If you’re looking at a shady spot in your yard and wondering whether you can grow lavender there, you may be out of luck.
All varieties of true lavender require full sun to do best. If you’re growing it for its oil, scent, or culinary value, you should plant it in full sun. Some varieties can even tolerate part shade, but a lot of shade is a problem.
If you have a very shady spot, not all is lost though.
Does Lavender Need Full Sun?
Lavender needs sun to grow. The more sun, the better. Lavender is a Mediterranean plant, used to hot summers and cool winters. When you grow lavender, you need to provide it with full sun in order to get the best growth and flowering.
Lavender plants that are grown in full sun will typically have a more robust, bushy growth than those grown in partial or shaded sun. Lavender plants that receive at least 8 hours of direct sunlight daily will produce the best flowers and have the longest lasting blooms.
Lavender plants can grow in partial shade, but they won’t thrive. Lavender grown in partial shade will be spindly and weak, with fewer flowers than lavender grown in full sun.
The lavender varieties that are most commonly grown need at least 6-8 hours of sun per day. (If you’re interested in growing one of these varieties, check out my guide here.)
Lavender Varieties That Need Full Sun
Spike lavender is probably the variety of lavender that requires the most sun. Spike lavender can’t tolerate any shade, so care should be taken to make sure it’s grown in a spot that won’t get shaded out.
English lavender also needs a lot of sun – moreso than some of the other varieties on this list. It can tolerate a small amount of shade – as long as it’s able to get at least 6 hours of sun, but it still prefers not to be in shade.
French lavender has dark purple flowers and grows in smaller bunches than spike or English lavender. French lavender is also great for growing in pots and can handle a little shade as long as it still gets 6-8 hours of full sun total each day.
French lavender also isn’t known for producing as strong of a scent or as much essential oil, so it isn’t as good as english lavender for people who want lavender for those uses.
If you’re growing lavender for culinary use or for essential oil, you need to grow lavender in full sun to get the best taste and the most oil.
The Best Lavender For Part Shade
If you only want lavender for its flowers, then Canary Islands lavender is an option for growing in part shade. Canary islands lavender is a very tall type of lavender that can get up to 4 feet tall. In addition, it also has the benefit of blooming year-round, instead of just for a few weeks or months out of the year.
It doesn’t have a strong scent and isn’t really useful for cooking or distilling, though, so if that’s important to you, it isn’t the right variety. It is good for growing a lavender hedge, however.
Can Lavender Grow in Full Shade?
Given everything I’ve said, if you’ve got a shady area in your garden, you might think that growing lavender is out of the question.
But there’s a close cousin of true lavender that can be grown in shade – Mona Lavender.
Mona lavender isn’t true lavender. It’s not edible. It doesn’t have the traditional lavender smell. On the other hand, it needs less care than true lavender does. (e.g. no mandatory pruning and fussing about woody stems)
If you need lavender for food or for fragrant oils, you really need to grow it in full sun for maximum potency.
However, if you’re growing lavender just for its flowers (you don’t want to make any kind of oil out of it) then yes, you can grow Mona lavender in shade.
Mona Lavender Basics
Mona lavender is a hybrid of Stoep Spurflower and to Candle Plant. It’s not a true lavender (Lavendula angustofolia). But it is distantly related to true lavenders. (It’s in the same family but a different genus.)
The leaves look a lot different from your typical English Lavender plants, not being as thin or pointy and being a different color. The flowers are a similar color, but they look closer to red salvia flowers in shape (still with the purple color that lavender flowers have).
They also have very little smell, compared to the intense fragrance than true lavenders have.
It prefers tropical areas, so if you live in an area where it gets below 25F, you may want to grow it in a pot where you can take it inside when it gets cold. Hardiness zones 9b-10 are where it does best.
It also blooms from fall all the way through into spring, so it will produce color when a lot of other plants have already faded.
Finally, it likes having a rich, moist soil, as opposed to lavender’s preference for dry, sandy soil.
It’s not exactly the same, but if you’re just looking for something pretty to put in your shady areas, Mona Lavender might be just the thing.
Most varieties of true lavender do need full sun. The most common ones can handle a little bit of shade as long as they still get 6-8 hours of sun, but heavy shade is out of the question.
If you have an area that can support plants that like part sun, there is one variety you can grow – Canary Islands Lavender. Unfortunately, it’s pretty useless if you’re looking for something you can use in any of the ways lavender is traditionally used.
It also has no scent.
If you’re looking to grow something in full shade, even Canary Islands Lavender is probably going to be out of the question. That’s when you can turn to a cousin of the lavender plant – Mona Lavender.
While it isn’t very similar to lavender in looks, it does still have spikes with pretty purple flowers, and it can brighten up a shady area and make it look pretty good.