Lavender grows well in sunny, open areas. It likes well-drained soil, slightly sweet. This can be created in less ideal soils, with the addition of lime. Lavender is hard to germinate from seed, and it is best to buy established plants from a nursery.
Hardy varieties of lavender are available in most locations, and fall is a good time to visit your local nursery to purchase lavender in 1- or 2-gallon pots. I have had luck buying lavender varieties that have lost their tags, but since they are locally grown, I know they will survive in my area.
Grow lavender any way you like; thickly planted as a hedge, individual pots, or interplanted with other plants in your garden landscape.
Harvest lavender flowers just before they fully open, and they will stay tightly closed and fragrant for many months. Take advantage of lavender's long lasting scent, and moth repelling ability, by cutting the entire stem and flower to make lavender wands or herb sachets.
Lavender buds keep very well. They only need a cool, dark place, out of direct sunlight. The color of the buds is an indication of freshness. When purchasing your lavender buds, look for bright colors and tightly closed flowers. Once the flowers have opened, they are no longer as fragrant, and are much more fragile. These opened flowers still dry very well and can be cut for dried flower arrangements. To cut for dried flowers, cut the stems cleanly, and hang upside down to dry, using an elastic band to keep them together. Once dried, their scent will last throughout the winter on display. I like to use a sprig of dried lavender as a decoration when wrapping my holiday gifts.
All About Lavender:
Lavender has been known for its gentle and soothing fragrance since ancient times. Used by Greeks and Romans in the public baths, the word lavender is derived from the Latin word lavare, or to wash.
As a strewing herb, lavender not only offers a pleasing scent to us, it also repels insects. It was used to mask the scent of foul smells in the streets of old, and remains a universally delicate and lovely scent for households worldwide.
Medicinally, lavender essential oil is one of only a tiny number of essential oils that can be used neat (straight) on the skin. It is a wonderful sedative for young and old alike, even being used to ward off headache-including migraines. A lovely headache balm can be made using lavender essential oil, beeswax and a light oil, then rubbed on the temples at the first sign of an impending headache. Helping to calm and bring sleep, lavender sachets are often tucked inside of pillows, where the troubled sleeper can enjoy the fragrance, while slipping into dreamland.
Use lavender flowers in potpourri, herb pillows, and sachets; warding off moths with a clean, nontoxic scent. A floral water can also be made, and used to sooth sensitive skin from rashes and quiet the heat of acne prone skin. The natural antiseptic properties are wonderfully soothing when applied to scrapes and cuts. A quick tip: Keep a bottle of lavender water in the refrigerator for a cooling remedy for scrapes and bruises, overheated bodies and emotions. It is a universal answer to many of your kid's little frustrations. I apply it to the back of their necks, forehead and backs of hands when they are out of sorts, and dab it on any boo-boo they may have.
You may not realize that lavender can be used to create delicious foods as well! If you would like to try cooking with lavender, check out these recipes: Lavender sugar, Herbes de Provence, Lavender ice cream. Enjoy!