Homesteading, Gardening, and Off-Grid Living

Growing Lavender for Profit on a Small Farm or Homestead

By: Zac Friedman

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This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for details.

Lavender can be an incredibly profitable crop. It requires little maintenance, it’s easy to grow, and the startup cost is low. It’s also a surprisingly versatile crop. Lavender can be sold fresh, dried, or processed into a wide range of value-added products. It also doesn’t require too much land to grow profitably. Lavender can produce a massive amount of value on a relatively small patch of land. This makes lavender an ideal crop for small-scale farmers and homesteaders.

This is the complete guide to growing lavender for profit. In this guide, we’ll cover how to grow lavender, potential profitability, expenses, labor requirements, time requirements, how to process and sell lavender, and much more. I’ll also list a few pros and cons of growing lavender to help you decide whether or not it’s the right crop to grow on your small farm or homestead. 

Growing Lavender for Profit pin

What is Lavender?

Lavender is an aromatic flowering plant. It’s in the same family as mint, thyme, rosemary, and sage. Lavender can be identified by its sweet and flowery scent. It is considered an herb. Herbs are plants with fragrant or flavorful leaves. The scientific name of lavender is Lavandula.

There are over 45 different species of lavender. These species can be further divided into over 450 different varieties. Some species and varieties have yet to be classified. Each lavender variety has a slightly different scent and appearance.

Lavender is a perennial plant. This means that the plant continues producing year after year. It doesn’t die off in the winter. 

Native to the Old World, lavender grows naturally around the Mediterranean, parts of the Middle East, and Northern and Eastern Africa. It grows best in hot regions with dry, rocky, or sandy soil.

Today, lavender is cultivated in much of Europe and North America as well as in parts of Asia and Africa. Lavender has been grown commercially in the Provence region of France for hundreds of years. In North America, commercial lavender cultivation is slowly increasing in popularity.

A lavender field

What is Lavender Used For?

The nice thing about growing lavender is that it has so many different applications. This gives you the opportunity to experiment with a multitude of different herbal products as your business grows. Lavender is an incredibly versatile plant. Common uses of lavender include:

  • Fragrance- lavender can be processed into essential oil. Lavender oil is one of the most popular essential oils on the market. It can be used for adding fragrance to perfumes, soaps, lotions, aromatherapy products, scented pillows and sachets, skin care products, cleaners, and various cosmetics. It offers a pleasant sweet and flowery scent that people love. It’s a calming scent.
  • Flavoring- Lavender is a common culinary herb. It can be used in cooking to add flavor to food. Lavender can be used to flavor oils, honey, butter, or sugar. These flavor-infused ingredients can be used in cooking. Lavender is also used as a garnish in some restaurants.
  • Decoration- Lavender can be sold fresh or dried. It is a popular ornamental plant in landscaping. Particularly in areas that experience drought. It can be sold fresh in pots. It can also be used dried or freshly cut in flower bouquets and crafts. Lavender wreaths are a popular craft project.
  • Medicine- Lavender offers a number of potential health benefits. For example, throughout history, people have used lavender to improve sleep, treat skin issues, reduce anxiety and depression, and more. Lavender also has disinfectant and anti-inflammatory properties. For more info on the potential health benefits of lavender, check out this article about lavender and health. These days, lavender oil is commonly used in the wellness industry.

Humans have been using lavender as a fragrance, flavor additive, medicine, and decoration for over 2,500 years. Possibly longer. Ancient Romans used lavender to add fragrance to public baths. Ancient Egyptians used it to encourage beautiful hair growth. 

Lavender

Reasons to Start a Lavender Farm

Lavender is an ideal crop for a small farm or homestead. A few reasons to grow lavender include:

  1. Growing lavender is profitable- An acre of lavender can produce $75,000-$150,000 worth of revenue per year. To compare, an acre of a more traditional crop such as corn, wheat, or soybeans generates less than $1000 of revenue per year. That means a lavender farm could produce 100 times more revenue in the same amount of space. The expenses for growing lavender are relatively low as well. According to this article from Entrepreneur-360, lavender is one of the most valuable crops.
  2. There is demand for lavender- You won’t have any trouble selling the lavender that you grow because the demand for lavender is so high. There is a particularly high demand for lavender oil. In fact, in some countries, there is actually a shortage of lavender and lavender oil. Demand for lavender is also expected to increase in the coming years. According to this article from Persistence Market Research, the demand for lavender is projected to grow at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 6% through 2024. This is a growing market. These days, medicinal herbs are growing in popularity as people seek to treat their health conditions with natural remedies. The health and wellness industry is growing as well. Essential oils made from various herbs are becoming incredibly popular products. Fragrances are always popular as well.
  3. Lavender is easy to grow- Lavender can be grown in a wide range of climates. It also requires little maintenance. In most cases, it doesn’t require fertilizer. It also doesn’t need much water. Lavender is a drought-tolerant plant. It grows best in sunny and dry areas. Really, all you need to grow lavender is lots of sun and well-draining soil. You can grow lavender in the ground, in raised beds, or in pots. It can also be planted near other plants without any issues. It’s a pretty hardy plant.
  4. You don’t need much space to grow lavender profitably- You can grow lavender profitably in an area as small as a large backyard. Most lavender farms are just a few acres or less in size. For example, a 25” x 25” garden could produce around $2000 worth of lavender bunches per year. A multi-acre lavender farm could bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue per year when run efficiently. 
  5. Lavender is an extremely versatile crop- Lavender can be sold on its own in bundles either fresh or dry. It can also be sold living in pots. To increase your profits, you can also process your lavender into a wide range of products including essential oil, scented pillows and sachets, lavender-scented soap, lavender lotion, lavender massage oil, lavender perfume, lavender shampoo, lavender-scented cleaning products, and much more. Use your imagination. Lavender can be used to add scent to almost any home, cleaning, or personal product. Lavender can also be used to flavor foods including lavender butter, honey, ice cream, and lavender flavored beverages.
  6. Lavender attracts good insects and repels bad insects- Lavender helps to attract honey bees and butterflies into your garden. The benefit is these creatures are pollinators. As they drink your lavender’s nectar, they’ll transfer pollen between plants. While they’re in your garden, they’ll help to pollinate your other plants as well. Lavender also naturally repels annoying insects such as mosquitoes, ticks, moths, fleas, flies, and deer. These creatures dislike the smell of the natural oil in the lavender. Growing lavender keeps these annoying pests away from your garden.
Lavender attracts bees, which can pollinate your other plants.

