Lavandula stoechas. Sow French lavender seeds indoors, 6-8 weeks before last frost, or direct sow the seeds in early spring when a chance of frost is still possible. Uniform and distinctive, 'Sancho Panza' blooms from June to September on shrubby bushes that grow 35cm (14") tall. This variety of French lavender has a fantastic fragrance and dries particularly well. Great in containers, but in mass plantings the scent and colour are amazing. French lavender is also a very hardy perennial and drought tolerant, so good for use in xeriscaping. Cut back the whole plant by a third after flowering is finished to produce new growth.
The English lavender varieties we offer are variants of the species L. angustifolia. Lavandula stoechas is commonly known as Spanish lavender, and L. dentata is often referred to as French lavender. These nationality-based categories are more confusing than helpful. It’s best to know the specific variety you are looking for and track it down that way. We love all of the varieties. Comforting, beautiful to look at. Plant some of each variety for fresh lavender all season long. Follow this handy How to Grow Lavender from seeds guide.
Season & Zone
Season: Warm season
Exposure: Full sun
Zone: Perennial in Zones 5-8. Grow as an annual north of Zone 5.
Lavender germinates most evenly if seeds can be collected in the autumn and sown on the surface of a seed tray with bottom heat maintaining 4-10°C (40-50°F). The seedlings are then overwintered in a cool greenhouse or cold frame with good ventilation. Seedlings can then be potted on as needed.
Another method is to start the seeds indoors in February planting a few seeds in a few pots with sterilized seed starting mix. Dampen the mix, press the seeds into the surface, insert the pots into plastic bags, and put them in your freezer for 2-7 days. Let them come to room temperature on their own, and then use bottom heat as indicated above.
Barely cover the seed, as they germinates in 14-21 days in warm soil. Do not use a plastic lid or covering because this will make the surface of the soil too moist. If watering is necessary, water from below. If germination is low after 3-4 weeks, lower the temperature to 5-10°C (40-50°F) for 2 weeks, then raise it again. Pot up the tiny seedlings and grow them on in a protected greenhouse or windowsill to set into the garden in the spring.
Lavender prefers full sun and well drained, fertile soil. Trim plants back hard in spring, just as new growth starts – but never prune back into the woody part of the stems. This will give a rush of even growth for the first leaves and bloom. Cut back again in early autumn, but again – never into old wood.
Gather the flowers just as they open. Dry on open trays, or by hanging in small bunches. Pick the leaves anytime to use fresh, or if you’re dehydrating lavender leaves, gather before flowering starts.