Why Should You Grow Your Own Lavender Indoors
Lavender is an amazing plant and medicinal. It looks nice, smells amazing, and helps heal the body. Lavender is used in soaps, shampoos, perfumes, essential oils and more. Known to help ailments such as insomnia, anxiety, and depression, lavender is not only good to help cleanse the body but also the mind and spirit.
Research has confirmed its ability to be slightly calming, slowing down the activity of the nervous system, and is a sedative when the scent is inhaled. It may also benefit conditions including alopecia (hair loss), postoperative pain, be used as an antibacterial and an antiviral. Several small studies suggest that lavender aromatherapy may help reduce agitation in those with dementia, as well as help nervous stomach irritations. The essential oil is extracted from the fresh flowers of the plant, and you can find numerous types of lavender essential oils here.
Clinically Tested and Used
I use lavender essential oils all the time in my clinic while treating patients. When a patient is agitated, stressed, or anxious, I place only a few drops of the essential oil around their temples for a calming effect. I also suggest placing a few drops on your pillow before bed to help sleep and reduce stress. For those of my patients with chronic stress and adrenal fatigue, lavender can be a blessing. Easily accessed and easy to use, lavender is one of the best herbs to grow in your beginner indoor herb garden.
Native to the mountainous regions of the Mediterranean, it grows amongst sunshine, and stony terrain. Today, it grows all throughout Europe, Australia, and the United States.
Lavender is actually a part of the mint family, with a history going back 2500 years or more. The ancient Greeks called it nardus, after the Syrian city of Naarda, and was commonly called Nard. It was one of the holy herbs used to prepare the holy essence and Nard.
Its name derives from the Latin ‘lavare’ meaning to wash, and the Romans used it to scent their beds, baths and beyond (pun intended).
How to Grow Lavender Indoors
While lavender can easily be found in markets, essential oils, boutique ice-creams and in your favorite scented soaps, how many people do you know grow this wonderful herb indoors?
It’s not impossible, and with a bit of good effort, you can grow a thriving lavender plant inside your home. However, I do not recommend growing lavender indoors for the beginners out there. Stick to your store bought, essential oils and dried bits.
The most important part is to choose a variety of lavender that will thrive indoors and tolerate the conditions inside an apartment or home. French Lavender will be your best bet when trying to grow indoor lavender.
Choosing a Growing Container: Choose one that is of appropriate size and well draining. You want this pot to be easily moveable, as you WILL be moving this plant around from time to time to maximize sunshine and warmth. You need to have drainage holes in the bottom of the pot, as you CAN’T have sitting water for it to survive.
Light: This plant originates in the sunny, hot and dry Mediterranean region, so it’s important to replicate these growing conditions as best you can inside your home. Before you place your lavender plant in a pot, consider if your apartment gets 8 hours of direct sunlight. Your lavender plant wants to sunbathe and get hot and dry. If you don’t have a home that is able to get ample and direct sunlight, you may want to rethink growing lavender, or get a growing lamp.
Water: Good drainage is key. Only water when the soil is dry and allow it to dry out between waterings. However, you still have to make sure it gets plenty of water, and if the leaves are limp, it means you need to water it more. Roots cannot sit in soggy conditions.
Soil: You will need a soil mix that is light and fluffy. The best soil mix for lavender in containers will have an alkaline pH between 7 and 8 which would mimic it’s natural growing conditions. It likes sand, gravel, and rocky conditions—not the type of soil found in most gardens. You can make your own lavender potting soil:
DIY Lavender potting soil:
One Part Finished Compost
One Part Pumice
One Part Coarse Sand
One Part Fine Soil
Lime to Adjust pH to at least 7.0
A Few Crushed Eggshells (optional—provides alkaline pH when they degrade)
Fertilizer: Fertilizer will be needed with lavender grown in containers. A hand full of compost will work every 6 months or so. You can get fertilizer mix here.
Repotting: You will need to do so every year to allow for growth. It’s best to do this in spring before the growing season begins.
Temperature: Keep out of cold temperatures and move inside as soon as colder weather comes. Move plant outside gradually during the spring months as nice weather returns. Always make sure the lavender plant gets plenty of sun!
How To Make Lavender Essential Oil
So you’ve either grown your own lavender or bought some at the store and want to make your own lavender essential oil. Great! It’s not that difficult to make your own essential oils to enjoy and use medicinally. So let’s get started.
Extracting Lavender Oil with Oils: It’s easy to bring out the natural oils of lavender with other oils. With a few steps, you’ll be on your way to slathering your home made essential oil all over yourself and friends.
- Use a non-metal container (ceramic works) and pour in enough pure olive oil or safflower oil to cover the botanicals (the leaves, stems, etc.)
- Set aside for 24 to 48 hours.
- Strain the mixture, gently pressing the leaves or flowers to release more oils.
- Add more fresh flowers or leaves to the already fragrant oil and repeat steps 2 and 3.
- Repeat this process another 6 to 8 times or until your oil is of desired strength.
Using Alcohol to Extract Essential Oils: Another easy method, using alcohol has been used for thousands of years to create tinctures and herbal products. You’ll need to use undenatured ethyl alcohol. I always use Spiritus—Polish vodka containing 95% alcohol per volume and is 190 US proof! Hallelujah. The Poles know what they’re doing. Whatever you do, don’t use rubbing alcohol. If Spiritus is not available, just use plain vodka.
The process is the same as extracting with oils. Using alcohol is a great way to create perfumes, as most perfumes contain a large amount of alcohol as it evaporates quickly from the skin.
To remove the oil from the alcohol, place the container in the freezer. The oil will congeal on top of the alcohol, which won’t freeze, and the oil can be scraped off.
Essential oils are amazing to use and even more fun to make. Try experimenting yourself and see what happens!