15 Companion Plants To Grow With Lavender
Are you looking for some companion plants for your garden grown lavender this season? Luckily, there are plenty of options to compliment your lavender garden! In this article, organic gardening expert and former organic lavender farmer Logan Hailey looks at her favorite lavender companion plants!
Lavender is one of the most low-maintenance, drought-tolerant, and fragrant flowers you can grow in your garden. As a perennial in most climates, you can plant it once and enjoy aromatic blossoms for years to come. When it comes to choosing a garden bed and plant neighbors for your lavender, you’ll want to take into consideration its unique needs and preferences so you can choose the best combos for your climate.
Whether you want to grow a dazzling landscape border or an herbal oasis garden, lavender looks (and smells) incredible next to specific plants. If you’re wondering what to plant with lavender in your herb garden, consider pairing it with other perennials that enjoy the same growing environment.
Let’s dig into the top 15 best lavender companion plants and how to plant them.
Traits For Lavender Companions
Lavender companion plants are herbs, flowers, or crops that grow synergistically alongside this infamous purple flower. For example, echinacea, rosemary, and yarrow all perform well with lavender because they can tolerate the same low-fertility, well-drained, drought-prone soils.
Lavender companions tend to prefer the same conditions as this Mediterranean native:
- Perennial growth habit (in zones 5 through 11, depending on lavender type)
- Sandy or gravelly well-drained soil
- Alkaline pH (6.5 to 7.5)
- Low nutrient conditions
- Full sunshine
- Plenty of summer heat
- Periods of drought
If a species can thrive in these conditions, you can save your space and time by preparing the same bed for it to grow with lavender. As you’ll see below, height, spacing, fertility requirements, and seasonal maintenance also play a role in determining the best garden allies.
Companion Planting Benefits
Companion plants can aid lavender’s growth or simply complement its dazzling aesthetics while growing in the same garden bed. interplanting is an age-old technique for creating garden landscapes that mimic natural ecosystems.
Instead of heavily relying on external inputs like irrigation or pesticides, companion planting ensures that plants work together to maintain ecological “checks and balances”, which means less work from you.
The advantages of companion planting for lavender include:
Minimize soil preparation efforts
When you plant crops with similar soil requirements in the same space, you save yourself the extra effort of preparing separate beds. The best companions will enjoy the same gravelly, well-drained, low-fertility, and slightly alkaline soils.
Some lavender allies can make use of the growing space while the plant is in its dormant state. You can sneak herbaceous perennials with different growth cycles in the same area so you can get more floral “bang for your buck” in a small area.
Biodiversity is scientifically proven to improve the resilience of your garden in extreme weather, pest infestations, and more. A greater diversity of plants is also visually attractive and aids in bringing in more beneficial insects.
Enjoy flower displays
While lavender is extravagant on its own, there are several species that beautifully compliment its purple spikes in garden displays and cut flower arrangements.
If you thought lavender smelled amazing on its own, you will be captivated by the smell when enmeshed with sage, rosemary, jasmine, and more.
Top Companion Plants
Lavender’s origins make it a nice pair for any Mediterranean native shrub or drought-tolerant ornamental. It can be combined in the garden with many different plant options. Without further delay, here are our top recommendations:
Lavender and Rosemary work as well together in the garden as they do in your herbs de provence seasoning blend. They have practically identical maintenance needs— barely in water and once or twice a year prunings!
Like lavender, it is native to the Mediterranean basin and loves hot, dry sites with plenty of soil drainage. It prefers low-nutrient soils with a pH between 6.0 and 7.5. However, rosemary is not as cold hardy. It cannot survive without frost protection in zones 6 or colder.
Rosemary is a popular companion plant to keep pests away from your garden vegetables. It has a strong fragrance and beautiful bee-attracting flowers in the spring and summer.
Depending on your pruning efforts, rosemary can grow up to 4 feet tall and wide. You can plant a rosemary shrub 2-4 feet from a neighboring lavender bush in border beds around your garden.
Another Mediterranean herb, sage thrives in exposed areas with vibrant direct sunshine. It loves sandy or gravelly soil that water runs through very quickly. Like lavender, you won’t need to put any irrigation on these hardy drought-tolerant plants.
