Winterizing Lavender Plants: Expert Tips For Plant Protection

Pinterest Hidden ImagePinterest Hidden ImagePinterest Hidden ImagePinterest Hidden Image

I was unprepared for the consequences of not winterizing my lavender until it was too late. Unfortunately, I lost my entire lavender crop due to one extremely cold winter. However, I realized that winterizing lavender is a simple task and I can’t believe I didn’t take the time to do it. Just a few minutes of preparation could have saved me from losing all the effort and care I put into nurturing my lavender plants over the years.

Losing your lavender due to a harsh winter can be a heartbreaking experience, especially if you’ve invested a lot of time and effort into growing it.

The good news is that you don’t need to spend much time or effort safeguarding your lavender plants during the fall season. With some early planning and basic tips, you can protect your lavender plants through most winter cold snaps. Our article today provides expert advice to help you properly winterize your lavender plants so you and your plants don’t suffer!

English lavender with its tiny bright purple flowers against bright green foliage.
English Lavender
Table of Contents

    Key Points:

    • Winter care for lavender plants is crucial to protect them from freezing temperatures and ensure their health in spring.
    • Key steps for winter protection include mulching, annual pruning, and covering with frost fabric.
    • Mulch insulates the soil, retains moisture, suppresses weeds, and guards against frost.
    • Pruning promotes healthy growth airflow and prevents snow or ice buildup, but improper pruning can harm the plant. We explain the right way to prune so you can protect your plants.
    • Cold-hardy lavender varieties are better suited for winter, and creating windbreaks and sheltered spots is essential in frigid climates.
    Winterizing lavender with a hard pruning.

    Winter Care for Outdoor Lavender Plants

    Affiliate Disclosure

    This post may contain affiliate links.  If you click one and purchase, I may receive a commission at no additional cost.  You can read our disclosure policy here.

    There are several steps to winter protection of lavender plants. Adding a good layer of mulch, keeping up with annual pruning, and covering with frost fabric will all go a long way in ensuring your lavender plant makes it through to spring.

    Mulching as a Protective Measure for Outdoor Lavender

    Mulching is an essential step to ensure the survival of your outdoor lavender plants during the winter months. Applying a layer of nutrient-rich organic mulch around the base of the lavender plants provides insulation and protection from freezing nighttime temperatures. Mulch helps to regulate soil temperature, prevent moisture loss, and suppress weed growth and is your first step toward winterizing your lavender. If you do nothing else, at least mulch around your plants to protect the roots.

    Winterizing lavender with lots of bulk mulch around the base of the plant.

    Pros:

    • Insulates the soil and protects roots from extreme cold
    • It helps retain moisture in the soil during dry winter periods
    • Suppresses weed growth, reducing competition for nutrients
    • It provides a barrier against frost heave, which can damage plant roots

    Cons:

    • Excessive mulch can lead to excessive moisture retention and root rot
    • Inadequate mulch may not provide sufficient insulation in frigid climates
    • Mulch needs to be replenished occasionally as it decomposes.

    Applying a layer of 2 to 4 inches of organic mulch, such as wood chips, clean weed-free straw, or shredded leaves, around the base of your lavender plants will help protect them throughout the winter. Avoid piling mulch directly against the stems, creating excess moisture and encouraging rot.

    Warning About Mulch With Herbicide

    When you buy your mulch, check that it does not contain herbicide. You may think it is a great idea, but that herbicide will leach into the soil and can cause you more problems than it solves.

    Pruning Tips to Prepare Outdoor Lavender for Winter

    Pruning your outdoor lavender plants before winter sets in is crucial for their overall health and survival. Proper pruning helps maintain plant shape, improves airflow, reduces disease risk, and prevents snow or ice accumulation that could weigh down branches and cause breakage.

    Different varieties of lavender have different requirements for pruning. For information on where and how to prune your lavender we recommend researching your specific variety. We are currently working on a detailed guide to lavender pruning, so please check back soon!

    Winterizing lavender with a light fall pruning to remove dead and diseased branches.

    Pros:

    • Promotes healthy growth by removing diseased or dead branches
    • Enhances air circulation within the plant canopy, minimizing fungal diseases
    • Prevents snow or ice buildup that can damage branches
    • Encourages compact growth and maintains desired plant shape

    Cons:

    • Over-pruning can stress the plant and reduce flowering potential
    • Pruning at incorrect times may disrupt the plant’s natural growth cycle
    • Improper pruning techniques can damage the plant.

    A good Pair of Pruners is a must for every gardener!

    #1 best-selling pruners

    • Ideal for cutting stems and branches
    • Fully hardened, precision-ground steel blade stays sharp, even through heavy use.
    • Self-cleaning sap groove keeps the blade from sticking for easy operation
    • These are the pruners we use and have multiple of in our shed.

