There’s nothing quite like adding a few plants to your kitchen or living room to liven up your interior décor. They look nice, smell lovely, and offer that all-important natural touch.
Of course, not just any plant will do.
Some plants may look nice, but they’re too strongly odorous, especially for an indoor setting. Others may smell sweet, but don’t look too impressive. Some flowers simply wilt and die without direct sunlight.
Lavender, on the other hand, ticks all the right boxes.
They’re fragrant, colorful, and exude elegance and freshness – but can they grow indoors?
It depends on which variety you choose and how you look after them, but yes – when cared for properly, lavender can freshen up your home.
And here’s how.
English vs. French Lavender
Of course, not all lavender is the same.
For example, French and English lavender differ in several ways:
- English lavender is hardier
- French lavender does not do well in cold temperatures
- English lavender is more typically found in domestic spaces like gardens
- French lavender is more typically found in open fields
- English lavender does not typically grow taller than two feet
- French lavender can grow to around two to three feet
- English lavender has a stronger, more fragrant scent
- French lavender remains in bloom for far longer, and smells faintly of rosemary
Both English and French lavender can conceivably be grown and cultivated indoors. There are many other types of lavender from elsewhere around the world as well, each with their own size, color, fragrance, and hardiness variations.
Lavender is a lovely plant to have for either gardening or houseplant purposes. You simply need to decide which of those characteristics best suit your needs and desires.
Where to Place Your Lavender
Once you have chosen the right type of lavender for your home, it’s time to start thinking about where you’re going to place it. This is a decision that will require balancing both aesthetic as well as caretaking and cultivation qualities.
To tackle the latter point first, you want to make sure that you are arranging your lavender so it gets as much light as possible. Both English and French lavender grow naturally in open fields and garden areas that are exposed to a lot of sunlight, so you’ll want to replicate those conditions as closely as possible. It should get at least three to four hours of sunlight per day.
For the best results, you will also want to rotate the pot so as to make sure that all flowers receive an equal amount of sunlight. This is important because otherwise you could wind up with half of the flowering lavender plants in sunlight, the other half in shade, and the latter half will be weaker and stunted. In addition, a lack of sunlight can also lead to lavender plants being sickly.
Another thing you’ll want to take into consideration when deciding where to place your lavender plants in a room is ventilation. You need to make sure that your lavender is exposed to freshly circulated air. Without this, the plants will stagnate and potentially fail to grow in a healthy fashion.
That said, while ventilation and circulation are essential, you want to be careful not to place your lavender anywhere that it will be exposed to constant heat. Especially problematic is a directed burst of heat, as from a heater. Ideally, you should keep these plants at around 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit during the evening and 70 degrees during the day, with autumnal and wintery weather meaning slightly cooler temperatures.
That leaves the question of aesthetics. Figuring out where your lavender “looks best” will naturally vary from room to room depending on the décor setup. That said, lavender is a bright, fresh, fragrant plant, and is, thus, a natural accent piece, especially when used as a centerpiece in a room such as dining room tables and kitchen islands.
You’ll also want to take those lighting and ventilation needs into consideration. Place your lavender in a well-lit place where it’ll catch the most sunlight and be lit in such a way as to best complement its color.
How to Water and Fertilize Your Lavender
Aside from placement and lighting, you’ll need to make sure that your plant is properly watered.
Indeed, watering is one of the biggest areas where first-time and experienced gardeners and plant keepers make mistakes. Watering any plant requires a careful eye and extremely delicate balance, and that’s especially true when taking care of plants such as lavender.
You’ll, thus, want to water the soil so as to drench it completely without causing it to become watery. The soil should not be dry at all after you water the lavender. Use your finger to check soil moisture levels in between watering sessions.
Letting your soil go dry will lead to the leaves of your lavender starting to yellow and the whole plant beginning to die of thirst. For as important as it is to make sure that the soil remains moist, however, you’ll want to beware of overwatering your lavender, as this can lead to root rot.
