Today I am going to share some basic Lavender gardening tips and uses with you. Earlier this summer I impulse bought a tiny Lavender plant from my local nursery. I also impulse bought a tiny Lemon Balm plant (you can read about my experiences with Lemon Balm here). All I knew about Lavender is that it looks stunning…
…in pictures like this.
What I didn’t know is that Lavender needs a lot of heat and sun to grow. That’s not something we always get in Northern Canada, so Lavender is going to be a bit of an experiment. I want to give it the absolute best conditions possible, to see if it can survive our cold, northern winters. But before I can do that, I need to learn a whole lot more about Lavender gardening. These are the highlights of what I found…
- There are many different types of Lavender. Plants from your local nursery should grow in your area, but always check. Hopefully I kept the plastic tag from my plant!
- Lavender can grow up to 1.5 metres tall (almost 5 feet). This is way taller than I thought!
- It has striking purple flowers, that smell like camphor.
- Lavender essential oil has a variety of uses. (see below)
LAVENDER GARDENING TIPS
- Lavender needs at least 8 hours of full sun a day.
- It needs to have some sort of protection from winter winds.
- The soil must drain well because dampness will kill your plant. Raised beds can help this, as excess water usually drains out. If you decide to plant it in a pot, make sure it has good drainage holes.
- Lavender excels soil that is a bit alkaline. It prefers a pH of 6.7 – 7.3. Adding lime will make soil more alkaline (but never handle lime with your bare hands…it will burn your skin). That said, soil pH is a tad beyond me at this point. I’ll worry about it more when I have a better grasp on gardening in general.
- These roots like to be a bit cramped, so the hole you dig should be just big enough for the roots. If you decide to plant in a container, pick one that is just big enough for the roots (plus an inch of space on each side).
- When planting your Lavender, add a couple handfuls of stones to the bottom of your pot or hole. This will really help with soil drainage.
- Water your plant about an hour before you put it into the ground. This will keep the roots hydrated, but not too damp once planted (remember: dampness is the enemy when it comes to Lavender).
- Leave 36″ (about 90 cm) between plants.
- Let soil get completely dry between waterings (but don’t let the plant get dehydrated), and water sparingly. This is sounding more and more like my kind of plant!
- You should use mulch to protect your plant over winter, and make sure the mulch you choose has a light colour.
- Before growth starts in the spring, cut away about 1/3 of your plant. This will help your plant grow.
LAVENDER HARVEST AND DRYING
O Harvest when the bottom flowers are just starting to bloom.
O Cut the stems at their base, just above the leaves.
O Put about 100 flowers together in a bundle. Tie with an elastic or string.
O Hang in a warm, dry, dark place for about 14 days.
LAVENDER USES AND BENEFITS
*Note: I am not a doctor or an herbal specialist of any sort. Always check with a qualified health professional before using any herb for any purpose. Some herbs can interact with medications, pass into breast milk, affect an unborn child, etc. As with everything, it is possible to have a lavender allergy; always test the herb/oil on a small area of skin before widespread use. Lavender should never be directly applied to children’s skin. Stop using Lavender two weeks before any surgery (it can interact with common surgical medications).
This is “living” round-up of Lavender uses. More uses will be continually added as I come across them in my travels.
a. Homemade Lavender Products
- Lavender’s medicinal properties can be extracted and saved in different ways. Common forms of Lavender that are used in homemade products include fresh or dried lavender flowers, Lavender essential oil, Lavender infused oil, Lavender tinctures (using alcohol), Lavender glycerites (alcohol free, using vegetable glycerine), etc.
- Lavender can be added to homemade soaps, lotions, creams, salves, and balms. Just make sure it is added near the end of the process, or the excessive/prolonged heat could destroy the Lavender’s medicinal properties.
- It can be used to make self care products such as Lavender toner, Lavender conditioner, Lavender detangler, Lavender bath salts, Lavender sugar scrubs, and Lavender bath bombs.
