Understanding Lavender’s Potential Use In The Garden

Lavender is an herb and beautiful perennial flower that has seen its interest increase in the last few years.  Large big-box retailers have experienced large sales increases for lavender and have continued to highlight this plant.  Lavender genetics have changed recently which makes the plant easier to grow and it is more readily available.  It is a versatile herb

Growing lavender is fairly easy.  It performs best in well-drained, sandy soil and lots of sunshine.  If you have a Mediterranean climate, the better it would grow.  You can even grow it indoors in containers.  Have you thought about adding lavender to your garden?  With the increased interest, we decided to take a look at how it can enhance your garden. 

Here are 8 ways to use lavender in your garden:

Pest Control – The aroma of lavender makes it more difficult for deer to smell the edible plants in your garden. Grow them around the plants they are interested in eating.

In Your Herb Garden – Lavender is an herb and while many people do not realize this it is a great edible to add to the garden.  Grow lavender for tea or you can freeze it in ice cube trays with water, then use it in your lemonade. You can also cook with it.  Try it in a shortbread recipe or in ice cream. Yum!

Try Them In Your Cutting Garden – Lavender flowers are beautiful and smell wonderful so why not add them to your cutting garden. They are great in an arrangement or just bundle the lavender into a bunch on their own.  Lavender flowers maintain their scent for a long time.

Along A Pathway Edge – Lavender is a heat-loving plant and when the heat reflects through a pathway, it will help it grow.  Plus, when you walk through the pathway and brush against the plant you will activate the aroma of the plants.   

Plant Them In Containers – Grow lavender in a container placed in a sunny location on a patio or deck.  When planting them in a container use one that is 12 to 18 inches deep with a drainage hole in the container.  Plant it with fast-draining potting soil. 

Grow A Lavender Hedge – Lavender is drought tolerant and is a great plant for hedges.  Try growing a hedge of English or French lavender which are taller varieties.  You will have a colorful and fragrant hedge.

Add Them To Your A Pollinator Garden – Lavender attracts bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and other beneficial insects that can help pollinate fruits and vegetables in your garden.

Mass Plantings – Lavender can make an impressive impact when a number of plants are grown together. Just think of all of that color and the amazing aroma that will fill your garden.

Here are some common types of lavender:

English – Lavandula angustifolia – This lavender is the most common on the market.  It is not native to England but is associated with Provence, France, and is actually native to the Mediterranean.  The flowers can vary from blue-purple, lavender, violet-blue, or white pink.  They bloom from early to mid-summer. The narrow foliage is gray-green to green-purple in the summer and silvery green in the winter. Hardy for zones 5-9.

French - Intermedia – This lavender is known to be the most fragrant of all lavenders.  It is a hybrid of Lavandula angustifolia and Lavandula latifolia. Best known for its average maintenance and moderate growth, this shrub will likely liven up your house (or garden) with its gray-green colored leaves and purple flowers.  They are often grown for their oil which is used for bath and body products.  They are not a good lavender for culinary use since they contain more camphor and would have a more medicinal taste.  Intermedia tend to be larger plants in general, so they require a little more spacing than the angustifolia variety. Hardy for zones 5-9.

Portuguese - Lavandula latifolia – Portuguese lavender grows at lower altitudes in France and Spain.  It is also known as Spike Lavender.  The plant has a strong scent and produces profuse blooms from late spring to late summer.  It has coarser foliage and a higher oil content compared to other lavenders.  This oil is used in lavender aromatherapy, perfumes, soaps, and laundry products. This plant’s foliage is different from English Lavender as it has narrow coarser leaves.  It produces blue-gray flowers on long stems.  Hardy for zones 6-8.

Spanish – Lavandula stoechas – Spanish Lavender is also called Butterfly Lavender and is native to the Mediterranean and Northern Africa.  It is grown for its silvery aromatic leaves and used for essential oils and potpourris. They come in pink, purple, and white and are not fragrant. The flower of this lavender is known for its “ears” sprouting from each flower head.  The plant blooms profusely from mid to late summer.  This lavender tolerates humidity and heat better than English lavender. Hardy for zones 8-9.

Fringed – Lavandula dentata – Fringed Lavender has more of an ornamental value compared to the medicinal and cosmetic usage of the other varieties.  It is popular with landscapers as if forms a bushy shrub with gray-green foliage and durable purple blooms. One of the best types for forming into topiary shapes, this is easily pruned to keep a compact size.  The flowers are purple-blue, semi-scented, and grow on spikes above the foliage. This type has bracts sprouting for the flower heads.  Hardy for zones 8-9.

'Meerlo', Platinum - This lavender is one of the most heat and drought tolerant. The plant has year-round beautiful variegated and highly fragrant foliage.  The leaves are pale-gray green and creamy yellow. In the summer, the plant sports pale blue flowers. Try using the dried leaves for sachets and moth repellent. Hardy for zones 9-10.

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