Sunday, May 16, 2010
Lavenders are all members of the same botanical genus: Lavandula. There are about 28 species of lavender, and each one is distinguished from one another by a different species name. For instance, Lavandula viridis, Lavandula lanata, Lavandula dentata.
The most popular lavenders fall into two basic groups. The first are all cultivars of the species Lavandula angustifolia and are often called English lavenders. Some books use the names L. vera or L. officinalis for English lavender, but both names are incorrect. The second group is made up of hybrids between the English lavenders and another species, Lavandula latifolia, and is called the lavandins (L. x intermedia).
Both of these groups have gray/green foliage, make nice low shrubs, and are hardy down to about USDA Zone 5. They prefer full sun and a well-drained soil. All are fragrant, and though the compositions of their essential oils do differ, it is difficult for most people to tell them apart by their scents.
The biggest differences between them are in their heights, flower colors, the size of the flower heads, and the time of blooms. The English lavenders tend to bloom in early summer, the lavandins in midsummer. The darkest flower colors are among the English lavenders, while the tallest plants, the longest flower stems, and the largest flower heads are among the lavandins.
The biggest killers of lavenders are root-rotting diseases, which proliferate in high humidity and wet soils. These are especially a problem for the English and lavandins. If you live in a humid area, like the Southeast, give your plants as much air circulation as possible. Don’t crowd them in because if one plant catches a disease, it can easily be transferred to the others if too close together..
Don’t use organic mulches around lavender, try pea gravel or white sand. Increase your drainage by planting in mounds or raised beds, and incorporate crushed granite, like chicken grit, into the top 12" of the soil.
The soil should be slightly acidic. Though lavenders don’t require a lot of fertilizer, some should be added each spring. Chicken manure actually has a fungal deterring component and is especially safe to use.
The easiest lavenders to grow in hot, problem areas are the French (L. dentata), Spanish (L. stoechas), and the hybrids ‘Goodwin Creek Grey’, L. x heterophylla and L. x allardii. These are also some of the best lavenders for containers, and all but the Spanish will bloom nearly year-round if given enough warmth and sunlight.
Lavender tea is delightful...hot or cold.
Get the freshest and most aromatic from the Sage Hill Farms website now.