The Best Climate for Growing Lavender

Before you start attempting to grow lavender, you’ll want to make sure you live in the right climate. Lavender can be grown in most places but not everywhere.

Lavender is native to the Mediterranean region. It requires a similar climate in order to thrive. Lavender tends to grow well in plant hardiness zones 5-9. 

Lavender likes hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters. It needs full sun in order to grow well. Lavender needs a cool winter to produce healthy flower heads during the summer.

Lavender can have trouble growing in humid environments. It doesn’t like too much moisture. When grown in a high-humidity area, lavender is susceptible to certain fungal diseases. If you live in a humid area or your soil doesn’t drain well, you may have trouble growing lavender.

You can reduce the likelihood of fungal diseases developing by spacing your lavender plants a bit further apart. This allows for better air circulation. This makes it harder for the fungus to survive. If you live in an area with very humid summers and warm winters, lavender probably isn’t the best crop for your land.

Lavender plants grow in a wide range of climates. They require well-draining soil. You usually don’t need fertilizer or a fancy irrigation system to grow lavender.

Lavender can be grown in most of the U.S. It grows better in some microclimates than others. For whatever reason, it tends to grow well near large bodies of water. Farmers have had success growing lavender in the Great Lakes region. 

If you’re unsure about whether or not you can grow lavender where you live, look at a plant hardiness zone map like the one linked above. If you live in zone 5-9, chances are you can grow lavender.

If you live in an area with cold winters, you may still be able to grow lavender if you choose the right species. Some species of lavender are hardier than others. For example, Lavendula augustifolia is one of the hardiest species. I’ll talk more about the different types of lavender later on in this guide.

The Best Soil for Growing Lavender

Having the correct soil texture and pH is important. The best soil texture for growing lavender is sandy loam. Lavender needs well-draining soil to thrive. 

Lavender doesn’t grow well in soil that has too much clay. The reason is that clay soils tend to become saturated with water when it rains. Clay drains slowly. 

Lavender roots can develop root rot disease when they’re exposed to too much water for too long. This disease will kill your lavender. If you live in an area with clay soil, hardpan, or a high water table, you will have trouble growing lavender for this reason.

If your land has poor soil texture, you may still be able to grow lavender by making some amendments to the soil. If your soil has too much clay, you can add some sand to improve the drainage. Alternatively, you could grow your lavender in raised beds* or pots that are filled with well draining soil. 

It would only make financial sense to do this if you’re growing a small amount of lavender like an average-sized garden. You can’t amend acres of land. It would cost far too much to be worthwhile. In this case, you would have to find land with more well-draining soil or choose a different crop that is better suited to your existing soil.

The soil pH is important as well. For growing lavender, the pH should be between 6 and 8. Neutral to slightly alkaline soil is ideal for growing lavender.

 If you’re not sure about your soil pH, you can easily test it. You can buy a soil pH tester at any store that sells garden supplies. You can also buy a soil pH tester online. For example, this SONKIR Soil pH Meter from Amazon would work well.

You can amend your soil if you find that the pH is not ideal. If you find that the soil is too alkaline (pH greater than 8), you can reduce the pH by adding sulfur. If you find that the soil is too acidic (pH lower than 6), you can increase the pH by adding lime.

When preparing your soil to grow lavender, you should avoid using too much organic mulch. This can increase the chance of fungus or mold developing. Lavenders is susceptible to mold. You should also consider installing a weed barrier such as landscaping fabric to help keep weeds down.

The Best Lavender Species to Grow on a Homestead

Not all lavender is the same. In fact, there are over 40 different species of lavender. These species can be further divided into over 400 different varieties. 

Even though many types of lavender exist, only a handful are grown commercially. The three most common types of lavender that are cultivated commercially include Lavendula augustifolia (English lavender), Lavendula stoechas (Spanish lavender), and Lavendula x intermedia (a hybrid lavender).

The best type of lavender to grow on your small farm or homestead depends on a number of factors including the products you plan to make, the climate, and your soil quality and texture. 

When choosing what type of lavender to grow, first you’ll want to consider what you’re planning on doing with the lavender after you harvest it. Every species of lavender has its own unique qualities. Some produce better quality essential oil than others. Some offer better flavor or fragrance for cooking. Others offer a nicer appearance for bouquets, landscaping, and flower arrangements.