    Using Burlap or Frost Cloth to Shield Outdoor Lavender from Harsh Weather

    Protecting your outdoor lavender plants from harsh winter weather is essential for survival. Using burlap or frost cloth as a shield provides an extra layer of insulation against freezing temperatures and strong winds.

    Lavender and other shrubs with burlap and twine.  Snow is on the ground and smaller shrubs that are visible are leafless.

    Pros:

    • Acts as a windbreak, reducing desiccation caused by cold winds
    • Protects from freezing temperatures and frost
    • Allows some light penetration while still offering insulation

    Cons:

    • Improper installation may cause damage to the plant
    • Excessive moisture buildup under coverings can lead to fungal diseases
    • Removal of covers in spring needs to be done carefully to avoid damaging new growth

    To shield your lavender plants using burlap or frost cloth:

    1. Drive stakes around each plant.
    2. Wrap the material loosely around the stakes, creating a protective barrier that covers the entire plant but allows for some airflow.
    3. Secure the covering around established plants with twine or clips, ensuring it is taut enough not to flap in strong winds but not so tight that it compresses the foliage.

    What about Really Cold Regions? – Stepping up Frost Protection.

    You can still grow lavender in colder regions but must add a few extra protections. We successfully grew English lavender in Northern Canada (Canadian zone 3a, equivalent to US 2b). It was a challenge, but they did just fine as long as we protect the plants (very well!) from the harsh winter cold.

    Related: You probably aren’t just growing lavender in your garden, and the rest of your plants need some care and attention before winter sets in. Check out our guide to winterizing your garden for more information and tips!

    Choose Cold-Hardy Varieties of Lavender for Colder Regions

    One of the first things you should consider when planting lavender is selecting cold-hardy varieties. Not all lavender species are equally suited to withstand freezing temperatures and harsh winter conditions. Some varieties are more tolerant of cold weather, while others may struggle or even perish.

    To ensure the survival of your lavender plants during the winter months, opt for varieties known for their cold hardiness.

    Plant Characteristics That Increase Cold Hardiness + Varietal Recommendations

    Each variety of lavender has unique characteristics that determine its tolerance to cold temperatures. It’s essential to research individual types to understand their specific requirements for winter care. Here are a few key factors to consider:

    An image of lavender grosso with it's tiny purple, white and pink flowers against a sea of bright green foliage.
    Lavender Grosso
    • Origin: English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), native to regions with harsh winters, exhibits greater cold tolerance. In contrast, varieties like Spanish lavender (Lavandula stoechas) from warmer climates may require extra care.
    • Growth habit: Compact or bushy types, like Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote,’ often offer better resistance to cold due to their dense foliage, acting as natural insulation against the chill.
    • Leaf type: Lavender varieties with silvery-gray leaves, such as Lavandula x intermedia ‘Grosso,’ tend to possess a thicker cuticle layer that shields them from moisture loss and frost damage, making them better suited for colder conditions.
    • Bloom time: Lavender varieties that bloom early, like Lavandula angustifolia ‘Munstead,’ usually establish more robust root systems before winter, increasing their ability to withstand cold temperatures.

    Considering these characteristics, you can understand how different lavender varieties respond to winter conditions and adjust your care accordingly.

    Did you know?

    There are over 450 known species and cultivars of lavender, with different colors, scents, and growth habits. That’s a LOT of lavender!

    Creating Windbreaks and Sheltered Spots for Outdoor Lavender in Cold Climates

    Creating windbreaks and sheltered spots is important to protect your outdoor lavender plants from the bitter winds and freezing temperatures. Strong winds can damage the delicate foliage of lavender, causing it to dry out or break off. By strategically placing barriers around your plants, you can shield them from these harsh elements.

    One effective way to create a windbreak is by using hardscaping features such as fences or walls on the windward side of your garden. These structures will help divert the forceful gusts away from your lavender plants. Planting taller shrubs or trees nearby can also act as a natural windbreakers.

    Another option is to position your lavender plants in sheltered spots within your garden. Look for areas that receive maximum sunlight during the day but are protected from strong winds. South-facing slopes or locations near buildings or walls can offer some protection against chilling drafts.

    Lavender garden with roses and white flowers growing against a brick wall.

    Potted lavender wintering Indoors.

    Did you know you can overwinter lavender indoors? You can and without a lot of fuss. In cold regions, potted lavenders may not survive frosts but can be brought indoors, and there are loads of benefits for doing so. But before we get into that, let’s talk about the right way to transfer that potted lavender into the home and the care tips you will need as it flourishes inside over the winter months.

    Transferring Potted Lavenders Indoors Before Freezing Temperatures Arrive

    When winter approaches and freezing temperatures loom, it’s time to consider protecting your beloved lavender plants. One effective method is to transfer potted plants of lavender indoors before the cold weather sets in. 

    To begin this process, carefully dig up your lavender plant from its current location outside. Gently remove any excess soil from the roots, carefully not to damage them. Then, transfer the plant into a suitable potting soil or container that will fit comfortably inside your home.

