Lavender from seed

Calgary, AB(Zone 3a)

I did a little experiment. Since lavender needs a long growing season to produce the flowers, they need to be started now, but also require stratification (cool temps before sowing). Wintersowing is an option, but they probably won't germinate for at least a month.

I put 6 seeds in a DAMP paper-towel and stuck it in the freezer for 24 hours. After they were back up to room temp, I sowed them and put them under lights. The 1st seedling emerged in 3 days and the rest were up within 5 days. How cool is THAT!! The package advised chilling them in the fridge for 1 month, which would have needed to have been done a month ago to sow them now.

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Galesburg, IL

Joanna, I'm glad you were able to get germination that quick and not have to wait a month. As part of your experiment, did you plant some up without putting them in the freezer? That would have been a true test on the efficacy of the short freezing treatment.

I don't know the lavender plant well, but my guess is that the need for stratification was negated by the age of the seed. Many species that need stratification to break dormancy naturally loose their dormancy as they age (very slow chemical reaction in the seed) and eventually don't need any stratification to germinate. Many Aquilegia spp need stratification to germinate, particularly if you are using fresh seed. However, many of those same seeds will germinate with no cold treatment after a year or two of storage.

Just a note of caution to others planting seed needing stratification: The process involves a chemical reaction(s) in the seed which break(s) down germination inhibitors. These reactions only occur at cool/cold temperatures in the presence of moisture. Additionally, they are usually slow reactions and can not be sped up with lower temperatures.

If you are behind in your seed sowing or decide in early summer to sow something requiring stratification (both of these circumstances usually happen to me) I would recommend you split your treatments - start stratification of the seed, but at the same time sow some at the rec. germination temp and you may get lucky. If you don't get any germination at the warmer temps after 2-3 weeks, go ahead and put your pot/seed into the fridge for stratification.

Pawleys Island, SC

I have done the same with Daylily seeds and they do seem to come up much faster.

Victorville, CA(Zone 8b)

Hi! I recently planted about 100 lavendar seeds in jiffy pots, and of all the them only 6 actually sprouted haha. One of which just died, since transplanting them. I wish I would have known about this "cold" method. My package of seeds didnt say anything about that. Figured id share a picture of my lil ladies :)

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Medford, MA

I have a question. I started growing some lavender from seeds about 1 month back, using simply seed starting pellets and plenty of water. There's not much sun in the Northeast at this time of the year, so I left them under fluorescent light the rest of the day and night (~15 hours). I got about 50% success rate with stalks that came up. In the instruction that came with the seeds, it said that after this 4-week time, move them into the fridge (39F) for 6 weeks, then move to 50F to complete germination. If some of the seeds already germinated (I added the photo below), do I still have to put them into the fridge? Would they shrivel and die? Is the purpose of refrigeration to induce the seeds opening up after they come to the 50F environment?

This is my first time growing anything. I guess I just want to know what I should do next, short of singing lullaby to make them grow heh...

Any inputs would be greatly appreciated.

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Vaughan, ON(Zone 5b)

Hi flower_newbie! I'm not an expert and haven't grown lavender from seed before, but I start a lot of plants from seed every year so I'll try to help.

Your seedlings shouldn't be put in the fridge since it's not ideal conditions for them. You're right--they would die being in there for 6 weeks with no light.

You can put the pellets that don't have any seedlings or signs of bursting seeds yet into the fridge for 4-6 weeks now if you want more seedlings. (My garden's getting so full that I don't worry when some seeds don't germinate anymore!)

You're right... the purpose of refrigeration is just to help with the germination process. It mimics nature where there would be a cold spell before ideal germination time. Some seeds pretty much require this to germinate at all or with any sort of predictability, while others do fine without it. "trc65" already described the process nicely above.

You're off to a good start! Just make sure your seedlings don't dry out (but don't overwater them either) and that they get sufficient light. I don't know how quickly the seedlings/roots will grow--you may need to transplant the pellets into larger pots or you may get by with just transplanting the pellets directly into your garden at the appropriate time. (I prefer the latter whenever possible! Bright light and cool temps usually seems to help keep my seedlings from growing too much too fast.)

Good luck!

Cedar Hills, OR

Thanks for the tip joannabanana! I started 100 munstead lavender seeds and 50 ellegance purple seeds in the freezer and left them in for 24 hours and then let them thaw like you said. It's been 3 days and I have at least 50 above the dirt and I know the rest are on their way. I read up on multiple ways to get the seeds started and sure glad I read your advice.

Thanks again and I'll post a pic after another 5 days.