Next, you’ll need to take your climate, soil texture, and soil pH into consideration when deciding which type of lavender to grow. Some species are hardier than others. Some grow better in specific microclimates than others. If your soil or climate isn’t ideal for growing lavender, you’ll want to choose a species that will grow best in your region. 

Of course, you’ll also want to take profitability into consideration. Some types of lavender are more valuable than others. Choose the variety that can make you the most money. 

A few of the best types of lavender to grow on a small farm or homestead include:

  • Lavendula augustifolia (English lavender)- This is, by far, the most common and popular species of lavender grown around the world. English lavender grows best in climate zones 5-9. It prefers warm summers with long daylight hours and not too much heat. This species is very cold-hardy. It can survive cold winters. If you live in a cold climate, this is the best type of lavender to grow. English lavender is incredibly versatile. It has a sweet fragrance, making it ideal for cooking and making essential oil. Several varieties of English lavender are also used as landscaping plants and for fresh and dried bouquets. When most people imagine lavender, this is the plant that comes to mind.
  • Lavandula latifolia (Portuguese lavender, spiked lavender, or broadleaved lavender)- This species of lavender is known for its strong fragrance, making it perfect for essential oil production. It grows best in full sun in well-draining soil. Lavandula latifolia is sometimes crossed with other lavender species to make hybrids. For example, it can be crossed with English lavender to make Lavendula x intermedia, which is another popular type of lavender.
  • Lavendula x intermedia (hybrid lavender or lavandins)- This is a hybrid type of lavender. It is made by crossing Lavendula augustifolia (English lavender) with Lavandula latifolia (Portugese lavender). Crossing the two lavender species creates a large, pungent plant with long flower spikes. This hybrid flowers late in the season. It is commonly grown for essential oil production. Lavendula x intermedi is preferable for essential oil because yields are high. In fact, the hybrid plants can yield up to 5x more oil than regular English lavender. This type of lavender has a particularly strong fragrance.
  • Lavendula stoechas (Spanish lavender or topped lavender)- This unique species of lavender can be identified by its cylindrical flower head with purple leaves extending from the tops. Spanish lavender is commonly used for ornamental purposes. Particularly in flower arrangements. This species of lavender blooms early in the season. The flowers last all season long. Spanish lavender is one of the least hardy types of lavender. It grows best in habitable zones 7-10. It can tolerate some humidity. If you live in a cool climate, you may only be able to grow Spanish lavender as an annual. It often dies off in the winter. Lavendula stoechas is referred to as Spanish lavender or topped lavender.
  • Lavandula dentata (French lavender)- This species of lavender can be identified by its needle-shaped leaves. The flowers are a beautiful bluish-purple color. French lavender has a more mild fragrance than English lavender. It is popular in landscaping. French lavender grows best in mild and temperate regions in well-draining pots, flower beds, and rock gardens. It grows best in habitable zones 5-10.

How to Choose the Most Profitable Type of Lavender to Grow

The most profitable type of lavender to grow depends on what types of products you want to sell. If you want to produce essential oil, you’ll grow a different type of lavender than if you want to sell fresh lavender. 

You will also need to consider the climate you’re growing in. The climate can affect the type of lavender you can grow as well as productivity. This affects your profitability. You want to choose the most productive lavender for your climate zone. 

It’s also important to consider yield. Different lavender varieties have different yields. That means how much product you get from each plant. For example, if you plan to produce essential oil, look for varieties that have a high essential oil yield per plant.

Also, consider disease, fungus, and pest resistance. Lavender can be susceptible to some diseases and pests, so it’s important to choose varieties that are resistant. How much you have to worry about this depends on where you live.  

For most small-scale farmers, the most profitable type of lavender to grow will be either Lavendula augustifolia (English Lavender) or a hybrid variety such as Lavender x intermedia. These are two of the more common varieties. They are also relatively hardy and easy to grow. 

If you intend to produce lavender oil, the most profitable type of lavender to grow will be Grosso. This is, by far, the most widely grown type of lavender around the world. Grosso is a French hybrid lavender. It features an incredibly high oil content. It yields as much as 5x more oil than English lavender. Grosso lavender grows in a dome shape. It measures about 3 feet high when fully grown. It has purple flowers that grow on long stems.

Another excellent type of lavender for oil production is called Super lavender. This is another hybrid variety. Super lavender is commonly used for making soaps, lotions, and aromatherapy products. This variety features a light and sweet aroma. It produces large flowers with green foliage.

If you intend to use your lavender for any purpose other than making oil, you’re probably best off growing some variety of English lavender. Buena Vista lavender would be a good option. This productive lavender can bloom twice per year when grown in the right region. You can expect one bloom in late spring and another in the fall. This second bloom can greatly increase your profitability. Buena Vista lavender features purple flowers, a 12 inch stem, and a strong fragrance.

If you live in a cooler climate, the Folgate variety of English lavender is a good option. This lavender produces a good yield. It can be used for making lavender oil.

Lavender Profitability: How Much Money Can I Make Growing Lavender?

An acre of lavender can earn anywhere between $80,000 and $120,000 per year under ideal conditions. This is assuming you sell your lavender in bundles fresh or dried. It is an incredibly profitable crop. It is possible to increase your earnings by processing your lavender into value-added products such as soaps, essential oil, perfumes, lotions, etc. With as little as 7-8 acres, you could bring in $1,000,000 in revenue on an efficient lavender farm.

