Can Lavender Grow in California?

Lavender, with its beautiful purple flowers and delightful scent, is a popular choice for perfumes and fragrances. Many people wonder if lavender can grow successfully in California, given its unique climate and diverse geography. In this article, we explore the suitability of growing lavender in California and provide expert insight on how to grow this aromatic herb in the Golden State.

The California Climate

California is known for its diverse climate, ranging from Mediterranean to desert and mountainous. The state experiences warm, dry summers and mild, wet winters, making it an ideal environment for growing a wide variety of plants. However, the specific climatic conditions can vary greatly depending on the region within California.

Lavender thrives in Mediterranean climates characterized by hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters. Fortunately, many parts of California, especially along the coast and in the southern regions, have Mediterranean-like climates, making them suitable for growing lavender. However, it’s important to consider the microclimates within California, as certain regions may have cooler or wetter conditions that are not ideal for lavender.

Best Lavender Varieties for California

When considering growing lavender in California, it is important to choose the right varieties that are well-adapted to the local climate. Some varieties of lavender are better suited to cooler climates, while others thrive in hotter, drier conditions. Here are two recommended varieties of lavender that are known to do well in California:

  1. English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia): This is one of the most common varieties of lavender and is well suited to California’s Mediterranean-like climate. English Lavender is known for its aromatic flowers and compact growth habit. It prefers well-drained soil and requires regular pruning to maintain its shape and promote healthy growth.

  2. French Lavender (Lavandula dentata): French lavender is another excellent choice for California gardens. It has distinctive serrated leaves and produces bright purple flowers with a slightly different fragrance than English lavender. French lavender is more tolerant of heat and can tolerate slightly heavier soils, making it suitable for several regions of California.

Growing Lavender in California

To successfully grow lavender in California, it is important to provide the plant with the right growing conditions. Here are some key factors to consider when growing lavender in California:

  1. Location: Lavender needs full sun to thrive, so choose a spot in your garden that receives at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight each day. Also, make sure there is good air circulation around the plants to prevent the development of fungal diseases.

  2. Soil: Lavender prefers well-drained soil with a slightly alkaline pH. If your soil is heavy or clayey, consider amending it with organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure to improve drainage.

  3. Watering: Although lavender is relatively drought-tolerant once established, it still requires regular watering during its initial growth period. Water deeply but infrequently to encourage deep root development and to prevent waterlogged soil.

  4. Prune: Regular pruning is essential to maintain the shape and health of lavender plants. Prune back about one-third in early spring to encourage new growth and prevent legginess.

Harvesting and Using Lavender

Once your lavender plants have matured and begun to bloom, you can harvest the flowers for a variety of uses, including making perfumes and fragrances. Here’s how to harvest and use lavender:

  1. Timing: Harvest lavender when the flowers have just begun to open, but before they are fully mature. This is when the essential oils are at their peak and provide the best fragrance.

  2. Harvesting: Use sharp scissors or pruning shears to cut the lavender flower stems just above the leaves. Tie the stems together with twine and hang upside down in a cool, dry place to dry.

  3. Uses: Dried lavender flowers can be used to make potpourri, sachets, essential oils, or added to homemade beauty and skin care products. The scent of lavender can also be enjoyed by simply placing dried flowers in bowls around the home.

In conclusion, lavender can indeed be grown successfully in California, especially in regions with Mediterranean climates. By selecting the right varieties, providing optimal growing conditions, and following proper harvesting techniques, you can grow lavender and enjoy its delightful fragrance in your own garden. With its versatility and beauty, lavender is a wonderful addition to any perfume and fragrance enthusiast’s collection.


Can lavender grow in California?

Yes, lavender can grow in California. California’s Mediterranean climate, with its mild winters and long, dry summers, provides ideal conditions for growing lavender.

What are the preferred growing conditions for lavender in California?

Lavender thrives in full sun and well-drained soil. It prefers soil with a pH level between 6.7 and 7.3. It is also important to provide good air circulation around the plants to prevent diseases.

Which lavender varieties are suitable for growing in California?

Several lavender varieties are well-suited for California’s climate. English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), Spanish lavender (Lavandula stoechas), and French lavender (Lavandula dentata) are popular choices for California gardeners.

When is the best time to plant lavender in California?

Lavender is typically planted in early spring or fall in California. Planting in these seasons allows the roots to establish before the summer heat or winter cold sets in.

How do I care for lavender plants in California?

To care for lavender plants in California, make sure to provide regular water during the first year of growth, allowing the soil to dry out between watering. Afterward, lavender is drought-tolerant and requires minimal watering. Prune the plants after flowering to promote bushiness and remove any dead or damaged parts.