Lavender is an evergreen shrub that is a member of the mint family. The lavender plant has a wide variety of cosmetic and medicinal uses. Flowers range in colors from white to yellow-green, pale pink, dusty blue, and deep purple. Lavenders are known for their distinct fragrance, but not all lavender plants have a strong scent. Highly aromatic lavenders are ideal for producing scented essential oils, and for drying and using in potpourri.
One of the most recognized species of lavender is the English lavender (Lavandula angustoflia). English lavender shrubs grow to heights of 2 to 3 feet, have a silvery gray foliage and produce a highly fragrant, purple flower. According to the University of Florida, the essential lavender oils extracted from English lavender are used to scent soaps, perfumes and cosmetics. Dried English lavender flowers are added to potpourri and used as a decoration or in sachets.
The rosemary-scented french lavender (Lavandula dentata), also known as fringed lavender, is an evergreen shrub that reaches heights between 1 and 3 feet. The gray-green leaves of the french lavender are fuzzy, oblong-shaped and have a fringe-like edge. The flowers of french lavender are dark purple in color. French lavender is used to add a clean, delicate scent to potpourri. Dried bunches of the flowers are tied together and used as scented decorations.
Known for it's highly aromatic fragrance that is a mix of rosemary and true lavender, Spanish lavender (Lavandula stoechas) is the most reliable bloomer of all lavenders, according to ASLA Texas. Spanish lavender has a silvery gray leaf and produces a dark purple flower. Plants reach a height of 2 feet and have a 3-foot spread. The essential oils in Spanish lavender are used in insecticides, deodorants and disinfectants. Dried flowers are often used in potpourri or sachets.
The fragrant purple flowers of the Sweet Lavender (Lavandula heterophylla) shrub are in full bloom during the spring. Sweet lavender is a fast-growing variety that reaches heights of 2 to 4 feet. The shrubs have gray-green leaves that have an odd-shaped, toothy appearance. Sweet lavender grows well in pots and containers. The flowers of the sweet lavender are best used when dried. Add sweet lavender flowers to sachets or to any dried mixture of potpourri.
The long, lateral branches of spike lavender (Lavandula spica) give an interesting and distinct look to this lavender shrub. Foliage is gray-green in color and the flower is a shade of mauve-blue and has an unusual spike-like appearance. Spike lavender shrubs reach a height of 3 feet and have a 3-foot spread. The essential oils of spike lavender are used to scent perfume and soaps. The flowers are dried and added to potpourri and sachets.