Lavender is truly a magical garden plant and therapeutic in nature

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Lavandula angustifolia. Image by Rebekka D from PixabayLavandula angustifolia. Image by Rebekka D from PixabayLavender is cultivated not only for the heady fragrance and beauty of its blooms, but also for its attractive evergreen leaves, and its multitude of uses in the garden and home.

Lavandula multifida 'Spanish Eye' Picture courtesy www.ballstraathof.co.zaLavandula multifida 'Spanish Eye' Picture courtesy www.ballstraathof.co.zaIn the garden it attracts bees and butterflies like a magnet, and makes a wonderful companion plant which effectively repels pests. In the kitchen, adventurous cooks use it in all kinds of culinary delights, and homesteaders use it to make an effective and inexpensive DIY insecticide spray, and a household freshener and cleaning agent.

Its history goes back some 2500 years, and the ancient Egyptians used lavender for mummification, as a perfume, and as an essential ingredient for incense. The ancient Romans and Carthaginians used lavender in soaps and to scent their baths, beds, clothes, and even their hair, and once they discovered lavenders medicinal properties it became indispensable to them, and they carried lavender with them throughout the Roman Empire. Even its name comes from the Latin verb ‘lavare,’ meaning “to wash” and in Medieval and Renaissance France women who took in washing for hire were known as “lavenders” because all clothes were washed in lavender water and laid out to dry on lavender bushes. Lavender was used everywhere: to scent drawers, perfume the air, and also for its antiseptic and healing qualities.

The ancient Greeks also loved lavender for bathing calling it “nardus” after the Syrian city of Naarda where lavender was sold, and as early as the first century A.D. the Greek naturalist Dioscorides was praising the medicinal attributes of lavender. In the Bible, in John Chapter 12 lavender is referred to by the name “spikenard,” and Mary Magdalene was said to have broken open an alabaster box of spikenard and used the oil to anoint the feet of Jesus. However, it remains unclear if the spikenard of the Bible was actually the same lavender we love today.

During The Middle Ages lavender was considered an herb of love and was used as an aphrodisiac. It was also believed that a sprinkle of lavender water on the head of a loved one would keep the wearer chaste. In the late 15th and early 16th centuries glove makers in France, who were licensed to perfume their wares with lavender, escaped cholera, and because it was believed that this was due to the lavender, Queen Lavandula dentata 'Royal Crown' Picture courtesy www.ballstraathof.co.zaLavandula dentata 'Royal Crown' Picture courtesy www.ballstraathof.co.zaElizabeth of England required lavender conserve to be served at the royal table, and fresh lavender flowers throughout her residences. Lavender was also used as a remedy for the Great Plague in London in the 17th century.

Lavenders popularity just grew and grew, and due to its insecticidal properties, it was strewn over the floors in castles, and during wartime it was used to disinfect wounds. Lavender was also used as an ingredient in smelling salts, and as an insecticide to protect linens from moths. In the 19th century England’s Queen Victoria took a special interest in lavender and ‘English lavender’ became immensely popular.

The Victorians loved to use lavender in their gardens and both queens used products from the famous lavender company, Yardley’s of London. Yardley's signature scent is ‘English Lavender’ which was selected by the company in the 1930’s after several years of searching for the finest variety, before it was launched in 1873. The lavender variety used is Lavandula angustifolia, which is actually a native of the mountains of the western Mediterranean regions, but it thrives in the South of England, where it is specially grown for Yardley. English Lavender was so popular during the Victorian Era that it was imported to the USA in the 1880’s, where it became just as popular in American households.

In China, Lavender is still used in medicinal oil called “white flower oil,” which offers relief from everything from headaches to travel sickness.

Today, lavender is cultivated commercially in France, England, Italy, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Tanzania, the United States and Canada, to name a few, but in Provence, in the South of France, when the lavender busts into bloom in late June, it turns the hills a misty haze of blue, and lavenders sweet scent wafts through the countryside, fresh produce markets, flower festivals, and craft fairs, enticing people to travel from all over the world to experience the breath-taking show.

Lavandula 'Margaret Roberts' Picture courtesy www.ballstraathof.co.zaLavandula 'Margaret Roberts' Picture courtesy www.ballstraathof.co.zaIn South Africa lavender is cultivated commercially in the Western and Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, Gauteng, Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces.

