English vs French lavender, the hundred years war goes on…

Wondering how to choose between English and French lavender? Here are a few key differences between French and English lavender to make a decision you won’t regret!

French lavender and English lavender are related, but they’re different species and they do have a few crucial differences.

Read also:

Which is best? Which one deserves a spot in your garden ? Read on to tell them apart and discover which is best for you!

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English lavender vs both French lavenders!

First and foremost, it’s important to be aware that what people call French lavender is either of two different species. These are:

On the other hand, in the English language, English lavender is always Lavandula angustifolia.

Get to know them so you can choose the best variety for your garden and desires!

Botanical name

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Botanical & Common names
English lavenderFrench lavender – UKFrench lavender – USA & other
Lavandula angustifoliaLavandula stoechasLavandula dentata

Description and appearance

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Flower
no petals at the tip

long flower cluster, 1-3 in (2.5 to 8 cm)

slightly cone-shaped, larger at the bottom than at the top

usually, clearly marked levels or stages between rings of flowers

usually, lavender color. Other cultivars range from white to pale pink, pale blue, or violet

very long petals at the tip (4 or 6 of them)

shortest flower, 1 in (2.5 cm)

olive-shaped, roundish

rings of flowers tightly packed together

usually, a deep violet, but there are blue, white and even red cultivars

short but distinct petals at the tip

medium-length flower, 1-2 in (2.5 to 5 cm)

elongated shape

intermediate density of rings of flowers

usually, pale lavender. some cultivars are white, yellow, deep violet

Single English lavender flowerSingle lavandula stoechas flowerSingle French lavender flower (USA)
Leafage
smooth edge, very narrow, often covered in powdery-white  dust-like wax (not mildew!) giving it a silver-white sheen smooth edge, very narrow, almost identical to those of English lavender but deeper green, less white coveringedged with squarish teeth, hence “dentata”, pale green leaves, thinly covered in protective wax.
Leaves of the English lavender plantFrench lavender leafage, as designated in the UKFrench lavender leaves, USA version
Size
large
usually 3 to 6 feet tall (1 to 2 m)
medium
usually 1 to 3 feet tall (30 cm to 1 m)
small
usually 8 to 24 inches (20 to 50 cm)

Climate and hardiness

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Climate and hardiness
dry, arid, low watering

cold-hardy

-20°F or -30°C with good drainage

perfect for outdoor growing & cultivation

great for large outdoor containers

dry, arid, low watering

frosty-hardy

0°F or -15°C with good drainage

perfect for outdoor growing

great for small outdoor containers

fine with either dry or humid

half-hardy

23°F or -5°C with good drainage

perfect for indoor growing, in pots

Fragrance, oil

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Fragrance, oil
softest but most appealing fragrance, high oil production, highest quality. Leafage similar to rosemary.

perfect for cooking, perfume, cosmetics, lavender wands and soaps

strong and camphorus leafage, delicate-scented flowers, little oil in flowers

perfect for cosmetics, lavender pouches and wands, and soaps

strong and camphorus leafage, more delicate-scented flowers, little oil in flowers

perfect for cosmetics, wands, pouches and soaps

How to choose which lavender to plant

All three types are vibrant and lovely in the garden. Depending on your location and what you want to use them for, you can plant either of the French lavenders, or go for English lavender.

Smart tip about English and French lavenders

They’re all equally astounding, plant one of each in your flower bed. Their blooming will be staged over the whole season!


Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Different lavender flowers by paravion under Pixabay license
Single English lavender bloom by JacLou DL under Pixabay license
Single L. Stoechas bloom by under Pixabay license
Single L. dentata bloom by juanvi under © CC BY 4.0
English lavender leaves by Karissa Mohler under Pixabay license
French lavender (UK) leaves by tserrano under © CC BY-NC 4.0
French lavender (USA) leaves by Deb under © CC BY-NC 4.0