    Pot of lavender in a terracotta container sitting on a wooden bench against a bright white background.

    Providing Adequate Sunlight and Temperature Conditions for Indoor Overwintering

    Once you’ve successfully moved your lavender plants indoors, providing them with the right conditions for overwintering is crucial. Lavenders thrive in bright sunlight, so find a sunny spot near a bright window where they can receive at least six hours of direct sunlight daily.

    Regarding temperature, lavenders prefer cooler conditions but can tolerate indoor temperatures between 50-60°F (10-15°C). Avoid placing lavender near heat sources such as blowing vents or hot radiators, as this can cause them to dry out too quickly.

    Adjusting Watering Frequency and Reducing Fertilizer During Indoor Overwintering

    Watering is an essential part of caring for lavender plants during winter. However, adjusting the watering frequency when young plants are overwintering indoors is critical. Since the plants won’t be exposed to outdoor elements like wind and sun, they will require less water than during warmer months.

    Allow the soil to dry out between each watering and avoid overwatering, which can lead to root rot. It’s best to water lavenders deeply once every two weeks or so when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. 

    Reduce or eliminate fertilizer application during indoor overwintering. Lavenders are sensitive to excessive nutrients, and overfertilizing can harm their growth. Instead, focus on providing them with the right amount of sunlight and water.

    Benefits of Overwintering Potted Lavender Indoors

    Overwintering lavender indoors offers several advantages for both the plants and the gardener:

    1. Protection from harsh winter conditions: By bringing your lavenders indoors, you shield them from freezing temperatures, heavy snowfall, and strong winds that can damage or kill the plants.
    2. Continuity in essential oil production: Lavender is prized for its aromatic essential oils in products like soaps, candles, and skincare items. Overwintering ensures a steady supply of fresh leaves for ongoing oil production.
    3. Enjoyment of indoor blooms: While lavender plants may not flower as profusely indoors as outdoors during summer, they can still produce beautiful blooms with adequate care and sunlight.
    4. Aesthetically pleasing houseplants: Lavender’s fragrant foliage and delicate flowers make it an attractive addition to any indoor space.
    5. Easy accessibility for culinary use: Having potted lavenders indoors means easy access to fresh leaves for culinary purposes. Use them to infuse flavor into baked goods, teas, and savory recipes. Only use lavender that has not been sprayed with chemical pesticides or fertilizers.
    6. Opportunity for propagation: Overwintering provides an excellent opportunity to propagate new lavender plants through cuttings or division methods for the following spring and summer. 

    Key Takeaways for Successfully Winterizing Lavender

    Congratulations! You are now equipped with all the knowledge you need to winterize your lavender plants successfully. By following the tips and techniques discussed in this blog post, you can ensure that your lavender survives the harsh winter months and thrives again in the spring. Remember, proper winter care for outdoor lavender plants, protecting lavender in cold climates, overwintering indoors, timing and methods for cutting back, and watering lavender well during the winter months are all essential steps to keep your lavender healthy.

    Learn More About Growing Lavender:

    We have guides to help you through your lavender-growing adventure. We’re passing our many years of hands-on experience growing lavender in every condition you can imagine to make your lavender growing experience much easier than ours! Check out these articles to get started:

    And if you want to learn even more, check out our favorite book about lavender – The Lavender Lovers’ Handbook by Sarah Bader.

    Book cover from "The Lavender Lover's Handbook."

    FAQs

    How often should I water my lavender during the winter?

    Reducing the watering frequency for your lavender plants is essential during the winter months. Overwatering can lead to root rot and other issues. Instead of sticking to a strict schedule, monitor the soil moisture levels by checking the top inch of soil. If it feels dry, water; if it feels damp, skip watering. 

    Can I use mulch as protection for my outdoor lavender?

    Yes, mulch is an effective way to protect outdoor lavender from harsh winter conditions. Apply a layer of organic mulch around the base of each plant, ensuring it covers the root zone but doesn’t touch the stems directly. 

    Should I prune my lavender before or after winter?

    It’s generally recommended to prune your lavender before winter sets and hard frost is in. Late fall or early spring is an ideal time for pruning because it allows new growth to emerge without risking frost damage. However, avoid pruning too late in the fall as it may encourage new growth that won’t have enough time to harden off before winter arrives.

    Can I grow lavender indoors all year round?

    While growing lavender indoors is possible, keeping it thriving year-round can be challenging. Lavender requires a lot of sunlight and well-draining soil, so providing these conditions indoors is essential. Consider using grow lights if natural light is limited and ensure proper air circulation to prevent fungal diseases.

    Are all lavender varieties equally hardy in winter?

    No, not all lavender varieties are equally hardy in winter. Some types, like English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), are more cold-tolerant than others. If you live in a frigid climate, consider choosing a variety bred explicitly for colder regions, such as ‘Munstead’ or ‘Hidcote’. Always check the specific requirements of the lavender variety you grow to ensure successful winterization.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *