The first step to cultivating lavender is choosing a suitable potting soil. It’s also the most critical step. That will help grow the plant. If you start with the wrong soil, growing lavender will be a terrible experience.
Many gardeners trying to grow lavender for the first time fail miserably. That’s because they pick an unsuitable growing medium for the plant. Chances are, they don’t even know it. They may realize the problem in time. But their attempts to solve it can sometimes exhaust their lavender plants.
We can help guarantee you don’t make the same mistake. We’ve written this guide to examine the soil needs of lavender. We also cover the potting soil mix in which this herb will grow beautifully.
An Overview of Lavender’s Soil Needs
Some say lavender grows best when neglected. To see your lavender plants flourishing, you need to water and feed them as little as possible. But what is the reason behind this?
Lavender originated in some dry regions of Europe and the Mediterranean. The soil found in those areas is of inferior quality and has very strong drainage. So, lavender has adapted to grow with a limited amount of water and nutrients.
We now know lavender prefers a loose soil to drain out water, especially if it’s growing in a container.
Heavy clay soil, for example, will make your lavender suffer. Its high compactness and retention capacity are the exact opposite of what we seek.
Besides that, lavender hates acidic soils. Any soil with a pH of 6 or less can either shorten the lifespan of your plant or kill it at once.
Lavender prefers a sandy loam soil that is well-aerated, well-drained, and rife with nutrients.
The Perfect Potting Soil for Lavender
There are several potting soil mixes that gardeners use to grow lavender. Yet gardeners consider few of these risk-free and reliable.
Well-drained potting soil alone, for instance, doesn’t work for the plant. It drains water slower than what lavender requires for its survival. Even potting soil mixes created to drain water faster than the regular mixes aren’t enough on their own.
That means amending the soil is an essential step before using it to grow lavender. Despite being able to improve lavender’s soil, some amendments can harm the plant.
Pumice can make the soil less compacted, which allows more air to traverse it. But pumice can also hold onto water. For this reason, gardeners primarily use it to improve heavy soils for moisture-loving plants.
Some organic matter can increase the soil’s drainage. But it can also boost its nutrient content. This feature is problematic for a plant accustomed to growing with fewer minerals. Many of these organic substances can also make the soil more acidic.
Considering that, it’s vital to pick a soil amendment that can loosen the soil; it must also increase its drainage. It must do this without adding more nutrients to the medium or decreasing the pH.
According to science and our experience, the two best amendments for our goal are perlite and coarse sand.
Perlite and sand can drain excess water—without interfering with the soil’s acidity and nutrient composition.
Preparing the Perfect Mix: 2/3 High-Quality Potting Soil + 1/3 Perlite or Coarse Sand
There is a perfect soil mix for your lavender plant. You must have a high-quality well-drained potting soil first.
Don’t go for cheap brands found in nurseries. These are usually full of pests and have a terrible texture.
We like to use Foxfarm Ocean Forest Garden Potting Soil Mix for our lavender. We highly recommend that you use it too!
Foxfarm is well-drained and has one of the best textures of all potting soils. They’ve adjusted the pH to between 6.3 and 6.8, which is perfect for lavender.
Foxfarm Potting Soil
Mix two parts of Foxfarm with one part perlite or coarse sand (2/3 Foxfarm + 1/3 perlite or sand). You will get the perfect potting soil for lavender!
This mix has worked amazingly well for our lavenders and should work well for your plants too!
It is important to note that you can easily adjust the drainage of this mix by adding more perlite or potting soil. In case your lavenders are getting dehydrated, you can add more Foxfarm. If the plants look over-watered, there are two things you can do. You can lengthen your watering schedule or add more perlite.
Alternative Potting Mix for Lavender: ½ Cactus Mix + ½ High-Quality Potting Soil
Instead of using perlite or sand, some gardeners like to combine one-half cacti and succulents mix. (We prefer Hoffman Organic Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix.) Mix that with one-half of a high-quality potting soil to create a suitable growing medium for lavender.
Generally, this soil mix is more expensive to prepare than the previous one. So, we recommend you use it in this one case. Only use it when our standard mix cannot produce the desired results with the lavender species or cultivar you’re trying to grow. This issue rarely happens, but remember the formula of this mix just in case.
Important Notes to Keep in Mind
As we mentioned before, fertilizers are unnecessary for lavender. But you can still use them a little to promote fast plant growth.
Keep in mind that sometimes too many nutrients can disturb lavender’s life cycle. For example, too much nitrogen can stop your lavender plants from flowering.
So, you might as well choose a soil amendment low in nitrogen. A compost that can slowly release nutrients into the soil would be an excellent choice.
If you use Foxfarm potting soil, you must avoid using any fertilizers for your plants. The soil comes brimming with nutrients.
What if your lavender plants outgrow their containers? Transplant them to prevent their roots from getting bound.
Make sure you use new potting soil and a new container at least double the size of the old one. The soil and sizing are essential because you don’t want to exhaust your plants. Transplanting them several times in a brief period will do that.
If the root ball of your lavender plant looks healthy, try not to disturb it during the transplanting procedure.
Drainage of the Container
Drainage is dependent on the soil. But it also depends on the container in which your lavender plants are growing.
Sometimes, excess water cannot escape your plant containers—even if it is fast-draining soil. This can be much more dangerous for your lavender plants than slow-draining soil. Trapped water can drown your lavender plants and cause irreversible damage to their roots.
To avoid such a problem, ensure your containers have the best drainage capacity. You can do this by purchasing high-quality pots. Much like soil, cheap brands of plant containers can be harmful to your plants.
This is everything you need to know about potting soil for lavender. Enjoy growing this herb, and don’t forget to share your thoughts in the comments below!