Lavender can also be grown profitably on a much smaller scale. If you have a small garden space in your backyard, you could potentially earn a couple of thousand dollars per year growing a few dozen lavender plants. For example, a 20’ x 20’ garden space could produce around 250-300 bunches of fresh lavender per year. Each bunch can sell for $5-$6 at a local farmer’s market. Your small garden could bring in $1250-$1800 per year.

If you have a small farm or homestead, you could earn much more. A quarter acre of land can produce around 3000 bundles of fresh lavender per year. If you sell each bunch for $5-$6, you could gross $15,000-$18,000 per year. That’s a good amount of money for such a small piece of land.

fresh lavender bundles
Selling fresh lavender bundles can be very profitable

How to Increase the Profitability of a Lavender Farm

As you can see, you can make a good profit selling plain fresh lavender all on its own.

Lavender is an incredibly versatile crop. If you’re resourceful and creative, there are dozens of ways to make money with your lavender. In this section, I’ll outline a few of the top ways to add value to your lavender to increase profitability.

First, let nothing go to waste. If you have some unsold bouquets left over, dry them and sell them. Dried lavender is worth less than fresh but it can still be sold. Florists use dried lavender for flower arrangements. Crafters also have various uses for dried lavender.

You can package your dried lavender and sell it online and ship it to your customers. It’s lightweight and travels fine if it’s packed right.

You can also sell living lavender to home gardeners who want to grow their own plants. You can sell 4-6” pots for around $5-$15 each depending on where you live. These sell well at farmer’s markets.

Value-Added Lavender Products

You can also process your lavender into value-added products. This is where the real money is. With a bit of effort, processing your lavender can increase the value by 500-1000%. Some value-added products you can make from lavender and their values include:

  • Lavender oil- Lavender is one of the most popular types of essential oil on the market. It is incredibly profitable and versatile. It is commonly used in aromatherapy products and for medicinal purposes. Many people find that the odor has a calming effect. It is also used as an aromatic ingredient in many soaps, lotions, massage oils, and perfumes. In order to make your own lavender oil, you will have to buy some distillation equipment. This can cost around $1000 to start. Once you have the proper equipment, the process of making lavender oil is pretty simple. Lavender oil can sell for $3-$8 per ounce. You can sell the oil straight or use it to make some of the value-added products outlined earlier such as lavender perfume, massage oil, lotion, etc.
  • Lavender soap- This is one of the best-selling items on most lavender farms. Lavender is perfect for making soap because it has natural antiseptic and antibiotic properties. It also has a sweet and flowery smell that is perfect for soap. Soap is also pretty easy to make. All you’ll need is a soap recipe, some basic ingredients, and a mold. Bar soap is probably more popular but you could make liquid soap as well. The nice thing about soap is that people go through it quickly. People can go through a couple of bars per month. If you make a good quality product, you will get repeat customers. A bar of lavender soap sells for $3-$5.
  • Lavender lotion- Lavender is commonly added to lotion as a fragrance. A bottle of premium lavender scented lotion can sell for $10-$20. 
  • Lavender Perfume- Lavender is a perfume fragrance. It has an incredibly versatile floral odor. A small bottle of lavender scented perfume could sell for $15-$30.
  • Lavender massage oil- Lavender is a popular scent for massage oil due to the calming affect the plant has on many people. A bottle of lavender scented massage oil could sell for $15-$25.
  • Lavender sachets/bags/pillows- You can use dried lavender flowers to make scented sachets, pillows, or bags. You can fill them with pure dried lavender or a mixture of other ingredients. These can be used to add a pleasant lavender fragrance to your closet, drawers, bath, laundry, furniture, bed, your pet’s bed, etc. Lavender sachets or bags can sell for $1-$5 each depending on the design and amount of lavender you use.
  • Lavender scented candles- These can be used to add fragrance to a home or to block pet odors. Some people find that the smell of lavender helps to reduce headaches, insomnia, and other common problems. Lavender creates a soothing and relaxing odor. Other scents can be mixed in as well. A lavender candle can sell for anywhere from $5-$40 depending on the size and quality.
  • Pet products- Lavender fragrance can be used to get rid of pet odors. For example, you could make lavender-scented kitty litter or lavender-scented home spray. A bag of lavender kitty litter could sell for $20-$30 per bag depending on the size. A bottle of home spray could sell for around $10.
  • Lavender honey- This is a premium honey. It is made by bees who use lavender nectar to make honey. In order to make lavender honey, you’ll also need to keep bees. Bees are an excellent crop to pair with your lavender farm. An 8 ounce jar of lavender honey can sell for over $20. This is a pretty rare product. You won’t have any trouble selling it.
  • Lavender flavored foods- Lavender has a sweet and floral scent that can go well with chocolate, tea, lemonade, ice cream, baked goods, and more. If you were to open your lavender farm up to agrotourism, you could sell these treats to visitors for a couple of dollars a piece. Lavender can also go with meats such as chicken. It can also be used to garnish foods.
A lavender sachet
A lavender sachet

Another excellent source of revenue for your lavender farm is Agrotourism. You can invite the general public to tour your farm. During their visit, you could teach visitors about lavender and how it’s used, offer demonstrations, share product samples, take photos, allow visitors to harvest their own fresh lavender, offer classes, offer guided tours, and more. You could also open a gift shop on your farm and sell your lavender products directly to your visitors. Agritourism is becoming an incredibly popular type of tourism around the world. This could be a big money maker if you’re okay with welcoming strangers onto your farm and dealing with the general public.

