Lavandula stoechas Papillon
Lavender is up there in the top-ten favourite garden plants, both for its relative ease of cultivation, its beautiful looks and scent and of course its culinary and medicinal uses. Wikipedia grandly refers to it as native to the 'Old World' (the Eastern Hemisphere), which seems only fitting for such a sublime plant. And did you know the name derives from the Latin 'Lavare', 'to wash', referring to the use of Lavender infusions, although some say it is the Latin word 'livere', 'blueish', that gave this plant its name?
In any case, Lavender stoechas species are also known as Spanish Lavender, or Butterfly Lavender: bushy dwarf evergreen shrubs with conspicuous sterile bracts or 'ears' on top of the short dense in?orescence. It is more fragile than English Lavender in that it is less hardy. Grown for its silvery aromatic leaves, it is used extensively for essential oils or potpourris. French Lavender enjoys a fairly long blooming season with flowering typically occuring as early as May (in areas with mild summers and winters) with another flush of blooms in June followed by another flush of color in late summer or fall. Fantastically fragrant and a winner in any cottage garden, border or kitchen garden, especially as a mass planting. Works just great in containers, too as long as there are holes in the bottom to let excess moisture out.
Lavender grows best in dry, well-drained, sandy or gravelly soils in full sun. All types need little or no fertilizer and good air circulation. In areas of high humidity, root rot due to fungus infection can be a problem - organic mulches can trap moisture around the plants' bases, encouraging root rot - and gravelly materials such as crushed rocks give best results. Preferred soil pH is between 6 and 8.
Lavender flowers on the previous year's growth in spring or early summer, or on the current year's growth in late summer and autumn. Prune immediately after flowering where flowering is on the previous year's growth, or in the subsequent early to mid-spring (April-May) if flowering is on the current year's growth. Remove shoots that have flowered to within 1.5-2.5cm (¾-1in) of the previous year's growth.
Position: Full sun
Season of Interest: Fragrant purple flowers in Summer to late Summer, culinary use, medicinal use, pollinator plant
Hardiness: Half hardy
Height: 2ft (0.6m) Spread: 2-3ft (0.5-1m)