While the delicate blossoms of sea lavender look fragile, this plant is a hardy perennial. It's often grown as a cut flower and, because it is easy to preserve, used in dried floral bouquets. Sea lavender can be grown in almost any garden given the right conditions. It can even grow on the side of a cliff and is capable of thriving in hot and windy conditions.
The colorful part of sea lavender flowers is actually the calyx, a botanical term for the outermost ring of sepals that are usually green on most flowering plants. Available in shades of blue, pink, purple, lavender, and white, the papery calyces are what make sea lavender so popular for cutting, because they hold onto their color much longer than the tiny white flowers inside them do. Once cut, the calyces dry well and can last for months. To use sea lavender as a dried flower, cut it just before the small flowers in the center of the showy calyces open. Once the stems are cut, simply hang them upside down to dry in a well-ventilated area.
This perennial's leaves are held close to the ground in what's called a basal rosette. From this grouping of foliage, the long flower stems develop. This makes sea lavender easy to tuck in among other perennials because the foliage remains mostly hidden, allowing the flowers to stand out.
Sea Lavender Care Must-Knows
As the common name implies, the plant is native to coastal areas and is tolerant of salty conditions. Growing from rocky outcroppings, sea lavender is drought tolerant and thrives in sandy soil. Part of its drought tolerance is due to the large taproots that allow the plant to take up water from well below the soil surface. This also means sea lavender is not tolerant of being dug up or moved. When planting, sow seed directly in the ground. When transplanting, avoid disturbing the roots as much as possible.
This tough perennial is best planted in full sun to encourage the largest amount of flowers possible and also the densest display. Full sun also helps to keep the plant dry, and helps prevent the possibility of root rot.