Does the photo show English lavender or French lavender? Are there differences between the two types of lavender? Which one or both are right for your garden?
Lavender is a beautiful, fragrant, healthy, and easy to grow plant. It is the perfect plant for every garden and every gardener.
Differences between English Lavender and French Lavender
Size. Both have approximately the same color in the flower. We all know the beautiful fields of lavender in Provence – yes, this is, of course, French lavender. But the plant size also distinguishes the two. French lavender grows 2-3 feet wide and tall. By contrast, English lavender grows in a more compact shape and size.
Hardiness. English lavender is much hardier than French lavender. French lavender only grows to zone 8 and does not handle cold winters – thus the Provence is the preferred growing area. The more climate-tolerant variety is English lavender.
Bloom and Fragrance. French lavender flowers bloom longer than English lavender. There are also more bloom cycles with French lavender. That said, English lavender has a stronger scent.
Health Benefits of Lavender
We know lavender in soap, bath oils, and lotions. Try lavender ice cream. In France, you will also find a variety of delicious lavender pastries. Lavender oil has long been celebrated as a soothing, sleep-enhancing oil. It is said to have antispasmodic properties which help with breathing disorders. Lavender is also be known to help with headaches and vertigo. Finally, some people advocate the use of lavender for compresses as an effective antiseptic measure.
Sadly allopathic medicine has taken us away from century-old oils. Quality essential oils can have a profound effect on a variety of health conditions without side effects.
Growing English Lavender
Lavender is super easy to grow. It requires full sun and only medium-quality soil. Even sandy soils will do. Water after the initial planting and certainly during drought – but that’s it. In general, both English lavender and French lavender do better on their own. Tip: Do not install even drip lines around or near lavender. And lavender definitely cannot handle being doused with water from sprinkler systems. Bottom line: it is really easy to overwater lavender. Leave lavender alone and enjoy the deep blue to purple color and wonderful scent as you stroll by.
What does this mean from a planting perspective? It is best to plant rows or wider areas of lavender without mixing in other plants like hydrangea, for example, which need a lot of, and regular watering.
Insider Gardening Tip
The essential oil of English and French lavender is also highly effective as an organic repellent of mites and aphids from vegetables and other plants. This is the effect not often mentioned. It takes an organic gardener with know-how like SHG Living’s host, CaliKim. She describes her organic ways of treating her healthy vegetable container gardens, which include essential oils like peppermint and lavender to keep aphids off her vegetables. The much welcome side-effect is, of course, the beautiful fragrance in her garden.
So, pick up a bunch of English lavender, or if you are daring and your zone permits, plant some French lavender to adorn your garden. The color, the scent, the benefits speak for themselves – you won’t regret it!
Photo by Nikolay Hristov