3 Plant Alternatives to Lavender

Originally, when I created my garden in Bend, Oregon, I envisioned creating a sea of lavender in one, long row visible from my kitchen & dining room.  And I did plant lavender ~ but the problem was, it never really took off in my Zone 6 garden: it just didn’t flourish.  And even though lavender is a perennial, mine didn’t come back the second year.  So, I had to plant something else….& I ended up discovering very similar-looking plants that perform MUCH better & are far easier to care for than lavender.  Here, we’ll take a look at “3 Plant Alternatives to Lavender,” two of which are drought-tolerant & ideal for low-water landscapes!

3 Plant Alternatives to Lavender, Girl Who Gardens

There are few things dreamier in a landscape than a sea of lavender…but it can be challenging to grow.

If you’re looking for lavender-landscape inspiration: check out this article on the stunning lavender fields in the South of France….

Catmint

Purple Salvia

Russian Sage

3 Great Plant Alternatives to Lavender

1. Catmint

Catmint is also called Walker’s Low, & this plant has absolutely THRIVED in my Zone 6 garden.  I never fertilize them; I never give them extra water (some of my catmint are in sprinkler sections, others on drip lines), & nonetheless: they THRIVE.  Once established, they require very little water, & can grow 2-3 feet tall & wide.  Catmint are perfect for drought-tolerant gardens, & are hearty in Zones 4-8. 

For a deeper dive into catmints & how to care for, read this article.

3 Flower Alternatives to Lavender, Girl Who Gardens

These two catmint in my front yard absolutely LOVE being in full, morning sun (about 8+ hours in the summer). Catmint is especially great because it chokes out & hides weeds almost completely!

Best Companion Plants for Catmint, Girl Who Gardens

Purple catmint behind white salvia makes for a stunning combination…

2. Purple Salvia

Salvia is one of the most-used, prolific plants in existence: my mom successfully grows it in her scorching hot Palm Springs garden ~ while many varieties also thrive in my cooler, Zone 6 garden.  I’ve planted “May Night,” “Mystic Spires,” “Wood Sage,” & “Violet Profusion,” & so far: they’ve all come back in the second year, heartier than the first.  Purple salvia is typically a deeper shade of purple than the softer hues of lavender, but its upright form is SO similar ~ few people will be able to tell the difference. 

Salvias are hardy in garden zones 4-10, but check your specific variety for hardiness in your zone.

3 Great Plant Alternatives to Lavender, Girl Who Gardens

Purple salvia is a deeper shade of purple than soft lavender, but its upright look is very similar.

3 Plant Alternatives to Lavender, Best Companion Plants for Catmint/Walker's Low, Girl Who Gardens

Here, we see purple salvia mixed with catmint peeking thru ethereal ornamental grasses…

3 Great Plant Alternatives to Lavender

3. Russian Sage

I’ve saved the best for last: Russian sage is my personal favorite lavender alternative.  It has a near-identical, light-purple color, & in the right, warm conditions, it can grow up to 3 feet tall, making a stunning backdrop for roses, foxgloves, salvias, or lower annuals.  Similar to catmint, once a Russian sage is established, it needs VERY little water.  This is a great choice for drought-tolerant or xeriscape gardens. 

Hardy in zones 4-9, Russian sage works in all but the coldest of climates, & really hits its stride from July all the way through the first frost in fall ~ giving it a much longer growing season than lavender, which typically blooms in July & August only.

3 Flower Alternatives to Lavender, Girl Who Gardens

Russian sage is my favorite lavender alternative: & it LOVES the heat of summer. This is a great choice for full-sun, warm gardens ~ Russian sage will thrive there.

3 Plant Alternatives to Lavender

I hope you’ve enjoyed this article on plants that give you the look of French lavender ~ but are far easier to grow, & have a much longer bloom season.  If you have any questions about how to grow any of them, please ask in the comments below!

And for great companion plants for these purple gems, try some deep pink David Austin Roses are towering foxgloves….

xoxo Noelia

Read Next: How to Create a French Country Garden

Foxgloves

Native Grasses

David Austin Roses