Garden

Lavender - Lavandula angustifolia


GeneralitŠ°


Herbaceous plant, perennial, evergreen, native to the Mediterranean basin. It has silvery leaves, very fragrant, narrow and elongated; in summer it produces many flowers, small and fragrant, grouped in spikes. Most varieties are resistant to cold and are used in the garden, as hedges or to form large bushes. If desired, it can be cultivated in large pots, bearing in mind that it is a fast-growing plant, which also grows up to one meter or more. The most common varieties are Lavanda angustifolia, also known as English lavender, very fragrant and with small flower spikes; Toothed lavender, with light flowers and resinous odor; Lavender wool, with white leaves covered with down and very large flower spikes.

Exposure


It is a rustic plant, which resists the heat of the most torrid summer and the cold of a more rigid winter, although in cases of intense and persistent frost it is good to repair it with non-woven fabric. It enjoys particularly sunny and very well ventilated positions. Being a Mediterranean plant, lavender is particularly resistant to environments characterized by a dry climate and high temperatures.









































Family and gender
Fam. Labiatae, gen lavandula with more than 25 species
Type of plant and growth habit Shrub in general evergreen
Exposure Sun
RusticitŠ° Rustic or semi-rustic
Ground Well drained and calcareous soils
colors Blue, purple, pink, white, lilac
FloweringFrom the end of spring to all summer
Height 25-75 cm
Culture Easy
PropagationSeed, cutting

Origin



The name lavender apparently derives from the 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 the Lavender Spica, the Lavender vera, the Lavender Latifolia, the Lavender dentata and the Lavender Stoechas are indigenous. Until a few decades ago in our country it 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 inserted in perfumes or soaps. In recent times it has been rediscovered because its ability to adapt to poor and arid lands has become precious.

Watering



Lavender needs watering that is not too abundant and not too frequent, it is better to wait for the soil to dry a little before supplying more water; he usually prefers to stay a few days in the dry rather than having a substrate soaked in water. It does not need fertilizers, if you want you can provide a little 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 to be dry and is ready to be irrigated.

Ground




It grows well in any garden soil, as long as it is well drained; prefers calcareous soils.
The lavender plant does not like arid and dry soils, but rather likes well-watered soils with clay and alkaline characteristics. It is not necessary for the earth to be particularly fertile, but not even acidic, in order to favor a florid and constant growth of the plant.

Multiplication


In spring take cuttings of about 10 centimeters, which must be rooted in a mixture of peat and sand in equal parts; they settle down the following year.
At the end of the summer, when the lavender flowering period ends, it is possible to take from the single branches of the cuttings of 10-15 cm cutting them with a blade or a sharp knife to avoid forming facets in the fabrics. The removed part must then be immersed in a rhizogenic powder to favor rooting and then the cuttings are placed in a peat compost mixed with coarse sand: each cutting should be combined with a single hole created with a pencil, arranging them well and having care to compact the soil gently and evenly.

Pests and diseases


If the soil is kept too wet, there is the risk of causing root rot. Sometimes lavender is attacked by fungi and insect larvae.
The main enemy of lavender is the Septoria fungus, particularly feared and harmful, when it attacks you at the base: it is noticed through the appearance of light spots on the leaves and can be treated by eliminating the infected parts, airing the environment and trying to when possible, eliminate or reduce the humidity present. If the disease persists, specific and targeted treatments can be used that act directly at the source through fungicidal substances available in specialized centers.

The 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 multiple benefits: it promotes relaxation, but also acts as an antidepressant and healing agent.
To obtain it, it is sufficient to use only the flowering tops, obtaining a viscous liquid of 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 fight infections or allergies and above all the widespread and common colds: in these cases it is suggested to use oil by inhalation.
Particularly suitable also for the influences of children that can be treated through a simple massage on the neck or on the chest or by spreading a few drops of the essence on the pillow.

