Herbaceous, perennial, evergreen plant, native to the Mediterranean basin. It has silvery leaves, very perfumed, narrow and elongated; in summer it produces many flowers, small and fragrant, grouped in spikes. Most of the varieties are resistant to the cold and are used in the garden, as hedges or to form large bushes. If desired, it can be cultivated in wide pots, keeping in mind that it is a fast growing plant, which grows even up to one metre and more.
The most common varieties are Lavender angustifolia, also called English lavender, very fragrant and with reduced floral ears; Lavender toothed, with light flowers and resinous smell; Lavender wool, with white leaves covered with down and very large floral ears.
Calocephalus brownii [Vaso Ø12cm]
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It is a rustic plant, which resists the heat of the hottest summer and the cold of the coldest winter, even if in cases of intense and persistent frosts it is advisable to repair it with non-woven fabric. It particularly likes sunny and very well ventilated positions. Being a Mediterranean plant, lavender is particularly resistant in environments characterized by a dry climate and high temperatures.
Family and gender
Labiatae, gen lavandula with more than 25 species
Type of plant and bearing
Evergreen shrub in general
Rustic or semirustic
Well-drained and calcareous soils
Blue, purple, pink, white, lilac
From the end of spring to the end of summer
- Of Mediterranean origin, lavender is a large evergreen shrub, up to a couple of meters high, with leaves of the typical silver-grey color, and lavender-colored summer flowers, or lilac-blue, gathered together in the…
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The name lavender seems to derive from Latin and refers to the ancient custom of inserting the flowers of this plant in the water for the bath in order to perfume it. It is a plant native to the Mediterranean basin and includes about 25 species. In Italy, Spica Lavender, True Lavender, Latifolia Lavender, Toothed Lavender and Stoechas Lavender are indigenous. Until a few decades ago in our country was little used for ornamental purposes in gardens.
It was more cultivated for the collection of its flowers. It was also widely used in the perfume industry for the production of essences to be included in perfumes or soaps. In recent times it has been rediscovered because its ability to adapt to poor and dry soils has become valuable.
The lavender needs watering not too abundant and not too frequent, it is better to wait for the soil to dry a little before providing more water, usually prefers to stay a few days dry rather than having a substrate soaked in water. It does not need fertilizers, if you want you can provide some fertilizer at the beginning of the growing season, in April.
Lavender does not like particularly humid environments and does not need abundant and frequent water: for this reason it is advisable not to insist with watering, until the soil appears well dry and ready to be irrigated.
It grows well in any garden soil, provided it is well drained; it prefers calcareous soils.
The lavender plant does not like dry, dry soils, but rather well irrigated soils with clay and alkaline characteristics. The soil does not need to be particularly fertile, but neither does it need to be acidic, in order to encourage the plant to flourish and develop constantly.
In spring, take about 10 centimetres of cuttings, which are to be rooted in a mixture of peat and sand in equal parts; they are to be planted the following year.
At the end of the summer, when the flowering period of lavender ends, it is possible to take 10-15 cm of cuttings from the individual branches, cutting them with a blade or a well-sharpened knife to prevent facets from forming in the tissues.
The removed part should then be immersed in a rhizogenic powder to facilitate rooting and then arrange the cuttings in a peat compound mixed with coarse sand: each cuttings should be combined with a single hole created with a pencil, arranging them well and taking care to compact the soil gently and evenly.
Pests and diseases
If the soil is kept too moist, there is a risk of root rot. Sometimes lavender is attacked by fungi and insect larvae.
The main enemy of lavender is the fungus of Septoria, particularly feared and harmful, as it attacks you leaves at the base: it is noticed through the appearance of light spots on the leaves and can be treated by eliminating infected parts, aerating the environment and trying to eliminate or decrease moisture whenever possible.
In case the disease persists, specific and targeted treatments can be used that act directly at the source through fungicide substances available in centers of the specialized sector.
Essential oil of lavender
Lavender has a particularity compared to many other plants that distinguish it: it is its special essential oil, known for various therapeutic properties, with many benefits: it promotes relaxation, but also acts as an antidepressant and healing.
To obtain it, it is sufficient to use only the flowered tops, obtaining a viscous liquid with a dark green load and an intense smell of grass.
