Lavender

by: Jean Griffin

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A pretty patch of silvery green foliage topped off by violet-blue flowers–and let’s not forget the fragrance.  Experiencing this can bring a desire to grow lavender.  It is one of the most widely used herbs for essential oils.  The Romans are credited with spreading this Mediterranean plant to the British Isles, and the Pilgrims brought it here to America. The various uses of this essential oil are extensively written about, but an added bonus to the modern gardener is that most lavender varieties attract bees, butterflies, and even hummingbirds.

Growing lavender can be a challenge here in the Gulf Coast region because these plants love arid climates.  Growing it successfully is possible when steps are taken to amend the soil and make the conditions more suitable.

Lavender plants always prefer a more alkaline soil.   Adding sand, pea gravel, hadite (expanded shale), or limestone gravel to the soil will cause it to drain and dry more quickly.  Planting them in unglazed ceramic or terra cotta pots is an alternative.  These pots should be able to drain quickly and other plants should not be crowded in with them.   Plants going into the ground should be in beds raised 18 to 20 inches high.

These plants prefer full sun to part sun.  In our humid climate the leaves get enough moisture, and the plant should be watered, if possible, without getting the foliage wet. Take care not to over water.

When beginning your garden, be aware that the seeds take a while and can be difficult to germinate.

Among the varieties of lavender we carry here at Maas Nursery are:

Provence White (Lavandula intermedia) Perennial. Grows 1′ to 2′ high and is very fragrant.

Goodwin Creek (Lavandula x heterophylla) Perennial. Grows to 3′ high. A hybrid discovered at Goodwin Creek Gardens in Oregon.   Flowers can be used fresh or dried.

French Lavender (Lavandula dentata) Perennial.  Grows to 3′ high.  Flower buds are used in baking, desserts, and tea.

Spanish Lavender (Lavandula stoechas) Perennial.  Grows to 30″ high. More tolerant to Texas heat and humidity.  Striking flowers and strong scent.

Fernleaf Lavender (Lavandula multifida) Tender perennial. Grows to 3′ high.  Prefers part sun.  Has fern like leaves.  Foliage and flowers used fresh; does not dry well.

Dutch Lavender (Lavandula intermedia)  Perennial.  Grows to 2′ high. Use fresh cut sprigs for bath.

Fred Boutin Lavender (Lavandula x intermedia) Perrenial. Grows to 2′ high.  Discovered in 1980 and introduced to the world in 1984.  Medium purple flower on long stems. Very fragrant.

English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) Considered an annual in this area.  It is most well known for its very fine and sweet essential oils.