Lavender is a very ornamental plant that is often grown in the herb garden and is also grown commercially for its essential oil. There are several named varieties. Has many uses including medicinal, edible, tonics, aromatherapy and more.
Botanical Name: Lavandula angustifolia
Common name: Lavender
Seasonal: Annual or short lived Perennial
Known Hazards: None known
Range: Europe – Mediterranean.
Habitat: Dry grassy slopes amongst rocks, in exposed, usually parched, hot rocky situations often on calcareous soils.
Habit: Shrub Decid/Ever
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.
Lavender is a very ornamental plant that is often grown in the herb garden and is also grown commercially for its essential oil. There are several named varieties.
Not a very long-lived plant, it can be trimmed to keep it tidy but is probably best replaced every 10 years. Any trimming is best done in spring and should not be done in the autumn since this can encourage new growth that will not be very cold-hardy. A good bee plant, also attracting butterflies and moths.
Lavender makes a good companion for most plants, growing especially well with cabbages.
Seed – 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.
Cuttings of half-ripe wood 7 – 10cm with a heel, July/August in a frame. Usually very east, a high percentage will root within a few weeks.
Grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter and plant them out in late spring after the last expected frosts. Cuttings 7cm with a heel succeed at almost any time of the year. Layering.
Fresh Crushed Dried . All parts of the plant are strongly aromatic.
Leaves, petals and flowering tips – raw. Used 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 or dried flowers are used as a tea. The fresh flowers are also crystallized or added to jams, ice-creams, vinegars etc as a flavouring.
An essential oil from the flowers is used as a food flavouring.
Antihalitosis; Aromatherapy; Tonic; Stomachic; Stimulant; Sedative; Nervine; Diuretic; Cholagogue; Carminative; Aromatic; Antispasmodic; Antiseptic.
Lavender is a commonly used household herbal remedy. An essential oil obtained from the flowers is antihalitosis, powerfully antiseptic, antispasmodic, aromatic, carminative, cholagogue, diuretic, nervine, sedative, stimulant, stomachic and tonic. It is not often used internally, though it is a useful carminative and nervine. It is mainly used externally where it is an excellent restorative and tonic – when rubbed into the temples, for example, it can cure a nervous headache, and it is a delightful addition to the bathwater. Its powerful antiseptic properties are able to kill many of the common bacteria such as typhoid, diphtheria, streptococcus and pneumococcus, as well as being a powerful antidote to some snake venoms. It is very useful in the treatment of burns, sunburn, scalds, bites, vaginal discharge, anal fissure etc, where it also soothes the affected part of the body and can prevent the formation of permanent scar tissue.
The essential oil is used in aromatherapy.
Incense; Pot-pourri; Hedge; Essential; Repellent.
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 flavoring 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. Yields of 0.8 – 1% of the oil are obtained.
The aromatic leaves and flowers are used in potpourri 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 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. There are several varieties, such as ‘Hidcote Variety’, ‘Loddon Pink’ and ‘Folgate Blue’ that are suitable for using as dwarf hedges 30 – 50cm tall.
F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press 1951
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaces in 1992 by a new dictionary (see  ).
Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant’s Edible Plants of the World. Dover Publications 1972 ISBN 0-486-20459-6
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin 1984 ISBN 0-14-046-440-9
Not so modern (1930’s?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
Chiej. R. Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants. MacDonald 1984 ISBN 0-356-10541-5
Covers plants growing in Europe. Also gives other interesting information on the plants. Good photographs.
Launert. E. Edible and Medicinal Plants. Hamlyn 1981 ISBN 0-600-37216-2
Covers plants in Europe. a drawing of each plant, quite a bit of interesting information.
Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 – 4 and Supplement. Murray 1981
A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.
Holtom. J. and Hylton. W. Complete Guide to Herbs. Rodale Press 1979 ISBN 0-87857-262-7
A good herbal.
Bryan. J. and Castle. C. Edible Ornamental Garden. Pitman Publishing 1976 ISBN 0-273-00098-5
A small book with interesting ideas for edible plants in the ornamental garden.
Genders. R. Scented Flora of the World. Robert Hale. London. 1994 ISBN 0-7090-5440-8
An excellent, comprehensive book on scented plants giving a few other plant uses and brief cultivation details. There are no illustrations.
Plants for a Future is a charitable company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales. Charity No. 1057719, Company Reg No. 3204567, Reg. office 24 Lerryn View, Lerryn, Lostwithiel, Cornwall, PL22 0QL.