Grow Lavender in Acid or Clay Soil

Updated on May 8, 2019
Dolores Monet profile image

An avid gardener for over 40 years, Dolores has landscaped for private clients and maintained one client's small orchid collection.

Lavender Bloooms in the Garden


I love lavender—the delicate foliage, the long, thin stems topped with blue or purple flowers, the way the blooms appear as a mist of blue when viewed from a distance, the lazy loitering of honey bees among the blooms—I love it all. The fresh, clean scent of lavender is delightful and remains with the dried flowers long after cutting.

For years, I fought a battle with lavender in my back yard. The soil is chunky with clay and generally acidic. Drainage is poor and in late winter and early spring, part of my yard looks like a swamp.

But with a bit of thought and creative planting, I am pleased to say that I have 3 lavender plants that have survived through 4 winters (including a major blizzard) and several soggy springs.

If you want to grow lavender in clay or acid soil in a yard that retains way too much moisture, read on . . .

Create a Micro Climate for Lavender

We all basically understand the climate of the area in which we live. But there are variations in a climate, and small variations around our own homes. Plants that survive in the sheltered southern exposure of the house might perish in the cold winter winds on the north side of the house.

So it is with lavender. In order to offer lavender a happy home in which it will thrive, consider its needs:

  • bright sunlight
  • dry, well-drained soil
  • alkaline soil

Plant lavender in a spot where it will receive full sun (6 - 8 hours of sunlight a day)

To avoid root rot from lingering moisture, build up a bed to lift the lavender garden slightly above the level of the yard. Make sure that the raised bed is well drained.

A rock garden works well with lavender. If the lavender is elevated, it will dry out more quickly during wet seasons.

Another method is to plant the lavender in a southern exposure under the eaves of the back porch. Sun still shines on the plant, but there will be less rainfall and puddling.

Create Drainage To Avoid Root Rot in Lavender

Plant lavender late spring or early summer after the soil has warmed up.

  • If the soil is full of clay and you do not want to build a raised bed or rock garden, dig the planting hole at least twice as deep and twice as wide as the potted purchased plant.
  • Fill the bottom of the hole with limestone gravel.
  • Add a layer of garden soil mixed with compost, and sand. Set the plant on a third layer of gravel and turkey grit or sand. (Turkey grit is ground granite)
  • Gently remove the lavender plant from the pot and backfill the hole with the garden soil mixture. Allow the top of the soil in the pot to protrude 1 inch above the soil line.
  • Mulch with limestone gravel and turkey grit.
  • Do not over water.

Lavender Needs an Alkaline Soil

Lavender needs an alkaline soil of about 6.5 to 7.5 pH and will not thrive in acidic soil.

The addition of limestone gravel adds the alkalinity to the soil that lavender needs to thrive.

If you don't want to use gravel—personally, I don't like the look of white gravel, so I added a couple of chunks of broken concrete near the base of the plant. The lime leaches out of the concrete and into the soil.


bunch lavender and hang in a dark, dry place
bunch lavender and hang in a dark, dry place | Source

Harvesting Lavender

Cut lavender early in the day in order to retain utmost color and fragrance

Cut stems above the top leaves to encourage repeat blooming later in the season

Bundle lavender stems and hang them upside down in a warm, dark, dry place to ensure retention of color and scent. Hanging the lavender in a clothes closet will add a delicate fragrance to your clothing.

And remember that lavender is an insect repellent!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

  • I have planted lavender and really hope it takes in the clay soil. I have noticed that the bark has started to peel on some of the plants. Is this normal? I have lavender Grosso. I hope that I have added enough grit. The ground is pretty wet right now.

    You don't want to plant lavender in clay soil. The idea is to remove the heavy clay and change the soil in the area where you place the plant. Clay retains too much moisture, and that moisture may damage the roots. I have kept lavender growing for years in a garden where the soil has been loosened and the clay pretty much removed. This past year has been a wet one in my area, far wetter than usual. The garden was often flooded and standing water killed off all the lavender. Lavender will not thrive in a soggy area.