You could also rent out space on your lavender farm as an event venue. For example, you could host weddings, quinceaneras, bar mitzvahs, concerts, family reunions, and other events. A lavender farm could offer a beautiful atmosphere for such events. You could also open up your farm to hikers, horseback riders, cyclists, campers, etc.

Lavender in the mountains
If you have a beautiful farm, your lavender can bring tourists

Marketing and Branding Your Lavender

Good branding and marketing can significantly increase the profitability of your lavender farm. If you can brand and market the products listed above as high quality, luxury, or premium products, you can get much more money for them.

For example, a mass-produced bar of lavender soap from a major manufacturer might sell for $1-$2 per bar. An identical bar of lavender soap from your small lavender farm could sell for $5 plus if you create beautiful packaging for it and market it as a high-end luxury product. Good branding is crucial in this type of business.

To help with your branding and marketing, consider hiring some freelancers for help. For example, hire a good graphic designer to create a logo for your business and to design labels for your products. Hire a professional photographer to take photos of you, your farm, and your products. Hire a web designer to make you a beautiful website to display your products, sell them, and tell people about your farm. You could even hire a copywriter to write descriptions about your products. Market your products as premium, high quality, and luxury. These branding and marketing expenses can pay for themselves many times over.

Lavender soap
Lavender soap can be an extremely profitable product

Advertising your Lavender Products

If you’re selling your lavender products to the general public online or directly from your farm, you’ll need to do some advertising to bring in customers. A few ways to advertise lavender include:

  • Run ads- If you sell your lavender products online, you can efficiently target customers by running online ads. Social media ads on Facebook and Instagram work well. You can also run ads on Google. The beauty of these types of online ads is that you can target your customers precisely. You can choose to advertise to people with specific interests in your area. Craigslist can also be a good place to run ads to target local customers. It may also be worthwhile running print ads in your local newspaper or in local newsletters.
  • Signs and banners- If you sell directly from your farm, post large signs and banners to let people know that you’re open for business. You can have these signs professionally designed and printed or you can paint them yourself. Make sure they’re big enough for people to read from the road as they drive by. This type of advertising can work well if your farm is located near a busy road. If you sell from a stand at a farmer’s market, have some signs made up and post them on your tent so people know what you have to offer.
  • Coupons and discounts- People love saving money. You could sell bars of lavender soap for $5 each or $20 for 5 bars. You could hand out coupons to customers for a discount on their next purchase. Offer a free bonus. Give each customer who spends $10 or more a free lavender sachet. Create a discount code and print it on flyers.
  • Free samples- Handing out free samples can help generate sales when you sell at a farmer’s market or from your farm. For example, you could offer a free sample of your lavender hand lotion. If you make lavender flavored foods, offer free samples to customers.
  • Word of mouth- Ask your customers to tell their friends and family. Offer discounts to repeat customers or friends and family of customers.
  • Flyers- Design and print out flyers and post them on signposts and bulletin boards around your city. You could also partner with local businesses and place your signs on their window.
  • Business website- Create a website with general information about your business such as the location, phone number, prices, your backstory, etc. You could offer coupons on your website as well.

Where to Sell Lavender

To maximize your profits, you’ll want to sell as much of your lavender as possible directly to your consumers. This way, you get to keep more of your profits. You’re not paying a middleman like a retailer or a wholesaler.

The best place to sell your lavender will be a farmer’s market. Sign yourself up for your local weekend farmer’s market, set up a nice display table with all of your products, and sell directly to local consumers. You could also try your luck at flea markets. It’s a good idea to sell a mixture of products including fresh lavender, dried lavender, lavender oil, soaps, candles, sachets, and whatever other products you make. 

You can also sell your products directly from a shop on your farm or from a roadside stand. This can work well if your farm is located on or near a busy road. Make some large signs that drivers can see as they pass your farm. Set up a nice shop with all of your products on display. This can be more profitable than a farmer’s market because you won’t have to pay market fees.

If you produce more lavender than you can sell at a farmer’s market, you can sell to retailers. For example, you can sell lavender to florists, craft shops, and to chefs or local restaurants. You could sell your lavender products such as essential oil, soap, lotion, etc. to high-end retail stores. If you grow a large amount of lavender, you can sell it to wholesalers.

It’s also possible to make money by providing a service. As outlined above, agrotourism can become an incredibly profitable part of your business. You could make money giving tours, taking photos, renting event space, etc. You don’t even have to sell any lavender to make money.

A farmers market
Your local farmers market is a great place to sell your lavender

How to Grow Lavender

Lavender is a fairly easy plant to grow. Before you go out and buy lavender plants, take some time to research each type of lavender. You want to choose the best one for your climate. Also, consider what kinds of products you’re going to make with your lavender. In this section, I’ll outline how to grow lavender, step-by-step.

Prepare your Soil

Before planting your lavender, check your soil texture and pH. Lavender likes sandy loam soil with good drainage. If your soil has too much clay or poor drainage, amend it by adding some sand. 

