Mountain Lavenders Explained and Simplified

07/09/2020 | Ken Davis Herbs, In the Garden, Shrubs, Xeriscaping

by Ken Lain, the mountain gardener

Lavender in a Pot

On the Go Answer – Readers Digest-type Condensed Version of this Article

  • 17 types of Lavender grow locally: English, French, Spanish, sweet, fernleaf, and lavandin.
  • Lavender grows best in the hot sun and well-drained soil.
  • Cut Lavenders back by shearing foliage by a third right after flowering.
  • Lavender flowers are harvested as fresh-cut flowers or dried.

Lavenders can be overwhelming with over 17 different mountain hardy varieties sold here at Watters Garden Center. With this simple guide, you will be a garden expert on this fragrant mountain herb.

Purple an Expert can Spot

Lavenders grown in the mountains of Arizona are grouped into six main types: English, French, Spanish, sweet, fernleaf, and lavandin. There are others, but these are the most robust and popular varieties found seasonally at your garden center. You will find many types at Watters now, but more detail, photos, and purchase options are linked to each variety.

English Lavender

English Lavender– This is the wonderfully fragrant Lavender commonly dried for sachets and decorations. English lavender forms a mounding shrub from 8 inches to 2 feet tall, with gray-green, smooth-edged foliage. The bloom period is from late spring to midsummer.

Bee on French Lavender
French Lavender

French Lavender — In bright Arizona gardens, French lavender bloom most of the growing season. An irregular shrub reaching 3 feet tall and up to 4 feet wide. The leaves are toothed in green or gray. Flowers are purple with two little “rabbit ear” petals that stand up on top. ‘Goodwin Creek’ is the most popular hybrid here at the garden center with lightly toothed, very silver leaves and dark, violet-blue flowers that bloom continually.

Spanish Lavender
Spanish Lavender

Spanish Lavender – This shrub has small, silver-green leaves and chubby flowers that have pronounced “rabbit ear” petals on top. There are many new varieties, and many have large and prominently contrasting “ears” (2-4) of purple, black-purple, cream, and white. Plants mound from 18 inches to about knee high and equally wide. As pretty as it is fragrant. 

Sweet Lavender
Sweet Lavender

Sweet Lavender– Plant this variety in the hottest part of the landscape. Very, very heat tolerant, these lavenders have flowers on tall, wiry stems. Most flowers are bright, violet-blue, thin, and narrow. The fragrance is mustier than the English Lavender. Shrubs can reach just above knee height and wide and bloom all summer long.

Fern-Leaf Lavender
Fern-leaf Lavender

Fern-leaf Lavender – this unique variety has cut and divided leaves, hence the name. Brighter green foliage than others. The flowers are branched and held very high on tall stalks that dances in the mountain breeze. It looks great planted in containers where the fragrance greets their gardener upon each return. This Lavender blooms the entire growing season from spring through autumn. Shrubs reach 2 feet tall by 3 feet wide and require little to no pruning.

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Lavandin From the fields of Provence
French Lavandin

Lavandin – This is the Lavender of the fields of Provence and loves hot, hot heat. Its oil is used for soaps and fragrances. All have flowers similar to English Lavender, except they are branched and spread out more. Flowers range from dark, violet-blue to lavender-blue, even white here at the garden center. The foliage is gray-green to almost silvery foliage. Most varieties grow 2-4′ feet tall and wide

Flower Power

Growing Better Lavender

All lavenders like growing in the sunny parts of Prescott and the surrounding cities with well-drained soil. Containers filled with Potting Soil produce picture-perfect Lavenders. This is one of the few herbs that stay green right through winter with the added benefit of being extremely animal resistive.

The right food brings out the color and fragrance. Feed this plant every other month with Watters ‘Flower Power’ for never-ending fragrance.

Lavender Care – most varieties do not like a lot of water or clay soil for that matter. These guys are tough. It’s one of the main reasons they make such good container plants. Too much water kills more lavenders than under, so err on neglect rather than loving this plant to death. Cut Lavenders back by shearing foliage by a third right after flowering to keep them tidy and neat.

Harvesting Flowers – Lavender can be enjoyed as fresh-cut flowers or dried. If drying, simply hang cut stems in bunches upside down in a cool, dry place until dry. To use in sachets, remove the florets from the stems before drying.

There… wasn’t that easy? You are now an expert on all things Lavender. We have a bunch of varieties with a bunch of herbal experts here at Watters Garden Center that can help you further.

July Companion Plant that outshines the rest is Rose of Sharon

Rose of Sharon
Rose of Sharon

Breathtaking large blue flowers are adorned with lacy centers to create anemone-like blooms. Each stem of this hardy hibiscus is packed with numerous buds. This vigorous head high shrub offers late-season color for hedges and perennial or shrub borders. Blooms continuously over a long season, and rarely sets seeds. Makes a beautiful informal hedge or screen and is easily trained into a small tree. Available Prescott colors show in blue, purple, white, red, and pink for years of enjoyment.

Free Summer Gardening Classes – Held outdoors at Watters Garden Center; social-distancing is assured with lots of plants between each student. We upgraded our P.A. system, with a direct link to our live Facebook stream for the classes, held every Saturday from 9:30 to 10:30 am. Here is the July lineup:

July 11 – Plant Better Berries and Grapes

July 18 – Avoid these Common Pests at All Costs

July 25– Privacy Screens and Barriers

Until next week, I’ll be hanging around the Lavenders here at Watters Garden Center.

Ken Lain can be found throughout the week at Watters Garden Center, 1815 W. Iron Springs Rd in Prescott, or contacted through his website at WattersGardenCenter.com or FB.com/WattersGardenCenter .

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