    If I were you, I'd wait until spring and see what happens.

  • Where do I buy limestone gravel? I live in Los Angeles, CA.

    Limestone gravel can be found at Home Depot, Walmart, Amazon, and many other places that sell home and garden supplies.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Dolores Monet profile imageAUTHOR

      Dolores Monet 

      4 weeks ago from East Coast, United States

      Thanks for the comment, BowBells. There are so many varieties of lavender and we must attempt to find the one that best fits our local environment. I think the best sources for appropriate varieties to grow in our own areas are local nurseries. Buying at big box stores is not the best. Good local nurseries have employees who understand plants and can point out the appropriate types.

    • profile image


      5 weeks ago

      Hello! I wish to add a comment about lavender and soil type. Haven read the comment above from Los Angeles, I share some of your disappointments until last year when I tried lavender Sweet Lavender. I think we can presume LA area, overall is pretty clayey unless you live in the coastal or more specific locations. For the last 3 years which I intentionally tried Munstead and Hidcote, with mixed sand in clay and raising the base higher, still the last Hidcote I tried last year, it survived half a season. By this spring it didn't come back. Contrary though, the Sweet Lavender (one of the hundreds of hybrids I am sure) not only survived and thrived, it also bred new ones from cuttings!! The cuttings took about 5 months from Sep to Feb to see signs of birth, so be patient if you were to try propagating from cuttings. I am very particular with the type or bread of lavender; I specifically wish to have Lanvender Angustifolia, and learned that Munstead and Hidcote both are descendents of L. angustifolia. But I have not succeeded in the LA and clayey climate. I have seen Grosso and read that it is 'easier' or more adaptable than Munstead and Hidcote, but it comes from Lavandin, a group off of L. angustifolia. Grosso is the French lavender where as the other two are English. Grosso has a beautiful foliage and kinda bigger leaves, so it's very robust when healthy looking. Though I didn't care much when I planted Sweet Lavender, its attributes meet what I wanted: very fragrant, leaves and stems alike L. angustifolia, and drought tolerant in the clayey soil!

    • Dolores Monet profile imageAUTHOR

      Dolores Monet 

      14 months ago from East Coast, United States

      Hi Valerie - if your yard is solid clay and you dug a trench it seems like the clay would form a sort of pool where the surrounding soil would hold moisture in the trench. I lost my own lavender when we had a year of very heavy rain. Very cold weather can kill certain lavender plants. I am sorry that you lost your plants, but gardeners often lose plants. Two hundred dollars seems a lot to pay for dirt.

    • profile image


      14 months ago

      My whole yard is clay so i dug a deep 6 foot long trench and took all the clay out to follow your directions to a t. And guess what happened....all 6 plants died after spending over 200.00 to do it.

    • Dolores Monet profile imageAUTHOR

      Dolores Monet 

      2 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Hi Amanda - lavender will not thrive in wet soil. Before you decide what to do, think about why the area is wet. Maybe you should just plant the lavender in another, drier area. You could build a raised bed. You could dig a small channel around the garden for drainage.

      If the problem is heavy clay soil, you can amend the soil by mixing in organic materials such as compost, or a garden conditioner that you can find at a garden supply store.

      I used to like the idea of mixing in some sand, but that is not the best idea.

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Hi there! thanks for this info. would wood chips be a good alternative to rocks for drainage in wet areas? maybe mix in some sand?

    • Dolores Monet profile imageAUTHOR

      Dolores Monet 

      3 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Jenna - lavender itself? I am writing here about the soil conditions needed to grow lavender. It needs some alkalinity so if you have acid soil, you need to augment the soil.

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Hello, I was wondering and I think .. correct m if wrong.. I think lavender is acidic is it not? possibly around 7 or so?


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)