Mediterranean Diet 101

How to Grow Common Lavender - Lavandula Angustifolia

Common Lavender (Lavandula Angustifolia) or simply 'lavender', is a perennial flowering shrub that can grow up to 2m tall.

It is very aromatic plant, having strong and distinctive scent.

lavender 2

Today, there are three types of lavender cultivars:

- dwarf cultivars, growing up to 0.5m (20 inches) tall,

- semi-dwarf cultivars, growing up to 0.75m (30 inches) tall,

- giant cultivars, growing up to, or even more than 1m (40 inches).

Regardless what cultivar you have, keep in mind that lavender grows best in dry, well-drained, sandy or gravelly soils. It prefers sunny places and don't like to grow in shades - they will grow even in shades, but scent, size, shape and number of flowers will not be as on plants on sunny positions.

Lavender can be grown on permanent positions, as individual plants, in small groups, as aromatic hedge or in flower pots. Due to characteristic contrast between dark green leaves and its flowers, lavender is often used in landscaping, especially for gardens and backyards with limited amount of water for irrigation (Xeriscaping).

lavender 1Lavender is not picky about soil - wild lavender needs little or no fertilizer. However, it will grow much better and have more great smelling flowers when growing in nutrient rich soil - add NPK fertilizers 2-3 times per season, in small quantities (10-15g per plant), and add some humus, compost or some organic fertilizer with gradual release of nutrients in late winter and in summer.

Note: lavender tolerates acidic soils, but it grows best in neutral to slightly alkaline soils, so be careful regarding soil's pH factor.

During periods of high humidity and in long rainy seasons, roots can rot due to fungus infections and entire plants can be lost. So, be sure that plants have good drainage, especially plants that grow in flower pots - mix good flower soil with sand and small pebbles. Before adding soil into the pot, add a thin layer (3-5cm - 1-2 inches) of pebbles and small stones on the bottom of the pot for better drainage. For proper growth, lavender needs a good air circulation around plant, too.

Lavender can be grown from seeds or by rooting branches - if you like outdoor activities, if you ever run onto the blooming lavender or rosemary shrub, be sure to take few branches with you - when you come home, simply stick them into the soil, water it and soon you will have new plants ready to be repotted next season.

Or simply buy few plants in containers - especially if you live in colder areas and you need specific cultivar for your location.

Use of Lavender

Young leaves are used in Mediterranean cuisine for dishes with lamb, veal, poultry and various fish. Also, it is used in various stews and dips, where it can be combined with rosemary and thyme, even laurel. Note that all those plants have very specific, strong aroma and should be used in small quantities, regardless if used fresh or dried.

Flowers are used as air freshener and as a prevention against moths. Lavender oil is often used for aroma and massage therapy.

Lavender is also used for making herbal tea, soaps, as herbal medicine etc.

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