Growing lavender is extremely rewarding. It is scarce that so many features molds in one plant. True to its name, it is aesthetically pleasing to look at and has an intoxicating fragrance. It’s remarkable how a plant of that caliber is so resilient to flourish in full sunlight. However, the question remains can it grow in the shade?
Lavender is not a shade-loving plant. It tends to thrive well in full sun. In comparison, certain lavender species might survive in partial shade; that is all they can handle. The origin of the lavender plant dictates that they need at least 6 hours of sunlight per day to survive.
You may take a plant out of its habitat for a few minutes, but the actual test lies in how long it can survive under these conditions. Curious to know why the lavender plant does not prefer shade find out more.
Why Should Lavender Not Be Planted In Shade?
Native to Cape Verde and the Canary Islands, from Europe across Northern and Eastern Africa, the Mediterranean, Southwest Asia to India, the lavender plant is an inhabitant of a sun-loving environment. This scented solid perennial plant thrives well in some of the toughest garden conditions.
A plant that is so resilient to adverse conditions will not fare well in the shade. Although some species of lavender may be able to exhibit moderate to partial shade tolerance, the vigor and flowering are hard to come by in such conditions.
If you want the lavender plant to flourish and continue to enjoy the heavy aroma that it offers, then planting in the shade is an unwise decision.
One of the survival criteria of lavender is planting in soil with good water drainage. Being exposed to the full sun reduces the risk of moisture retention, which can cause root rot. If the lavender stays in the shade, there is a fear that the soil will not dry out quickly enough. Avoid overwatering a lavender plant that is in the shade.
In my gardening years, I am yet to see a lavender survive to its optimum in shady conditions.
Will A Lavender Plant Flower In Shade?
The entire blooming period of lavender is compromised when planted in the shade—the plant’s growth is stunted. Full sun is required for the lavender plant to reach its flowering potential.
If your primary purpose for growing lavender is to enjoy its beautiful colored array of purplish flowers or the rich, fragrant aroma, then planting in full sun as opposed to shade would be the only way forward.
Shade Tolerant Lavenders
Although it is not advisable to plant lavender in full shade, some species of lavender might be open to partial shade. Below are some of the variations;
Although the English lavender grows best in direct sunlight, it can also survive in partial shade. The effects of it growing in the partial shade can create stunted growth. This beauty can reach a growth height of up to 20 inches and a growth width of 25 inches in full sun. When you place it in partial shade, its growth height and width can face a drastic reduction.
The fragrance of the English lavender also becomes less prominent when planted in the shade. Even if your backyard fills with brightly colored fragrant lavenders, you may be able to enjoy a lesser lavender fragrance.
French Lavender and Spanish Lavender
Both these species can also tolerate partial shade. Their shade tolerance is slightly lower than that of the English lavender. Sadly they too will not reach optimum growth, brightness, or bloom if planted in partial shade.
Other variants that can survive partial shade are;
- Canary Island Lavender
- Fern Leaf Lavender
- Goodwin Creek Grey
Non Shade Tolerant Lavenders
Although some species may survive in partial shade, this is not the case with the spike lavender plant. If you have this species of lavender, be very wary not to plant it in the shade as it can be to its detriment. The survival of the spike lavender is highly dependent on total sun exposure and good soil drainage.
Their resilience to harsh conditions is evident in their survival of climatic temperatures of up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit or hotter.
Growing Lavender In Shade
If your garden enjoys more shade than sunlight and you insist on growing lavender in the shade, expect to sacrifice fragrant flowers and growth. I suppose a spot with some dappled shade will be far better than full shade, so choose a spot with as much sunlight as possible as lavender plants will not survive total shade exposure.
Daily Sunlight Requirement of a Lavender Plant
Having ample sunlight is very important to the lavender plant. The correct dosage of sunlight can be the determining factor for the plant’s longevity. As previously highlighted, it is imperative to ensure that the lavender plant enjoys at least six hours of sunlight.
Every garden may not have a design feature where the lavender plant is fortunate enough to enjoy the full measure of the daily dose of six-hour sunlight per day. Try to choose the right spot in the garden to cater to their Mediterranean requirements.
When transplanting your lavender, find the sunniest spot in the garden and re-position them there.
Can Lavender Plants Grow Under Trees
Planting a lavender under a tree can cause the lavender to be quite shaded, considering the tree’s height compared to the lavender. Lavender species that can survive in partial shade may survive in these conditions.
You may also want to examine what conditions the tree thrives in and compare that to the conditions of the lavender to find a suitable match. Apart from pine trees thriving in slightly acidic soil, they also fare well in slightly alkaline soil, ideal for the lavender plant. The soil compatibility makes the lavender a viable companion for pine trees.
However, you can still expect stunted growth, lesser blooms, and lighter coloring of the lavenders plants.
Can Lavender Plants Grow Indoors?
A general question is often asked, “If lavender plants do not fare well in the shade, is it possible to plant them indoors where it is cooler.”
My answer to this would be, by all means, plant them indoors but follow the same care routine as you would outdoors.
- Ensure that the plant is not overwatered and has a sound drainage system.
- Place the lavender plant near a window that receives direct sunlight; if the sunlight is not strong enough, place the plant outside in direct sunlight for at least 6 hours a day. If the plant outgrows its pot, it might be best to transplant it outside on a more extensive ground with ample spacing between other lavender plants.
Care Routine For An Indoor Lavender Plant
If you have no garden space and have no option but to keep your lavender indoors, choose one of the lavender species options that can thrive indoors. You will need to position the plant near a window that receives at least 3-4 hours of daily direct sunlight.
Water the lavender plant when the top inch of soil dries out. An indoor plant will require fertilizing twice per year. Ensure that you select the most suitable fertilizer with the nutrients compatible with the lavender plant.
Regardless of the positioning of the plant, try to rotate the container weekly to promote even growth and flowering.
If the lavender plant does not have direct sunlight or your windows have shades, you might want to provide supplementary lighting. Suspend an LED grow light or a T5 fluorescent light about 12 inches above the plant.
Growing a lavender plant indoors isn’t difficult as long as you are mindful of the basic’s do’s and don’ts. It might be advisable to acquaint yourself with the basics of caring for lavender indoors, and your reward will be an incredibly aromatic plant that thrives in your home.
While some plants can thrive better in shadier parts of the garden, sadly, a lavender plant is not one of them. You may be able to take a lavender plant out of its original habitat, but you will never be able to take the habitat out of that lavender plant.
True to its origin, that plant needs full sunlight to thrive. Try growing it in the shade, and you might end up causing more damage to the plant.