If you choose to move your lavender outside for the springtime, keep in mind that the plant and soil will dry out faster in the open air and, thus, need to be watered more frequently.
To get the most out of your lavender, you’ll want to use a light potting mixture. This can include compost, perlite, and sand. Increasing the alkaline levels can also be beneficial.
Lime can be useful in this regard, while placing eggshells in the soil can help reduce acidity levels.
Of course, watering your lavender won’t do much good if the soil in which it is planted is dry and barren. You, therefore, need to make sure that your soil is both well-watered as well as fertilized.
Additional Tips for Taking Care of Lavender Plants
In addition to the basics of lighting, ventilating, watering, and fertilizing your lavender, you’ll want to pay attention to a few other key details as well.
For one thing, you’ll want to make sure that you have potted your plant in a pot that will allow the plant’s roots to grow out for a while. You don’t want to smother the roots and, thus, stunt the plant. On the other hand, lavender is a plant variety that actually grows better in close quarters.
You’ll, thus, want to leave room for your lavender’s rootball, but only a few inches. Give too much room and the excess soil may remain wet, causing rot. To that end, you’ll also want to make sure that the pot has adequate drainage holes.
Pruning is another key aspect of plant care that inexperienced gardeners neglect. Snipping away the dead and dying parts of plants is essential for making sure that rot and disease do not spread. Besides, leaving dead and dying parts in place does little to improve the aesthetic appeal of your lavender.
That said, pruning obviously needs to be undertaken with the utmost care so as to make sure that you don’t accidentally snip off too much, lest you permanently damage the plant. In addition, pruning too much will reduce the plant’s ability to produce flowering parts.
Patience is a virtue, and that’s especially true when dealing with plants. You’ll, therefore, want to be patient if you are taking a lavender specimen that has been growing outside and transplant it into your home. It takes us a while to get acclimated to our new surroundings after a move, and the same is true for plants.
Of course, the type of pot that lavender plants get to call home can also be hugely helpful. Different plants do well in different types of pots, and for lavender, terra cotta is one of the better pot options. A quick-drying terra cotta pot can help to recreate the Mediterranean environment that is naturally perfect for lavender.
We have already mentioned that rotating your plant so it gets even sunlight is important. To make the most of this, you’ll want to rotate your pot each time you water your plant.
No plant is free of problems, and lavender is no exception. What is important is being able to respond to these problems in a timely fashion. The faster you are able to identify and respond to issues with your lavender plant, the better your chances of being able to resolve the problem without lasting damage.
Let’s start with root rot. This is a relatively common issue with plants, especially those that are native to the Mediterranean as are lavenders. Plants used to these kinds of conditions typically thrive in soil that is moist and on the heavy side, and that’s the case with lavender as well.
Root rot is fungal in nature and can result in the leaves of an infected plant starting to turn brown. This is where pruning becomes so important. You’ll need to prune leaves, roots, and areas affected by root rot immediately, lest you allow the condition to spread.
As indicated above, root rot can set in as the result of too much moisture. In cases such as these, you’ll naturally want to make sure to add new soil that is not drenched, remove the watery soil, and try and maintain a proper balance.
For as problematic as root rot may be, at least it typically only involves excess water as a “root” cause. Far more problematic can be the presence of bugs and insects. From spittlebugs to froghoppers to any number of other types of bugs, these insectoid invaders can chow down on your lavender plant and then start to infest the rest of your home.
You naturally don’t want that to happen, which is why it is so important to make sure you address any and all bug and insect infestations as soon as you identify them. In addition to the insects themselves, you’ll want to be on the lookout for signs of their presence. This can include jagged, munched-on leaves as well as the appearance of white blobs on the stems of plants that have become infested with them.
Some of these insects may be using your lavender as a hiding or breeding place, while others may simply be eating it. Either way, you’ll need to find a way to expel them permanently.
