Growing and Caring for Lavender

August 7, 2013

Three years ago Matt and I visited Matanzas Creek Winery and Lavender Gardens in early summer and wandered among the beautiful purple fields. Ever since we’ve returned every year, and even attended their annual Days of Wine and Lavender in late June which takes place under the oaks and among the lavender fields. It’s a beautiful event with gourmet food vendors pairing their lavender infused appetizers with the local wines, definitely worth a day trip in June if you’re in the area!

Lavender has been cultivated and grown for centuries and its a flowering plant that has long been a favorite through the ages for its beauty, scent, culinary and therapeutic uses. I’m a huge fan of this botanical, I have two dozen Provence lavender plants in my yard that I harvest every summer – I keep the buds for making sachets and dry several bundles upside-down for future use.

I asked if the specialist at Matanzas Creek would answer some questions about the growth and care of lavender, and today Pat Ross is the expert answering some common questions about the care and growth of lavender.

matanzas creek lavender

Hi Pat! Tell us your role in lavender production at Matanzas Creek Winery and Lavender Gardens?

I oversee the production of all of our lavender products and packaging, developing the unique packaging and marketing the products to spas and retail stores. We sell our lavender products online, you can find all of them in our retail store.

Lavender sunlight

What are the most popular varieties of lavender and how can you tell them apart?

Our large garden is both varieties of Grosso and Provence lavender. ‘Provence’ is a lighter shade of lavender used for culinary purposes. The ‘Grosso’ is a deeper shade used because the fragrance is important in sachets, bouquets, soap products, etc.

difference between provence and grosso lavender


In what regions does lavender grow successfully?  What are some general care guidelines you can share?

Lavender plants will grow in a wide range of conditions, but do best in full sun and well-drained soil. For best results, we recommend amending your soil with a small amount of compost and a couple of shovels full of sand and rock. The sand and rock help provide drainage, and good drainage is a critical factor in growing lavender.

Established plants are extremely drought resistant, but you will need to supply water to newly planted ones; however, be sure not to overwater. One of the most common mistakes we see people make is overwatering new plants in the spring. Let the soil dry between watering times, or the plant will perish quickly. On a 90 degree day, we water for 15 minutes.

Lavender does not like “wet feet”. It is dampness, more than cold, that kills lavender plants. Humidity can also be a problem – make sure you don’t crowd the plants, so air can freely flow between them. Here at Matanzas Creek, our rows are 5’ wide and the plants are 3’ apart. In colder areas, where the ground often freezes, it is beneficial to add a layer of mulch to help protect the roots.

When and how should lavender be harvested?

Your lavender plants will look much better if long stems are cut back to the center mound of the plant within 45 days of the full bloom. The striking half dome shape of Matanzas Lavender plants is achieved by this early harvest and a late fall pruning deep into the mound of the plant. This also helps prevent the formation of woody stocks.

Lavender in Bundles

What are the various culinary and therapeutic uses for lavender?

There are hundreds of recipes that can be found online from desserts to rubs to stuffings. It is a powerful herb compared to others so less is more when cooking with it.

Fragrant lavender buds have a relaxing effect and are a wonderful sleep aid.

Lavender has long been known for healing factors as well. Pure essential lavender oil is a natural antiseptic that can clean a wound or lessen the discomfort of mosquito bites or bee stings. Its healing of burns is nothing short of amazing. When applied to the burn area, the pain will significantly dissipate and resist blistering.

lavender essential oil


Thank you Pat for taking the time to share such valuable tips on growing and caring for lavender.

And today there’s a surprise giveaway!

The kind people of Matanzas Creek Winery and Lavender Farm are offering three winners a culinary gift basket of lavender products shipped to your door.

It includes . . .culinary lavender giveaway


To be eligible to win one of the three culinary gift sets, simply leave a comment on this blog post!

US and Canada only, three winners chosen at random. Giveaway expires midnight PST on August 10, 2013. By entering this giveaway you agree to this site’s giveaway policy and Official Rules of Entry.


Winners: #192 Laura J. #307 Judy W. #520 Cathy L.  Winners notified via email.





