Lavender is a gorgeous perennial evergreen plant native to southern Europe and the mountains near the western border of the Mediterranean. It’s also found in areas in North and East Africa, Arabia, India, and the Canary Island. Lavender is a common ingredients in numerous personal care products.
Egyptians soaked shrouds in lavender, and embalmed their mummies. Insects don’t like lavender, and mummies were perfectly preserved. Greeks used lavender to treat muscle soreness, insomnia and insanity. Romans added lavender to their purifying baths. They were the first to name the plant. “Lavare” means “wash.” Lavender was also used as a perfume and insect repellant.
In Medieval Europe, people wore small sprigs of lavender on their wrists to keep plague (the Black Death) away.
Lavender was also used in washing clothes, and people used it as an antiseptic during WWI to heal burns.
Lavender has a therapeutic effect, and it’s used in the treatment of numerous conditions. It lifts up mood, soothes mental trauma, and revives the nervous system. Lavender is definitely the best relaxing tonic for your mind and body. Use it to relieve stress, headache and migraines. Its anti-inflammatory effect relieves joint and muscle pain. Lavender has an antiseptic properties, and it soothes chapped skin, irritation, wounds, bites, and sores common in conditions like dermatitis, eczema, and psoriasis. Lavender enhances digestion, and relives nausea, vomiting, indigestion, colic and flatulence. When used in aromatherapy, lavender relieves coughs, colds, bronchitis, asthma, sore throats, laryngitis, and pneumonia.
There are over 20 different lavender species. They have a distinctive color and fragrance. But, we only know three of them – English lavender, spike lavender and lavandin.
English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia, officinalis, vera)
English or true lavender is commonly grown in formal English gardens. It has narrow leaves, short stems, and barrel-shaped flowers. You’d definitely love its sweet aroma. Statistics shows that there are more than hundred cultivars of English lavender.
It loves full sun and well-drained, alkaline soil. It grows well in zones 5-9. English lavender reaches a height of 1-3 feet. It may have evergreen or semi-evergreen foliage, and can last into winter, too.
Dwarf types of English lavender fit well in rock gardens or borders in formal gardens. You will enjoy long blooming season if you remove flowers after they dry off. Shape your plant after it flowers. Prune your lavender heavily every 3-4 years to keep it healthy and neat.
Spike lavender (Lavandula spica, latifolia)
It has wider leaves when compared to English lavender. Some people call it broadleaved lavender. It is added to soaps, insect repellents, room sprays and deodorants.
Spike lavender grows well in zones 6-9 and like sun. Make sure you plant it in well-drained soil. It has similar healing properties to common lavender. Spike lavender stems and oil offer antibacterial, antiseptic, antispasmodic, and carminative properties.
Lavandin (L.x intermedia)
Cross English and spike lavender, and you will get lavandin. It’s also known as Dutch lavender. Lavandin can’t reproduce with seeds, and you should use cuttings instead. It has long stems and vibrant flowers that are larger than other varieties. Its oil is added to many personal care and household products. Lavandin flowers are common ingredient in potpourri, and release a spicy scent.
Lavandin has clarifying, purifying and balancing effect. It’s often used in aromatherapies.
Harvest lavender after the buds are formed, but make sure its flowers aren’t open. This is the only way to enjoy aromatic and colorful flowers. Harvest the whole plant at once, and use sharp pruners. Keep lavender bunches in a warm and dry spot that’s not exposed to direct sunlight. Your garage and garden shed work amazing for this purpose. Your lavender will be dry in 2-4 weeks. Separate the buds into a dry jar, and keep it in a dark and cool place.
Plant & Grow lavender
Lavender needs well-drained soil. Add builder’s sand before planting for a maximum drainage. Lavender grows well in raised beds, too.
Use soil with a pH value of 6.5 or higher. Test your soil to find out if it has the perfect pH value. Plant the shrub about 18 inches apart. Remember, lavender needs full sun and air circulation. Water the soil only when it dries completely. High heat and humidity create perfect conditions for fungi. You don’t want your lavender to turn brown, right? Sprinkle more sand and pebbles around the plant. In this way the water will evaporate faster. Sprinkle bone meal around your lavender in fall to keep it healthy. Work it into the first inch of soil.
Plant lavender seeds
If you grow lavender from seeds, plant it three months before the expected spring frost period.
First, plant the seeds in a plastic bags with peat moss. Keep it in the fridge for 5 weeks, and make sure the moss is moist all the time. Take the seeds out, and keep them at room temperature.
Combine equal parts of washed medium-grit sand and lightweight seed-starting mix. Spray the mixture with water, and make tiny troughs. You only need an eight of an inch depth. Drop the seeds in, and cover with sand lightly. Mist your seeds.
Make sure the seeds get at least six hours a day of sun. But, keep them safe from the hot midday sun.
Keep a warming mat under the tray to keep the temperature at 75-80F throughout the day. You need about 55F at night. Cover with plastic wrap, and make sure one of the sides is unsealed to release the moisture out. Water the sand mixture when the surface is dry. Always use spray bottle to water your lavender seeds.
Lavender seeds germinate within 15-20 days. Thin the seedlings to every 3 inches. Plant the strongest seedlings in small pots after a week. You need about 4-inch pots and sandy potting mix. Your seedlings should get enough water. Keep them in a partially sunny spot. Plant them in your garden after two months (sunny spot and well-drained soil).
Lavender is a versatile plant, and we give you some of its greatest uses:
- Dry lavender flower heads and dry chamomile reduce stress. Make yourself a nice cup of tea.
- Keep small mesh bags with dry lavender flower heads in your drawers. Use lavender essential oils to refresh.
- Add lavender buds and lavender essential oil to your heated wax, and wallah, you have your very own aromatic candles.
- Combine 2 drops of lavender, tea tree and peppermint essential oil, and two cups of water. Spray this in your room, and enjoy the pleasant scent.
- Dab lavender oil on your skin to relieve itchiness and swelling.
- Put a few drops of lavender essential oil on your pillow to sleep better.
- Rub the oil on your temples to relieve tension headaches. This works for other types, too.
- Massage the oil onto your sore spots to reduce inflammation and relieve joint/muscle pain.
- Add 5-6 drops of lavender essential oil to your diffuser.
- Add crumbled lavender flower and cinnamon to your homemade vanilla ice cream.
- Lavender flowers make for a nice garnish.
- Add a handful of organic lavender buds to 2 cups of white wine vinegar. Rest for six weeks, and strain. That’s your very own lavender infused product.
- Add a cup of Epsom salt, ½ cup sea salt, 3 tablespoons of baking soda and 10 drops of lavender essential oil to a jar. Use a third of a cup for each bath.
- Combine a cup of white sugar, ½ cup melted organic coconut oil, 15 drops of lavender essential oil and 2 tablespoons of dried lavender buds. Keep the scrub in a glass jar, and use it every day.
- Combine 15 drops and a carrier oil (almond) into a soothing mixture. Use it to relieve menstrual cramps.
- Keep fresh lavender flowers in your closets and attic to keep moths and silverfish out.
- Add 5 drops of lavender essential oil to 5oz of water. Use it as a facial tonic. Put the tonic in a spritzer bottle, and refresh your face.
- Add a few drops of lavender oil to pure Aloe Vera gel to soothe minor sunburns.
Keep fresh lavender bouquets in your home, and enjoy their pleasant scent. Lavender lifts spirits and leaves a nice and clean smell