Lavender is native to the Atlantic Islands, India, and the Mediterranean region, Middle East, North Africa and West Africa, and there are a lot of different types of lavender, with about 39 known species, and over 200 cultivars. All lavenders belong to the genus 'Lavandula' and are in the plant family known as Labiatae. This family also includes herbs like thyme, mint, rosemary, basil, sage and savory, and all these herbs share some characteristics in common, one of which is that they all have typical lavender flowers that are "lipped."

The popularity of lavender with gardeners just never seems to wane, and growers continue to produce enticing new garden hybrids in all shades of purple, violet, lavender, blue, and white. There are so many varieties, and as with many plants, their botanical names are often changed, adding to the confusion of labelling lavenders.  Even their common names are confused by gardeners and horticulturalists alike, and one person may know a variety as being French lavender, while another may refer to it as Spanish Lavender. For this reason it is imperative that you purchase your lavender plants from a reputable garden centre, to ensure that they are labelled correctly.

Lavenders are divided into three main groups: spica lavenders, stoechas lavenders, and pterostachys lavenders.

English Lavender, True Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

English lavender is actually native to Spain but thrives in England. It is the most widely cultivated species in gardens because it is tough and very hardy, tolerating temperatures down to -15°C, and coping with anything the British weather throws at it. It’s cottage-garden lavender, the one associated with Grandma and the one with all those amazing aromatherapy and healing properties. Typically it is compact, growing +-1m tall with an equal spread, and producing lovely narrow, grey to green leaves, and richly scented purple-blue flowers all year round, if it is clipped regularly.

‘Hidcote Blue’ (Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote Blue’)

This gorgeous free flowering variety of English lavender produces dark lavender-blue flower spikes in late spring and early summer, and if the plant is pruned after flowering, it may produce a second smaller flush later in the season. It is sweetly fragrant and compact, growing +-38cm tall with a spread of 45cm, making it ideal for borders, pots, and large hanging baskets.

‘Elegant Ice’ (Lavandula angustifolia ‘Elegant Ice’)

This English hybrid which is low-growing +- 30cm tall,  making it ideal for borders, pots and large hanging baskets. The fragrant blooms are a cool, icy white with a tinge of lilac, and this little plant will bloom intermittently from spring through to autumn.

‘Ellagance’ (Lavandula angustifolia ‘Ellagance’)

Ellagance is another exciting range of English lavenders which come in four delightful colours: pink, purple, light-blue, and pure white. The fine foliage is silver-green and the plants are small and compact, +-50cm tall and 45cm wide, making them ideal for borders, pots and large hanging baskets. The flowers have a very sweet fragrance and appear all through summer and autumn, especially when the plant is deadheaded regularly.

Fern Leaf Lavenders, Lavandin

Three different species of lavender, Lavandula multifida, which is from southern Europe and North Africa, Lavandula pinnata and Lavandula canariensis from the Canary Islands, are all called fern-leaf lavender. Those from the Canary Islands are tender to frost, and all produce flowers that are held up high on wiry stems that move in the slightest breeze. They differ in the colour of their foliage:  L. canariensis produces light green foliage, L. multifida has grey-green leaves, and L. pinnata has silver foliage.

There are many garden hybrids of this type of lavender and the name “intermedia” simply means ‘between’ and “x intermedia” simply means that this hybrid is a new plant that is the result of a cross between two botanically distinct species. And, although the common name of these plants is actually “lavandin,” they are usually, if rather confusingly, still called “lavender.”

The aroma of lavandin cutivars has more of an herbal, camphor-like undertone, than a true lavender scent, but they are especially known for producing a lot of essential oil, up to ten times more than English lavender. These elegantly tall fern-leaf lavenders even look distinctively different to other garden lavenders, creating a wild, airy feel in a garden with their green to grey, deeply lobed fern-like leaves that give the plants a soft, lacy appearance. They grow up to 1.3m or more, and produce their unusual blue, dark violet or white flowers at the tips of tall stalks, and blooming is continuous if the old flowers are sheared off regularly to promote new ones.

Fern-leaf lavenders are unique in that they will tolerate heat and humidity. Some are tender to frost and others are fully hardy to +-15°C. Although they love the blazing sun, they will also grow in light shade. Because the bushes survive for several years before they need to be replaced, these lavenders have great presence as specimens or hedges. Their unsurpassed scent and colour are evocative of high summer, and because they also grow easily from seed and will bloom in their first year, they are perfect for flower borders, beds, and containers.

