Types of Lavender
Image courtesy of Carmel Valley Ranch
Feed your passion for fragrance by planting different types of lavender. Few herbs match this group for producing perfumed blooms and leaves that can scent a garden—or a room when tucked into a vase. Lavender varieties include more than traditional English lavender. Grow lavandin for richly hued and scented flowers or French lavender for a clean smelling hedge.
English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is probably the most famous and familiar types of lavender. A native of the Mediterranean region, English lavender earned its common name because it grows well in the English climate. It forms mounding plants roughly 2 to 3 feet tall and wide. The grey-green leaves are scented and eye-catching on their own. When wands of purple flowers appear, the effect is exquisite. English lavender is often used as a low hedge, and it’s also a favorite culinary lavender.
Investigate English lavender varieties for a range of plant sizes and flower colors. ‘Hidcote’ English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote’) has earned a devoted following for its deep purple blossoms and tidy height. This sweetly scented beauty forms smaller mounds 12 to 18 inches tall and wide. It’s a wonderful choice for edging walkways or garden beds. The fragrant flowers also make this a tasty edible lavender.
‘Munstead’ English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia ‘Munstead’) is another well-known type of lavender. It boasts the trait of better heat tolerance than other English lavender varieties. Other heat-tolerant lavender types are the lavandins (Lavandula x intermedia), or English lavender hybrids. These plants were produced by crossing heat-tolerant Portguese spike lavender or broadleaf lavender (Lavandula latifolia) with English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia). The resulting hybrids blend cold and heat tolerance in plants that yield outstanding flowers.
Popular lavandin varieties include ‘Grosso’ lavender (Lavandula x intermedia ‘Grosso’), which is prized for its prolific, intensely perfumed blooms. ‘Grosso’ is often raised commercially for essential oil that’s used in the perfume industry. It grows 2 to 3 feet tall and wide. Look for ‘White Grosso’ for a white-blossomed type of lavender. Grow the ‘Grosso’ types of lavender for a ready supply of blooms for crafting or cooking.
‘Provence’ lavender (Lavandula x intermedia ‘Provence’) is another lavandin that’s raised commercially, primarily in Provence, France. It’s prized for its fragrance-rich flowers on long stems. Grow ‘Provence’ lavender for making lavender wands and wreaths.
French lavender (Lavandula dentata) is more of a landscape plant and is hardy in Zones 8 to 11. Leaves and flowers have strong pine and camphor tones, which is why French lavender isn’t a culinary lavender type. French lavender does flower continuously, especially in regions with mild winters, creating a ready supply of flowers for sachet, potpourri and lavender wands.