Lavender is a fantastic plant for those looking to create oils and attract bees, or anyone who want’s to use it as an herb for cooking/baking. But even if you don’t have a use in mind, many just love having lavender around the garden to create borders.
Lavender is easy to grow and perfect for garden beds and pots. With its silvery-green foliage and purple upright flowers, the plants are also wonderful for creating what some may refer to as informal hedges.
But what if you want to grow them indoors using hydroponics? While it might be surprising for some, you can grow lavender hydroponically, as it is a plant perfect for arid climates.
Now, what are the perfect growing conditions for a lavender plant?
Also Read: Best Hydroponic Plants
Perfect Growing Conditions For Lavender Plants
Lavender is a part of the genus of Lavandula, which is part of a larger family of 42 flowering plants in the mint family. Initially, it was only found in the Cape Verde and Canary Islands. But over time, it spread to Africa, the Mediterranean, and parts of Asia.
Lavender will sometimes expand its reach outside of the gardening area. But this is usually harmless. However in Australia, the Lavandula stoechas is now considered a pest, and in Spain, it’s also called a weed. Both these environments offer dry, well-drained, sandy, or gravelly soils, with dry heat. Exactly the climate that lavender thrives in.
When selecting a lavender, there are three main types you can grow hydroponically. These are:
- True English Lavender, which can grow in cooler weather
- Portuguese or Spike Lavender, which can handle extreme temperatures
- Munstead Lavender, which is like the English but smaller, perfect for hydroponics
Lavender does need good air circulation, as it is prone to root rot and fungus infections in areas with high humidity.
It’s worth noting that fertilizer is not crucial for the success of the plant. And Lavender will need little to none throughout its life.
The perfect soil pH should to be around 6 - 8, although this varies between cultivars.
Now that we understand the optimum growing conditions for lavender, let’s focus on how to replicate that for a hydroponic system.
Growing Lavender In Hydroponics
With a plant like lavender, you need to monitor the amount of water it takes into the substrate around the roots. A growing medium like Rockwool, which is great for germinating seeds, will need to be reduced due to its ability to hold water.
We’d strongly recommend using lightweight expanded clay aggregate (LECA). LECA will imitate the natural rocks that Lavender roots latch onto in their natural environment.
If you plan on germinating seeds indoors, the success rate is relatively low, with approximately only half growing into a seedling. But this shouldn’t matter as the plant will produce 850 to 1300 seeds per gram - again, this varies depending on the cultivar of the plant. During germination, you will need to maintain a high temperature of between 65°F to 70°F.
Thereafter the plant takes around two years to start bushing out.
But what type of hydroponic setup should you go with? The main two are nutrient film technique (NFT) and deep water culture (DWC). Some also recommend the Kratky method for small plants.
Using the Kratky method, you will be rooting the cuttings, which you’ll be able to plant out when the roots are established.
With a larger crop you’d do better with an NFT setup, as they usually require less space than a regular DWC system. This being said, DWC is the system we’d recommend due to the size of the plant.
A DWC system is usually utilized to grow a single plant, but you can expand on it and create a joint system. Although we recommend you start with one first before expanding to an entire crop.
Check out our top recommendations for hydroponic systems in 2023
The number one cause of lavender dying in the garden is overwatering. This means that growing it in a system that is entirely water-based it’s going to be a tricky grow.
You will want to program the air pump to generate a lot of bubbles and invest in a fan because of the aforementioned root rot and fungus issues; installing fans to ensure that air circulation is constantly moving is key to a healthy crop.
Lavender also needs heat and sun. Its optimum temperature is between 68°F and 86°F. For this you can invest in a heater, as well, to ensure the air is dry.
You could also boost the temperature by investing in a high-intensity grow light. Usually, the heat emitted from the bulb is an issue, but when growing lavender, this becomes a bonus.
However, the energy bill might cause you some concerns as the grow light will need to run for around eight to ten hours a day. Coupled with the fans and heater, this is an expensive operation to run.
To cut down on unnecessary costs, you can ensure that the room you’re using is well ventilated, has ample sunlight to warm the room, and you can switch the high-powered light to an LED setup.
Lavender does not require a lot of fertilizer. You will want to maintain the pH at around 5.5 - 7, and the parts per million (ppm) in the nutrient solution should be around 700 to 980. And if your plant looks a little limp, you can add a fertilizer with more nitrogen than phosphorus and potassium.
A general-purpose solution will do, or you can go the organic tea route.
Make sure to test the nutrient levels daily and that pruning is done correctly. Lavender needs to be pruned once a year to maintain its structure. If you don’t the plants become overly woody and sprawling. When pruning, make sure to prune back by ⅓ to ½ the height of the stems.
As the plant matures, its lower stems will become woody. Find that woody part and trim above by 2 inches. And when the flowers start to fade, you can trim them off to encourage new growth.
Overall, lavender is not the most difficult hydroponic crop, but it can be expensive, as the daily energy bills can quickly add up. But on the plus side is, if you’re growing it indoors, your home will smell amazing.
Growing Lavender - Smells Lovely - Is Costly
As a hydroponic project goes, growing lavender is going to be a challenge to tweak all the environmental factors just right for a decent crop.
But once you’re in the swing of things, it should be straightforward and only require monitoring.
And as always, it promises to be fun.