Lavender Growth Stages: How Fast Does Lavender Grow?
Not sure how long it will take for Lavender to grow in your garden? Lavender has many growth stages, from blooming to maturity. In this article, gardening expert and former organic lavender farmer Logan Hailey walks through the growth rates and growth stages for lavender plants.
Lavender’s timeless beauty and alluring fragrance have earned its popularity in gardens all over the world. This perennial Mediterranean herb is drought-tolerant, low-maintenance, and long-lived. However, it is somewhat slow-growing compared to many annual ornamental flowers.
When growing lavender in your garden, you may be curious to know how long it takes for the plant to fully mature and what you can do to make it grow faster. You may also be wondering what lavender should look like at certain life stages to make sure it’s on the right track to becoming a productive plant.
Below you’ll learn all about the details of lavender’s growth rate as well as the different growth stages for lavender plants at various timelines. Ready to learn more? Let’s dig in!
The Short Answer
Lavender is a slow growing perennial that may bloom in its first year but takes three or more years to fully mature. Their growth rate will largely depend on the variety, and most varieties will take roughly three years to become fully mature plants.
Growing lavender from seed is the slowest, but the cheapest way to propagate this plant. For the quickest reward, purchase larger pre-grown plants from a nursery and transplant it into your garden in the spring.
Water is also a major factor in lavender’s growth rate. During its juvenile stage, it is more sensitive to water and temperature fluctuations. Greater availability of moisture (without making the soil soggy) ensures that your plant gets off to a rapid start.
The Long Answer
Lavender can grow to its full size in as little as a year, but it can take 3-5 years to reach full maturity. The growth rate of this fragrant perennial primarily depends on the following:
Plant Size at Transplant
For the quickest reward, buy the largest potted lavender you can afford and transplant it in the spring.
Choose a climate-adapted hybrid variety for extra vigorous growth.
Lavender needs extremely well-drained, loose soil and full sunlight to thrive. Transplant shock or heavy waterlogged soil can severely stunt and slow the growth down.
Care & Maintenance
To promote vibrant and quick growth, you need to ensure that lavender has the proper water and pruning.
It all starts with the propagation material you choose. Do you want to grow lavender from seed, cutting, or transplant? This growth chart can help you determine the best beginning option for you:
Lavender Growth Chart
|Propagation Type||Time Until Transplant||Time Until Bloom||Time Until Maturity||Overall Cost|
|Seed||2-3 months||2 years||3-4 years||Cheapest|
|Cutting||1-3 months||1 year||3 years||Cheap|
|1 Quart Plant||Immediately||Same year||2-3 years||Affordable|
|1 Gallon Plant||Immediately||Same year||1-3 years||Expensive|
Modern gardeners want quick results, but lavender is a slow-growing perennial that requires patience to get established. If you want a sizeable flowering shrub within a few months, you will need to start with a large transplant and follow the steps below to optimize the shrub’s growth.
Fastest Growing Varieties
Some cultivars are bred to have more vigorous growth rates. Impatient gardeners will love how quickly these lavender varieties spring up and start blooming:
Tips For Encouraging Faster Growth
All plants have a set amount of time to mature, but that doesn’t mean you can’t speed up their growth. Just like a puppy or a child, the growth rate of lavender can be accelerated by giving it the environment it needs to thrive. These five simple tips will help your lavender take off with vigor:
Prevent Transplant Shock
Transplant shock is a brief period of adjustment that a plant needs in new ground. While a short period of transplant shock is normal, major transplant shock happens when the plant is damaged, stressed, or having trouble adjusting to the new environment. Sudden shifts in weather can also cause the plant to go into shock mode.
Transplant shock is one of the most common reasons for slow growth, stunting, a lack of flowers, or even young plant death. Thankfully, it’s fairly easy to prevent so your lavender can get started with a bang!
Transplant Shock Symptoms
- Wilting (even with ample water)
- Yellowing leaves
- Delayed flowering
- More susceptibility to disease
- Slow growth
Transplant Shock Prevention
- Planting in the spring after the danger of frost has passed
- Planting in full, direct sunlight
- Ensuring the plant is fully rooted in its container before planting
- Ensuring that the soil drains quickly
- Preparing a large, loose planting hole at least twice the size of the root ball
- Watering in with a diluted kelp solution
- Watering once or twice per week after transplanting
- Let the soil dry between watering
- Avoiding fertilizers in beds
- Pruning before transplanting (don’t transplant when in bloom)
Plant in Well-draining Soil
Lavender thrives best in well-drained soil that mimics its native habitat. This Mediterranean herb prefers gravelly, sandy soil that allows water to quickly rush through.
If your soil is heavy clay or easily waterlogged, the plant will have trouble establishing and may not grow very quickly. The roots will essentially sit in a puddle of water and can quickly succumb to root rot, ultimately killing your lavender plant.