It is recommended to treat states of anxiety, insomnia, agitation, hypertension and nervousness, but also to combat infections or allergies and especially the common and widespread diseases by cooling: in these cases it is recommended to use the oil by inhalation.
Particularly suitable also for the influences of children who can be cured through a simple massage on the neck or chest or by spreading a few drops of the essence on the pillow.
Under this name are brought together the species that were called “true” and “spica”. They are plants native to the Mediterranean. They are dense, branched evergreen shrubs with square stems. The leaves are covered with a thin down which gives the whole a silvery appearance.
The leaves are linear, 3-5 cm long and 3-5 mm wide. The flower stems rise on the plant and bear groups of flowers usually lilac or blue (but today there are also pink and white cultivars).
The whole plant is perfumed, even if the flowers are more intensely so.
There are tall varieties (even 1.5 metres) and more compact varieties (35-40 cm) that can be used for different purposes.
All of them, however, are very rustic (they can even stand -15 degrees), like limestone soils, poor and very well drained.
Varieties that were once classified as “real” have leaves more on the green and less silvery.
This category includes the dwarf lavender “blue hidcote” has been in great demand lately for its compactness, adaptability and abundance in blooms.
The most common lavender in gardens, however, is the grey edge: it is very widespread because it is very vigorous and has the advantage of creating hedges quickly. It is also true, however, that it soon tends to become very woody at the base and therefore rather unsightly.
Other cultivars: alba, rosea, alba compacta, Munstead Dwarf, hidcote pink.
This species differs from angustifolia in the abundant silvery down covering its leaves. It is equally rustic and prefers stony and poor soils.
Lavender x Intermediate
It is a hybrid between angustifolia and latifolia. It is usually medium-large in size and very vigorous.
It is the most used variety for the production of essences and is that cultivated in open field in the Midi of France, where it is commonly called “lavandino”. It is very fragrant and robust.
The most common lavender in gardens is an intermediate x: the grey edge. It is very popular because it is very vigorous and has the advantage of quickly creating hedges. It is also true, however, that it soon tends to become woody at the base and therefore rather unsightly.
Other cultivars are: Sabine, Hidcote Giant, Hidcote White, Provence.
It is widespread in Italy, Spain and North Africa. It has opposite leaves, tomentose with deeply carved edges.
It is more sensitive to frost and is a plant from mild climates, where it can bloom throughout the year.
Its scent is more intense and similar to rosemary.
It is native to the Mediterranean basin, especially the Tyrrhenian coasts. It has soft, tomentose leaves covered with grey hair. The floral stems have a square appearance and the bracts are very large. It has a strong scent of rosemary.
The flowers are purple, pink or white.
It is not very rustic and needs a siliceous soil, therefore subacid.
From 20-30 cm to 1.5 m
Clayey, well drained, poor
Lilac, blue, white, pink, light blue
Very, very much, the whole plant
About 70-80 cm
Clayey and poor
Lilac and blue
From 70 to 150 cm
Clayey and poor
Lilac, blue, white, pink, light blue
Very, very much, the whole plant
Up to 1 m
Lilac and pink
Up to -5° C
Aroma of lavender and rosemary
From 30 to 80 cm
Siliceous and subacid
Lilac, white, pink, mauve
Up to – 5°C
When to plant lavender
The best time to plant lavender is in autumn or spring.
If we live in a very snowy or rainy area it is certainly better to proceed in spring. In fact, lavenders are particularly afraid of water stagnation and consequently radical rottenness. In some areas of the North they could therefore have problems to take root during a particularly rainy or snowy winter, even providing them with a draining substrate.
If we live in the Centre-South or in a coastal area the ideal is to proceed in autumn, so we will give the plant time to settle down and start to take root. It is necessary to proceed by digging for each pot a hole three times larger than the bread of the earth, insert the plant, insert the earth again and compact it. If the substrate is too heavy, it is advisable to mix it with draining material such as gravel, pebbles and river sand.
It is not absolutely necessary, however, to make a bottom fertilization.
If we carry out the transplant in winter it will not be necessary to water. In spring (and if we decide to proceed in summer) it is essential to intervene at least twice a week (in the absence of rain) for about a month.
