Types of Lavender Plants for the Southeast USA
There are approximately 45 different species of lavender (Lavandula spp.), which are aromatic evergreen plants grown for their essential oils or their showy purple and violet-blue flowers. Many species of lavender are native to the Mediterranean and are used in potpourri, sachets and other scented household and personal care products. Some types of lavender are also used for culinary purposes.
When growing lavender in the Southeastern United States, it is important to choose species and cultivars that can handle the hot, humid climate of the region.
Lavender Types for Warm Climates
Not all the different types of lavender can be grown in the Southeastern U.S. For example, growing English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia, USDA plant hardiness zones 5 to 8) in Florida is tricky because this species does not do well in humidity.
Let's look at some types of lavender that are better suited for the climate of the Southeast.
If you are looking to grow lavender in Florida or another hot, humid region of the Southeast, consider planting Spanish lavender (Lavandula stoechas, zones 7 to 10), also known as butterfly lavender, which is more heat tolerant than English lavender.
This species has a height between 18 and 24 feet and does not have a strong fragrance like English lavender. This plant is in bloom from mid to late spring.
While species Spanish lavender produces purple flowers, the cultivar Bandera Deep Rose (Lavandula stoechas 'Bandera Deep Rose,' zones 7 to 10) has mauve-colored blooms.
French lavender (Lavandula dentata, zones 8 to 11) is another heat-tolerant species of lavender. First cultivated in France, hence its common name, it has a height of up to 3 feet and a light scent. This species is sensitive to frost. The flowers are bluish-purple.
Phenomenal lavender (Lavandula x intermedia 'Niko' PHENOMENAL, zones 5 to 8) is a cultivar of a hybrid lavender that was developed to tolerate temperature extremes and can handle the heat and humidity of the Southeastern U.S., including Florida. It is a compact cultivar with a height of about 1 foot.
This lavender cultivar has purple blooms on long flower spikes and gray-green foliage. It blooms from mid to late summer from July to August.
Lavender plants may produce blue flowers, deep purple flowers or blue-purple flowers depending on the cultivar.
Growing Lavender in the Southeast
All varieties of lavender grow best in full sun. While it can be grown in the ground in herb gardens or rock gardens, planting it in pots gives you the opportunity to move the plants around in your garden and figure out where they perform best.
Water requirements vary depending on the type of lavender you are growing, but in general, these plants are drought tolerant and do not like overhead watering. It is also imperative to plant lavender in well-draining soil. A lack of good drainage can cause disease and result in decline.
Because lavender blooms on new growth, it is important to prune the plant annually. In a climate like that of Florida, later winter or early spring is a good time to prune lavender. At this time, prune it back to about a third of its size.
During the growing season, remove spent flower heads and prune lightly to encourage production of new lavender flowers.
- University of Florida IFAS Extension: Growing Lavender in the Coastal South
- Mississippi State University Extension: Lavender
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Lavandula angustifolia
- The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture: Lavender, the Useful Plant
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Lavandula stoechas 'Bandera Deep Rose'
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Lavandula × intermedia 'Niko' PHENOMENAL
- The University of Arizona: Campus Arboretum - Lavandula dentata
Since beginning her career as a professional journalist in 2007, Nathalie Alonso has covered a myriad of topics, including arts, culture and travel, for newspapers and magazines in New York City. She holds a B.A. in American Studies from Columbia University and lives in Queens with her two cats.