To create better drainage, generously amend with one or two of the following:
- Horticultural sand
- Pea gravel
- Crushed limestone rock
- Peat moss
- Vermiculite or Perlite
In gardens with hardpan or compacted soil, it also helps to double-dig, broadfork, or plant lavender on raised mounds.
Purchase a Pre-grown Nursery Start
The quickest way to speed up lavender’s growth in your garden is to purchase a pre-grown nursery start. Instead of waiting for seeds or cuttings, an established plant can easily be transplanted into your garden for a quicker reward.
Professional nurseries and greenhouses have already provided these plants the tender love and care they needed in their early days. All you need to do is transplant it in your garden, water it, and then prune it!
Pros of Nursery Starts
- The fastest way to grow
- Typically flower in the first season
- Robust roots are already established
- Foliage looks pleasant immediately
- Easier to visualize spacing
- Easier to handle & more resilient
Cons of Nursery Starts
- More expensive
- Limited variety selection
- Could have disease or pests
- Could be root-bound
Adjust your planting time based on the size of your nursery start:
- Lavender seedlings (4” pot size or smaller) may benefit from being up-potted to a 1-quart pot.
- Start by growing your lavender plant indoors before moving outside.
- Quart-size plants can be planted in the spring after the danger of frost has passed.
- Gallon-size plants can be planted in spring or fall in mild climates.
In general, the larger the plant, the quicker it will get established in your garden. However, the large pots of lavender are also the most expensive because the greenhouse grower has put so much time into cultivating them.
Starts and seedlings are available in all major garden stores and often already have flowers on them. Regardless of the timing and size of your transplant, always be sure to remove any flowers that are already on the plant. This will speed up the lavender’s establishment because it channels energy into the root zone.
Find Balance With the Watering Schedule
Lavender is known for its drought tolerance, but it needs plenty of water to get established. For the first few months, newly planted lavender needs water at least once per week in most climates. If it rains, there is no need to irrigate.
Always let the soil dry out between waterings. Most importantly, avoid overwatering, which could stunt plant growth and cause disease problems.
Prune to Encourage More Growth
The happiest plants are the ones that are pruned! It may seem counterintuitive, but you can encourage faster growth by pruning twice per year. The first pruning happens in the late spring after the first round of flowers.
You can cut back to a few inches above the woody portion of the plant. This refreshes the herb to prepare for another flush of blooms in the fall.
After the autumn flowers fade, it’s time to prune again. This hard prune takes back the plant by up to two-thirds of its growth. Don’t worry, this will all grow back even more abundantly next spring! Pruning encourages the plant to channel its energy into preparing the roots for winter dormancy so it can come up with lusher green foliage in the following year.
As mentioned above, it’s best practice to prune lavender before transplanting as well. This helps the plant be less stressed when moving into a new home.
Growth Stages From Seed
From seeding to blooming, lavender can take up to two years to establish. Lavender seeds are notoriously finicky about germination and slow to grow. It can take a whopping 14-30 days for these seeds to sprout.
Cold stratification (a special chilly exposure period) can help the seeds break dormancy and germinate faster. This emulates the frosty winters that seeds would experience in their wild natural habitat. You can easily cold-stratify your seeds in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for 30-40 days before sowing.
Once the seeds germinate, the wait is far from over! Seedlings take at least 2-3 months to grow large enough to transplant. You can accelerate the process by ensuring a high-quality, well-drained soil mix and plenty of warmth and sunlight.
Once the seedlings are at least 3-5 inches tall, you can move them to a larger container before planting them outdoors. They can still take up to two years until their first bloom cycle.
Needless to say, growing from seed is not for the impatient or faint of heart! If you want to get your lavender off to a fast start, we highly recommend growing from nursery starts that are at least 5 inches tall and well-rooted.
Growth Stages From Cuttings
Growing from cuttings takes approximately 3-6 weeks until rooting and 2-4 months until transplant. Under the right conditions, cuttings can flower in the first year. Warmth and well-drained soil make it easier for the young plants to establish their root zones.
Softwood cuttings taken in the spring can root more quickly than fall-cut hardwood cuttings. Both types can benefit from a rooting hormone to speed up the process. Once the cutting roots, you will need to tend to the young plant just like a vegetable seedling in the nursery. It will need ample sunlight and water.
After a few months, you can up-pot the cutting into a larger container. You need to be sure that the cutting’s roots have thoroughly filled out their cell tray, otherwise, you can severely stunt the plant, resulting in a longer wait time until bloom. If the weather is settled, transplant 5-6 inches tall cuttings directly into your garden.
Overall, propagation from cuttings is a great option if you have existing plants that you want to propagate. However, they still take more attentiveness and patience compared to planting a full-grown lavender pot from your local nursery.
In the best-case scenario, lavender will grow into a small size bush and start flowering within the first year. Impatient gardeners should buy large established plants and transplant them in the spring.
Seeds and cuttings take longer to grow, but they are cheaper and provide more variety. Regardless of your starting point, ensure that lavender gets off to a quick start by preventing transplant shock and giving it a proper growing environment.