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How to Grow Lavender

Cultivated and prized worldwide, lavender is a slow-growing perennial that tops out around 3 feet, characterized by short, slightly crooked stems. It’s narrow bluish-greenish leaves are offset by brightly colored barrel-shaped flowers. Valued as a pollinator, as well as for its hardiness and drought resistance, lavender is commonly found in flowers beds, gardens, highway medians and public parks.

The distinctive sweet, floral scent of its flowers is at the heart of lavender’s many uses, including its value as an essential oil, as well as its usefulness in home décor, personal-care products, perfumes and sachets. While you can buy fresh or dried lavender, or find it infused in countless products, you might consider growing your own. Growing lavender is relatively easy to do and you’ll be glad you did.

The History of Lavender

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) — also known as common, English or true lavender — is a flowering perennial plant belonging to the mint family. Since its advent in the Mediterranean region more than 2,500 years ago, lavender has enjoyed a rich history1,2,3 and remained continuously popular.

Over the years, lavender, which is now known to have 39 species, has been consistently valued for medicinal and personal use. Prized for its flowers, in either fresh or dried form, lavender is also valued as an essential oil. The name lavender hails from the Latin “lavare” — to wash — most likely due to its use for bathing and wound cleansing.

Earlier civilizations, such as the Egyptians, used lavender for mummification and to make perfumes. The Greeks and Romans added lavender to their bathwater to help purify and wash their skin. Today, lavender is cultivated all over the world for landscaping and personal care products, as well as the large-scale production of lavender essential oil.

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