Popular in Perennials

A Gardener's Guide to Lavender

As fragrant as it its colorful, lavender is a wonderful addition to any sunny garden or container. Use this guide to choose the best type for your conditions.


    Everything in this slideshow

    • It's easy to fall in love with lavender -- the plant features attractive foliage, beautiful flowers, and a great scent. Plus, it's wonderfully resistant to drought, deer, and hungry bunnies. It's perfect for a variety of garden styles, too -- from Mediterranean to English cottage. The key to success is knowing which type is right for your yard. Check out some of our favorites.

    • Video: More on Lavender

      Watch our quick video to get more hints on growing this beautiful plant.

    • English Lavender

      English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is the most widely grown type of lavender in North America because it doesn't mind humidity and winter moisture as much as other lavenders. It's also the most commonly used in cooking and baking, and has a sweet, soft fragrance. English lavender, like all lavender varieties, does best in full sun and well-drained soil. The plants don't tolerate wet or especially heavy soil.

      Note: English lavender isn't from England. It picked up its common name because it's the kind of lavender that grows best in that country's climate. The plant is actually from the Mediterranean.

    • 'Hidcote' English Lavender

      One of the most popular lavenders around, 'Hidcote' supplies silvery foliage and dark purple-blue flowers from late spring to early summer. It's a good choice for small gardens. Want another reason to love it? 'Hidcote' is one of the strongest-scented varieties.

      Name: Lavandula angustifolia 'Hidcote'

      Size: To 24 inches tall, 30 inches wide

      Zones: 5-8

    • 'Munstead' English Lavender

      Many gardeners call 'Munstead' their favorite lavender because the plant is quite compact, displays violet-purple flowers in mid- to late spring, and shows off attractive silvery foliage. Like 'Hidcote', it's known for its strong fragrance.

      Name: Lavandula angustifolia 'Munstead'

      Size: To 18 inches tall, 24 inches wide

      Zones: 5-8

    • 'Graves' English Lavender

      'Graves' offers gardeners lovely, wonderfully fragrant lavender-blue flowers in late spring and early summer. It's a heavy bloomer and grows a little taller than many of the other common English lavenders.

      Note: If you have clay soil, amend it with an abundance of compost or another form of organic matter before planting 'Graves' or other types of lavenders.

      Name: Lavandula angustifolia 'Graves'

      Size: To 36 inches tall, 30 inches wide

      Zones: 5-8

    • 'Purple Bouquet' English Lavender

      With long stems, silvery-green foliage, and flower heads packed with rich purple blooms in early summer, 'Purple Bouquet' is a top choice if you want to grow lavender for cutting fresh or drying.

      Note: Like all types of lavender, 'Purple Bouquet' likes to be on the dry side. Try growing it in raised beds or on mounds to increase drainage.

      Name: Lavandula angustifolia 'Purple Bouquet'

      Size: To 20 inches tall, 30 inches wide

      Zones: 5-8

    • 'Betty's Blue' English Lavender

      This adaptable lavender stands out because of its habit: It grows in a decidedly rounded mound and produces large spikes of dark purple-blue flowers in late spring and early summer. 'Betty's Blue' is a compact variety that shines when grown as a small hedge or in a knot garden.

      Name: Lavandula angustifolia 'Betty's Blue'

      Size: To 30 inches tall, 36 inches wide

      Zones: 5-8

    • 'Royal Purple' English Lavender

      Select 'Royal Purple' for its long early-summer stems of strongly scented purple flowers. This variety's blooms hold their color well after drying. One of the larger English lavenders, you can grow 'Royal Purple' as a stunning low, informal hedge.

      Note: If you grow a lavender hedge and live in a moist or humid climate, leave space between plants so air flows freely. The plants will be more susceptible to disease if they're too close.

      Name: Lavandula angustifolia 'Royal Purple'

      Size: To 32 inches tall, 36 inches wide

      Zones: 5-8

    • 10 of 31

      'Buena Vista' English Lavender

      'Buena Vista' is a choice variety that blooms twice a year -- once in late spring and again in autumn with a few flower spikes appearing in between. It features bicolored purple and violet flowers.