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535 Responses to “Growing and Caring for Lavender”

  1. Danae Clak Dowd says:

    My mother has, for so many years, used the calming aroma of lavender for her laboring mothers. I had never thought to add it to our yard but I think it will be coming soon for us!!

  2. Anna says:

    Thank you! Love this post.

  3. Jen C. says:

    I love lavender!

  4. Melissa B says:

    Yep, I killed it. lol Now I no how it died! Thanks!

  5. Daria says:

    Inhaling lavender is the least expensive spa experience there is!

  6. Scouty says:

    Lavender…beautiful, smells amazing, last a long time…the BEST!

  7. Holly Howe says:

    Thank you so much for this post! I’ve been struggling with trying to grow lavender & this really helped!

  8. Amy says:

    My dream career would be operating a vineyard and winery. Pat’s job comes in a close second. What a gorgeous environment to work in, and so fun to bring beauty into people’s lives on a daily basis. Now, if I can just put some of these tips to work in my own garden.

  9. Sylvia says:

    LOVE lavender! The color, the smell, the taste…oooohhhh, it’s so good!

  10. Mary Kay says:

    Thanks so much for this valuable information…it helped me figure out why a few of my plants are not doing so well.
    Mary k

  11. Michelle says:

    So beautiful!

  12. Kim says:

    Love Lavender. All kinds of Lavender. I love pinching the leaves and smelling its clean, lovely scent. It calls me home.

  13. Shirley Sutherland says:

    After many attempts, it’s obvious that I don’t have the proper conditions for growing lavender, so I am very thankful for companies that grow it and make it available to the rest of us. Who doesn’t love lavender?

  14. Ali says:

    I love lavender! Mine does best on the sloping bank in front of my house. Probably because of the excellent drainage.

  15. Kim Garner says:

    Will use these tips!

  16. Carol says:

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Lavender!!!

  17. Beatriz says:

    What a lovely giveaway!

  18. ErinY says:

    I loooove lavender! My favorite way to cook with it is lavender hot chocolate :)

  19. Emily J says:

    Do you have a recommended source for new plants? I’ve gotten mine at Lowes… And they’re happy. I’d love to add rows on my back slope!

  20. Cathy Langdon says:

    The soothing scent of lavender and the refreshing taste of local wines at the Matanzas Winery and Lavender Gardens sounds heavenly.
    … Cathy Langdon

  21. Susan Davis says:

    Love love lovely lavender–wish I lived in a climate that loves it like we do!

  22. Cindy says:

    Love the smell of lavender! Most floral scents are too sweet for me, but not lavender.

  23. Kim says:

    I use lavender sachets in the dryer but haven’t tried using it in cooking…yet!

  24. Lanelle says:

    Now I know why 2 plant died and2 survived and are flourishing. Thanks great article.

  25. Leann Orlando says:

    Lavender is my favorite fragrance! Thanks for the great tips that will make it easier to grow my own lavender without killing it!!!

  26. DRTVrmoi says:

    This could not be more timely. I’ve been killing my lavender plants and the tips will help ensure the new ones survive

  27. Angie says:

    I heart lavender!

  28. Holly O says:

    I love the smell of lavender and would love to grow it!

  29. jenni says:

    mmm, love the smell of lavender!

  30. Victoria says:

    I absolutely LOVE lavender!! The scent helps me fall asleep at night.

  31. Janet G. says:

    I had tried once before to grow lavender in a container unsuccessfully. With these great tips, I am going to try again!

  32. Virginia Schumaker says:

    planted lavender along the side of our yard in a walled-in area. I believe I may have the lighter colored variety. It does not have quite the aroma that I had hoped for, but it is still very pretty. How often should this be trimmed back?

  33. Tammy Eblin says:

    Beautiful lavender! I’ve grown some and it really is drought resistant.

  34. Thanks so much for this post! I’m growing lavender on a much smaller scale, just in one small pot on my kitchen window sill, but the info about when and how to harvest it still applies, so thanks! And thanks for the great giveaway, I’d love to win!

  35. Robin says:

    This is amazing.

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