San Marcos, TX(Zone 8b)

After reading the tip regarding freezing of lavender seed to improve germination, I'm doing a variation of Joannabanana's technique. Yesterday I put the pot of lavender seed that I sowed March 4 in the freezer. At this point there was no germination, so I figure that this will probably work out about as well. I'll let y'all know.

Sierra Foothills, CA(Zone 8a)

OK, keep us posted!

Tallmadge, OH

planted about 200 lavender seeds in 2x1 cells and about 500 plants came up
no fridge just seed starter mix(peat/perllite) week tea of kelp(1/4 tsp/gal) lightly
covered and misted just before dry. Seed starter was damp when seeds were planted(covered lightly). Heat mat and lights after germination(with in 4 hrs)
Seeds were from Burpee. Do I cut back all but one stem per cell? Can I leave many per cell and up pot them? I've already tried transplanting 1 and a small group. Everything grows!

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

I would make sure that I kept 2-3 times as many seedlings as I had room to grow all the way to adults. You can thin the rest later. I think they would want a pot of what, 2-3 or 4-5 gallons?

But I would try to grit my teeth and cut the number down to0 1-2 per cell. I don't think they will benefit from competition, and if you're going to kill them, the sooner the better.

I guess I would keep 2-3 times as many as I knew I had room for, PLUS as many as I could give away to homes that would re-pot them or plant them out, and then water them occasionally.

San Marcos, TX(Zone 8b)

The first seedling emerged this morning (Easter Sunday). That worked out to 27 days. I'm hoping that more will be forthcoming.

This message was edited Apr 1, 2013 11:52 AM

(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

Feelingold, Lavender are pretty easy to move. I'd say transplant as many as you think you want plants, and keep a few clustered as backup.

Montego Bay, Jamaica

Hi everyone, I have some sesame seeds that i want to start germinating, what is the best way to start them? I need some advice, i would very much appreciate it.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

I have no idea myself, but here is what I found in several online sources.
They all worry about the seeds drying out before they emerge.
There is huge differenc e in how close together to plant seeds: from 4 per foot to 25-30 per foot.
I never found advice about "thin seedlings to xxx inches apart". (30-page guide)

Coat the seeds with some anti-fungal powder
Sow after daytime temperatures reach between 77 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Soil temp should exceed 70 F.
Space rows 20-30 inches apart (or 15" to 40").
Sow 4-6-8-12 seeds per foot of row. (Sesaco says 25-30 seeds per foot)
sow 1/2" deep. (Sesaco says 0.75" to 1.5" deep so they never dry out.)

Everyone says - be very sure to maintain evenly moist soil until the seedlings emerge.

Calgary, Canada

I am getting good germination by following Joanne's freezer method.
Except I kept forgetting about them,--- so they were two days warm,--- and two days in the freezer.
Then under lights on Wednesday, and there were sprouts on Saturday.
A few more sprouts today.

Calgary, AB(Zone 3a)

I finely renewed my subscription. How did everyone's lavender grow last year?

(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

This year, I've been using this method on everything that needs stratification. I soak the seeds 24 hours first, then Deno (paper towel/baggie) and freeze for 24 hours. It's worked on Asclepias Tuberosa and incarnata, Stachys macrantha, Campanulas pyramidalis and Clips series, and Lupines so far, still waiting to see for some others.

Thanks, Joanna!

Calgary, Canada

Mine never got very big as I started rather late.

Sierra Foothills, CA(Zone 8a)

Are we still discussing lavender?

Seneca, MO(Zone 5b)

I just wanted to mention that it is possible to have luck with lavender. OK, so it maybe beginner's luck! I have started some Munstead Lavender seeds and done nothing with stratification, etc. I just stuck 2014 seeds in some seedling soil (not knowing any better!) and have had some decent germination. I know lavender is hard to start from seed, so my expectations have been low! Anyway, I will post a pic. Just a little encouragement for other lavender addicts out there who may feel they don't have a chance at growing it themselves.

Also, a note to self -- keep expectations low, and sometimes.. I will be pleasantly surprised! :) ha

Seneca, MO(Zone 5b)

2 1/2 weeks after planting... not too horrible for a lavender newbie... :/

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(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

Congratulations! Well done! Now you're hooked, right? ;-)

Seneca, MO(Zone 5b)

Well, I have been hooked on lavender for years, but have never grown in myself -- always bought it. We bought some land this year, and I decided I would have to try to grow it myself. It would make me so happy to walk outside and smell that wonderful smell blowing in the wind... not to mention gathering my own flowers... we will see if I get that far. :) I wish I could grow grosso, but it's not recommended in my zone.