Watering and fertilizing
Lavender thrives on dry, poor soil. As a result, apart from the period of rooting, it is practically never necessary to irrigate the plants or even to intervene with fertilizers that, on the contrary, could even compromise their flowering.
Perhaps the only really useful and important intervention to be carried out on the lavender is pruning.
Above all, it is good to act quickly on large varieties such as the Grey hedge that tend to quickly become woody and clumsy, if left to themselves. Pruning should be done in September (but even before if we see that the plant is unsightly). It is necessary to intervene by cutting the plant as low as possible, but avoiding arriving on bare wood (from which it would no longer vegetate). In this way the specimens will become neat, well tended and will last longer in time.
Even with all the best care, however, we will see our plants lose harmony in 8-10 years. At that point it will be time to replace them (and maybe take action in time to get new plants from cutting just for this purpose).
Reproduction by seed is not recommended because it takes a long time to get good sized plants. In addition, almost all hybrids have sterile seeds or give plants that are not very appreciable. The fastest and most reliable system is undoubtedly the cutting. It is necessary to take some segments of semi-woody branch equipped with a bark tongue, long about 7-8 cm and insert them in a very light and humid compound. The best time of year is autumn or spring.
When they start to vegetate, it is important that they are trimmed and prevented from flowering. In this way, they will acclimate well, become stronger and are ready to be permanently planted in about one or two years.
Uses in the garden
Lavender can find different ideal environments. It can be used to create beautiful hedges of all sizes. These have the advantage of requiring very little attention, of blooming, scenting and attracting colorful insects. They are ideal in sunny gardens and perhaps without irrigation systems. Their persistent foliage makes them valuable even in winter.
We can add that their overall coloring is usually on the silvery gray. This brings a lot of elegance to the garden and helps to create interesting colour combinations.
Some dwarf varieties are also excellent for inclusion in formal flowerbeds, in rocky gardens or even in a garden totally dedicated to herbs (which are perfectly matched, especially with thyme, rosemary, santolina and helichrysum). The smaller varieties can also be grown in pots. In this case, it is necessary to pay particular attention to water stagnation (therefore avoid heavy soils and the use of pots).
A very popular variety lately and easy to find by both florists and nurseries is the lavender Hidcote, also known as dwarf lavender, a very special cultivar and extremely pleasant and elegant appearance. It is obviously a perennial very appreciated for its beautiful purple flowers tending to blue and can flower from July until September-October. Hidcote Lavender is an ideal perennial to use for the creation of borders and bushes as it reaches a height of about 50-60 cm when adult.
Like most lavenders, this is a sun-loving plant, very fragrant and very well suited to bucket cultivation in pots and planters. After the winter, it is best to prune this plant sufficiently vigorously to stimulate it to produce a new and intense flowering.
In addition to being a beautiful ornamental plant with a unique scent, lavender is also rich in natural properties and is a great remedy to combat anxiety and stress. Lavender has always been appreciated for its calming and relaxing properties as well as for its aromas that are able to perfume any environment.
There are plenty of ways to use this plant to reap its benefits. Lavender is dried and bagged to perfume the environment, it is cooked and boiled in herbal teas to take advantage of its relaxing and soothing characteristics and finally the essential oils are extracted to produce other products, mainly cosmetics and dethesives, flavoured with lavender.
Lavender oil in particular is used to treat acne and dandruff as well as as soothing on redness and insect bites. In short, learning to cultivate this plant properly can be an advantage not only for the garden and our flowerbeds but also for ourselves.
Price of lavender
The selling price of lavender seedlings can vary considerably depending on the variety we are looking for and the size of the plant. As you can easily imagine, a lavender with a small pot (8-10 cm in diameter) will have a much lower price than a lavender with a pot of 15-18 cm.
As far as the varieties are concerned, on the other hand, the lavender varieties of angustifolia are generally not much cheaper than the stocheas and other more particular varieties.
However, the price of lavender plants generally ranges from 3-4 euros for smaller plants to 9-12 euros for larger plants. When purchasing it is important to remember that lavender is a plant that develops intensely when it is in suitable positions, i.e. exposed in full sun on drained and fertile soils.