Most types of lavender are from the mint, or Lamiaceae family but as with other varieties (below), they do come from other plant families.
All types of lavender are native to the Mediterranean but also grow abundantly in India. In India lavenders are popular in moon gardens. Plants in moon gardens are planted for both light and fragrance. Flowers reflect the moon's glow on summer evenings and other popular blooms include narcissus, lily, phlox, nicotiana, jasmine and gardenia.
Lavenders are mid-season (June through September) long blooming perennial shrubs.
As many flowers, lavender varieties are rich with history. Much of this history includes its use for medicinal purposes. It was known for soothing the stomach to comforting the brain to the heart, referring to different aches.
Today this disinfectant is used for many of the same purposes and other lavender products. It offers visual, aromatic and medicinal effects.
For the gardener many types of lavender are easy to grow while others are an art that needs to be learned. Because of this they are broken down into two types based on their tolerance to frost:
Perennials are hardy enough for most colder climates. If they are a tender variety, colder climates should plant them as an annual. Tender varieties are also popular for container growing where they can easily be brought indoors over winter.
Location is also important. Regardless of hardy or tender, warmer or colder areas, micro-climates make a big difference if a plant survives or not. Examples:
Other great reasons gardeners enjoy growing lavendula shrubs:
All types of lavender are great in warm climates both sub-species and cultivars.
They prefer sunny (no shade), dry soils and hot conditions. They can survive semi-drought conditions, not long droughts though.
Other suggestions for successful growth:
1) Lavandula angustifolia
Known as True, Common and English Lavender.
Synonyms are L. officinalis, Lavandula spica
Known for fragrance in soaps, air fresheners and potpourris.
This is a hardy genus of Lavandula known earlier as L.spica. Blooming mid-summer through Autumn, leaves are a narrow silvery-gray.
Easy to grow and this hardy variety can usually withstand zones 5-8. If shoots are partially killed din winter, prune any dead wood and reshape after last frost in spring. The shrub can struggle in hot climates.
Different types of Lavender angustifolia include:
If purchasing a seed packet these are known for inconsistencies of seed inside. If seeking to plant a border, be aware. Packets usually consist of a medley of L. spica (spike), L. angustifolia and L. vera (cvs).
2) Lavanduala dentata (French lavender),
Lavandula stoechas (Spanish lavender)
Synonym for Spanish - L. delphinensis Hortorum.
These two are often used interchangeably as they are
both very popular drying lavender.
Easy to grow and considered hardy in most areas, these slightly tender evergreen shrubs are more easily damaged by hard frosts. They are considered more tender than L. angustifolia, or English.
They grow early into mid-summer. French has very dark purple, dense heads and Spanish has pink/purple bracts resting atop their stalks. Both French and Spanish flower scents have a hint of pine.
3) Lavandula latifolia & L. spica (Spike)
Known for its pure lavender essential oils with a camphorous benefits, it can take 500 pounds of flowers to produce 1.5 pounds of oil. Leave it to the lavender farms to do that!
Cultivars make a good dry lavender and also are the best for cutting and placing into a fresh flower bouquet.
Overall as a rule of thumb the best dried lavender flowers to use are those with the deepest blue colors as with the L. spica genus. These include:
4) (Limonium latiflium) Sea lavender
aka Statice, syn: Static sinuata. Slightly different is Limonium
sinuatum which is wavyleaf sea lavender.
As its name implies, L. latiflium makes a great seaside plant.
While most types of lavender are from the mint, or Lamiaceae family, Limonium latiflium is from the plumbago (Plumbaginaceae) or leadwort family.
It blooms late summer into autumn and is great for rock gardens. While not very common, it is drought tolerant and works well for front borders, especially planting zones 7-9.
Appearance of Limonium latifliums have a similar effect as baby's breath. It has long, thin stems and pinkish-violet colored flowers are domed clusters. Leaves are a flat rosette of dark green, shiny leaves.
Limonium's take a very long time to get established, especially by seed. They are very sensitive and easily disturbed. Once established the plant flourishes. Plant is subject to crown rot - a soil-borne fungus that can live in the soil indefinitely.
5) (Santiolina chamaecyparissus) Cotton Lavender
aka Santolina, Lavender Cotton
A good salve for bites, potpourris and flower arrangements.
Yet a different family from Lavandula
and the above plumbaginaceae. This
mounding perennial shrub is from the Asteraceae, or daisy and sunflower
family. It grows mid-spring to autumn
in planting zones 6-11.
As with other types of lavender, Cotton is good in rock gardens, as border shrubs and container gardening. Somewhat temperamental, this is also drought tolerant and better in warmer environments. High humidity can cause the plant to wilt.
The is a bushy ever-grey shrupb with thin stalks, button-like yellow flowers and leaves are white and wooly. Common species of Cotton are:
Lavender is Latin from 'Lavare' which means 'to wash'.
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