      Note: If you grow 'Buena Vista' or other lavenders in containers, be sure the containers have several drainage holes for excess water to escape. Use a high-quality potting mix and amend it with sand, perlite, or other materials to increase drainage.

      Name: Lavandula angustifolia 'Buena Vista'

      Size: To 28 inches tall, 36 inches wide

      Zones: 5-8

    • 11 of 31

      'Croxton's Wild' English Lavender

      This selection is similar to the wild lavender that grows in the Mediterranean. 'Croxton's Wild' shows off light violet and purple flowers in late spring and early summer and has a loose, open form.

      Name: Lavandula angustifolia 'Croxton's Wild'

      Size: To 24 inches tall, 36 inches wide

      Zones: 5-8

    • 12 of 31

      'Melissa' English Lavender

      Here's something different: 'Melissa' provides light pink flowers that fade to white. Like other English lavenders it has silvery foliage and blooms in late spring and early summer.

      Note: The best time to prune 'Melissa' and other lavenders back is in the spring.

      Name: Lavandula angustifolia 'Melissa'

      Size: To 20 inches tall, 24 inches wide

      Zones: 5-8

    • 13 of 31

      'Folgate' English Lavender

      A top pick for growing as a low hedge, 'Folgate' presents a tidy shape and dark purple flowers on long stems in early summer. It's a wonderful choice for fresh or dried flowers.

      Name: Lavandula angustifolia 'Folgate'

      Size: To 20 inches tall, 24 inches wide

      Zones: 5-8

    • 14 of 31

      'Jean Davis' English Lavender

      Long-blooming 'Jean Davis' produces pale pink flowers in late spring and early to midsummer. It's a short variety that grows well in containers or the middle of the garden border. You may also see this variety for sale as Lavandula angustifolia 'Rosea'.

      Name: Lavandula angustifolia 'Jean Davis'

      Size: To 18 inches tall, 30 inches wide

      Zones: 5-8

    • 15 of 31

      'Lady' English Lavender

      'Lady' is an All-America Selections award winner that blooms the first year from seed, meaning you can grow it as an annual. The variety is compact and offers silvery-green foliage punctuated by spikes of purple-blue flowers in summer.

      Name: Lavandula angustifolia 'Lady'

      Size: To 18 inches tall and wide

      Zones: 5-8

    • 16 of 31

      'Blue Cushion' English Lavender

      Grow 'Blue Cushion' for its dwarf, mounded habit and long bloom season. It's perfect in a knot or rock garden, as well as the front of the border. It bears deep blue-purple flowers from early to late summer.

      Note: Low-care lavenders do well in lean soil and typically don't need to be fertilized. In fact, feeding them too much can cause the plants to be short lived.

      Name: Lavandula angustifolia 'Blue Cushion'

      Size: To 16 inches tall and wide

    • 17 of 31


      Lavandins (Lavandula x intermedia), hybrids between English and spike lavender, tend to be taller than their English cousins. They also typically have lighter color, larger flowers on longer stems. Lavandins are commonly seen in fields across the Provence region of France where they're grown for perfumes. They tolerate hot temperatures better than English lavenders, but they prefer to be kept drier.

      Note: Lavandins need plenty of sun and dry or well-drained soil. Consider mulching them with gravel to help the soil dry out a little faster.

    • 18 of 31

      'Grosso' Lavandin

      Among the most widely grown of lavandins, 'Grosso' provides strongly scented rich purple flowers in midsummer and tends to bloom a second time in autumn. It's a large variety that likes a lot of space but it makes a big impact. 'Grosso' is commonly grown in the lavender fields of France.

      Name: Lavandula x intermedia 'Grosso'

      Size: To 36 inches tall and wide

      Zones: 6-8

    • 19 of 31

      'Provence' Lavandin

      'Provence' is a lovely selection that offers light lavender-blue flowers on narrow spikes in summer. It's grown commercially for its oil, so you can be sure this will be one of the most fragrant lavenders in your garden. While strongly scented, its thin stems make 'Provence' a poor cut flower (though it is excellent for making lavender wands).