Sage is perennial in zones 5 through 11. At up to 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide, it typically stays stouter than lavender plants. You can squeeze sage plants between lavender and rosemary to add dimension to the planting.
This North American native wildflower is known for its incredible drought resilience and its ability to attract a range of beneficial predatory insects. Yarrow can be planted as a companion plant for everything from tomatoes to strawberries, and it also thrives alongside lavender.
Yarrow plants need full sunshine and plenty of warmth. Like lavender, it hates soggy or waterlogged soils. The well-drained sandy soils you prepared for your lavender beds are perfect for this honey-flavored umbel flower.
Perhaps the best thing about yarrow is its ability to thrive on neglect. It is even lower maintenance than lavender and will readily fend for itself without water, fertilizer, or pruning. In fact, it prefers to just be left alone.
Just remember to space lavender at least 2-3 feet from other perennials in your herb beds. It can spread quite wide when in full bloom but dies back to an herbaceous clump through the wintertime.
Well known for their decadent fragrance, Jasmine gives lavender a run for its money in the smell department. While you may recognize this scent in perfumes and teas, jasmine is also a gorgeous vine or brush to grow in your garden.
You can choose to grow it as a vine, shrub, or groundcover. It looks especially captivating when trained to creep up a fence line or stone wall behind lavender plantings. Summer-flowering jasmine varieties can thrive in the full sunshine planting locations while winter-flowering types prefer a slightly shaded area.
Jasmine loves the same high-drainage soils but prefers a bit more loamy nutrients to support its growth. Most importantly, jasmine needs plenty of space from its lavender comrades. Plant at least 8 feet apart to accommodate for root and vine growth.
Also known as echinacea, this ornamental perennial plant is just as cold hardy, and even more drought tolerant. Its beautiful violet blooms complement lavender’s more subdued purple spikes in perfect harmony. The daisy-like blooms appear in June through October in most climates and make for the perfect prairie-style herb garden.
Coneflowers thrive in full sunlight and prolifically self-seeds to return every year. As an herbaceous perennial, echinacea will die back to the ground and go dormant in the winter in zones 3 through 9.
Interestingly, growing echinacea from seed requires the same cold stratification period as seeding lavender. If you don’t want to go through the trouble of germinating these finicky seeds, we recommend purchasing echinacea starts alongside your lavender transplants.
Thyme is ubiquitous in cuisines across the world. The herb itself is native to Eurasia and may have some varieties (specifically Thymbra capitata or Mediterranean Wild Thyme) that originated in the hot, sunny outcrops of the Mediterranean basin alongside high-elevation wild lavender meadows.
But even the classic garden thyme (Thymus vulgaris) enjoys the same conditions as lavender in your herb garden.
What we love most about these two plants as companions is their size difference. Unlike most others on this list, thyme can be a hardy groundcover that thrives in the bare soil beneath and around lavender bushes.
Creeping thyme (Thymus serphyllum) is a nice crawling thyme variety that doesn’t mind a bit of shade as it creates a thick ornamental carpet beneath lavender and its neighbors.
Regardless of the variety you choose, thyme will put on a gorgeous display of purple flowers throughout the season. It doesn’t mind the lack of irrigation in your beds and remains winter hardy in zones 5 through 9.
Artemesia vulgaris or mugwwort is a mysterious silvery herb that gladly grows alongside lavender. While it loves the sunshine and drainage, it does prefer a bit more moisture than its drought-loving companions.
For this reason, I like to plant mugwort in the slightly shadier and cooler woodland margins of my perennial garden beds. Mugwort doesn’t mind the slightly alkaline soils that lavender typically prefers.
This perennial forb has a fragrant foliage that repels pests and attracts pollinators. It could help to keep whiteflies and aphids away. It even makes a great mosquito repellant!
While regular mint is not very compatible with lavender, catmint is more drought tolerant and grows in similar conditions. The purple flowers are strikingly similar to lavender blooms and make for a gorgeous border bed.
We love how catmint grows into an attractive stout bush that won’t outcompete other crops. This herbaceous herb goes dormant in the winter and re-sprouts in the spring. The pruning process is also practically identical to lavender, which makes maintaining this area of the garden a breeze.
