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June 2015

Lavender

Lavandula

Many people appreciate lavender (Lavandula angustifolia, or Lavandula officinalis) for its fragrance, used in soaps, shampoos, and sachets for scenting clothes. The name lavender comes from the Latin root lavare, which means "to wash." Lavender may have earned this name because it was frequently used in baths to help purify the body and spirit. However, this herb has also been used as a remedy for a range of ailments from insomnia and anxiety to depression and fatigue. Research has confirmed that lavender produces slight calming, soothing, and sedative effects when its scent is inhaled.

Care instructions

Put in a little and get back a lot!

Light
Lavenders demand full sun, although afternoon shade may be appreciated in the hottest climates.

Watering
Plants are very drought resistant once established, but will flower better if not allowed to dry out. Do not over water the plants, as the roots will rot.

Pruning

Lavender is a woody sub shrub and pruning techniques should reflect this. Do not prune in spring until new growth appears and leave plants alone for the winter. Plants may be sheared back and shaped after flowering, but do not cut low into old wood.

Harvesting and using Lavender

Flower spikes have the strongest scent just as the pretty little flowers begin to open. Cut long stems and gather in bunches to dry out of the sun—this will take 4—5 days in warm weather. Spread stems on a screen or sheet so air circulates easily. Use the stems of fresh or dried flowers spikes in an arrangements or remove the flowers for sachets and potpourri mixtures.