You can do this by spraying the plants with a hose to blast them off the stem and leaves, and then scoop up or otherwise dispose of the insects. While insecticides may be used to prevent infestations in outdoor lavenders, this is not advisable for indoor specimens.
In addition, you’ll want to be on the lookout for signs of a fungal infestation. These can appear in any number of ways, with spores and fuzzy-looking growths being common warning signs. If your lavender begins to have a strongly unpleasant smell, this may also be a sign that your once-fragrant plant has given way to a fungal infection such as lavender shab, which can manifest with black and brown spots.
If this is the case, you’ll want to prune away these unsightly odious growths as soon as possible. You’ll also want to make sure that you do not include any plants that have begun to sprout fungal spores in any compost piles you may be keeping. While funguses can sometimes be beneficial as part of these piles, the types of funguses that can grow on lavender will likely not be helpful.
Last, but not least, you want to be on the lookout for general signs of woody unwellness in your lavender. If this is the case with your lavender plant, it’s once again time to break out the sheers and start snipping to prune these problems away. In addition, if you have an older and younger lavender plant side by side, the older one may need to be replaced so as to spare the newer one.
The Many Benefits of Growing Lavender Indoors
Now let’s get to the good stuff! Besides its natural beauty and succulent scent, lavender can offer all kinds of natural benefits around the home, including:
- Bug Repellent: Another lovely side effect of lavender’s natural fragrance is the fact that this aroma is often too strong for several unwelcome types of insects, including moths, midges, and mosquitos. It is certainly a more welcome option than resorting to spraying insect repellent around your home.
- Lavender Oil: Speaking of anti-insect benefits, lavender oil can also be used as an anti-irritant, which can help with bug bites. If you’re especially resourceful, you can collect this lavender oil for use in a first aid kid when you go hiking in the woods.
- Reducing Anxiety: An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but introducing lavender into your home may be a good remedy for combatting anxiety and stress with its soothing aroma.
- Helping Headaches: In addition, the smell of lavender can also provide mild relief for migraines.
- Sleep Assistance: Having trouble sleeping? You may want to forego the warm milk and try a few drops of lavender oil on your pillow, as their soothing effects are supposed to help with sleep.
- Healing Your Skin: As noted above, lavender oil can be useful as an anti-irritant. That said, it can also be used to combat the kind of bacterial growth and oversecretion that can lead to acne and unwelcome growths produced by oily skin. In addition, using lavender oil in conjunction with moisturizer can help lessen acne scars.
- Combatting Certain Fungal Infections: The Society for General Microbiology has found that lavender oil may be useful in combatting “the increased incidence of antifungal-resistant infections.” This includes types of fungi that can cause “common skin and nail infections.”
- Easing Blood Pressure: Another thing lavender’s soothing aroma can help with is high blood pressure and hypertension. Positive responses to lavender’s aroma can promote better blood circulation, which can in turn help increase the amount of oxygen sent to your muscles and brain, thereby helping with tension and reducing your blood pressure.
- Settling your Stomach: If you have an upset stomach, indigestion, or are suffering from excessive gas, vomiting, or diarrhea, lavender can help calm your digestive system. Lavender oil aids with the production of gastric juices and bile that can ease these conditions.
- Menstrual Cramps: Lavender oil can help with many kinds of joint pain and cramps. Menstrual cramps in particular can be eased by applying a few drops’ worth of lavender oil to your lower abdominal area and feet. For best results, try using a warm towel.
- Hair Help: Lice and nits are as distressing as they are disgusting. Thankfully, lavender can help ward these off while potentially helping bolster your hair’s health and natural growth.
- Diabetes Assistance: Lavender oil can also help protect against increased blood glucose levels as well as weight gain, both of which can help combat diabetes symptoms.
From its natural beauty to its scintillating aroma to the many benefits it can bring you and your home, lavender is a truly lovely plant to have around the house.