This lesser-known shrub or small tree is technically poisonous, but still the perfect addition to an ornamental landscape. It is dense, fast-growing, and native to some of the same parts of North Africa as lavender.
This means that oleander doesn’t mind drought and heat. It tolerates poor soils and is naturally deer-resistant. Oleander’s star-shaped flowers bloom almost year-round in zones 8 and warmer.
However, keep in mind that this carefree shrub can grow remarkably tall and wide (up to 20 by 15 feet!) Provide it with a generous space that won’t intrude on lavender. You should also take care not to plant oleander in southern regions where it is invasive.
While you may recognize alliums as the family of onions, scallions, and garlic, there are several ornamental allium cousins that pair perfectly with lavender. The tall bulbs complement lavender’s stout blooms and repel a range of pests.
Alliums don’t mind drought and grow in zones 4 through 8. Pair them together for intriguing height variations and a nice surprise of bulbous shapes.
Stonecrop or sedum comes in a range of beautiful colors like white, pink, red, orange, and salmon-color. This is the perfect border plant to tuck into the gravelly or rocky beds where lavender grows. The same low-fertility, alkaline soils are prime for stonecrop flowers. They also love the heat and prefer dry climates.
This ornamental can tolerate a bit more shade, so I like to place sedum as a filler in the empty spaces between lavender shrubs. Sedums can be planted in the spring.
They can thrive in strikingly frigid conditions (as cold as zone 3!) so you don’t have to worry about lavender out-lasting sedums through the winter. However, when lavender blooms have subsided in the fall, sedum will continue to provide a nice floral spectacle.
These colorful ornamental grasses have an icy blue foliage color and pastel feathery flowers. They make the perfect textured interruption for a prairie-style planting or ornamental garden border where lavender has been planted. This ultra drought-tolerant grass isn’t picky about soil as long as its well-drained.
You definitely won’t need any irrigation for blue fescue! If you don’t care about the blue fescue flowers, it will readily tolerate a bit of shade from neighboring lavender or rosemary bushes.
As the only annual flower on this list, zinnias have a surprising ability to thrive alongside lavender. This hardy flower comes in a full spectrum of colors that add a rainbow to your herb garden in the summer. They are so easygoing that they don’t care much about humidity, heat, sunshine, drought, or water.
You can also enjoy the added benefit of zinnias’ ability to complement your vegetable garden. They are one of the best veggie companion plants for a reason: zinnias host a range of beneficial pollinators and predatory insects to improve yields and keep pests away.
Another easy-to-please garden herb, oregano pairs well with almost everything, including lavender. Oregano makes an excellent edging or ground cover in your perennial lavender beds because it tolerates slight shade beneath the shrubs. It stays low-growing so that competition isn’t an issue.
We also love the insectary benefits of oregano. This herb is small but mighty and hosts some of the most important pest-eating predators: lacewings! These voracious predators of whiteflies, cabbage moths, and aphids will help protect your veggies from damage.
Oregano is also a bee magnet to keep around pollinator-dependent crops like strawberries, tomatoes, and squash.
If you live in a warm area, you can create a classic Mediterranean-style garden with olives and lavender. While it only grows in USDA zones 9-11, this drought-tolerant subtropical tree thrives in the company of lavender.
The aroma of lavender attracts pollinators to olive trees while olive trees enjoy the same gravelly, well-drained soils. They both love hot, dry summers and cool, mild winters.
It’s clear that lavender loves companions who kept its company in its wild native habitat. If you can find plants that enjoy the heat, sunshine, drainage, and drought, they are likely perfect pairs for this dazzling purple herb. It’s a bonus if they are perennial and require minimal maintenance.
To maximize your growing space and diversity, don’t forget to take advantage of height and spacing differences in your lavender garden. Low-growing thyme and oregano make the perfect weed-suppressing ground cover in a lavender patch. At the same time, tall vines like jasmine can make a beautiful display behind your lavender shrubs.
Whether you crave the decadent aroma of lavender on your kitchen counter or hope to reap its insectary benefits in your veggie garden, it is one of the most rewarding herbs you can plant!