Last updated on March 6th, 2022
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Lavender is a very fragrant herb that produces beautiful purple flowers and attracts bees and butterflies like crazy. If you already have Lavender in your garden, be it in the ground or in a pot, you might want to propagate more plants from your existing plant. Most gardeners do that by way of taking cuttings but you can achieve equal success by growing them from seed, it just takes a little more time and patience.
Growing Lavender from seed is somewhat slower but it’s significantly less costly, you can produce very vibrant plants from the ones you already have (if you harvest the seeds), plus seeds are relatively cheap to buy too if you choose not to harvest them.
Lavender seeds can be harvested from an existing plant or you can purchase them from a garden centre or nursery.
When you are ready to germinate you want to begin the process approximately six to twelve weeks prior to the warm spring season. It can take a while for your Lavender seeds to germinate, up to 21 days, so you want to begin the process inside with ample time to allow the plant to achieve maturity before spring. Ideally, you can sow seed indoors between February and July.
Seeds from the plants in your garden need cold stratifying
When you have your seeds handy you want to expose them to a process referred to as cold stratifying. To do this you want to take to wet paper towels and place the seeds on the paper towels, not touching, and then cover them with the other paper towel. Place them inside a ziplock bag or other sealable plastic bag. Put that bag in your fridge for at least 3 weeks. This makes the seeds think they have been through winter as they would usually do naturally.
Seeds purchased from garden centres and nurseries do not need cold stratifying
If you have purchased seeds from your local garden centre they have already gone through this process and they don’t need to be stratified again and they can be planted straight away.
Propagating From Seed
Once your seeds are ready, take your container and fill it with seed compost. This is a special type of potting mix, it is very light, very well-draining and lacks the fertiliser that seeds don’t require. You can use a series of shallow containers and just fill them entirely or you can invest in individual plastic seedling trays, however, make sure they have holes in the bottom for the water to drain away freely.
When you plant the seeds you don’t need to bury them like some seeds. Instead, you can simply place them on top of the soil and then sprinkle a little bit of vermiculite or finely sieved compost on top of the seeds. If you are using a specific seedling tray you want one seed per slot. If instead, you are using a larger container without any divisions you should space them approximately 1.2-2.5cm apart to make them easier to transplant later on.
Once this is done, you can either place them in a propagator that is set to 21-25°C (70-75°F) or if you just have a seed tray, place a clear polythene sheet (or a bag) over the seed tray and you are ready to leave the seeds to germinate. Keep them on a light windowsill with plenty of light.
You also want to lightly water your seeds. This is a delicate process that will take a great deal of your focus because too much water can invite fungus and destroy the seeds, but not enough can cause them to dry out.
It takes between 14 and 21 days for Lavender seeds to sprout. You want to keep the soil wet and keep the seedlings in a sunny region, properly warmed. As they begin to sprout you should move them to an area that gets direct sunlight or use fluorescent grow lights overhead so that they get at least eight hours of artificial sunlight.
Transplanting Young Lavender Plants
Once the true leaves have started to mature and the root system is in place it’s time to transplant. An individual Lavender plant should have several sets of leaves before this process takes place. If you are transplanting them into larger containers you want to repeat the same process used originally, but with containers that are approximately 9cm in diameter. You can add one Lavender plant per pot by gently prying it out of the original seedling container and transplanting it into the new container with good quality compost, packing in compost around the area.
In most cases, your Lavender will continue to grow to about 10-15cm before you can transplant it to its final location. This can take between one and three months. During this time you want to move the pots outside every day, starting with just an hour or so of sunlight and exposure. Then bring them outside for a few hours at a time. This is a process referred to as hardening off and it exposes them to the elements slowly and allows them to build up the strength necessary to withstand the elements that they will experience once planted outside.
When your plants are ready, put them outside in an area with full sun. Plant them in your garden with compost and proper drainage and make sure to water them regularly during the first year of growth, after which they’ll become moderately drought-resistant.