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Zones 4-24, 30-34, 39
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Full
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Moderate

Lavandula x intermedia

Lavandin, Hedge Lavender
Lamiaceae (Labiatae)
Evergreen, Herbs, Shrubs

LAVANDULA

Native to the Mediterranean region, Canary Islands, and Madeira. Prized for fragrant lavender or purple flowers, often set off by colorful bracts.

Blossom spikes of some species are used for perfume, aromatic oil, soap, medicine, sachets. Aromatic gray, gray-green, or yellowish green foliage. Use as an informal hedge or edging, in herb gardens, or in borders with plants needing similar cultural conditions—sunrose (Helianthemum), catmint (Nepeta), rosemary, santolina, or verbena.

Where winters are too cold for year-round growth outdoors, lavenders are good container plants for sunny windows. When they are grown outside in marginal climates, self-sown seedlings often show up the summer after the parent plants die from winter cold. Most lavenders attract bees and butterflies.

Lavenders need well-drained soil and little or no fertilizer. They will succeed in cool coastal or mountain climates or inland valleys and deserts but succumb to root rot in areas where heat is accompanied by humidity. Fernleaf sorts (L. canariensis, L. minutolii, L. multifida) as well as L. allardii, L. ‘Goodwin Creek Grey’, and L. heterophylla are tender, but they’re more resistant to heat and humidity than English lavenders and lavandins (L. angustifolia, L. intermedia).

Give good air circulation. If mulching around lavenders, use pea gravel, decomposed granite, or sand rather than organic materials. To keep plants neat and compact, shear back by one-third to one-half (even by two-thirds) every year immediately after bloom.

If plants become woody and open in the center, remove a few of the oldest branches; take out more when new growth comes. If this doesn’t work, dig and replace.

For sachets and potpourri, cut flower spikes or strip flowers from stems just as blossoms show color; dry in a cool, shady place. Dried spikes make fragrant wreaths, swags, and wands. Dried flowers can be used to scent water or soap. To flavor ice cream, pastries, or salads, you can use the fresh flowers of L. angustifolia and L. intermedia varieties; other species contain harmful chemicals that should not be ingested.

Since lavenders have been in cultivation for centuries and some species cross easily, many varieties and hybrids have arisen. Names are often confused, so some of the variety names that follow may not agree with those you see on nursery labels.

Be aware that only cutting-grown stock is truly uniform. Several varieties originally propagated by cuttings are now grown from seed (for example, plants labeled Hidcote Strain and Munstead Strain); seedlings vary in color and growth habit.

Lavandula x intermedia

This group of sterile hybrids between parents L. angustifolia and L. latifolia is distinguished from the English lavenders by larger growth and by branching stems topped with interrupted flower spikes; blooms from mid to late summer. Long used in the perfume and soap industries, lavandins are vigorous, fragrant plants. Almost as hardy as English lavender parent and more tolerant of warm, humid summers.

‘Grosso’: Widely planted commercial variety in France and Italy; possibly the most fragrant lavandin of all. Compact growth to 2 1/2 ft. high and wide. Silvery foliage; large (2–3 1/2-in.-thick), conical spikes of violet-blue flowers with darker calyxes. Often gives repeat bloom in late summer. Excellent flower for drying.

‘Provence’: Though it is often described as a traditional perfume lavandin, this selection does not produce the kind of oil that is used in perfumery. Grows to 2 ft. high and 3 ft.wide, with fragrant light violet flower spikes that dry well. Good hedge plant.

‘White Spikes’ (‘Alba’): Grows to 2 1/2 ft. high and wide, with silvery leaves. Spikes of white blossoms and sage green calyxes are 1 1/2–2 in. long, bloom from early summer through fall. Becomes woody with age.

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