Does Lavender Spread?

Lavender has been used for generations as both an edible herb and a medicinal remedy. The lavender flower is known for its calming effects which is why it’s often used in aromatherapy treatments. 

Lavender does spread, but due to its slow germination rate, it is not considered an invasive plant. The plant itself can spread over an area of around 40 inches in both width and height.

If you’re thinking about growing your own lavender plants then this article will help answer some questions about how lavender spreads.

Does Lavender Spread?

Lavender is a non-invasive plant, meaning it does not spread by itself out of control over large areas. It grows far too slowly for this to happen. However, lavender plants can be spread by different means. 

The first and by far most common way lavender spreads is by seed, which the plant produces in abundance at the end of its blooming season. 

You can gather these seeds and grow them yourself as long as you give them some attention to encourage germination. 

The second way that lavender can spread is through its roots, which send up shoots of new growth above ground over time if left untended. 

Lavender has a large, spreading root system, and as long as they’re not disturbed by digging activities, these shoots can continue growing into full-fledged plants themselves.

Although lavender does not easily spread on its own, it is fairly easy to propagate if you wish to grow plants in different parts of your garden.

How Fast Does Lavender Spread?

The spreading rate of lavender is low. Different varieties of lavender have different growth rates, but on average a lavender plant will spread to around 20 inches in both height and width in its lifetime. 

This can vary depending on the growing conditions. All varieties of lavender grow better when they have 6 hours of sun per day.

Because seed germination is slow, lavender is not an invasive plant so you do not need to worry too much about it taking over your garden uninvited! 

The great thing about lavender is that it is easy to grow if you give it a helping hand, but is unlikely to appear in places you don’t want it to.

Find out how to harvest lavender.

How To Prevent the Spreading of Lavender

Preventing lavender from spreading is fairly straightforward. At the beginning and end of the season, simply prune back the flower heads to prevent the seed from spreading and to keep the plant trim. 

Avoid using fertilizer on your lavender plant, as this can encourage untidy growth.

You can also prevent lavender from spreading by planting it in a pot, container, or raised bed.

Equally, you could plant it within a border or other area that you want to keep separate from the rest of your yard.

Does Lavender Spread in a Pot?

Lavender grows well in a pot, though you may need to choose a variety suited to the climate of your location. By growing lavender in a pot, you are reducing the chances of it spreading.

Spanish or French lavender grows well in hot climates, whereas for cooler climates you may want to consider English lavender. 

Whatever variety you choose, make sure it is in a sunny spot that is sheltered from the wind, and water it regularly.

Growing lavender in a pot will generally reduce the size the roots can reach, meaning the plant will be smaller. 

It will remove the possibility of the lavender spreading through its roots, meaning the chance of spreading is reduced.

Does Lavender Come Back Every Year?

Lavender is a perennial shrub that grows in zones 3-9 and requires full sun. It will come back every year as long as you give it some basic care and attention.

The Hardiness Zones are a measure of how well plants will grow in certain climate zones across the USA, depending on their hardiness.

Find out what Temperature Is Too Cold for Plants.

Lavender will come back every year if you let it, but it takes a little bit of work on your part. 

After the lavender flowers have bloomed and died back, you can trim them off to make room for new growth. 

To ensure your lavender comes back year after year, make sure to plant the correct type of lavender for the temperatures it will be exposed to over winter. 

If you have mild winters, French and Spanish lavender should do well, but they may not return if you experience an unusually cold spell. 

English lavender can handle freezing temperatures and ice and will still return the following spring. 

Lavender is a beautiful, fragrant herb that can be enjoyed in many ways. 

It can be used to make homemade potpourri, dried and stored for later use, or kept fresh and placed in a vase with other flowers. 

When To Cut Back Lavender

To get the most out of your lavender plants, you’ll need to have a plan for pruning. Lavender should be cut back in late winter or early spring.

There are many different types of lavender that can be grown, but no matter which you choose for your garden, they should all be cut back to encourage healthy regrowth the following spring.

Cut back lavender in late winter or early spring before new growth begins. This will encourage bushy growth and prevent leggy stems.

Don’t cut back lavender during the growing season (summer through fall). 

It’s best not to trim until after all of the flowers have bloomed in mid-to-late summer—then they can be harvested for use in sachets or wreaths.

If you do decide to prune your lavender after flowering, remove any dead foliage and trim back any branches that are growing into each other. 

When pruning lavender plants for next season’s blooms, don’t cut below an outward-facing bud—this encourages branching outwards rather than upwards so your plant will become bushier.

How To Propagate Lavender

You can propagate lavender from seed or from cuttings. Since lavender seeds are slow to germinate, cuttings are a great way to propagate. For best results, plant your lavender in the spring.

Take a cutting around six inches long from the parent plant. 

You should plant your cutting about 2 inches deep and water regularly after planting. 

It does not require much fertilizer to grow, so you don’t have to worry about that aspect of care for this plant.

Lavender grows best in full sun with well-drained soil however, it can tolerate partial shade as well.

For direct seeding, sow seeds 1/8 inch deep and keep well-watered. Seed germinating will generally begin within 14 to 21 days. 

To find out more about propagation, take a look at my article on How To Propagate Your Favorite Plants.

Lavender Sprouts

Lavender sprouts will begin to grow within a month of planting the seeds, often in less than 3 weeks. 

To encourage lavender to sprout, try to keep the seeds at a temperature of around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Once the plants have sprouted, they can be transplanted into your garden.

This is best done after the last frost in spring, as the sprouts would be unlikely to survive a cold winter. 

Space the plants approximately 18 inches apart. They should reach their full height within three years.

Lavender Roots

Lavender roots are shallow and fragile. 

This means that lavender plants are susceptible to root rot if the soil is not well-drained.  

If you suspect that your lavender plant is suffering from root rot, you could try replanting it in better soil elsewhere in the garden. 

If this proves ineffective, or there is no better soil available, your best option is to replant your lavender in a pot.

Lavender Root Depth

Lavender roots spread between 6 and 8 inches deep, which is not very deep. 

The majority of lavender’s root system consists of a shallow network that spreads out around the plant. 

Their shallow roots mean that they can be grown in a fairly small pot. 

You can even grow your lavender plant indoors, providing you position it in a spot that gets lots of sunshine. 

Only water it when the top of the soil feels dry, as overwatering will increase the chance of root rot. 

For more information, check out this article on How To Grow Lavender Indoors.


Lavender is an easy plant to care for, and it’s a great addition to any garden.

It will not spread out of control, but if you want more in your garden, you can easily propagate it from existing plants.

With proper planting and maintenance, you can enjoy your lavender for years to come!

About the author

Greg Volente

Greg Volente holds a Naturalist Certificate from the Morton Arboretum, worked for The Nature Conservancy leading environmental education programs and doing natural areas restoration, and worked in the soil science research & testing lab at Michigan State University. Besides gardening, he's an avid wildflower enthusiast, and loves botanizing, hiking, and backpacking.