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Tips for Growing & Using Lavender

September 1st, 2009

In our garden we have cultivate four different types of lavender: Lavendula stoechas ‘Otto Quast’ (Spanish); L. angustifolia ‘Dwarf Munstead’ (English); L. angustifolia ‘Hidcote Blue’ (English); and, L. intermedia ‘Grosso’ (Italian).

Our gardener Arlene prefers the English varieties because of their superior fragrance, and, of the two types that we grow, her favorite is the ‘Hidcote Blue’ (see photo to the left) due to its compact flower spikes and saturated purple-blue color.

As a perennial shurb it is easy to grow in our zone–it likes sun and well-draining soil. It flourishes when watered regularly, but is also drought tolerant. Arlene suggests pruning the flowering stems down to its newest leaves upon bloom. This encourages a second bloom and is also a good time to shape your plant.

To harvest:

  • Cut the flower stems when the buds are first opening
  • Tie and hang in a warm, dry, dark place for two weeks
  • Separate the flowers from the stems
  • What you don’t use immediately you can freeze

The wife of Cary Avery, our landscape superintendent, uses frozen lavender to freshen up her potpourri before guests arrive.

Ed Nordstrom, our garden supervisor even uses the dried lavender stems when roasting a chicken–the same way you’d use hickory chips to add flavor!

Lavender deters moths, leaves your clothes smelling fresh and soothes frazzled nerves! It’s definitely worth a permanent place in your own home gardens!