But yes, I am hooked!!!

(Robin) Blissfield, MI(Zone 6a)

Good job Ambuzz!

Sure hope I have some beginners luck. My Daughter harvested some seed for me, so yet to find out the variety...sometimes surprises are good.

Seneca, MO(Zone 5b)

Wishing you lots of good luck, mipii!

(Robin) Blissfield, MI(Zone 6a)

I'll take those wishes...thanks!

Brooks, OR

Hard shelled seeds (Asparagus, Cotoneaster, Lupine, Morning Glory, etc.) need some method of softening the seed. That can be done by freezing, scarification, acid bath, H2O2 or a hot water soak. I prefer the hot water.
In this technique, which I use on a lot of seeds, you place the seeds in a cup and pour hot (170 to 200 degrees F) water over them, to a depth of about 5 times their diameter. Do NOT use boiling water, as that will kill the seed embryo. Allow the water to cool and let set overnight. The seeds should be plump and on the bottom of the container. I use this method even on seeds that don't absolutely need it these days, because it both speeds germination and raises the germination rate. Seeds that are still floating after 24 hours can be pulled out and retreated.

Westminster, CA

Hi, I'd like to thank guys, it's great to have known these helpful information. I failed sowing lavender for years, but after my discovery of this forum my lavender seeds are sprouting. I'm very excited. I've bought both English Lavender and Spanish Lavender seeds last year and kept it in fridge until now. I sow English Lavender seeds directly to soil and it took 10 days for germination, and Spanish Lavender I did different way. I decided to soak it in lukewarm water over night then sow it, surprisingly it took half time for germination. Now it's the great beginning, I hope it'll grow strongly, and I'll take care of it carefully. My area has almost 7-8h sun light everyday, but the heat is my strong concern because it'd be 35C - 38C in afternoon (or 95F-100F).

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(Robin) Blissfield, MI(Zone 6a)

Nedd, you're gonna love it here, so many great and talented gardeners that are nothing but graciously willing to share...a very generous bunch. This subscription is my birthday present to myself...every year. Mega bang for my buck!


Newport, TN(Zone 7a)

Hello all,
I am so happy to read of the successes with lavender seed here. I have tried over the last couple years and just failed with it. Im sure I have company here with spending a lot of time with my nose hanging over the edge of the pot waiting for seedlings to grow. Sometimes I swear the dirt is mocking me! (ha) I broke down and bought a few lavender plants which have rewarded me with those lovely scented blooms. Now I want MORE! So, back to the seed rack. Yay!

Westminster, CA

Hi scarletbean,
I agree, I usually find myself sticky to the dirt like it'll grow Immediately, haha. And, I've got a lot more lavender seeds here. Can't imagine what I'll get in autumn.

Newport, TN(Zone 7a)

When I bought the 2 lavender plants (provence 1 gallon pot) 2 years ago, I was so happy to have it bloom. The first year got at least 30 stems and last year it really did well and I had well over 100 stems. I cut them and bring them in to dry and make sachets for my pillow and also one for the dryer. Thing is, It is in a crummy place, not as much sun as it would like, and clay soil. So, you may be surprised by what your lavender does in bloom. I must admit, too much is never enough when it comes to lavender.

(Robin) Blissfield, MI(Zone 6a)

Quote from scarletbean :
Im sure I have company here with spending a lot of time with my nose hanging over the edge of the pot waiting for seedlings to grow.


Westminster, CA

There are new Spanish Lavender sprouts next the 2 weeks old.

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Newport, TN(Zone 7a)

Does Spanish lavender have the distinctive scent of regular english or french?

Westminster, CA

I haven't had any lavender plants yet, but the description of Spanish Lavender says it has eucalyptus fragrance, compared to sweet fragrance of English Lavender (???). I have to wait to see it myself.

Westminster, CA

Anyway, should I separate those sprouts right now? Or should I wait until they have real leaves?

Newport, TN(Zone 7a)

I always wait til they have true leaves. I am not very experienced, so hopefully some one with more knowledge will chime in. OTOH, The longer the seedlings are in a clump, the harder it is to disentangle them.

(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

I usually try to get to them when they're still pretty small. They are delicate then, and sometimes quite tiny. I add vermiculite to lighten the soil around the roots, sometimes just into the hole where the root is going, then water in each seedling as I go to settle the root. An eye dropper, spritz bottle or baster comes in handy here.

The longer you wait, the more obvious it is which are the strongest seedlings, but the harder it is to separate the roots. I guess, as in many other cases, trial and error will tell you which way you prefer :-).

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