Also, test your soil’s pH. Most species of lavender prefer the pH to be neutral to slightly alkaline. A pH of somewhere between 6 and 8 is ideal. If your soil is too alkaline, add some sulfur. If your soil is too acidic, add some lime.

If the natural soil in your yard is poor, consider growing your lavender in raised garden beds. If you’re concerned about weeds, consider installing some landscape fabric. For info on using landscape fabric, check out this great guide.

When preparing your soil, avoid putting too much organic material such as mulch in the soil. This can promote the growth of fungus and mold, which lavender is sensitive to. You do want some organic matter in the soil to provide structure. You may also need to till your soil to loosen it up before you can plant.

For more in-depth info, check out this excellent guide to soil preparation for lavender.

Planting Lavender

Lavender plants grow in large bushes. Depending on the species, you’ll want to leave 2-4 feet between plants and 3-6 feet between rows. In one acre, you can fit around 30 rows of 80 plants, on average. That’s around 2400 plants. Remember, some species of lavender grow larger than others. You’ll want to take this into consideration when planting so you leave each plant has enough room to spread out and grow.

Lavender Propagation

When you’re just starting your farm, you’ll want to buy lavender plants or starts from a wholesaler. As mentioned above, an acre of land can hold around 2400 lavender plants.

Buying lavender plants that are already growing ensures that the plants are healthy and of the species that you want to grow. If you start with seeds, you don’t know what you’re getting until they start growing. You could end up with poor-quality lavender or a completely different species. Seeds sometimes grow slightly different plants than the parents.

You don’t need to buy all of the lavender plants you’ll need to cover your land. Once you have some lavender growing, you can easily propagate it. The best way to achieve this is by taking cuttings, and rooting them, then planting them. Almost all commercial lavender farmers propagate their lavender by taking cuttings rather than planting seeds.

Growing lavender from cuttings ensures that all of the plants will have the same color, oil production, and overall quality. Plants grown from cuttings have the exact same characteristics as the parent plants. They are clones. If you grow lavender from seeds, there are no guarantees. The plant’s characteristics could change slightly from one generation to the next.

Most farmers take their cuttings at the same time that they harvest their lavender. This is also the same time that the plants are trimmed back. 

When taking cuttings, choose healthy and straight stems that have good color and no buds. Use a sharp knife to cut the stem so it’s 3-4 inches long. Try to cut below a leaf node.

Place the cuttings so the cut end is 2 inches deep in a mixture of 50% sandy soil and 50% pearlite. You can place multiple cuttings in the same pot. The cutting should root in 2-5 weeks depending on the type of lavender. After the cuttings root, plant the starts in the ground.

For more info, check out this guide to lavender propagation.

Lavender Maintenance

Lavender is an easy crop to maintain. It generally doesn’t need fertilizer. Lavender prefers nutrient-poor soil. 

Lavender also doesn’t need much water. It is a drought-tolerant plant. It only needs to be watered every 2-3 weeks in most climates. If it’s particularly hot and dry, you might need to water it a bit more frequently. 

How to Harvest Lavenders

Because lavender is susceptible to mold, it’s best to harvest when it’s as dry as possible. Never harvest your lavender after a rainstorm or early in the morning when it’s covered in dew. At the same time, you don’t want to harvest your lavender when it’s too hot. This can lead to oil loss.

The best time of day to start your lavender harvest is the late morning after all of the dew has evaporated away. You can harvest until early afternoon. When it starts getting too hot, stop the harvest for the day.

The ideal time of year to harvest your lavender depends on how you’re planning to sell it. If you’re planning to sell your lavender fresh or dried, you should begin harvesting as soon as the first blooms start opening up. This could be anywhere from early spring to late summer depending on the climate and type of lavender you’re growing. Harvesting when the flowers just start to bloom ensures that you’ll have fresh and healthy lavender to sell to your customers.

If you plan to use your lavender for any other purpose, it’s best to harvest between mid-June and late July. If you plan to process your lavender into oil, you can harvest it up to a month after the flowers bloom.

The harvest is the most physically demanding part of the lavender growing process. Most growers harvest their lavender by hand with simple pruning sheers. This is the most cost-effective option. 

If you’re growing more than a couple of acres of lavender, it may be worth the cost to buy special harvest equipment. Alternatively, you may need to hire some employees during harvest season to help you out.

How to Dry Lavender

After harvesting the lavender, group it into bunches. Ideally, the bunches should measure around 2cm in diameter. This ensures that the lavender will dry evenly and efficiently. Bind the base of the stems of each bunch together with a sturdy rubber band.

Hang the bunches upside down in a drying area. Your drying area should be dry and dark. It should also offer good ventilation. This reduces the risk of mold developing. You should hang your bunches to dry as soon after harvest as possible to prevent the flowers from fading. Leave the bunches hanging until they’re completely dry.

How to Make Lavender Oil

Oil is extracted from lavender through the process of steam distillation. This process creates both lavender essential oil as well as a lavender hydrosol (also known as lavender linen water, floral water, lavender mist, or lavender spray.) The lavender essential oil is the fat-soluble part of the plant. The lavender hydrosol contains the water-soluble parts of the plant.

Distillation is a somewhat complicated process. Some specialty equipment is required. Lavender essential oil is made by heating lavender with pressurized steam. This causes oil glands in the plants to burst. The oil evaporates away with the steam. 

