Lavender is a genus of flowering plants in the mint family Lamiaceae. It is widespread throughout the Mediterranean, Asia and parts of Africa. Lavandula species are widely cultivated for their beautiful flowers and perfume production, which play a role in some traditional medicines.
There are over two hundred different types of lavender with many hybrids being developed by plant breeders to meet consumer demand for specific traits such as color or flower shape. This article will introduce you to the most popular types of lavender that can be found today on store shelves around the world.
1) French Lavender
The fragrance from this type of lavender comes mainly from camphor and it has a high menthol content which makes it useful for healing skin irritated by insect bites and stings. It also has antiseptic qualities, perfect for helping with acne or oily skin.
French lavender is a type of lavender developed in France and its flowers are often pink to purple in color. They are the type of lavender most commonly used for beauty products such as soaps, lotions, perfumes and bath oils.
French lavender is thought to be a hybrid of English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) and spike lavender (Lavandula latifolia). Long lasting when dried, it is used as a bitter agent in medicines or it can be added to potpourri. Aromatherapists prize French lavender for helping in releasing sadness and coming to terms with a loss.
2) Dutch (or Grown) Lavender
This type of lavender is what most people think of when they envision the purple flower that so many associate with weddings. The name comes from the fact that it was grown in holland during the middle ages.
The fragrance of Dutch lavender is strong and sweet, a mixture of camphor and citrus. It has been used to combat depression, relieve stress and aid in the healing process.
Since it is very aromatic, dutch lavender is perfect for making your own perfume or adding a touch of color to potpourri. For use in soaps, it should be dried first.
3) Spike Lavender (or Prickly)
Spike lavender is a brownish-purple color that contrasts beautifully with the bright purple of Dutch lavender. The spikes on its leaves and stem are an asprin type taste to them. It is probably one of the oldest types of lavender, its use dating back to at least the third century.
It has a relaxing effect on the body and can help in relieving headaches. It is also been used as a natural insect repellent, making it an ideal plant to grow around your garden if you are trying to ward off mosquitos or other unwanted pests.
Spike lavender also makes a great addition to potpourri and it includes major in the ingredients of many beauty products such as soaps, lotions or perfumes.
Lavandin is a popular hybrid that has been created by cross-breeding Spike Lavender with other types of lavender. It is a very hardy plant that can withstand the cold and still bloom in spring time. Lavandin is used widely by gardeners, including those who want to plant lavender for beekeeping as it helps attract bees and butterflies to the yard.
It is slightly different from other types of lavender because its leaves and stems have a distinct, spicy aroma. The flowers are purple in color but the petals tend to be smaller than those of other lavenders.
For use in beauty products, it is best used to make your own perfume or added to bath oils and soap as an aroma-therapeutic aid.
5) English Lavender
This type of lavender has a history that goes back to the Romans, who brought it with them when they invaded England. It is thought to have originated in the Mediterranean area and spread throughout Europe.
It is one of the most popular types used for producing essential oils commercially, as its aroma makes it perfect for adding to perfumes and soaps. It also has a high demand for use in the making of incense and it is often used as sachets for storing linens or clothes.
English lavender's flowers are generally purple with hints of white, though recently there have been some strains bred that are blue-purple instead. It is sometimes called "English" lavender to distinguish it from the two other types that are referred to as "French" and "Dutch".
This type of lavender is renowned for its soothing aroma, so it should be used in beauty products if you are looking for a relaxing bath or a good night's sleep.
6) Spanish Lavender
Spanish lavender is a very fragrant type of lavender that has been used in perfumes and sachets as well as for aromatherapy. Its name comes from the fact that it was grown widely in Spain during the middle ages.
It is an easily cultivated plant, so it is often commonly found growing wild in many landscapes, especially in France.
This type of lavender has a very distinct fragrance as well as being darker in color than most other types. The stems and leaves are more square than round, giving it a unique appearance compared to its cousins.
It is used for making soaps and shampoos due to the high price of Spanish lavender essential oil, which sells for a very high price.
7) Lavadulce or Sweet Spanish Lavender
Italian lavender is most commonly referred to as "Sweet Spanish" in the United States, but in Italy it goes by several other names such as "Lavandino Inglese" (English lavender), "Lavanda azzurra" (blue lavender) and "Lavanda dolce" (sweet lavender).
It differs from the other types of lavender in that it is a low-growing plant, rather than a shrub with tall flowers. It produces small blue flowers that have an intoxicating, very sweet aroma.
Spanish lavender is probably the most sweet-smelling type of lavender, though other types that can compete with it are Bulgarian or Egyptian.
8) Portuguese Lavender
This type of lavender has been used since ancient times in making perfumes and soaps. It is famous for its ability to grow well without much water and salty conditions; it actually needs a lot of sun exposure especially during the flowering stage.
Its small flowers are usually purple, though violet types do exist, but their scent is considered more sour than sweet. The flowers are generally small, but the plant itself has a solid and very compact appearance due to the thick stems.
It can even grow without any pruning, which makes it an excellent choice for wall or border gardens; it will only need occasional trimming back if it starts to encroach onto walkways or driveways.
This type of lavender is often used as a low-growing hedge. The trunk is also very thick and it can reach up to four feet tall without pruning; the trunk itself can be trimmed into a Bonsai tree if you want some variety out of your plantings.
