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Herb Profile: Lavender

Lavender is beautiful, smells great and easy to grow.  It is one of my favorite smells.  You can use it infused in your teas, as a garnish on your soaps, or simply as fodder for bees.  And super bonus for lavender: It’s a perennial!! Which means you plant it once and you’re done.  It will continue to come back and you can harvest it time and time again.  The roots will continue to grow and harbor an ecosystem that continues to mature.

Variety Selection:

There are many different types of lavender.  I have four planted in my garden: English “Jean Davis” Lavender, French “Boysenberry Ruffles” Lavender, “Grosso” Lavender and “Lady” Lavender.  My Lady Lavender is only grows to a height of 10 inches, while the Grosso Lavender can grow as high as 2 feet.  Lady and Grosso have purple flowers while the Jean Davis has white flowers and Boysenberry Ruffles have reddish-purple blooms.

The point is not to outline the differences in each variety, but to draw your attention to the fact that there are many different varieties that are better for different purposes and different planting zones.

20141229_103057The Grosso Variety has the strongest aroma, while the Boysenberry Ruffles does not have as strong of an aroma.  How do you make sure that you get the best Lavender aroma from your selected plant?  When you are at the nursery, brush the top of the plant and inhale.  You will be able to detect the different intensities of each plant by doing this.

If you want a beautiful blooms, you may want to select a variety that blooms a bit longer.  For example, Jean Davis only blooms in summer, while Grosso and Boysenberry bloom spring and summer.

Buying and Planting Lavender:

I purchased my lavender from a nursery.  They come in little pots and are easily transplanted.  You can plant certain varieties by seed, but you need to start them inside, and only certain varieties do well propagated from seed.  Most other lavender can be propagated from cuttings.  However, lavender is rather cheap to buy and easy to grow.  I will be experimenting with growing lavender from cuttings in the future.

Plant your lavender in a sunny location, in well drained soil.  It’s that simple.  Select a location, dig a hole, put the roots in, cover the roots with dirt.  I also mulch mine down with straw.  I mulch everything with straw, though.  I use straw because it is local and sold by a small, family owned farm.

Two types of Lavender: English Lavender in the foreground and Grosso in the back ground.  They are still green in December.  What a treat!!

Two types of Lavender: Jean Davis Lavender in the foreground and Grosso in the back ground. They are still green in December. What a treat!!

What can Lavender be used for?

Lavender naturally adds beauty to your land while feeding bees and butterflies.

Culinary: You can have lavender infused teas, oils and vinegars. It can flavor cheese, sugar and honey.  It is also a wonderful garnish.

Medicinal: The medicinal uses for this is long: the scent causes a relaxation response in the body, relaxing muscles, while having sedative, anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties.  Lavender is anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-septic.

Other Uses: It can be used in a sachet for your drawers or as an add-in to potpourri.

Lavender is a beautiful addition to any garden, and also works as a companion plant as it repels fleas, moths, whitefly and ticks.  Although the ticks may seek refuge in the  plants just outside the lavender barrier.  The lavender sachets can also repel mice and rabbits!  These qualities make it an ideal companion for:

  • Your Veggies: carrots, leeks and you brassicas (this is your broccoli, cauliflower, cabbages, etc).
  • Your Flowers: Roses love the benefit of the pest repellent from the Lavender.  The Lavender also works as a living mulch, shading and protecting the soil.
  • You Fruit Trees: By bringing in pollinators and repelling the moths and whiteflys, lavender will make your trees happy!!!

I will be adding a lot more Lavender around my property in the coming season.

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