Margaret Robert’s Lavender, Lavandin (Lavandula x intermedia Margaret Robert’s)

Margaret Robert’s lavender is a large upright variety of lavandin which is quite alluring with its narrow grey leaves and its long-stemmed dark blue flower spikes, creating a wonderful airy, fine-textured effect, and appearing sporadically throughout the year. It is fast growing and fully hardy, and because of its large size +-90cm tall and 45cm wide, it makes a real statement in a large container, or if planted in large groups. 

Fern-leaf Lavender, Lace Lavender, Jagged Lavender, Lavendin (Lavandula pinnata)

This heat tolerant lavender is native to southern Madeira and the Canary Islands, and  has a lovely open habit, growing +-60 to 70cm tall with a spread of 30 to 40cm. It is sometimes called “jagged lavender” because of its uniquely broad, fern-like, green-grey leaves. The branched flower stems will grow tall before the little flower buds unfurl their whorled flower heads to put on a spectacular show of light purple-blue blossoms. Flowering starts in spring and continues into mid-summer, when the plants take a short break, before resuming again in late summer. This fragrant lavender is not long-lived, and needs replacing every couple of years.  It is tender and cannot tolerate frost or temperatures below freezing. Fortunately it grows very quickly from seed, which makes it one of those unique tender perennials worth growing as a summer annual.

Fern-leaf Lavender, Egyptian Lavender, Lavendin (Lavandula multifida)

This native of the southern regions of the Mediterranean, including Iberia, Sicily and the Canary Islands was given the Latin term multifida, which means ‘much divided’ because of its trident or winged flower spikes, which are a lovely bright, but light blue. It starts blooming in late spring and continues almost continuously. The stems are grey and woolly, and the soft, pale grey-green foliage has a fern-like in appearance. It matures at +60cm tall with a spread of 40cm, and is tender to frost, but because it grows quickly and is easy to grow from seed, it is often grown as a summer annual in cold regions. Cultivars include 'Spanish Eyes' which can also be grown as an annual, has lovely grey-green leaves which have an aroma very much like oregano when crushed, and produces small violet-blue flowers repeatedly during the growing season.

Grosso Lavender, Fat Lavender, Lavendin (Lavandula x intermedia ‘Grosso’)

This lavender is readily available in nurseries, and is a fully hardy variety which is grown for its oil. It makes a tidy mound of silvery-green leaves, and although it is sturdy and fairly low growing +-60cm, the flower spikes are taller, standing well above the foliage.  They are up to 15cm long, hence the common name “fat lavender,” a showy light to dark purple, and extremely fragrant. There is also a white variety to choose from. This lavender flowers in spring and is perfect for smaller gardens and containers. It grows easily in sandy or salty conditions and is very self-sufficient.

Spanish Lavender (Lavandula stoechas)

There are very many garden hybrids of Spanish lavender which vary slightly in height from +- 30 to 60cm, and these compact and bushy varieties generally have soft grey-green foliage that is very aromatic. The abundantly produced, fragrant flower heads are densely cylindrical, tapering to a blunt tip, and crowned by four long bracts, which give the flowers a very distinctive appearance. Hybrids are available in vibrant shades of plum, purple, pink and white, and bloom for a long season from late winter to spring, and if the dead flower stems are removed regularly the newer varieties will give another flush in summer. Spanish lavender is good for hot, humid gardens, and will also tolerate short spells of temperature around -5°C, but sharp drainage is critical for survival through cold, wet winters. Crisp, dry winters are better.

French Lavender, Toothed Lavender (Lavandula dentata)

French lavender has attractive green to grey leaves which are distinctly serrated. The flower spikes are a lovely shade of dusty-mauve, exceptionally long lasting when cut, and although most prolific in winter and spring, can appear sporadically throughout the year. This plant is more suitable for warmer, humid regions, and only semi-hardy to cold temperatures. However, it can be quite rugged if given just a little protection to keep it above 0°C. A dry bed at the base of a sheltered north facing wall is often sufficient. It is a wonderful ornamental shrub which grows +-80 to 90cm tall, and makes a neat hedge. It also works well in containers and is suitable for small gardens.

Royal Crown Lavender (Lavandula dentata var. Royal Crown)

This lavender is a compact shrub which grows +- 60 to 80cm in height, with narrow, dark green leaves with finely toothed margins, some varieties have grey-green leaves. The long flower stalks are topped by pale purple bracts, and if sheared regularly will flower all year round. It is semi-hardy to frost and prefers a full sun to a partly shaded position. This lavender is commonly used for hedges and borders, as well as in pots and containers.

