The lavender plant is an excellent choice for any garden. Lavender blooms add a gorgeous touch of colour, while their scent is absolutely heavenly. But if you’ve decided to grow lavender plants in your garden, you’ll need to decide on which types of lavender — and boy, are there plenty.
Each type of lavender plant thrives in different conditions, so it’s important to choose one that suits your garden. If you find yourself overwhelmed by all the different lavender plants, don’t worry — here’s a rundown of some of the best types of lavender to grow in your garden.
Types of Lavender
1. English lavender
English lavender (lavandula angustifolia), also known as ‘true lavender’, is one of the most common types of lavender. Despite its name, though, it’s actually native to the Mediterranean. It has blue-purple flowers, but also violet-blue and white-pink depending on the cultivar.
This type of lavender plant is more suited to cool, temperate climates. It thrives in mild to warm summers and winters, and doesn’t need much watering. English lavender grows best in full sun and sandy, well-drained soil. The flowers have a profuse scent, and can bloom more than once from mid-spring to early summer.
English lavender is a good choice for herb gardens, since it’s edible!
Varieties of English lavender: Betty’s Blue (violet-blue flowers), Lavenite Petite (light purple flowers), Hidcote (dark purple flowers)
2. French lavender
French lavender (lavandula dentata) is a more delicate variety, with a light lavender blue colour. It’s also called fringed lavender due to the shape of its flowers. French lavender isn’t as fragrant as other lavenders, but its flower heads are very colourful.
This type of lavender plant has the longest lasting blooms, from early summer to mid-fall. It doesn’t tolerate extreme temperatures, though, preferring mild summers and warm winters. Plant French lavender in full sun and sandy, well-drained soil, and water sparingly.
Fringed lavender can grow fairly large — about 0.5–1m in height and width — so make sure you have room!
Varieties of French lavender: Grosso (mid-purple flowers), Fred Boutin (pale lavender flowers), Provence (lavender-blue flowers)
3. Spanish lavender
Spanish lavender (lavandula stoechas) is also called Butterfly Lavender, and is native to the Mediterranean and North Africa. Its silver leaves are very aromatic, making it a good choice for essential oils or potpourri. Its deep purple flowers steal the show wherever they’re planted.
This lavender plant blooms profusely from mid-spring to late summer. Its flower heads have a very distinct pinecone shape, with little ‘ears’ sprouting from each. Spanish lavender tolerates humidity fairly well, but prefers mild summers and winters. Plant in full sun and sandy, well-drained soil.
Spanish lavender blooms starting in late winter, so use this to add some colour to your garden during the dreary months!
Varieties of Spanish lavender: Ballerina (white flowers), Kew Red (pink-purple flowers), Anouk (deep purple flowers)
4. Portuguese lavender
Portuguese lavender (lavandula latifola) has simpler and more sophisticated flowers. Also known as spike lavender, it has pale lilac flowers on long stems. Its scent is stronger but more pungent than English lavender.
This type of lavender is commonly used in culinary dishes and drinks. Grow it in full sun and sandy, well-drained soil, with a climate that has warm summers and winters. It blooms profusely from late spring to late summer.
Portuguese lavender has sweetly fragrant leaves that attract a lot of butterflies and bees, so be ready to have some buzzing company!
Varieties of Portuguese lavender: Broadleaf (furry foliage), Portuguese giant (large flowers)
5. Italian lavender
This is an offshoot of Spanish lavender, called lavandula stoechas avonview. This evergreen shrub produces large, dense spikes of blue-purple flowers in spring. Its flower heads have a deep aroma.
Italian lavender can grow up to half a metre high, although it more commonly reaches about 12cm. It can tolerate coastal conditions, perfect for those who live near the beach. Plant in any well-drained soil and in a sunny position.
Italian lavender is great for shrub borders, cottage gardens, rockeries, and hedges!
Varieties of Italian lavender: Leucantha (white flowers), Wine (mauve-violet flowers)
This is a popular type of hybrid lavender that marries the cold tolerance of English lavender with the heat tolerance of Portuguese lavender. Lavandula x intermedia has highly fragrant flowers that range from dark purple to white. It blooms from mid to late summer.
Lavandin prefers more dry conditions, and plenty of sun. You can layer some gravel around to help the soil dry faster. This type of lavender will bloom in summer, and grow up to half a metre tall.
Lavandins are great for hedges and other borders, herb gardens, and even rock gardens.
Varieties of Lavandin: Impress Purple (dark purple flowers), Hidcote Giant (light violet flowers)
Lavender Plant Care
It’s very straightforward to grow lavender — plant it somewhere with full sun, at least six hours a day. They’ll also tolerate partial shade if needed. Lavender needs good air circulation, but make sure to keep the flower heads out of strong winds.
Don’t use clay soils for lavender, since these retain too much moisture. Lavender prefers well-drained, sandy soil that’s slightly alkaline. This makes the plant good for rock gardens, groundcover, and fence borders.
You can grow lavender from seed, or you can propagate lavender from cuttings.
Once it’s matured, lavender can tolerate drought well, so don’t water too frequently. When it’s hot and dry out, though, give it a good soak.
Pruning lavender is especially important to maintain its health and appearance, and help it withstand natural elements. It’ll also encourage new growth and flowering. The rule of thumb is to trim back about one-third the length, but if you’re not sure, get a professional gardening service to do it for you!
Lavender doesn’t need fertilising, although you can mulch the soil around it to retain moisture. After that, just sit back and let your lavender grow — and breathe in deep when it’s blooming!