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Lavenders

Lavender FlowersLavenders are considered to be one of the versatile flowers in the world. Besides being one of the very sweet smelling flowers and beautiful flowers, lavenders are sought-after for multiple uses, ranging from culinary to medicinal uses.

Kingdom
Plantae
Division
Magnoliophyta
Class
Magnoliopsida
Order
Lamiales
Family
Lamiaceae
Genus
lavandula

The historic use and recognition of lavender is almost as old the history of man. As a herb, lavender has been in documented use for over 2,500 years. In ancient times lavender was used for mummification and perfume by the Egyptians, Phoenicians, and people of Arabia. Mention of lavenders can also be found in the Bible, not by the name lavender but rather by the name used at that time - spikenard.

Facts About Lavender Flowers

  • The lavenders comprise the genus Lavandula, with about 25-30 species of flowering plants.
  • The name "lavender" comes from the Latin "lavare" - to wash, and the botanical name "lavandula" is derived from "livendula" - bluish.
  • The native range of lavenders extend across the Canary Islands, North and East Africa, south Europe and the Mediterranean, Arabia, and India.
  • Because the cultivated forms of lavenders are planted in gardens world-wide, they are occasionally found growing wild, as garden escapes, well beyond their natural range.
  • During the Great Plague in London in the 17th century, it was suggested that a bunch of lavender fastened to each wrist would protect the wearer against the deadly disease.
  • Lavenders have a unique fragrance produced by the combination of 180 different constituents and so are widely used in the perfume industry to add a top or middle note to commercial products.
  • There are colored lavenders like Yellow, Green, White, Pink lavenders.
Romans used lavender oils for bathing, cooking, and scenting the air, and they most likely gave it the Latin root name (either lavare-to wash or livendula- livid or bluish) from which we derive the modern name. The flower's soothing ,"tonic" qualities, the insect repellent effects of the strong scent, and the use of the dried plant in smoking mixtures also added to the value placed in the herb by the ancients.

Varieties of Lavenders

French Lavender, English Lavender and Spanish Lavender are the popular varieties of Lavenders.

Common Name Scientific Name Description/Uses
Common Lavender Lavender augustifoliaRaw leaves, petals and flowering tips of lavenders are used as a condiment in salads, soups, stews etc. They provide a very aromatic flavor. An essential oil obtained from these lavender flowers is antihalitosis, powerfully antiseptic, antispasmodic, aromatic, carminative, cholagogue, diuretic, nervine, sedative, stimulant, stomachic and tonic
French Lavender Lavender stoechasThe flowers, and the essential oil derived from them, are antiasthmatic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, digestive and expectorant. The Lavender oil is used internally to alleviate nausea. Externally, the essential oil is used as an antiseptic wash for wounds, ulcers, sores etc and as a relaxing oil for massage
Spanish LavenderLavender stoechas 'Otto Quast'Antiseptic and relaxant
English Lavender Lavender latifoliaEnglish Lavender is much more aromatic and has a far greater delicacy of odour than the French, and the oil fetches ten times the price
Spike/Dutch Lavender Lavender spicaIts scent contains a hint of spice and camphor in addition to the lavender scent. Spike Lavender is very fragrant and one of the lavenders commonly used for perfume.
Lavender has been extensively used in herbalism. An infusion of lavender is claimed to soothe and heal insect bites. Bunches of lavender are also said to ward off insects. If applied to the temples, lavender oil is said to soothe headaches and used as an aid to sleep.

Uses of Lavender

  • As an herbal medicine lavender is and has been very widely used. For soothing, relaxing qualities few herbs can be claimed as effective.
  • Constituents of the oils found in lavender can treat hyperactivity, insomnia, flatulence, bacteria, fungus, microbial activity on gums, airborne molds.
  • Compounds in the plant have even shown promise as a treatment for certain cancers.
  • In mice these compounds red against impotence. In a study of men the scent of pumpkin and lavender as the scent found most arousing.
  • Ideal for physical and emotional support. Lavender as a whole is an 'adaptagenic' essence with a relationship to all Body Systems. It is nicknamed the ultimate 'first aid in a bottle' oil. Lavender produces an Anti-Allergic Essential oil, with an inherent antibiotic action.
  • It is also an astringent as well as moisturizing to skin. Lavender alleviates aches, pains, and swelling from arthritis to injury to headache. Lavender also alleviates motion sickness.
  • According to the German nun Hildegard of Bingen who lived from 1098-1179, lavender "water", a decoction of vodka, gin, or brandy mixed with lavender, is great for migraine headaches.

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Growing Lavenders

When planting Lavenders, always prepare the planting hole with plenty of grit added into your compost. This allows air to remain around the roots system and lets your plants succeed much more quickly. As with any new addition, we would always recommend a good watering in after planting. However, the amount of aftercare once the plant is established will be minimal.

  • There are two tips for growing really good Lavenders; sun & drainage.
  • After flowering in Summer, trim all the flowers off and remove some of the very tops of the shoots.
  • This will encourage lots of fresh shoot growth (vegetative growth] and therefore more flowers in the following season.
  • After pruning, the plant will normally throw up more flowers in the later part of Summer into Autumn - these can be trimmed off after they have finished, but do not trim back any further than the flower spike itself.
  • In Spring - March through to early April is ideal - give them another very light trim.
  • The plants should have come through the Winter looking fairly respectable and bushy, thanks to your pruning last Summer.
  • Now is the time to take back any straggly shoots to try and give the plant a fairly tight 'bun' appearance, but without trimming back into the oldest wood - Lavenders do not like it.
  • This is the final bit of trimming you will need to give Lavenders until they have finished their main bout of flowering, at which point the cycle begins again.

Plant Care

  • If you have not done anything yet, cut all spent flower stems off the plants If you don' the plant will grow woody and shapeless, often splitting down the middle.
  • When you cut off the woody branches to shape it, the plant generally dies. "Your best bet is to keep it in shape by removing the flowers after every bloom cycle'.
  • If the plants show signs of yellowing, add compost or deep water and feed with a diluted mix of fish emulsion and liquid sea kelp. Don't overwater.
  • If the plant is brown from the base up, it's getting too much water.
  • If your lavenders are not salvageable, fall is a good time to replace them.

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