With over 50 native and cultivated varieties of Lavender in existence, there is a veritable garden’s worth of choice when deciding what kind of Lavender to add to your home or outdoors with your plant friends. With a huge swath of different colors ranging from silver-green to violet and a whole host of wonderful scents, the lavender species is one of the best gifts you can give yourself or a loved one in any season. We explore the five main native branches and some of the most notable of cultivated varieties.
Continue reading to find out:
• Lavender Facts
• English Lavender
• Spanish Lavender
• French Lavender
• Portuguese Lavender
• Egyptian Lavender
• Notable Cultivars
• Grow Your Own
Known in scientific circles as Lavandula, the lavender flower is a part of the Lamiaceae family, better known as mint. It can be found in its native and cultivated form throughout most of the known world, from Europe to Africa, the Mediterranean to Asia. The genus holds close to 50 species. There are both shorter-lived annual varieties of lavender, as well as perennial versions that can live for many years, generally in subshrubs or small shrubs. There is quite a mix of looks to the lavender plant, going anywhere from simple leaf structures to toothed or multiple pinnate. The origin of the name Lavender is thought to stem from the French word lavandre, which itself stems from the Latin word lavare. The flowers are widely used in cooking for their aroma, as well as in many essential oils and perfumes.
Known scientifically as Lavandula angustifolia, it is often called by the name true lavende. The English lavender is commonly found around the Mediterranean area, and not so much within England as you would think by its name. These elegant flowers tend to bloom around the middle of the summer season. They have long stems, grow up to about 3 feet, and tend to grow in clusters. Colors range anywhere from blue to purple, all the way to white and pink. Their foliage has a beautiful gray to purple-green shade depending on the season. They are generally said to have the most pleasing scent and release their perfume if crushed or even brushed against. They can be found in many a wedding bouquet or centerpiece in homes and gardens.
Lavandula stoechas, or Spanish lavender, is another variety. It is found within the Mediterranean and parts of Northern Africa. Generally ranging from pink to violet or purple, this vivid flower has a very amusing set of bracts which give it a rabbit-like appearance. It is smaller than its English cousin, ranging usually between 1.5 to 2 feet tall. The blooming season for this type of lavender happens anywhere between mid-spring to the end of summer. It has a distinctive pine-cone shape. It does not have as much of a fragrance as English ivy, but its foliage is still aromatic enough that it is used quite often in essential oil mixtures. Ideally, it could be planted in large quantities, used as ground cover, or even in container sets.
Lavandula dentata, sometimes called fringed lavender, is one of the hardiest varieties of lavender. It can be found in the eastern and southern parts of Spain. It is resistant to drought and even deer. They have a cone-like shape, resembling a furry bug, with delicate, tiny petals laying on top. They are not as scent-heavy as the English variety, but still have a very pleasing lavender scent mixed with a touch of rosemary. They are ideal for big landscaping projects, due to their needing little maintenance. For those looking for an easy laugh with friends, one of its more amusing cultivated varieties, which is very beautiful is called fathead, and has a nice mix of colors that contrast well with other types of lavender.
Commonly found in the west of the Mediterranean, Lavandula latifolia is our first contender to outperform English lavender in terms of scent. It is a far more distinct, and pungent smelling flower. They tend to have very long stems, which has given rise to the nickname spike lavender, and has fluffy looking petals and tends to be lilac in color. These tend to bloom in early to late spring.
Also found in the western parts of the Mediterranean, Lavandula multifida is very similar to Portuguese lavender. A long, thin stem with pale, purple to lilac-colored petals adorn its head. It has a very strong aroma as well.
One of the more notable cultivated varieties of lavender is known as the Hidcote Giant. It has won awards for its plump, vivid purple coloring, long arching stems, and intensely strong aroma. The edelweiss variety is another popular cultivar, as it grows quite a bit taller than the usual lavender varieties, and is a stunning white color, which looks fantastic when mixed with other darker forms. Provence is another well-known lavender cultivar which is mainly grown in France, this variety is very tolerant to heat and humidity and is planted in large clumps and rows, its pungent smell is very strong which bathes the entire area in its aroma.
Grow Your Own
When thinking of planting your own Lavender, whether indoors or out, it is good to remember to plant them rather shallowly. Ideally, you would try out a few different varieties to see which flourish best in your soil. Lavender tends to do best in a higher Ph soil, ranging anywhere from six to eight. Space your plants wide enough, at least 3 ft, so that they can grow to their maximum height without issue. Lavender plants need an area that receives lots of sunlight, at least six hours worth, and make sure the area drains well. New plants need consistent watering, but you can taper that off after the first year. It is a good idea to prune them in the late fall, removing a few inches of the foliage and leaves to initiate new growth for the coming season.
There are so many native and cultivated varieties of lavender, each equally as beautiful as the next. With their intoxicating aromas and lovely blooms, it would be a wonderful thing to simply plant as much lavender as possible in every home and garden.