French lavender, a cute variety

French lavender is a nice alternative to common lavender thanks to its very original flowers.

Key facts for French Lavender

Name – Lavandula stoechas
Family – Lamiaceae
Type – herb sub-shrub

Height
– 24 to 40 inches (60 to 100 cm)
Exposure – full sun
Soil – ordinary, well drained

Foliage
 – evergreen
Flowering – June to August

Easy-going and very productive, French lavender will decorate your gardens and terraces magnificently for a long time.

Planting French lavender

French lavender appreciates well-draining, light and even poor soils.

It can grow more or less anywhere, but is vulnerable when temperatures drop below 19°F (-7°C) in winter.

  • We recommend planting it in fall, but you can plant in spring without any problems.
  • Water a bit at the beginning and then keep from watering as much as possible.
  • No need to add fertilizer.
  • French lavender doesn’t grow well in excessively chalky soil.

Prepare a place that is well endowed with sunlight with well drained soil. If your soil is clay, mix sand into it to make it lighter.

Planting French lavender in pots

One important tip to grow French lavender in pots: avoid moisture at all costs.

  • Double-check that the pot has a hole.
  • Add a drainage layer made with small gravel or clay pebbles.

Watering French lavender

Lavender excels at resisting drought. There are only three cases when you must water your flowers:

  • just upon planting, once, thoroughly
  • during extremely hot heat waves (over 95°F or 35°C)
  • if your French lavender is growing in a pot or flowerbed that is covered and never gets any rain.

Expert perfume makers say that the dryer the season, the more fragrant the perfume!

Pruning and caring for French lavender

Pruning French lavender is possible, but must be exclusively performed on growth that still bears leaves. If you prune dry wood, they won’t grow back…

  • At the end of winter, prune as you wish, but follow the rounded shape of the plant.
    Avoid cutting off old growth, because those branches rarely send out new shoots.
    Favor pruning only on young, tender shoots rather than old, hard wood.
  • If your climate zone has mild winters, you can also trim your lavender bush in fall.
  • After the blooming, snip off floral scapes to avoid needlessly draining plant nutrients.

Cut lavender flowers are an excellent way to perfume clothes and laundry.

French lavender in winter

French lavender is vulnerable to harsh freezing, 19°F (-7°C), and can’t survive in sustained cold spells.

  • Protect the base with mulch in winter.

Here is our video advice to prune lavender correctly

Preserving French lavender, dried

French lavender flowers and branches can keep for months, even years, if kept in a dry place sheltered from the sun’s rays.

  • Best is to hang floral panicles together in small bunches to dry them before keeping them.
  • Our grandmothers used to prepare small cotton pouches filled with lavender flowers to perfume our laundry in the closet.

Diseases and pests that attack French lavender

There aren’t many. Actually, this flower is often used as a pest repellent. Like marigolds, it repels aphids.

In cases where the plant is severely weakened due to extreme drought or overwatering, the shrub may develop diseases such as leaf spot due to Septoria.

All there is to know about French lavender

Close-up of a single French lavender panicle just about to open up.French lavender got its name from the country where it was developed and grown intensively for perfume. In France, its called “butterfly lavender” because the flowers on their scapes look like butterflies.

Their flowers are larger that those of common lavender, and like its cousin, French lavender has been grown for thousands of years for its scent, and also for its medicinal properties.

A very cute plant, this sub-shrub is one of the symbols of Provence, of the Mediterranean sun and typical fragrance.

While it was used in olden days to perfume baths and clothes, lavender today serves to beautify our rock beds, flower beds and gardens.

Today, French lavender is used when elaborating perfume and essential oils.

Easy to care for, French lavender needs to be watered only in case of strong heat waves.

Note that in some regions in Australia, French lavender is noted as an invasive weed and should not be planted.

Smart tip about French lavender

A great purveyor of nectar, French lavender attracts honeybees to the garden, where they join in on the fauna and flora ecosystem.


Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Field of French lavender by Myriam under Pixabay license
French Lavender close up by Daniel Wanke under Pixabay license