Companion planting is an age-old practice of planting different species close together to complement each other. Some plants give off chemicals or an aroma that repels insects that attack other plants, while others attract beneficial insects that are plant pollinators or predators to harmful insects. Some return valuable micro-nutrients to the soil that other plants need to thrive.
So what are great companion plants for lavenders? Amazingly, all plants that grow near any of the hundreds of lavender varieties will benefit from this gorgeous herb. But the plants that will grow best alongside it are those that have similar needs in terms of soil and sunshine.
Which plants grow well with lavender?
We often choose to plant lavender in our gardens to protect other plants. It’s a natural insect and rodent repellent, and it protects plants from whitefly, aphids, slugs, moths, and even mildew. It has also got antibacterial and antiseptic qualities.
Lavender is rabbit and deer resistant because these animals don’t like its strong smell. But it attracts beneficial insects as well as butterflies and bees.
It is easy to grow and easy to care for in most U.S. plant hardiness zones, especially zones 5-9. But it needs dry soil to thrive and only needs to be watered lightly once a week.
It doesn’t like ground that is continually damp and soggy. This means that you need to ensure you plant lavender in well-draining soil.
So, ultimately, when you choose what to grow with lavender, it stands to reason that you should opt for plants that enjoy the same conditions.
There are many ideal companion plants for lavender. Here is a small selection to inspire you:
Lavender and echinacea contrast beautifully with one another in flower shape and color. Both thrive in the same hardiness zones.
Both are happy with lots of sunlight and not much water. They also both need soil that drains well.
Roses also contrast beautifully with lavender. They both have a gorgeous scent, but a very different style of flower. When your lavender and rose flowers bloom together, you’ll have a marvelous show of aromatic color.
Lavender and roses grow in the same hardiness zones and both need well-draining soil. Roses prefer a bit more water than lavender, but, with care, it’s not a problem.
The floribunda rose varieties and shrub roses are both good candidates as companion plants for lavender. Both are a good cut flower variety too.
Upright sedum, known as stonecrop, pairs beautifully with different types of lavender. It has red, pink, and white flowers with full heads, contrasting nicely with lavender and white pink lavender spikes.
Sedum grows in an even wider range of hardiness zones – 3-11 – than lavender. It thrives in full sun and needs fairly dry, well-draining soil.
While most lavenders start blooming in early summer, sedum will continue to bloom into the fall. This means that with the two plants, you will have a colorful spectacle in your garden for months.
Allium is another lovely flowering plant that thrives in sandy soil, in full sun, and needs very little water. Its interesting flower heads have a mass of star-shaped tiny florets that bounce out visually against the spikey lavender flowers.
Like lavender, African daisies can be planted as a ground covering. They like the same conditions as lavender and so are 100% compatible.
A bonus with these cheerful flowers is that they will bloom throughout spring, summer, and fall. So, even when your lavender plants stop flowering, you’ll have color in your garden.
What should not be planted with lavender?
Don’t plant anything that needs moist soil conditions anywhere near lavender. You can plant it with many different herbs, but vegetables generally need constant moisture.
Here are a few examples of what should not be planted with lavender, and why.
Mint is one herb that isn’t going to do well with lavender because their soil and water needs are incompatible. Mint needs rich, moist soil while lavender needs dry soil that drains well.
Pretty rose-like camellias look gorgeous alongside lavender but they too are incompatible. They grow in the same warmer hardiness zones as lavender but, like mint, need lots of water and soil that are kept moist.
Lavender does best with about six hours of direct sunlight. Camellias don’t do well with this much sun!
Hostas are a popular garden plant that is even more versatile than lavender when it comes to the USDA zones it grows in – from hardiness zones 3-11. But, like camellias, they don’t like full sun, preferring dappled shade.
Impatiens, like lavender, needs well-draining soil. But these brightly colored perennials, while easy to care for, need lots of water.
They also need shade and they are sensitive to higher temperatures. So, they too, are incompatible with lavender.
Where should I plant lavender in my garden?
If you are considering growing lavender for the first time, you may be wondering where to plant it. There will usually be a multitude of options that will be determined by whether you want to grow it for landscaping and garden design, or as a herb with other herbs.
It fits the style of most gardens and is particularly well-suited to gardens planted in the traditional cottage style. While lavender can be planted as a hedge, in a cottage garden it’s more effective to mix it with other cottage favorites. These include shrub roses, aromatic sweet peas, pansies, snapdragons, and black-eyed Susan.
If you are planning a color scheme for your garden, most types of lavender will add splashes of blue-purple. But you can also plant it in white gardens or areas of your garden dedicated to white flowers. For this, Lavandula angustifolia Nana Alba, a dwarf variety with short, spikey snow-white flowers is ideal.
Or aim for a pink garden and plant a pink lavender variety like Melissa, which has pastel white-pink flowers.
Lavender is particularly popular in herb gardens, where it does well as a companion plant to rosemary, oregano, sage, and thyme. Here a hedge will often work well, especially if you plant a variety that grows about three feet tall.
You can also plant it to form a ground covering in hot, dry environments. You’ll be amazed how it can form a thick ground cover in 2-3 years.
As you will see from our 2023 garden tips, you can plant virtually anything with lavender. As long as the plants benefit from the same conditions as lavender, they will also benefit from the lavender itself.
There are more than 40 lavender species and hundreds of different varieties to choose from. There’s so much choice, if you get hooked on lavender, you might not want to plant anything else! But then, variety is the spice of life, so, why not try some compatible, complementary species with it?