When most people think of lavender, they often think of the purple herb commonly used in aromatherapy that has a soft, fragrant scent. If this is the only type of lavender flower you are familiar with, you may not know that there are different types of lavender and that some of them not only have an alluring strong scent instead of a soft one, but are also not even lavender colored at all.
English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is a perennial evergreen that grows to 1 ½ feet in height and is a native plant to the Mediterranean. It has gray-green to gray-purple leaves and produces blue-purple to lavender or white-pink flowers that bloom from June through August. Because of its soft, calming scent, English lavender is considered the most common type of lavender used in potpourri or sachets. It is often dried as a decorative floral arrangement and added for fragrance to soaps and shampoos. It prefers full to part sun and rich moist soil, but is quite adaptable to other types of soil when it needs to be and is considered drought tolerant. English lavender is recommended for USDA Zones 5 to 9.
Spanish Lavender (Lavandula stoechys) is a perennial evergreen that grows from 18 to 36 inches and is a native plant to the Mediterranean region and North Africa. It has gray-green leaves and produces dark purple flowers in the spring.
It prefers full sun and likes dry well-drained soil. Easy to recognize because of its unusual type of bract that is often referred to as rabbit ears, Spanish lavender is sought after for its delightful fragrance in the garden; however, it is not recommended for kitchen use, since its scent can be overpowering when used for cooking. Spanish lavender is recommended for USDA Zones 8 to 11.
Yellow lavender (Lavandula viridis) is a perennial evergreen that grows to a height of 26 inches tall and is a native plant to Portugal and Spain. Yellow lavender has light green leaves and greenish-yellow flowers, and has a much bolder, stronger scent than its softer purple counterparts. It prefers full sun and well-drained soil that is kept somewhat dry. Prune in early summer after blooming if a neater appearance is desired. It is recommended for USDA Zones 8 to 11.