lovely lavender: any tips for making it thrive in the south?

When it comes to landscaping, I tend to stick with what has proven successful in the past: plants, flowers and perennials that are drought-resistant, low maintenance and high drama.  These have worked so well for me in the past that I haven’t been all that open to branching out and trying new varieties of plants.  But I couldn’t help myself last week as I was running in to Lowe’s and got a whiff of the overwhelming scent of lavender – I grabbed as many little pots as I could carry without hesitating, even though I have no idea how to make them thrive; their color is as beautiful as their smell is intoxicating and I think it looks especially beautiful paired with boxwoods. Any tips or suggestions for planting?  Besides lots of sun and good drainage, is there anything else I should try?  Do they do better in pots or in beds?  Here are some lovely images that have me hoping I can keep mine alive!

Barefoot Contessa

Brooke Giannetti

Miranda Brooks



Barefoot Contessa

Brian Maloney Design


Hello and welcome to Bungalow Blue Interiors!

I'm Kelly, interior designer, stylist, hostess with the mostest and editor of my blog, where I share pics of my work, my own home, décor projects, entertaining hacks, where to find the best decorating deals and all the beautiful things that are currently inspiring me!




  1. Erin @ The Impatient Gardener on April 29, 2014 at 2:45 pm

    Drainage and poor soil is the key. Lavender doesn't want to be coddled, it wants to be abused, which I think is hard when you want to do everything you can to help it. So you don't want a lot of compost and organic material worked into the soil and you want amazing drainage (like LOTS of gravel/grit). And when it does flourish for you, don't prune into the woody bits.

    By the way, I'm speaking theoretically on all this. I've had no luck growing lavender myself, but I'm giving it another try this year. For me, I think it's the poor soil thing I've been screwing up. My default is always very rich soil full of great things, so to purposely deprive a plant is not in my nature.

  2. Kelly Stivers on April 29, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    Thank you, Erin! Because our soil is naturally so sandy, I always, always use soil conditioner, pelletized lime and fertilizer whenever I plant anything, so it seems so counterproductive to NOT help it, but maybe that's what will help it to thrive this time around! I'm going to try it in pots with gravel, thanks so much for the tip and best of luck to you growing yours this year!

  3. Christine on April 29, 2014 at 8:01 pm

    I'm in love with lavender. I grew my first bush last year in my veggie garden. I agree it can take a beating and still produce. My experience has been that it likes lots of sun and good drainage. I'm trying to grow it in an urn pot with lots of drainage this year. Hopefully it works. I made lavender honey ice cream and lavender shortbread cookies(great with tea) last year using what I harvested last year. People are always amazed at the taste because they've never eaten lavender. I don't live in the South but that would be the best climate for it, definitely better than up here in NJ.
    Good luck. keep us posted on it's growth.

  4. Kelly Stivers on April 29, 2014 at 9:01 pm

    Oh my goodness, Christine – lavender ice cream and shortbread cookies? I'm drooling all over my keyboard, that sounds amazing! Thanks for the tips; I'm excited to get planting 🙂

  5. Lorraine on May 1, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    Up here in the cold New England states the best tip I can give to you is don't prune until the following Spring. Yes, let it winter over and then in April cut it back almost to the ground. It comes back twice the size and very strong. I'm into my fourth year with four plants that now fill a corner bed off of my screened porch. When we walk outside we brush against the plants…..lovely. Hope your loving every minute with your beautiful little girl.

  6. Kelly Stivers on May 1, 2014 at 7:32 pm

    Lorraine – thanks for the tip about pruning; I will most definitely leave it alone until next Spring. I hope mine doubles in size like yours has! Thank you for the well wishes with Lydia; I'm enjoying every single second of mommyhood. She is amazing!

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