- The herb can be used in home DIYs like Lavender bags, Lavender linen spray, and Lavender candles.
b. Lavender Cooking
Note: Always use culinary grade Lavender when you plant to eat it.
Lavender’s uses in cooking are varied:
- The flowers are edible, and can be baked into cakes, cookies, breads, etc.
- It can be used to make Lavender honey, Lavender sugar, Lavender syrup, Lavender sea salt, Lavender lemonade, and Lavender jam.
- Lavender is a pretty garnish for dishes and treats.
- Add Lavender flowers to salads, smoothies, and ice cream.
- Use a Lavender meat rub for a uniquely flavoured meal.
c. Lavender Garden Benefits
- First, Lavender is hardy, beautiful, smells fantastic and pretty easy to grow.
- Lavender will bring bees and butterflies to your garden.
- Add Lavender plants to areas you want mosquitoes to stay away from. If there isn’t a flower bed nearby, plant Lavender in containers and move them where you want them.
- If you want to put fresh flowers directly into a vase (without drying) do not add water, as it will quickly ruin the flowers and stems.
- Lavender plants repel bugs, mice, rabbits and deer. Try planting it around your vegetable plants and fruit trees to ward off pests while attracting bees and butterflies (they actually like the scent).
d. Lavender Aromatherapy Benefits
- Diffuse Lavender essential oil in a room to help coughs and colds.
- Smelling Lavender can help ease headaches.
- Breathing in Lavender leads to feelings of calmness and peace (easing anxiety and stress).
- Lavender in the air promotes relaxation, making it easier to get a good night’s sleep.
e. Lavender Health and Beauty Benefits
- Lavender essential oil can be added to Epsom Salts to make a soothing, relaxing bath.
- There are many Lavender essential oil benefits for hair, such as: provides moisture to hair and scalp, helps keep hair from shedding, improves hair growth by increasing blood circulation in the scalp, and eases hair conditions (fungi, bacteria, dry scalp, etc.) with its antiseptic properties. Just add a few drops of Lavender essential oil to a carrier oil (e.g., olive oil) and massage into your scalp.
- Lavender tea relieves anxiety and stress.
- Its relaxing properties also mean Lavender promotes sleep. Both Lavender tea and Lavender linen spray can help.
- Rub crushed lavender flowers onto your skin for a natural lavender plant mosquito repellent.
- There are many Lavender skin benefits, as its antiseptic/anti-inflammatory properties help conditions like acne, eczema, head lice, dandruff, Alopecia, and minor wounds.
f. Lavender Uses and Benefits Daily Life
- Add a few drops of Lavender essential oil to your face cream or moisturizer. This will give you a little aromatherapy calmness, while your skin absorbs the benefits.
- Use a cotton pad to apply homemade Lavender toner after washing your face (1/2 cup boiling water + 1 handful of Lavender flowers + let them steep a few hours = DIY Lavender toner).
- Dab Lavender essential oil onto a skin blemish (pimple). If you mix it with a carrier oil first, make sure the carrier oil doesn’t clog pores (coconut oil does, as I learned by experience). To see which ones clog and which ones are safe, check out this list of comedogenic oil ratings.
- Diffuse Lavender essential oil in a diffuser to increase feelings of calmness.
- Add a few spritzes of Lavender linen spray to your bedding to help you sleep better at night.
- Toss a Lavender bag into the dryer with your next load of laundry to add a subtle Lavender scent to your clothes.
- Drink a cup of Lavender tea after a meal to ease acid reflux and indigestion.
- Put a few drops of Lavender essential oil on a cotton ball. This can be put in a drawer to keep clothes fresh. Or add it to a few cotton balls, spread them around a room, and enjoy the subtle scent.
I can’t wait to try so many of these Lavender uses! I’m definitely going to test out crushed Lavender flowers next mosquito season. Here’s to hoping my little Lavender plant survives the winter! Time will tell if these Lavender gardening tips and uses can stand up to our icy cold Canadian winters. What are your favourite ways to use Lavender?
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