Lavender in the garden isn't just about the colour, although we love the purple and pink blooms gently waving in the breeze. This beautiful perennial also brings it's signature fragrance, calming and floral, as well as a host of pollinators to your garden.
Plant a pot of lavender by the door, or create a Mediterranean inspired field in the backyard, and enjoy all this plant has to offer! Choose from the many varieties of lavender on the west coast, and get some helpful growing tips, below:
Varieties of Lavender
English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
English Lavender is actually from the Mediterranean, not England, despite its name, and is the most common variety in gardens. It is famous for its amazing scent and variety of colour, from light to dark purple as well as pinks and whites.
English Lavender on the west coast, is a perennial that you can enjoy every year in your garden, and remains semi-evergreen in all seasons, adding colour in the winter.
This type of lavender grows to about 2-3" high, and is fantastic as a border or hedge plant. English Lavender also comes in more compact varieties that make wonderful potted plants. It is the more cold-tolerant of lavender varieties, and can be grown in colder climates, like the west coast.
Spanish Lavender (Lavendula stoechas)
A very different looking lavender, Spanish Lavender has blooms that resemble pineapples in shape, and often have darker colouring then it's cousins. It's sometimes called 'Butterfly Lavender', because of the shape and also because it attracts butterflies!
One of the best parts of this kind of lavender is how it blooms all Spring and Summer. Spanish Lavender has scented foliage, rather than flowers.
Perfect for dry, hot spaces in the garden, as it is extremely heat-tolerant, this plant will fill your yard with dramatic blooms. On the west coast it is best to plant in pots so that you can shelter it in a greenhouse, garage or protected wall of your home during the colder winter months.
French Lavender (Lavandula dentata)
Sometimes known as 'Fringed Lavender' because of the shape of its leaves, French Lavender has soft petals coming out of the tops of its compact blooms. It's known for its bright colouring, although it isn't quite as fragrant as its cousins, and the scent comes mostly from the foliage rather than the blooms.
This type of lavender grows between 1-3" tall and forms a beautiful shrub for the garden. It is cold hardy and works well as lavender on the west coast gardens.
Lavandin (Lavandula x intermedia)
Lavandin is a hybrid between English Lavender and Portuguese Lavender, with all the desired traits of the two! It's extremely fragrant and is often used in essential oils or dried for potpourri. You can get Lavandin in a variety of colours, from purples to pinks, to vary or match your garden blooms.
Lavandin grows in compact mounds and works well in pots as well as garden beds. It is hot and cold tolerant, which means it can grow in almost any garden.
Planting & Growing Your Lavender on the West Coast
Choose the Worst Location
Lavender is a bit of a strange plant, as it grows best in very poor soil! This plant really doesn't do well if you try to grow it in rich, nutritious soil, so don't worry about pampering it. Lavender's ideal growing conditions include dry soil, which means it should also be well draining. Soil that has a high concentration of sand is best, and you can mix garden sand into the garden bed before planting. You should still choose organic soil, if possible, as it has less impurities in the ground.
Don't Bother Watering Your Lavender
It sounds bad, but lavender really doesn't like to be watered unless you're in the middle of a very long drought. Usually Spring and Summer rainfall is enough for this plant (especially on the west coast), and any more might end up hurting your lavender. Avoid any muddy or soggy areas when planting you lavender, as they really don't like to have wet roots.
Lavender loves full sun, and will grow best when it gets 8 or more hours of sun every day. It's hardy enough to withstand wind and rain as well, so you don't have to worry about babying your Lavender. Put it out in the yard and let it thrive.
Shave and a Haircut
Very self-sufficient, the only care your lavender really requires is some pruning once a year. In order to grow nice and bushy, and to promote more blooms, prune your lavender in the early spring or fall, cutting back from 1/3 to 2/3 of the bush. Don't worry about making mistakes, as lavender is quick growing and forgiving.
Not only will lavender add colour and a wonderful scent to your garden, but it also attracts lots of pollinators, especially bees! Your garden will be a buzz with these garden helpers and look amazing, so start planting that lavender.