9) Egyptian Lavender
This type of lavender is considered by some botanists as part of the Angustifolia group because it resembles Spanish and French varieties, though its buds are more pointy than rounded.
It is very similar to English lavender in terms of fragrance, but it has a more gray-green appearance and the leaves on this plant tend to be a bit larger than those of English lavender. It is the type of lavender that is used most frequently in cooking, especially due to its floral aroma and taste.
10) ‘Alba Nana’ English Lavender
A lavender plant with an interesting appearance, ‘Alba Nana’ is also known as "Dwarf English" or "Nana's Dwarf", and it has the nickname of "Fairy Garden Lavender". It was bred in Britain, and although it is commonly referred to by the misleading name of a dwarf variety, it is actually a type of low-growing lavender bush with very tiny flowers.
This plant does spread, but only slowly, and it is not invasive at all; in fact, it can be contained to be grown as a small Bonsai bush or hedge for keeping in small areas.
If you are looking for an attractive border plant, this might be the one for you; it has attractive gray-green leaves and tiny purple flowers that can easily double as fairy garden accessories.
11) Bulgaria Lavender
Also known as "Bulgarian Sweet", this lavender is a perennial shrub that has a bluish-green appearance and grows in short bush form. It produces strong stems, small flowers, and tiny blue petals that are usually trimmed if grown for sale or use in crafts.
This type of lavender is prized for its sweet smell and light blue color, which make it a favorite for decorative purposes. It can grow in average soil conditions with lots of sun exposure, and blooms profusely from June through September.
It usually takes about 2 ½ years to flower fully, but it is very well worth the wait; it produces a strong and sweet smell that literally surrounds the house.
12) "Blue Boy" Lavender
An English lavender type that is also known as "Blue Boy", this has a very rich scent with an aroma that can be described as spicy or flowery, depending on your personal preferences. This plant grows in white, blue-mauve, pale purple, and occasionally light violet.
This is a very strong lavender plant with an incredible scent that can last for several days even after the flowers have died off. It grows best in Mediterranean-type climates or anywhere it has full sun exposure; during the winter months, it needs to be kept indoors in houses with central heating since temperatures can drop below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
13) ‘Thumbelina Leigh’ English Lavender
A tiny English lavender variety, ‘Thumbelina Leigh’ is also known by the nickname of "Miniature Dwarf" or "Leigh's Miniature". It was originally bred in Scotland for use in rock gardens and other small planting areas and only grows 30 to 40 cm tall at most.
This plant works well as a border or container plant, and has small purple flowers that have a strong lavender scent. It grows best in full sun to partial shade, and is known for its slow growth rate.
14) ‘Little Lottie’ English Lavender
Another dwarf variety of English lavender, ‘Little Lottie’ is another plant that was also bred in England for use as a border or container plant. It only grows about 25 to 30 cm tall at most and has large purple flowers that have a very sweet scent.
15) Kalamkari Lavender
This is a very rare type of lavender plant, grown in Turkey and used as both an ornamental garden plant and for medicinal purposes. Its name comes from the painting styles that have been adapted to its growth pattern by Native Americans, resulting in the brilliant blooms it produces.
It grows slowly for a lavender plant and is fairly easy to maintain. It is another great choice for gardeners who are limited on space or have some degree of green thumb.
16) Japanese Lavender
This is one of the few types of lavender that do not belong to the L. angustifolia species; in fact, it is a hybrid and was bred by Charles Valandraud for use as an ornamental plant. The tall stalks grow up to 3 metres and have very strong purple flowers with very sweet scent. This variety of lavender is also known as Munstead Lavender.
Q: How can I get rid of moths or common pests that attack my lavender?
Just spray them with herbal sprays, which you can make from a few drops of citronella and lemongrass oils added to water.
Q: Can I cut my lavender plant to keep it healthy? (or will this hurt the plant?)
Some people say that cutting your lavender plants is good for them, while others disagree. Cutting back a lavender bush may give you more flowers earlier in the season and prevent overgrowth, but the bush may wither later on. If you do decide to trim your lavender bush, be sure to use sharp shears or scissors.
Q: Can I grow my lavender plant indoors?
You certainly can. They need a sunny spot in order for them to thrive; they also love humidity and should be watered around 1/4 of the way every week. Let them dry out a bit between waterings. Ensure that they have enough airflow in order to prevent mold and mildew from growing.
Q: Will my lavender plant attract bugs?
Some people believe that bugs are attracted to lavender plants, while others disagree. It may be best to keep it away from your doorways or other entrances in order to avoid attracting pests such as moths and wasps. If you do get a lot of bug visitors who hate the smell of lavender, you can spray them with a mild soap mixture or put out bug traps like the kind that uses water and dish detergent.
Q: Why is my lavender plant wilting?
There could be multiple reasons for why your lavender plant may be wilting. It could simply need water, or it could have been over-watered. Ensure that the soil does not get soggy and stays well drained at all times. Make sure there are no wet or sappy places on your plant. It may be best to place it in a spot where the leaves can get some sunlight if it is not getting enough light.
There are so many uses for lavender essential oils, and if you choose to grow your own lavender plant, it won't take up much space. If you're a gardener that wants something unique in their home or garden, try growing your own lavender plant now!