The oil and steam pass through tubing and into a condenser. Cold water cools the steam and condenses it back into liquid. This liquid is a mixture of essential oil and hydrosol. The essential oil raises to the top. The oil is then separated from the hydrosol.

A still is a fairly expensive piece of equipment. You can purchase basic tabletop models for around $1000-$2000. Larger models are significantly more expensive. 

For more in-depth instructions on making lavender oil, check out this great article.

Lavender essential oil has a wide range of uses. It can be used as a calming sedative to treat anxiety or depression. It can be used as an antibiotic, antiseptic, or anti-inflammatory medication. It can also be used to treat nausea, allergies, insomnia, hair loss, and various other ailments. Lavender oil can also be used as a base for various value added products such as lotions, soaps, perfumes, shampoos, etc.

Lavender hydrosol also has a number of uses. It can be used to make room freshener sprays, various cleaning products, aromatherapy products, and more. For more uses for lavender hydrosol, check out this article. 

How Long Does Lavender Take to Grow?

Lavender is a somewhat slow growing plant. Especially during the first year. If you plant your lavender in the spring, it may bloom during the first year but the plant won’t be large enough to harvest. By the second year, you should get a small harvest.

On average, a lavender plant takes around 3 years from the time you plant a 4” cutting or start until you can make your first full harvest. Your lavender plants won’t reach their peak productivity until they’re around 5 years old.

Each lavender plant produces for 8-10 years in total before it needs to be replaced with a younger plant. You’ll want to keep track of the age of your lavender plants and plan ahead so you have an appropriate number of cuttings to replace your plants older with. It’s a good idea to make cuttings and plant some new plants every year so you always have mature plants to harvest. 

As you can see, growing lavender is a long-term commitment. You can’t just plant some lavender plants in the spring and harvest them in the fall. They take years to mature until they start producing reliably. After your crop is established, you’ll have lavender to harvest every year. 

How Much Land Do I Need to Grow Lavender?

Growing lavender can be profitable on an incredibly small scale. In fact, it’s possible to make money growing lavender in an average sized backyard. You could plant a few dozen lavender plants in a 10’ 20’ backyard garden and produce around 150 bunches of lavender. If you were to sell these at your local farmer’s market, you could bring in $750-$1000 per year. This would work well as a proof of concept. 

With a quarter acre of land, you could produce around 3000 bunches of lavender. These could sell for $15,000-$18,000. That’s would be a pretty good side hustle for someone who lives on a big lot or has a small chunk of land. You could increase your profit if you put in a bit of effort making value-added products.

Many small nurseries grow only lavender and make a good business out of it. With an efficient grow operation, good marketing, and quality products, it would be possible to make a full-time income growing lavender and selling lavender products with just a 1-2 acres of land. A single acre could bring in over $100,000. That would make for a profitable small business for a family to operate.

An efficiently run 8-10 acre lavender farm could potentially bring in over $1 million dollars per year in revenue. This revenue would come from a mix of fresh and dried lavender, lavender oil, value added products, agrotourism, and more. There are lots of ways to monetize a lavender farm. Running a lavender farm of this scale would be a larger business with employees. 

Lavender doesn’t require acres of land. You could make a decent profit growing lavender on 1/2 acre

Costs of Growing Lavender

The costs of running a small lavender growing operation are pretty low. Lavender doesn’t need much fertilizer or water. It can be harvested by hand without any special equipment. If you’re just growing part of an acre, you could easily harvest and sell the lavender by yourself. In this section, I’ll outline the main costs of growing lavender.

Land

The biggest initial cost of starting a lavender farm will be land. The cost of land varies greatly by region. The average cost of an acre of land in the U.S. is around $12,000. In rural areas, prices are lower. Near cities, prices are far higher.

Your land will need to be located in a suitable climate zone for growing lavender. The soil will also need to have the proper qualities for lavender cultivation. You’ll want to check this while doing your due diligence. 

If you don’t have any land or can’t afford to buy land, you could try to arrange a sharecropping agreement with a landowner. In this type of agreement, you would grow the lavender on someone elese’s land and share the profits with them. There is generally no upfront cost for the land. You will be responsible for all farming labor and related expenses. A 50/50 agreement is common. Your profit will be lower but you won’t have to buy land.

Land Preparation Cost

After obtaining land, you’ll have to prepare the land before you’re ready to plant. The cost really depends on the condition of the land, the quality of your soil, and the infrastructure you want to add.

If you start with decent farmland, the preparation cost will be minimal. Before you can start planting, you may need to clear your land of weeds, trees, or natural plants. You’ll also need to till to loosen up the soil. If you’re able to do this work by yourself, you can save a good amount of money on labor. If you’re just starting a small lavender farm, you can do this work with simple hand tools.

If you need to amend your soil to change the pH, soil structure, or level of nutrients in your soil, you might need to spend some money. Other potential expenses include building an irrigation system or laying landscaping fabric. On average, expect to spend around $3000-$5000 per acre to prepare your land.

Buying Lavender Starts

If you’re buying in bulk, you can buy lavender starts or plugs for around $0.75-$1.50 each depending on the type of lavender and how many you buy. An acre of lavender can hold around 2400 lavender plants. Expect to spend around $1800-$3600 per acre buying lavender plants.

Of course, you don’t have to buy all of your lavender plants. When you’re starting out, you can just plant a portion of your land. After your plants mature, you can take cuttings, root them, then plant your own lavender starts. Lavender is easy and cheap to propagate. 