Candicans French Lavender (Lavandula dentata var. Candicans)

This lavender has lovely soft, silvery-grey, toothed leaves, and it produces its attractive mauve-blue flower spikes almost throughout the year, and ‘Candicans x Pure Harmony’ is a popular new variety with white flowers.  It can withstand mild frost and grows to +-1m tall when mature, with an almost equal spread. The foliage colour makes it a wonderful contrast plant in the flower border.

Butterfly Lavender, French Lavender (Lavandula pedunculata)

There are several varieties of this unusual lavender which are a form of French lavender. They were bred in Australia, and two of the best performers: Lavandula pedunculata ‘Lace’ and Lavandula pedunculata ‘Ruffles’ are absolute winners in South African gardens because they take heat and humidity, and are drought tolerant. They are also hardy to cold, tolerating temperatures as low as -5°C. These garden hybrids are compact, growing +-70cm tall will an equal spread. The ravishing rounded dark plum flower heads are topped with long, paler purple flowers, rising elegantly on long stems, and flowering begins in winter and continues into spring and late summer. Lavenders in the ‘Lace’ series are early-blooming, with a compact growth pattern and aromatic grey foliage.  Those in the ‘Ruffles’ series produce stunning flowers, predominantly in shades of pink. Use them in the perennial flower border, in containers, or as a low ornamental hedge by spacing the plants 45cm apart.

Dutch Lavender (Lavandula x allardii)

Dutch lavender is very tough and resistant to drought, wind, storms, hail, floods as well as heat. It has a rich camphor smell and grows quite large and vigorously, yet forming a compact bush, +- 1m in height or more, with broad, grey-green leaves, which can be scallop-edged or smooth.  Although Dutch lavender is not a prolific flowerer and only flowers sporadically, because it lives for a long time, and responds well to regular clipping, it remains the preferred variety for hedging in large gardens. For a hedge plant them 1.5m apart.  Lavandula x allardii ‘African Pride’ is a South African hybrid with the same qualities.

 Lavandula angustifolia 'Ellagance Snow' Picture courtesy www.ballstraathof.co.zaLavandula angustifolia 'Ellagance Snow' Picture courtesy www.ballstraathof.co.zaUses:

Lavender is grown commercially for the extraction of oil from its flowers and to some degree from its foliage. The dried flowers are still used extensively as fragrant herbal fillers inside sachets - to freshen linens, closets and drawers.

If the essential oil is added to water, and shaken before being sprayed into the air, it will freshen-up practically any room. This DIY air freshener can be such fun to make, because you can make you own fragrance mixes, and it will not only save you money on purchasing commercial air fresheners, but it is also good for you, so spray and breath in deeply.

The dried and fresh flowers of lavender are also popular for decorating wedding venues, and the flowers and buds make delightful organic confetti for tossing over the newlyweds.

Make a natural household cleaner from a strong infusion of the flowers, or a few drops of lavender essential oil mixed with vinegar and water. The same mixture can be used to remove pet smells and soiling.

Health Benefits:

Today we know that this ancient medicinal plant does indeed have a calming effect that eases anxiety, fatigue, and depression, as well as promoting restful sleep. Lavender essential oil is used internally; and externally in aromatherapy, to treat these. It is also known to relieve headaches, indigestion and heartburn. To soothe headaches, migraines and motion sickness, simply apply a little lavender oil to the temples.

Lavender is an anti-inflammatory, and because it is also known for its antiseptic and antibacterial properties, it is often used in creams and oils to heal burns, stings, wounds, and even mild cases of acne.

Easy ways to harness the health benefits of lavender is to sip a fragrant herbal tea made from the flowers, or to simply soak in a lavender-infused bath.

Lavandula stoechas 'Lavela Dark Pink' Picture courtesy www.ballstraathof.co.zaLavandula stoechas 'Lavela Dark Pink' Picture courtesy www.ballstraathof.co.zaIn the Kitchen:

As a member of the mint family, lavender has been used for centuries in the preparation of food, either by itself or as an ingredient of Herbs de Province – an herb combination which captures the flavours of the sunny south of France.

The best lavenders for cooking are varieties which have low camphor content, like English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) and French Lavender (Lavandula stoechas) as well as the popular South African variety known as “Margaret Roberts Lavender.”

