French lavender (Lavandula dentata) is a bushy, compact, drought-tolerant herb with silvery grey foliage and fragrant spikes of bluish-purple flowers. French lavender is hardy to USDA planting zones 8 to 10, but won't survive severe winters. If you live in a climate with cold winters, plant French lavender in a pot and bring it indoors when the weather turns cool in autumn. French lavender has a variety of uses, and is often incorporated into shampoos, soaps, sachets, perfumes and potpourris. French lavender can also be used in aromatherapy or to make a hot cup of tea.
Plant lavender bedding plants in autumn so the roots will have time to establish before summer. Plant lavender in full sunlight and well-drained soil. If you have clay-based soil, improve drainage by adding 2 to 3 inches of poultry grit or shredded bark. Add 2 to 3 inches of shredded bark or compost if your soil is sandy. Work the material into the top 12 inches of soil.
Plant lavender in a container if you want a patio plant, or if you need to bring the plant indoors during the winter. Use a container with a drainage hole. Fill the container with any good general-purpose commercial potting mix combined with a handful of sand. Re-pot lavender into a slightly larger container every spring.
Water French lavender early in the day so excess moisture can evaporate before evening. Give the plant 1 to 1 1/2 gallons of water, then don't water again until the top of the soil feels fairly dry. Water slowly at the base of the plant. Water potted lavender when the top of the soil feels dry. Never allow the pot to stand in water.
Spread 1 to 2 inches of mulch such as shredded bark around the French lavender plants to conserve moisture and control weeds. Use a mulch such as pea gravel or coarse sand if you live in a humid climate. Leave a 2- to 3-inch ring of soil unmulched immediately around the plant.
Prune French lavender down by 1/3 to 1/2 of its height every fall. Pruning will keep the plant healthy, and will prevent large, uneven plants.
French lavender is adapted to warmer climates, unlike better known English lavender.
Tips and warnings
- French lavender is adapted to warmer climates, unlike better known English lavender.