This allows you to expand your farm much more affordably. The only cost will be soil and pots to grow the starts in. You can save a good amount of money this way if you’re not in a hurry. 

It’s also important to keep in mind that lavender starts are a one-time cost. The plants should produce for around 8-10 years. After your original plants get old and stop producing quality product, you can replace them with your own cuttings that you have rooted. 

If you take some cuttings and grow lavender starts every year, you’ll never have to buy new plants. You can even sell your starts if you produce too many. This is an other revenue stream. 

Fertilizer

If your soil is of decent quality, you don’t have to fertilize your lavender at all. When you first plant your lavender, applying a bit of nitrogen fertilizer can speed up its growth and give you a head start. 

Nitrogen fertilizer costs around $80-$100 per acre. Once the plants are established, they don’t require fertilizer.

Harvest

Lavender can be harvested with simple pruning equipment such as shears. You can buy a decent pair of pruning sheers for less than $20.

If you’re growing several acres of lavender, you may need to purchase specialized harvesting equipment. This could cost tens of thousands of dollars. Most small-scale lavender farmers simply harvest by hand.

Labor

Your labor cost depends on the size of your operation, how much time you have to spend, and how much work you’re capable of doing on your own. 

If you grow an acre or less of lavender on a small farm or homestead, you could do all of the work by yourself including prepping the land, planting, watering, harvesting, and processing. 

Lavender is pretty easy to grow. It doesn’t require much work after it’s planted. The most labor-intensive part of the process is the harvest. If you can do all of the work by yourself, your labor cost will just be your time.

If you’re farming multiple acres, you will need to hire some help. Particularly during harvest time. Labor cost varies by region. On average, expect to pay around $15 per hour for farm labor. 

Exactly how much labor you need depends on the size of your farm and how you’re processing your lavender. If you’re just drying it, you won’t need much labor. If you’re planning to process it all into lavender oil and than make cosmetics, you’ll need more labor. 

Legal Requirements to Consider When Starting a Lavender Business

Starting a small lavender farm is pretty straightforward. That said, there will be some red tape to deal with. A few legal requirements to consider before you can start your lavender business include:

  • Licenses and permits- You’ll probably need to get a business license to sell your lavender legally. Depending on where you live, you may need a license from both your state or province and city. You’ll want to check with your city to see which licenses you’ll need.
  • Tax- You may need to collect sales tax from your customers. You’ll forward this tax to your local government. You may also need to pay income tax on your earnings if your lavender business turns a profit. You may need to pay estimated tax throughout the year. The taxes you have to pay depend entirely on the jurisdiction where your farm is located and where you sell your products. You may need to consult a CPA or tax attorney to determine which taxes you have to pay. 
  • Safety regulations- You may need to follow certain safety regulations on your farm. For example, if you operate in the U.S., you’ll need to follow OSHA safety protocols. If you produce an edible product, you may need to prepare it in a commercial kitchen. If you produce a cosmetic product, you may need to include a label with the ingredients and safety warnings. If you produce a medicinal product, there may be regulations that control how you are allowed to manufacture and market your product. You’ll want to research safety regulations in your region and follow them so you don’t get fined and so you don’t injure anyone with your product. 
  • Insurance- If you have employees, you may need worker’s compensation insurance. This can protect you and your business if an employee gets injured on your farm. You may also need to insure your farm as well. You might also need business insurance to protect you from lawsuits from customers if your product makes someone sick. 
  • Accounting and taxes- You’ll need to keep track of your income and expenses so you can pay the appropriate taxes on your earnings. You’ll also want to track your finances so you can make appropriate business decisions. For example, if you need to buy a new still for making lavender oil, you’ll need to know how much money you’re earning to determine if you can afford it.
  • Business structure- The business entity you choose can play a role in how you’re taxed and the type of insurance you need. If you’re just growing a bit of lavender in your backyard, you’re probably better off organizing your business as a sole proprietorship or partnership. If you own a larger operation, you may be better off with a corporation or LLC. Talk to your accountant to help you decide.

Final Thoughts About Growing Lavender for Profit

Lavender is an excellent crop for small scale farmers and homesteaders who live in an area with the proper climate and soil conditions. It’s easy to grow. Startup costs are low. Growing lavender can also be extremely profitable. It’s a versatile product. 

Lavender is also in high demand and demand is increasing at double digit rates. There is even a shortage of lavender oil in some regions. Health-conscious people enjoy using products made from natural and sustainable ingredients. Lavender provides excellent chemical-free fragrance, flavoring, decoration, and medicine. You won’t have any trouble selling the lavender that you grow. People love lavender products. 

Best of all, the lavender industry still isn’t dominated by massive corporations. It is possible for small-scale farmers to grow lavender, process it into oil or other value-added products, and sell it locally to earn a nice income. When large corporations take over an industry, it becomes a race to the bottom. That isn’t yet the case in the lavender industry. 

If you don’t want to grow lavender exclusively, it can also make a perfect companion plant. A small patch of lavender on your farm can attract beneficial insects such as pollinators. This can help your other crops. Growing lavender can also be a great way to diversify or augment your income. It can also make an attractive hedge around your property.

Hopefully, this guide has helped you decide whether or not lavender is the right crop for you.

Do you grow lavender on your small farm or homestead? Share your experience and tips in the comments below!

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