Silver foliage and pale lavender flowers, exceedingly fragrant, of Dutch origin.
English lavender is commonly grown as an ornamental plant. It is popular for its colourful flowers, its fragrance and its ability to survive with low water consumption. It does not grow well in continuously damp soil. It is fairly tolerant of low temperatures, generally considered hardy to USDA zone 5.
It tolerates acid soils but favours neutral to alkaline soils. In some conditions it can be short-lived.
The flowering stems, once the flowers have been removed for use in pot-pourri etc, can be tied in small bundles and burnt as incense sticks.
Lavender can be grown as a low hedge, responding well to trimming.
The aromatic leaves and flowers are used in pot-pourri and as an insect repellent in the linen cupboard etc. They have been used in the past as a strewing herb in order to impart a sweet smell to rooms and to deter insects. The leaves are also added to bath water for their fragrance and therapeutic properties.
They are also said to repel mice.
The essential oil that is obtained from the flowers is exquisitely scented and has a very wide range of applications, both in the home and commercially. It is commonly used in soap making, in making high quality perfumes (it is also used in 'Eau de Cologne'), it is also used as a detergent and cleaning agent, a food flavouring etc and as an insect repellent. When growing the plant for its essential oil content, it is best to harvest the flowering stems as soon as the flowers have faded.
Lavender is a commonly used household herb, though it is better known for its sweet-scented aroma than for its medicinal qualities. However, it is an important relaxing herb, having a soothing and relaxing affect upon the nervous system.
Succeeds in almost any soil so long as it is well-drained and not too acid. Prefers a sunny position in a neutral to alkaline soil. Prefers a light warm dry soil. When grown in rich soils the plants tend to produce more leaves but less essential oils.
Established plants are drought tolerant. Plants are very tolerant of salt wind exposure.
When growing for maximum essential oil content, the plant must be given a very warm sunny position and will do best in a light sandy soil, the fragrance being especially pronounced in a chalky soil. Plants are hardy to between -10 and -15°c
Sow spring in a greenhouse and only just cover the seed. It usually germinates in 1 - 3 months at 15°c. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse or cold frame for their first winter, planting them out in late spring after the last expected frosts.
Flowers, Leaves Distilled, Crystallized, Raw as a Condiment, Flavoring.
The leaves, petals and flowering tips may be used fresh as a condiment in salads, soups, stews etc.
They provide a very aromatic flavour and are too strong to be used in any quantity. The fresh flowers are also crystallized or distilled to create an essential oil which can be added to jams, ice-creams, vinegars etc as a flavouring.
The fresh or dried flowers are used as a tea.