – definitely the temps you’re experiencing in the 30s and higher – are just fine for lavender. Covering the lavender with burlap is often recommended for zone 4 or lower winters because those zones experience long freezes of -10 and lower, but covering the plants at your current temps will potentially trap moisture (think of morning frost turning to dew). Dampness will kill your plants more quickly than mild cold. The burlap is also preventing the plants from getting sun, which they love, even this time of year. So if you’re in zone 5 burlap shouldn’t be necessary.

      I’d definitely uncover them now, and wait until you get into the really cold parts of winter before you consider putting it back on. If you see a forecast for a few days or more of below zero temps, you could put it back on then take it back off when the temps rise above zero again. Keep in mind that snow also acts as a really good natural insulator (and it melts away when the weather warms, so you don’t have to remember to pull it off.) Good luck!

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