Learning About Lavender

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Lavender has many uses. It’s a beautiful herb that can be a great accent to a flower garden. It’s edible, adding a wonderful flavor to many dishes. Lavender is used in massage oils, lotions, and many other products for hundreds of years because of its relaxing aroma.

Lavender in Your Flower Garden

Lavender is perennial and will come back year after year if it’s taken care of properly. According to Purdue University’s Department of Horticulture, “Lavender will only grow in well-drained soil, so heavy or compacted soils should be amply amended with compost prior to planting.” (1) It’s important that soil is well drained. If it’s not, fungal disease may occur.

We’ve collected some of our favorite pictures of lavender in a garden on our Gardening and Herbs Board.

The Scent of Lavender, Perfumes, Soaps, and Oils

One of the molecules that gives lavender a pleasant aroma is linalool. Soaps, candles, perfumes, and oils can be found in many varieties. Lavender is also used with bath salts. You can also make a lavender sachet and put it in your car, closet, or drawer. This video shows you how to create your own lavender sachet.

Other uses for Lavender

According to the US National Library of Medicine, “Among the claims made for lavender oil are that it is antibacterial, antifungal, carminative (smooth muscle relaxing), sedative, antidepressive and effective for burns and insect bites.” It also states: “Although the data are still inconclusive and often controversial, there does seem to be both scientific and clinical data that support the traditional uses of lavender.” (2)

Lavender is also used as a massage oil. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, “Massage has long been known to enhance relaxation and improve sleep patterns. While massage alone is an effective method for relaxation, studies suggest that massage with essential oils (called aromatherapy), particularly lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), may result in improved sleep quality, more stable mood, increased mental capacity, and reduced anxiety. Clinical studies have found participants who received massage with lavender felt less anxious and more positive than participants who received massage alone.” (3)

Lavender Varieties

There are many different species of lavender. According to NC State University, English Lavender, Lavendula angustifolia, is the most widely cultivated species. (4) Lavender is a member of the mint family.

Lavender in the Ancient World

  • Egypt: Ancient Egyptians were particularly fond of lavender’s scent, using it as incense and at the time of burial.
  • Greece: Nearly two thousand years ago, in De Materia Medica, physician Pedanius Dioscorides was the first to mention the benefits of lavender.
  • Rome: Romans used lavender in their baths and to dress wounds. Lavender actually got its name from the latin word “Lavo” which means “to wash.”
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