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.
Sea Lavender Companion Plants
The quintessential cottage flower, pinks are treasured for their grasslike blue-green foliage and abundant starry flowers, which are often spicily fragrant. Depending on the type of pink, flowers appear in spring or summer and tend to be pink, red, white, rose, or lavender, but come in nearly all shades except true blue. Plants range from tiny creeping groundcovers to 30-inch-tall cut flowers, which are a favorite with florists. Foliage is blue-green.
Dusty miller is a favorite because it looks good with everything. The silvery-white color is a great foil for any type of garden blossom and the fine-textured foliage creates a beautiful contrast against other plants' green foliage. Dusty miller has also earned its place in the garden because it's delightfully easy to grow, withstanding heat and drought-like a champion.
Red Hot Poker
Tall, dramatic red-hot pokers create architectural impact in sunny gardens. Their bold spikes of brilliantly colored tubular flowers are set among sword-shape leaves. Most varieties are hybrid selections. They need a humus-rich soil that is well-drained and light.
New Zealand Flax
Bring a note of the tropics to your garden with the bold, colorful, strappy leaves of New Zealand flax. They are excellent as container plants that can be overwintered with protection, but in warm areas, they're spectacular planted directly in the ground. Flower panicles may reach 12 feet tall in some selections with red or yellow tubular flowers. Blooms only appear in mild climates, but there they attract many species of birds. If space is limited, check out dwarf forms. While New Zealand flax is a popular perennial in frost-free areas, it's becoming more and more loved in northern regions, where it's treated as an annual.