Lavender, Lavandula, is a genus of 47 known species of flowering plants in the mint family, Lamiaceae. The most widely cultivated species, lavendula angustifolia, is often referred to as lavender, and there is a color named for the shade of the flowers of this species.
Lavender is a sedative, diuretic, carminative, antiseptic, anti-viral, and anti-inflammatory herb that has been medicinally used for centuries.
Lavender is known to help relieve nervous headaches, migraines, anxiety, depression, insomnia, dizziness, bloating, indigestion, flatulence, hypertension, asthma, and reduce symptoms from colds, flu, & fever.
Lavender relieves headaches, calms nerves, eases menstrual problems, heals acne, soothes insect bites, and eases the symptoms of vertigo, memory loss, melancholy and more.
Today, it is used in herbal remedies and is oftentimes the first choice of massage therapists for their clients.
Eye pillows and sachet of all sorts filled with lavender are natural sleep aids, easing stress and lifting spirits.
Essential oil of lavender has been known to help soothe the skin and relieve pain or discomfort from psoriasis, bee stings, acne, athlete’s foot, sun burns, eczema, poison ivy, and candida outbreaks. It can be used as a natural mosquito repellent.
It can even help to prevent scars, stretch marks, and wrinkles. Try adding a few drops to your bath, liquid soap, or moisturizing cream.
Early use of lavender was “strewing”, or where lavender and other strong-scented herbs were scattered on the floor to mask odors and act as a deodorizer, antiseptic and insecticide.
Essential oil of lavender is also wonderful for aromatherapy uses and can significantly reduce lung and sinus infections and all types of headaches and mental tension. It was used in hospitals during WWI.
For household use, lavender is a great natural disinfectant and insecticide and can be used safely around pets, children, and the elderly.
Flower spikes are used for dried flower arrangements. The fragrant, pale purple flowers and flower buds are used in potpourri. Lavender is also used extensively as herbal filler inside sachet used to freshen linens.
Dried and sealed in pouches, lavender flowers are placed among stored items of clothing to give a fresh fragrance and to deter moths. Dried lavender flowers have become recently popular for wedding confetti. Lavender is also popular in scented waters.
Lavender greens can be used in craft or modelling projects, such as the creation of miniature topiary or trees.
Lavender has wonderful phytochemical and antioxidant properties making it an excellent herb to sprinkle on salads, mix in homemade tea or lemonade, and you can even add some to your baked squash, potato, or rice dishes.
When looking for a spot to plant your lavender, use well-drained soils or raised beds and containers (outdoors only). If gardening in clay soil, the soil must be amended. Use 50/50 1″ rounded stone or pebbles to native soil.
Lavender prefers alkaline soil. pH should be 6.5 or higher and is easily measured with a simple soil test (a soil test is not absolutely necessary since typical southern clay benefits from the addition of lime – and a lot of it – to boost and retain an increase in the pH level.)
Create an 18″ – 24″ mound with well cultivated soil and then mix in 2 heaping shovel fulls of 1″ round stone, worked into the mound. This will add needed drainagie and you may wish to create a French drain by placing fist sized rocks in mound base.
Using a trowel, dig a hole just deep enough for the plant. Blend together equal parts of bone meal, lime and well-composted manure. Add ½ cup in the bottom of hole and mix well. The stone will allow the soil to drain, the lime will improve the pH, bone meal and compost for a healthy start.
Excellent drainage is key to success with lavender be it in the ground or in a pot. The pot will need to be watered more frequently in the heat of the summer as they dry out quickly. This could mean nearly every day in July.
Keep in mind that lavender prefers to live in the garden or in a pot outdoors.
Requiring significant sunlight, it is nearly impossible for them to thrive as a houseplant. So, it is best to find a sunny, well-draining location in the garden, or a pot, for your lavender.
Water your lavender well in its nursery pot every day. Soak it deeply in the evenings, daily until planted, then water again for about an hour before planting, and of course, after as well.
Space largest plants 5 – 6 feet from one another for good air circulation. Lavender blooms at its peak in its third year producing about 1000 stems.
The goal is to prune the lavender once a year. To prune, trim off 1/3 of lavender foliage, leaving at least 2–3″ of green, soft foliage, taking care not to cut into the woody part of the plant, in late winter while dormant, by the end of February (in Zone 7a).
Pruning will help the plant grow full and rounded and deter sprawling, which can cause the main stems to split and break. Toss a handful of bone meal/lime/compost blend around base of plant at this time (or it can be done with fall garden chores) and just before rain or water afterwards.
Harvest lavender when the bottom flowers are just opening; the lavender is at its peak for color and fragrance, cut the stems down to the foliage.
Gather about 100 stems and rubber band them together. You may turn them up-side-down, suspended from a nail, string or wire in a hot, dark, dry location for drying, like an attic, storage area or closet. Allow the lavender to dry for about 10-14 days, depending on the conditions.
For more information:
http://everything-lavender.com/lavender-foods.html ~ uses in foods