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How to Care for French Lavender

French lavender is used in cooking, as an herbal remedy and as decorative flowers. It has light purple blooms and gray leaves with characteristic serrated edges. Though not one of the most fragrant lavenders, it emits a fresh, clean smell immediately after blooming. French lavender blooms from spring to frost and attracts bees, butterflies and birds throughout the blooming season. Plants are healthiest when kept several feet tall and grow very wide with enough sunlight.

Plant in the ideal location. French lavender does best in full sun (six hours a day) with dry, well-drained soil. It will tolerate some shade but produce fewer blooms.

Provide enough room for each plant. French lavender can grow very wide and needs at least a 2 foot radius of space when first planted. If your plants are growing close together, the air circulation will be diminished and they will be in heavy competition for water, light and soil nutrients.

Water on a semi-regular basis. French lavender needs little water once established but should be monitored for signs of wilting, especially in warm climates.

Prune to 3 feet tall, including blooms. This will keep your plant at a manageable size and conserve its energy. Cut back your French lavender plant four to five weeks after the first bloom, in midsummer and again in late fall.

Do not use fertilizer. French lavender prefers arid, alkaline soils and produces higher concentrations of essential oils in these environments. Fertilizers will cause this plant to produce more leaves at the expense of blooms and fragrance.

Information On French Lavender

When planting French lavender, choose a spot where the plant can drain well. French lavender, with a height and spread of 1 to 3 feet, can do well in a container, a garden bed or as a houseplant. The correct time of season to harvest French lavender depends on how you intend to use it. For ornamental purposes, harvest earlier, when the flowers are still in bud form, cutting the stems that contain flowers or buds. Harvesting is best done early in the morning. If you plan to cook with lavender, purchase culinary grade lavender if you aren't growing it yourself. Because of its strong aroma, French lavender is also used in making soaps and perfumes. Harvest lavender for creative purposes in the dryer seasons. Place the lavender in a cool, dry, dark room for proper drying. The drying process usually takes two weeks.

Tip

For decorative dried flowers, pick lavender flower heads before they turn brown and dry them in the shade.

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