Variety



Lavender angustifolia
Under this denomination are gathered the species that were called "true" and "spica". They are plants originating from the Mediterranean. These are dense and branched evergreen shrubs with square stems. The leaves are covered with a thin hair that gives the whole a silvery appearance.
The leaves are linear, 3-5 cm long and 3 to 5 mm wide. The flower stems rise on the plant and bear groups of flowers in general lilac or blue (but today there are also pink and white cultivars).
The whole plant is scented, even if the flowers are more intensely.
There are high varieties (even 1.5 meters) and more compact varieties (35-40 cm) that can be used for different purposes.
However, they are very rustic (they can even stand -15 degrees), they like calcareous, poor and very well drained soils.
The varieties that were once classified as "true" have more green leaves and less silvery leaves.
To this category belongs the dwarf lavender "Blue hidcote" much in demand lately due to its compactness, adaptability and abundance in the blooms.
The most common lavender in gardens is therefore the gray edge: it is very widespread because it is very vigorous and has the advantage of quickly creating hedges. It is equally true, however, that it tends to become very woody at the base and therefore rather unsightly.
Other cultivars: alba, rosea, alba compacta, Munstead Dwarf, hidcote pink.
Lavanda Lanata
This species differs from the angustifolia due to the abundant silver hair that covers its leaves. It is equally rustic and prefers stony and poor soils.
Intermediate lavender x
It is a hybrid between the angustifolia and the latifolia. It is usually medium to large in size and very vigorous.
It is the most used variety for the production of essences and it is the one grown in full field in the Midi of France where it is commonly called "sink". It is very fragrant and robust.
The most common lavender in gardens is just an intermediate x: the gray edge. It is very widespread because it is very vigorous and has the advantage of quickly creating hedges. It is equally true, however, that it tends to become woody at the base and therefore rather unsightly.
Other cultivars are: Sabine, Hidcote Giant, Hidcote White, Provence.
Toothed lavender
It is widespread in Italy, Spain and northern Africa. It has opposite leaves, tomentose with deeply carved margins.
It is more sensitive to frost and is a plant from mild climates, where it can also flower all year round.
Its scent is more intense and similar to rosemary.
Lavender Stoechas
It is native to the Mediterranean basin, especially of the Tyrrhenian coasts. It has soft, tomentose leaves covered with gray hair. The flower 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.

















































When to plant lavender


The best time to plant lavenders can be autumn or spring.
If we live in a very snowy or rainy area it is certainly better to proceed in the spring. In fact, lavenders particularly fear water stagnation and consequently root rot. In some areas of the North, they may therefore have problems taking root during a particularly rainy or snowy winter, even providing them with a draining substrate. If instead we live in the Center-South or in a coastal area the ideal is to proceed in the autumn, so we will give the plant time to settle down and start rooting. We must proceed by digging a pot for every pot three times as big as the earthen bread, insert the plant, re-insert the earth and compact it. If the substrate is too heavy, it is advisable to mix it with a draining material such as gravel, pebbles and river sand. It is not absolutely necessary, instead, to carry out a basic fertilization.
If we transplant in winter it will not be necessary to water. In spring (and if we decide to proceed in the summer) it is instead essential to intervene at least twice a week (in the absence of rain) for about a month.

Watering and fertilizing


Lavender thrives in dry and poor soils. Consequently, apart from the engraftment period, it is practically never necessary to irrigate the plants or even intervene with fertilizers which, on the contrary, could even compromise their flowering.

Pruning




Perhaps the only really useful and important intervention to carry out on lavenders is pruning.
It is above all good to promptly intervene on varieties as large as the gray hedge which tend to become woody and ungainly, if left to themselves. Pruning should be done in September (but even earlier if we see that the plant is unsightly). It is necessary to intervene by cutting the lowest possible plant, avoiding however to arrive on the bare wood (from which it would no longer vegetate). In this way the specimens will become orderly, well-built and will last longer over time. Even with all the best care, however, we will see our plants lose harmony within 8-10 years. At that point it will be time to replace them (and maybe take action in time to get new cuttings for this purpose).