      Name: Lavandula x intermedia 'Provence'

      Size: To 30 inches tall and 36 inches wide

      Zones: 6-8

    • 20 of 31

      'Gros Bleu' Lavandin

      Loved for its rich purple flowers, 'Gros Bleu' is a popular selection with long flower spikes and silvery foliage. It presents some of the darkest blooms of any of the lavandin-type lavenders and it flowers profusely in summer.

      Name: Lavandula x intermedia 'Gros Bleu'

      Size: To 30 inches tall, 36 inches wide

      Zones: 6-8

    • 21 of 31

      'Impress Purple' Lavandin

      A strongly scented selection, 'Impress Purple' produces spikes of purple flowers in mid- to late summer on long stems that are good for cutting.

      Name: Lavandula x intermedia 'Impress Purple'

      Size: To 30 inches tall, 36 inches wide

      Zones: 6-8

    • 22 of 31

      'Edelweiss' Lavandin

      A fast grower, 'Edelweiss' features soft white flowers that dry well, making it a favorite of gardeners who like white-flowering lavender in craft projects. It blooms in midsummer.

      Name: Lavandula x intermedia 'Edelweiss'

      Size: To 24 inches tall, 36 inches wide

      Zones: 6-8

    • 23 of 31

      'Hidcote Giant' Lavandin

      'Hidcote Giant' is a floriferous variety with long spikes of medium blue-violet flowers in midsummer and gray-green foliage. Its flower stems are especially long, making this selection good for use in projects such as lavender wands.

      Name: Lavandula x intermedia 'Hidcote Giant'

      Size: To 30 inches tall, 36 inches wide

      Zones: 6-8

    • 24 of 31

      Spanish Lavender

      Spanish lavender (Lavandula stoechas) varieties offer a totally different look than their cousins. The flower heads are often shorter but topped with attractive bracts that look like large petals. Spanish lavenders love hot weather and can't withstand cold temperatures. They're excellent for containers.

    • 25 of 31

      'Ballerina' Spanish Lavender

      This lively lavender displays cone-shape clusters of buds that open to small, bright purple flowers topped with showy white bracts that mature to light pink.

      Name: Lavandula stoechas 'Ballerina'

      Size: To 18 inches tall, 24 inches wide

      Zones: 8-9

    • 26 of 31

      'Van Gogh' Spanish Lavender

      This unique selection bears soft lavender-violet flowers topped by white bracts. The effect looks a bit like charming miniature pineapples.

      Name: Lavandula stoechas 'Van Gogh'

      Size: To 24 inches tall, wide

      Zones: 8-9

    • 27 of 31

      'Curly Top' Spanish Lavender

      'Curly Top' stands out from the crowd because its clusters of deep purple flowers are topped by curved, arching pinky-purple bracts.

      Name: Lavandula stoechas 'Curly Top'

      Size: To 24 inches tall, wide

      Zones: 8-9

    • 28 of 31

      'Madrid Purple' Spanish Lavender

      This attractive variety supplies a steady crop of rich purple flowers on spikes topped by large purple bracts and a compact, upright growth habit. The silvery foliage accents the blooms nicely.

      Name: Lavandula stoechas 'Madrid Purple'

      Size: To 24 inches tall, wide

      Zones: 8-9

    • 29 of 31

      French Lavender

      You may see French lavender grown more as an ornamental plant -- it doesn't emit the traditional fragrance (its scent is more like camphor) that English lavenders and lavandins do. But it is lovely, with clusters of purple flowers and furry, gray-green toothed leaves. It blooms all summer and fall, and can bloom almost all year indoors if you have a bright window getting at least 6 hours of sun a day.

      Name: Lavandula dentata

      Size: To 36 inches tall, 60 inches wide

      Zones: 8-9

    • 30 of 31

      Fernleaf Lavender

      A tender shrub usually grown as an annual, fernleaf lavender features narrow spikes of fragrant blue-purple flowers in summer. Its lobed silvery-green leaves give it a delicate, lacy appearance.

      Name: Lavandula multifida

      Size: To 36 inches tall and wide

      Zones: 9-11

    • 31 of 31
      Next Slideshow 17 Top Ornamental Grasses

      17 Top Ornamental Grasses

      Give your garden four seasons of interest with low-maintenance ornamental grasses. Here are some of the best varieties.
      Begin Slideshow »



    Loading... Please wait...