Lavender indoors

diggingthedirtJanuary 30, 2009

Hi all - this year for a change I brought some lavenders into the house; I have a half dozen in the cold, drafty garage and another 20 or so in the ground, but these were in small pots and had been left here by a visitor who, I thought, intended to come back for them, so they were never planted. Before it got really cold, I repotted them into nice terra cotta long toms, and brought them inside.

They're in the ONE window in the house that doesn't have a radiator under it (not counting a few that are unsuitable for plants for other reasons). It faces east but is partly blocked by another part of the house. I've been keeping these babies fairly dry, but thought someone here might have some tips on this.

Do Lavs go dormant if kept above freezing? These are starting to put on new growth, and I assume that that means it's time to water them a bit more. (Or, are they growing now because they were accidentally watered more? I can't tell, I can barely remember when I last fed the dog, never mind the last time I watered the plants.)

Any info form people with more expertise on house plants would be appreciated. Other than these, I can only grow cacti and the like, because I'm not very good at remembering to water.

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"Other than these, I can only grow cacti and the like, because I'm not very good at remembering to water." That's probably good, since it's easier to kill lavender with too much water than too little. ;>)

I really can't help you other than general information on wintering over tender perennials since in the past when I've tried to bring lavender inside in pots, it's died in early winter. I thought that because it's borderline hardy here it would do better inside, but last winter I tried planting my lavender in a plastic pot so it would be weatherproof and turning it on its side to keep the soil on the dry side. I left it outside in a shady spot, where the snow would bury it and keep it consistently cold, but not too cold. This combination of cold and dry seemed to work well, so I've tried it again this winter and I'll see how it works with having had a cold spell (0 to -5 degrees F) with no snow at all back in Dec. We tend to get so much snow in winter that I can't keep plants alive that need winter dry, with the exception of one batch of Agastache rupestris that is on a slope that's about as close to vertical as possible, being right at the end of a vertical wall. I think it's the late fall rains or the spring mud season that kills any dry-requiring plant without instant surface drainage in my garden.

Anyway, I admire your ability to get the lavenders this far through the winter! The tender perennial plants I do winter successfully are ones that tolerate my household dryness and the lower light levels. The growth you are seeing is normal from what I see in my plants as daylight starts increasing. I do start watering a bit more now as they start growing, though I let them dry out completely between waterings. The new tips of your lavender will droop if you don't give them enough water.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2009 at 9:13AM
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Thanks, nhbabs. This has been a fun project - so far so good!

I DO worry about them more now that they have new growth, since they're obviously not dormant. The ones in the garage have been watered only once since they went in during the first week of November, and I guess they'll stay asleep until we get some really warm periods in March - or even April.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2009 at 6:27PM
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To whomever sees this message: I read the post by one of our members about the inadvertent keeping of potted lavender she thought would be picked up but became hers. It gave me an idea but I still need some advice for my specific situation and hope someone can help!

I am not in a Mediterranean climate, sadly. My lavender's in a 2 x 2 x 2 ft. container on wheels (too heavy to carry) out on the balcony, with 6 or 7 plants (grosso and another species whose name I forgot; one's more bluish, one more sage color). It is now in the 60s during the day and almost freezing at night in PA and it's only mid-October. If they were in a garden bed, I might risk wintering them over outdoors but in a pot? I feel I should bring them in but is it ok to break them up, disturb their roots and put them in a few smaller pots indoors? When the leaves fall there will be a lot more sun on one of my windowsills but it will not accommodate a giant pot. I am just not sure they will survive the extreme cold outside.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2010 at 9:34AM
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I reread and see that neither Digging the Dirt nor NH Babs are in Mediterranean climates! Did not realize I was on a New England forum but must say that the weather in Central PA is at least as cold and sometimes colder than that of coastal ME. The soil in my pots is organic potting soil so your garden soil's much different but I hope you might still venture some ideas. Thanks for your time!

    Bookmark   October 16, 2010 at 9:41AM
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Hi NYad - Grosso is very hardy, and most failures over winter have to do with too much moisture, I think. If you can keep the planter out of the rain (and snow, if you get a lot of that) and especially if you're in zone 6, you should be able to leave the plants out on the balcony.

It's maybe a little warmer here on the cape; we've been "upgraded" to zone 7. I keep a lot of pots of lavender in my drafty, unheated garage where the temperature gets as low as it does outdoors at night - they are barely watered all winter and all but the most tender types do well.

The only variety I'd ever consider bringing into the house would be the Spanish type (confusingly, these are sometimes called French, apparently because it grows wild in France). These are the ones with slightly serrated leaves and "winged" flowers.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2010 at 3:10PM
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Thank you, Digging the Dirt! A drafty garage in New England would be superior to a balcony in Central PA, but it's good to make do with what one has! After all, they're only plants, but I do get attached and feel responsible for their welfare. I'm sure that's what we all have in common, that kind of love. I wish I could remember the name of the other species. I do not think it was "Spanish" or "French," but will find a species list and see if any ring a bell. Separating whatever they are from the grosso may hurt all of their roots so I will keep them out there together, pull them back from the sunnier part of the balcony when rain or snow are due, and cover them when it's cold. Many, many thanks again for answering a person from "away!"

    Bookmark   October 21, 2010 at 10:31AM
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