Playback



Seed reproduction is not recommended because it takes a long time to get good sized plants. Moreover almost all the hybrids have sterile seeds or however they give little appreciable plants. The fastest and most reliable system is undoubtedly the cutting. Semi-woody branch segments provided with a tongue of bark must be taken, about 7-8 cm long, and placed in a very light and moist compound. The best time is autumn or spring. When they begin to vegetate it is important that they are cimulated and prevented from flowering. In this way they will settle well, grow stronger and be ready to be permanently planted within about one or two years.

Use in the garden



Lavender can find several ideal settings. It can be used to create beautiful hedges of all sizes. These have the advantage of requiring very little attention, of flowering, perfuming and attracting colored insects. They are ideal in sunny gardens and maybe without irrigation systems. Their persistent foliage makes them precious even in winter.
We can add that their overall color is usually on silvery gray. This brings a lot of elegance to the garden and helps create interesting color combinations.
Some dwarf varieties are also excellent to be inserted in formal flowerbeds, in rock gardens or even in a garden totally dedicated to aromatic herbs (to which they combine perfectly, especially with thyme, rosemary, santolina and helichrysum). The most limited varieties can also be grown in pots. In this case, pay particular attention to water stagnation (avoid heavy soils and the use of saucers).

Hidcote Lavender



A very popular variety lately and easy to find both from florists and nurseries is the Hidcote lavender, also known as dwarf lavender, a very particular cultivar with an extremely pleasant and elegant appearance. It is obviously a very popular perennial due to its beautiful purple flowers tending to blue and able to bloom from July to September-October. The Hidcote Lavender is a perennial ideal to use for the creation of borders and bushes as it reaches an adult height of about 50-60 cm. Like most lavenders, it is a plant that loves the sun, is very fragrant and is very suitable for growing in pots and planters. After the winter it is good to prune this plant fairly strongly to stimulate it to produce a new and intense flowering.

Lavender property



In addition to a beautiful ornamental plant with a scent to say the least unique, lavender is also rich in natural properties and is an excellent 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 many ways to use this plant to exploit its benefits. Lavender is dried and bagged to perfume the rooms, it is cooked and boiled in teas to take advantage of its relaxing and soothing characteristics and finally the essential oils are extracted to produce other products, mainly cosmetics and detersives, flavored with lavender.
Lavender oil in particular is used to treat acne and dandruff as well as a soothing effect on redness and insect bites. In short, learning to cultivate this plant correctly can prove to be an advantage not only for the garden and for our flower beds but also for ourselves.

Lavender price



The selling price of the lavender seedlings can vary considerably depending on the variety we are looking for and the size of the plant. As is easy to understand, a lavender with a small vase (8-10 cm in diameter) will have a much lower price than a lavender with a 15-18 cm pot.
As far as the varieties are concerned, the lavender varieties of angustifolia are generally not much cheaper than the stocheas and other more particular varieties.
The price of lavender plants generally fluctuates between 3-4 euros for smaller plants up to 9-12 euros for larger plants. At the time of purchase it is good to remember that lavender is a plant that develops intensely when it is in suitable positions, that is exposed in full sun on drained and fertile soils.
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VarietydimensionsGroundcolorsRusticaPerfume
angustifoliaFrom 20-30 cm to 1.5 mClayey, well-drained, poorLilac, blue, white, pink, blueyeaVery much, the whole plant
lanataAbout 70-80 cmClayey and poorLilac and blueyeayea
Intermediate XFrom 70 to 150 cmClayey and poorLilac, blue, white, pink, blueyeaVery much, the whole plant
toothedUp to 1 mPoor, stonyLilac and pinkUp to -5 ° CAroma of lavender and rosemary
stoechasFrom 30 to 80 cmSiliceous and subacidLilac, white, pink, mauveUp to - 5 ° CRosemary aroma