Not only does lavender smell and look beautiful, but it’s therapeutic, too! Lavender flowers are comprised of multiple purple florets on long narrow stems, spiking above the foliage. If you’ve ever looked out over a lavender field, you know the hypnotizing elegance that these types of flowers have. But aside from the beauty that the purple blossoms bring, did you know that lavender also has a multitude of uses? It’s true! Read on to learn all about lavender, from it’s history to facts!
The History of Lavender
Lavender is native to the Mediterranean region, the Arabian Peninsula and Russia. It is grown in Europe, the United States and Australia, where many members of the genus are cultivated extensively in temperate climates for their uses in gardens and landscapes, as culinary herbs or for the extraction of essential oils. Lavender comes with a long history of being used to treat gastrointestinal problems, anxiety and to boost appetite and mood.
Lavender Uses & Benefits
Lavender has been valued for centuries for its physical beauty, soothing fragrance and healing properties. Here are some of the ways you can use lavender to your benefit.
- Dried Lavender Tea– Tea can be made from lavender leaves, which has been said to help relieve insomnia. Since there are calming components to this relaxing tea, drinking it before bedtime can help alleviate stress, anxiety and depression and help you doze off into a peaceful slumber. Lavender tea is also used to treat gastrointestinal issues, including digestive problems and a nervous stomach.
- Essential Lavender Oil Benefits – Lavender is the most used essential oil in the world due to its medicinal benefits and pleasant aroma. Lavender’s familiar scent is a combination of notes that are fresh, floral, clean and calm. It has been said that continuous use of lavender oil provides antioxidant protection, helps balance blood sugar, heals cuts and burns, improves acne and alleviates headaches. And the healing properties don’t stop there! Dabbing essential lavender oil on your temples is said to alleviate symptoms of tension headaches and migraines. Since there is a significant calming property associated with this oil, it is commonly used in relaxing massages and in skin care and bath products as well. In fact, the name lavender comes from the Latin root “lavare,” which means “to wash.” It is also used as an alternative to perfume and room fresheners, since it’s non-toxic and provides a calming effect.
- Lavender Lotion not only moisturizes your skin, but also provides a calming affect from the scent. If you don’t know what to get a friend, coworker, or family member, lavender lotion is a great gifting option for him or her.
- Cooking with Lavender in the Kitchen– Culinary lavender is a versatile herb. Since this flower is part of the mint family, it adds freshness to any recipe. It’s floral and slightly sweet flavor makes it a widely adaptable addition to your kitchen creations. Add lavender flowers to salads or meat dishes for a burst of color and for a beautiful presentation when serving your food. Lavender cocktails like lavender lemonade mimosas are also really popular, and delicious!
- Lavender Potpourri, Spray and Scented Candles are another great way to add the scent of lavender to any room or space. Lavender potpourri is great for freshening your drawers to keep clothes smelling lovely. Lavender candles and sprays don’t only work well for the bathroom, but for any room to help add some zen.
Lavender flowers are known to represent purity, silence, devotion serenity, grace and calmness. In addition to the flower’s significance, its purple color also comes with great symbolism. Purple is the color of royalty and speaks of elegance, refinement and luxury. The color purple is also associated with the crown chakra, which is the energy center associated with higher purpose and spiritual connectivity.
Types of Lavender
If you’re looking to add an aromatic aspect to your garden, consider one of these species of lavender:
- English lavender
- Hidcote English lavender
- Munstead English lavender
- Grosso lavender
- Provence lavender
- French lavender
English lavender is the most famous and familiar type of lavender and is native of the Mediterranean region, but is now primarily grown in England because of the country’s climate. It grows roughly two to three feet tall and is a favorite culinary lavender. The deep purple blossoms and tidy height of Hidcote English lavender are a great choice for edging walkways or garden beds. Munstead English lavender fares well in the heat, over other types of lavender. Gross lavender is known for its intensely perfumed blooms and is commonly used in essential oils. Provence lavender comes from Provence, France, and is used for decor in wreaths and wands. Finally, French lavender blooms in regions with mild winters, producing blossoms for sachets and potpourri.
How to Care for Lavender Gardens
While growing lavender comes with many added benefits, you’ll want to make sure that you are properly caring for these delicate flowers. It isn’t as easy as it looks! Here are some helpful tips on how to grow lavender.
- Plant your lavender in full sun with well drained soil. If you’re using heavy soils, be sure to add some organic matter to help your plants thrive.
- When it comes to watering these flowers, give them deep and thorough waterings, but not too frequently. Only water them when the soil is almost dry.
- Early spring or at harvest time in October are the ideal times to prune your plants. For low growing varieties, trim back the foliage one to two inches. If the plants grow over three to four feet, cut them back by a third to avoid them getting overly woody. Woody plants should be opened in the center with the oldest branches removed.
- If you’re looking to harvest your flowers for sachets and potpourri, cut the flower spikes from the stems as soon as the blossoms show color and store them in a cool, dry place until you’re ready to use them.