If used with a light touch, lavender flowers will impart a delicious flavour and aroma to biscuits and a variety of other baked treats and desserts. However, don’t constrict yourself to only using lavender with sweet treats - try it with savoury dishes too. Lavender delivers a floral, slightly sweet and elegant flavour to salads, soups, stews, meat and seafood dishes, as well as cheeses.

For most cooking applications it is the dried flowers that are used because only the buds and flowers contain the essential oil of lavender which is where the scent and flavour are best derived.

Wherever and however lavender is used in food preparation, it extends beyond its familiar fragrance to deliver a rich yet delicate flavour to a host of recipes, and your culinary skills will only be limited by your imagination.  

Lavandula 'Mulberry Ruffles'Lavandula 'Mulberry Ruffles'

 Pets:

The question "is lavender safe for dogs, cats and horses” is not a straight yes or no answer, because the plant does contain a small amount of a compound called "linalool" which is toxic to both dogs and cats. However, the linalool is found in such small concentrations, that this is rarely an issue. Problems arise only if an animal ingests a large quantity of lavender.

Symptoms of lavender poisoning may include vomiting, inability to defecate, a swollen and tender abdomen, reduced appetite, and fever. If you suspect your pet has been poisoned by lavender, you should consult your veterinarian immediately. 

Giving your dog, cat, or horse lavender essential oil to ingest is not recommended, but aromatherapy may prove helpful to calm them down, promote restful sleep etc. as in humans. Under no circumstances should a cat be fed lavender essential oil, as a cat’s liver is simply incapable of breaking down the chemicals in essential oils. Because an essential oil is so concentrated, the natural enzymes in them can be anywhere from 500 to even 2000 times stronger than the original plant. Because of this, probably very few essential oils are safe for cats to ingest.

New studies by scientists have found that lavender is the secret to keeping a horse calm. Horses are often stressed when being moved on trailers, when their hoofs are being trimmed, or during bathing, and some may even be skittish when being bridled and saddled. The University of Arizona has discovered that a quick sniff of lavender can lower heart rate and keep the animal calm; and the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science found significant signs of stress reduction in horses that inhaled lavender from a diffuser.

Lavandula angustifolia 'Hidcote Blue' Picture courtesy www.ballstraathof.co.zaLavandula angustifolia 'Hidcote Blue' Picture courtesy www.ballstraathof.co.zaCompanion Planting in the Garden:

There is something ethereal about fields of lavender in full bloom and gardeners travel halfway around the world to view the lavender fields of France and Britain. Therefore it’s not surprising that lavender remains one of South Africa’s loveliest and most popular garden plants. It relishes our hot, sunny climate and is one of the best plants to provide flowers for many months. Generally lavenders bloom most profusely in late winter, spring and early summer, taking a breather in the height of summer. Several newer hybrids will have another flush in late summer and autumn.

Organic gardeners love lavender as a companion plant which will attract beneficial insects, while repelling those unwanted ones. Planting lavender in the garden and using it in DIY garden sprays will greatly reduce the need to spray with other harmful chemicals, making lavender essential for homesteaders and organic gardeners. 

Lavenders strong-smelling leaves and flowers repel slugs and snails, aphids, whitefly, and many other harmful insects. A huge plus is rodents hate the smell of lavender, so if rats are a problem, plant a hedge of lavender – this is especially good around vegetable patches, and fruit orchards. It will even help to repel the neighbours’ cats, and it is reported that even buck won’t eat it!  

Lavender is a natural repellent of moths, and any plants that suffer from them will benefit greatly from having lavender nearby. Fruit trees, in particular, can be hit very hard by moths, and tend to do much better when surrounded by lavender bushes. The same can be said for cabbage and broccoli, which often fall prey to slugs.

Margaret Roberts, our very own “herb guru” adored lavender, and found it to be beneficial to all plants growing near it, but remember the golden rule when selecting companions to plant with lavender, or any other plant - always group plants together which have the same growth requirements, and for lavender it would be: full sun, moderate watering and feeding, and light well-drained soil.

Lavender is often planted with roses, but do not plant them too close together because roses require a lot more water and feeding than lavender. For this reason, they are often grown as clipped hedges around formal rose gardens.

With its silvery grey foliage, lavender makes an excellent contrast plant in the flower garden and compliments many colour schemes. Plant swathes of lavender to create ‘curb appeal’ on your pavement or along a long driveway, where they will greet friends and passer’s by with their glorious colour and scent. Many varieties are fantastic in terracotta pots, and others are ideal rockery plants. To find the perfect varieties for your specific garden needs, visit your favourite garden centre for the best advice.

