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Lavandula angustifolia, the true lavender for gardens

Lavandula angustifolia - true lavender

Lavandula angustifolia is the scientific name of common lavender. It’s grown both in gardens and in large fields.

Lavandula angustifolia facts

NameLavandula angustifolia
Type – herbaceous shrub

Height – 2 to 4 feet (0.6 to 1m)
Exposure – full sun
Soil – very well-drained, ordinary to alkaline

Foliage – evergreen – Flowering – Summer

Learn how to care for Lavandula angustifolia in the garden and in containers for fragrant violet blooms.

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Planting Lavandula angustifolia

Although it can cope with slightly acidic soil, best is to plant lavender in neutral or alkaline ground.

Plant either in fall or spring preferably. If it doesn’t freeze, it’s also possible to plant in winter.

  • Ensure excellent draining for water.
  • Poor soil is fine: lavender roots will find nutrients at great distances if need be.
  • Follow these tips to plant the shrub.
  • Water only once, but after that stop watering.

Container growing of Lavandula angustifolia

It’s actually more difficult to grow common lavender in a container than it is in the ground.

Indeed, potted plants are more vulnerable both to under- and over-watering.

  • Lavandula angustifolia in pot

    Crucial point is to make sure the mix drains well. A bottle of water poured into the pot filled with soil mix should drain out the bottom within seconds.

  • After that, set up a watering schedule where you only water if the soil is dry down to the depth of a finger.

Apart from that, though, your Lavandula angustifolia will only rarely need any fertilizer.

Propagation of Lavandula angustifolia

Caring for Lavandula angustifoliaUsually cuttings are used to prepare new specimens.

  • Quick guide to preparing plant cuttings. Use stems that are woody but still soft (growth from the current or previous year only).

Seeds and simply splitting the bunch in two also work well.

For professional purposes, micro-propagation is generally applied.

  • In this technique, tiny parts of the plant such as thin slices of leaves are placed on a special growing gel.
  • Temperature, moisture and light are controlled in the laboratory.
  • Within days, some of the cells start differentiating to form root, stem and leaf systems.
  • This ensures perfect cloning and produces thousands of plants from a single source plant.
  • Propagate lavender with these 100% propagation guidelines

Watering Lavandula angustifolia

The less this lavender is watered, the stronger its essential oils will be. To have a very fragrant plant, don’t water at all!

Only upon planting and perhaps only during extreme droughts after that should the plant be watered (except for container growing).

Proper care for L. angustifolia

  • In the ground, it isn’t necessary to fertilize the plant.
  • In pots, though, provide flower plant fertilizer as recommended on product labels.

Make your own fermented weed fertilizer as a more natural and affordable solution!

For some varieties, deadheading – removing spent flowers – will trigger a second round of blooming.

Lavandula angustifolia trimming/pruning

Prune only on new wood

L. angustifolia cannot take severe pruning. You must always prune on recently grown wood.

  • The tip is to always cut where the plant is still bearing leaves.
  • If you cut any lower, leaving a branch leafless, it won’t grow back from that stem or stump.

When to prune Lavandula angustifolia

Prune at the end of winter.

  • It the first frosts come very late or if it never freezes, you can go ahead an prune in fall, after the blooming. It will result in a tighter, bushier shrub.
  • More tips on pruning Lavandula

Diseases and pests on L. angustifolia

With proper soil structure that drains well, the chances of your L. angustifolia contracting disease are slim.

  • It has been shown to be sensitive to alfalfa mosaic virus. This is a viral disease that discolors leaves. However, occurrences are extremely rare.

Root rot, on the other hand, is very common. It is the direct result of overwatering and poorly draining soil.

  • Correct drainage and make it excellent, and your plant may have a chance to recover.
  • Usually, symptoms are spotted when it is already too late.

However, you needn’t fear caterpillars nor aphids: this plant repels them well, even if some white butterflies love to drink its nectar!

Main Lavandula angustifolia varieties

There are a great many L. angustifolia varieties. They vary in size, color, fragrance and hardiness.

The main ones found in horticulture stores are the ‘Hidcote’, ‘Munstead’ and ‘Melissa’ varieties.

Of course, one must also mention the many hybrids that are collectively classified as L. x intermedia.

  • Flowers on hybrids are usually larger, but not necessarily more fragrant.
  • Many of the most showy cultivars will only rarely transfer their special traits to seeds. Because of crosspollination, the only way to reproduce identical versions of them is through cuttings.

Uses of lavandula angustifolia

Learn more about Lavandula angustifolia

Lavandula angustifoliaEarly on, ancient Pharaohs were embalmed using Egyptian lavender, and since then all peoples and tribes of the Mediterranean have grown it for health, cooking and beauty.

Its fragrance and clean, round shape is why laundry cleaners of old would spread cleaned linens and clothing atop it to dry. This gave these women their title: “les lavandières“!

Lavandula angustifolia is native to the Northern half of that small ocean, in locations that are extremely rocky and dry. The concentration of essential oils helped the plant defend itself against pests and diseases, and the fragrance attracts pollinators from very far away!

Today, it is the variety of lavender most cultivated and grown for its extracts. In recent times, this hardy variety was prized by English perfume makers and landscapers, leading to a new common name for the species: English lavender.

Smart L. angustifolia tip

Drainage is the key to keeping your Lavandula alive. Make sure water can seep away before it starts rotting the roots!

Image credits (edits Gaspard Lorthiois): Iva/AdobeStock
Pixabay: Michael Gaida, Hans Braxmeier, Bogdan Pirvu
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