Few sights are as stunning as gazing out on a field of Lavender. Their exquisite color, the soft scent and endless beauty are nothing short of captivating. Though lavender is often used in soaps, oils, and potpourri, and is a popular scent throughout the marketplace, it is often overlooked when selecting these shrubs for a space in your flower garden. The foliage of Lavender makes it a standout statement piece amongst other flowers with it’s silvery or gray-green hues against its conical purple flower heads, making it an ideal fit for your herb or summer garden.
Known to thrive in the Western states, Lavender is best grown as an annual or container plant in the South, as they do not do well in areas of high humidity. Most are hardy from Zones 5 to 9; Spanish Lavender is only hardy in Zones 7 to 9.
Fertilizer/Soil and pH: Supplemental feeding is not necessary, as Lavender prefers a lean soil, although these plants do appreciate an occasional side dressing of compost. Perfect drainage is a must, especially through the winter, as these plants will die in wet soils. A pH close to, or slightly above, neutral is best, so you might want to add lime if your soil has a pH below 7.0.
Pests/Diseases: Both the leaves and flowers of Lavender contain strong essential oils that help to protect it from foraging deer or insect pests.
Harvesting and Using Lavender: Flower spikes have the strongest scent just as the pretty little flowers begin to open. Cut long stems and gather in bunches to dry out of the sun – this will take four to five days in warm weather. Spread stems on a screen or sheet so that the air circulates easily. You can use the stems of fresh or dried flower spikes in arrangements or remove the flowers for sachets and potpourri mixtures.
- The name “lavender” originates from Latin verb “lavare”, which means, “to wash”.
- Lavender was used over 2500 use ago in the mummification process in Ancient Egypt.
- Lavender has antiseptic, antibacterial, analgesic and anti-depressant properties. It is used in the treatment of headaches, insect bites, burns, acne, muscle and joint pains, and insomnia in the folk medicine.
- The essential oil produced from the lavender plant is often used in aromatherapy because it produces a relaxing effect in most people.
- Unlike humans, pests such as mice, flies, mosquitoes and moths cannot stand the smell of lavender. Many people keep bunches of lavender in their homes to repel unwanted pests.
- Lavender can grow as annual (life span: one year) or short-lived perennial (life span: over two years) plant, depending on the species.