I love everything about lavender, from the silvery green leaves to the buzzing bees. Last year I planted several different species of lavender in my garden. They were originally scattered here and there, but this spring I moved several so they are cuddled together. I like the statement they make as a group.
Where to grow lavender
Lavender likes to grow in sunny locations in well-drained soil. It's not a fan of soggy soil, but they survive the wet winters of Portland, for the most part. I lost two lavender plants that were in exposed locations, but if you were in Portland the winter of 2016-2017, you might remember that it was particularly cold, snowy, and icy.
One great spot for lavender is at the top of an herb spiral, where the soil is dry and it can get plenty of sun.
Which to choose
English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) - English lavender grows anywhere form 1-3 feet and is hardy to zones 5-9. The leaves are narrow. English lavender is commonly grown in gardens.
Spanish lavender (L. stoechas) - Spanish lavender grows in zone 7+ and it's smaller than French lavender, measuring in around 18" tall. The flowers of this species are unique with spikes of petals sticking up from the top of the flower cluster, kind of like bunny ears.
French lavender (L. dentata) - French lavender isn't quite as hardy as English. It grows in zones 7+. It gets about 3 feet tall. The leaves are toothed and lance-shaped, a little more dense than English lavender leaves.
In addition to those three species, you can also find a huge range of cultivars and hybrids.
What to grow with it
Lavender looks great with nearly everything. It's silvery foliage and beautiful purple flowers add unique colors and textures to any garden. Try growing it near your vegetable garden, in your herb garden, in a perennial border, or paired with roses for a cottage garden feel.
Encourage rebloom by removing the first flush of flowers. Avoid pruning after late summer to prevent new growth from emerging. Pruning for shape and to remove seed heads is best done in mid- to late spring.
Lavender propagates by layering, seeds, and cuttings.
How to use it
- Bath tea (make a strong tea and pour it into your bath)
- Cut flowers
- Infused oil (external use only)
- Eye pillows
- Infused in honey
- Spray (made with lavender essential oil)
Lavender is one of those plants that does pretty much everything. I include Lavandula angustifolia it in most every landscape design I do, partly because it's so beautiful and also in case of an apocalypse.
Lavender is calming to the nervous system, a disinfectant (for your skin and home), an excellent burn healer, an antidepressant, it helps relieve pain and relax muscles, and it smells amazing!
What are your favorite ways to use lavender? Which species do you prefer to grow?