How to overwinter lavender in pots so they make a big comeback next summer

Prevention is better than cure, after all

A closeup of lavender growing in a stone planter
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Wondering how to overwinter lavender in pots? We don't blame you: we're in love with these perfumed flowers, too, and we're just not ready to see the winter frosts kill them off from our garden.

Thankfully, lavender is one of those incredibly generous plants that gives back in far greater abundance than it gets. Which means it's actually pretty easy to keep alive over the bleak midwinter. If you know how, of course.

With that in mind, then, here's everything you need to know about overwintering this sweet-smelling flower (if you're not already growing lavender inside, that is).

How to overwinter lavender in pots

If you've already learned how to take lavender cuttings, you'll likely want to turn your attention to sussing out the skills you need to keep your plant babies alive until next summer.

Lavender growing in pots at the bottom of a stone staircase, where a cat sits waiting for its owner

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Now, the good news: lavender –  depending on the variety –  tends to be pretty good at surviving the winter, with English lavender (lavandula angustifolia) and its hybrids among the hardiest types.

That being said, plants in containers are always more susceptible to cold, as their roots are less insulated than when in the ground. Which means, yes, there's a bit more to it when it comes to learning how to overwinter lavender in pots. 

What you will need

Before we dive on into the how of how to overwinter lavender in pots, it's a good idea to work out what you will need:

If your pots don't have good drainage holes, it's a good idea to add a few now; you can often use a sharp nail to punch holes in plastic planters, but you'll likely need a diamond drill pit if your pots are made from terracotta, glass, or ceramic.

Just be sure to drill slowly and steadily – and that you mark where you want to make your holes with a pencil before you start.

How-to guide

As mentioned already, it's actually very easy to learn how to overwinter lavender in pots (especially as many varieties can stay outdoors).

A potted lavender sits next to some terracotta pots in the Mediterranean Garden at RHS Chelsea Flower Show

(Image credit: Future / Heather Young)

'Before the first frost, prune your lavender plants to remove any dead or overgrown growth,' advises Morris Hankinson, the director of Hopes Grove Nurseries. 'Use the lightest possible touch for this; too heavy a prune can kill the plant.'

Morris Hankinson of Hopes Grove Nurseries
Morris Hankinson

Morris Hankinson is the founder and managing director of Hopes Grove Nurseries Ltd, the UK’s only specialist grower-retailer of hedging plants, which he established after graduating with a Commercial Horticulture Degree from Writtle College, Essex in 1992.

'It's a good idea,' Morris continues, 'to move some varieties of potted lavender plants to a more sheltered location, such as the base of a garden wall, or in a coldframe or greenhouse.' 

'You can also provide protection by wrapping the pots with insulating material,' he adds.

Whatever you decide, it's imperative that you ensure that the lavender pots have proper drainage to prevent waterlogged soil during the winter – and that you water sparingly to prevent root rot.

A bee collecting pollen from a lavender plant

(Image credit: Future PLC/Andrew Woods Photography)

'Consider bringing the lavender pots indoors to protect them from freezing temperatures,' adds Morris, noting that heavy winter rainfall can cause them to become waterlogged. 'Pop them in a cool, unheated room and they should be just fine.'

Of course, the same cannot be said for lavender growing in the ground: indeed, Christopher O'Donoghue, one of the co-directors of Gardens Revived, says very little needs to be done to overwinter these plants at all.

Christopher O'Donoghue, one of the directors of Gardens Revived
Christopher O'Donoghue

A gardener with over a decade of experience under his belt, Christopher set up Gardens Revived with his brother, Andrew, in 2018  to create a thriving family business. Together, they have worked on residential gardens, listed buildings and gardens, flower shows and large estates with some exceeding 70 acres – many with historical significance.

'You can protect them by mulching them with straw or hay,' says Christopher. 'And stop watering them – let Mother Nature take care of them while they're in their dormancy instead.'


Do I need to do anything to my lavender plant for winter?

If your lavender plant is growing in the ground, you should be fine to leave it in the hands of Mother Nature: just be sure to remove any dead growth, and to mulch it well to prevent waterlogging.

If you are wondering how to overwinter lavender in pots, however, you'll want to consider doing a bit more. Try wrapping your pots in an insulated material and/or moving them to a more sheltered spot in the garden.

Alternatively, bring your lavender indoors and store them in a cool, unheated room until winter is over.

Do I need to cut back lavender for winter?

Wondering how to cut back lavender for winter? These sweet-smelling plants should be pruned once a year, in late summer or early autumn, after it has finished blooming. 

You can also give it a light trim in the spring to remove any winter damage. And, if you're hoping to overwinter your plants, it's a good idea to remove any dead or overgrown sections, too.

Just remember, lavender does not break new growth easily from old stems so always avoid cutting back into the woody stems.

Basically, it's incredibly easy to winterise our potted lavender plants: just be prepared to move them so they enjoy a sunny, sheltered spot in your garden – or, alternatively, bring them indoors for added protection.

We're off to clear a space in our greenhouse for our lavenders right this second...

Kayleigh Dray
Acting Content Editor

Kayleigh Dray became Ideal Home’s Acting Content Editor in the spring of 2023, and is very excited to get to work. She joins the team after a decade-long career working as a journalist and editor across a number of leading lifestyle brands, both in-house and as a freelancer.