Lavandula dentata var. 'Candicans' Picture courtesy www.ballstraathof.co.zaLavandula dentata var. 'Candicans' Picture courtesy www.ballstraathof.co.zaCultivation:

A beloved favourite for Mediterranean style gardens, lavender thrives in our winter rainfall regions, growing in full sun, and on impoverished soils. However, this hardy water-wise perennial will adapt to a range of climates, and there are types which are fully frost hardy too. Generally lavenders do not like high humidity because they are susceptible to fungal diseases under these conditions.  However, varieties like the fern-leaf lavenders are unique in that they will tolerate heat and humidity. And, although most lavenders love the blazing sun, requiring a minimum of 6 to 8 hours of sunshine a day, some will also grow in semi-shade. For these reasons it is vitally important that you select the right lavender for you garden and climate, so seek expert advice from a reputable garden centre.

All lavenders flower profusely, but flowering times vary according to species and cultivar.  Spanish lavenders flower sporadically from spring through autumn, and the newer English lavender hybrids will flower throughout the summer with regular deadheading.  ‘Grosso’ will flower only in early summer, and the French lavenders, which included the famous ‘Margaret Roberts’ lavender, will flower all year round. By planting several varieties, the flowering season can be almost non-stop.

Lavender hates being damp, and if its roots are constantly wet, it could die. For this reason it is essential that your soil is extremely well drained, with plenty of space for air to circulate in the soil. Lighten heavy garden soil by adding lots of compost and even some washed river sand. Irrigate newly planted lavender regularly until established, and moderately thereafter during long, dry spells.

Although lavender is often listed as a perennial, that is only partially correct because lavender is actually regarded as a subshrub. You might think this is just a matter of terminology, but it makes a big difference in how you prune your plants, and if you prune lavender as you would an herbaceous perennial, you may kill it. Lavender blooms on new growth and cutting the plant back is essential, however, when pruning a subshrub never cut the plant right down to ground level, rather cut it back about twice a year after flowering, taking away no more than one third of growth. To encourage more flower production, remove all dead flower stems regularly throughout the season. On older plants that become too woody, some of the very old branches can be cut back right down to ground level. 

Lavender also requires good air movement around its leaves, so space your plants correctly to avoid overcrowding, which makes the plants more susceptible to fungal diseases. Lavenders are perennials and when they get woody after 3 to 4 years, they will require replacing.

Overfeeding lavender is not good, but feeding 2 to 3 times a year with a slow-release fertiliser for flowering plants, or some compost, won’t do them any harm - just ensure that the fertiliser or compost does not come into contact with the stems.

If you are planting into pots, ensure that the potting mix drains well and there are sufficient drainage holes. A special mixture for cacti and succulents, with a little compost mixed in, would be perfect.  Water potted lavender regularly when the soil is dry but don’t overwater or leave the pot sitting in a drip tray full of water for long. Fertilise two or three times during the growing season with a slow-release fertiliser for flowering plants, or a similar liquid fertiliser.

Lavendula 'Ruffles'Lavendula 'Ruffles'Propagation:

Lavender is easy to grow from cuttings and is also propagated from seed. Some grow very quickly and easily from seed and can be grown as summer annuals, while others are very slow to germinate, and can take a whole year before they start flowering. Cuttings are most economical, and softwood cuttings can be taken in spring or early summer, and hardwood cuttings later in summer. Cut straight, vigorous stems, 8 to 10cm long, with good colour and no buds. Remove all of the leaves from the lower part of the stem and then, with a knife, gently scrape the skin off the bottom portion of the stem on one side. Dip the stripped tip of the cutting in rooting hormone, if desired. Rooting hormone helps prevent the tip from rotting and encourages quick, strong root development, but lavender roots well without it too. Plant in pots with commercial starting medium, or a homemade mix of half vermiculite or perlite and half peat moss, with a little fine bark or washed river sand added to facilitate drainage.

Problems, Pests & Diseases:

Lavender is a natural insect repellent, and if grown correctly, very few diseases or pests occur on lavender plants in South Africa, and if present, the insect numbers are usually insignificant.

Caution:

The information contained within this website is for educational purposes only, documenting the traditional uses of specific plants as recorded through history. Always seek advice from a medical practitioner or veterinarian before starting a home treatment programme.