Everything You Need to Know about Lavender: Fascinating Facts

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Everything You Need to Know about Lavender Fascinating Facts

Lavendula Angustifolia – commonly known as “Lavender” – is a strewing herb that was already used by Greeks and Romans in public baths. In fact, the term “lavender” is derived from the Latin word “lavare,” which means, “to wash.” This fascinating herb hides many secrets that are about to be revealed. In this article, you will find everything you need to know about lavender, its pleasant and unmistakable scent, and all its properties and uses.

Is lavender a flower or an herb?

Lavender is considered a strewing herb, and is part of the kingdom of Plantae. Lavender is a flowering plant in the family Laminaceae.

Why is lavender good for you?

Lavender flowers and oil are used for various purposes and have amazing positive effects on our body, mind and mood. For instance, lavender oil can be used to combat insomnia, restlessness, dementia-related agitation, depression, and nervousness. Furthermore, lavender oil can diminish pain in case of sores, joint pain, headaches, migraine, circulation disorders and toothaches. Lavender is also employed to prevent hair loss, to treat acne and to repeal mosquitos, spiders and other insects. Finally, lavender can also be used in foods and beverages, as well as in pharmaceutical products and cosmetics.

Does lavender spread?

Lavender is quite common and easy to grow. However, it does not spread as most herbs but its growth only depends on the ability of the gardener and on growing conditions.

Is lavender perennial?

Lavender is often listed as a perennial herb. However, such classification is not entirely correct. In fact, to be precise, lavender is a subshrub – “a low-growing, bushy plant that has a woody, perennial base and herbaceous shoots.” This means that we cannot treat it and prune it like other herbaceous perennial plants.

Does lavender need full sun or can it grow in shade?

Lavender loves sun and warm weather. In fact, it is recommended to allow lavender plants to get at least eight hours of sun per day and to plant them in the fall, when sun is moderate and rainfalls less frequent. Lavender can tolerate some degree of shade but it grows better in the sun. In fact, if your garden is often in the shade, you should probably grow lavender in pots and move them around in order to give them constant exposure to the sun.

Is lavender easy to grow?

Lavender is quite easy to grow. This herb prefers sunny areas and should be planted in the fall – when sun is less intense and rainfalls moderate. Lavender plants should be watered once every two weeks – although more frequent watering might be needed at the height of the summer. The soil should never become waterlogged: lavender better tolerates droughts than constantly wet soil.

When is the best time to plant lavender?

October (or fall in general) is believed to be the best time to plant lavender. In fact, this plant needs moderate sun and scarce water to grow and prosper. Lavender planted in the fall, establishes itself during winter and blooms in spring.

Will lavender survive winter?

Lavender does not love cold and rainy weather, particularly in winter. However, if we plant the seeds in the fall and make sure that the soil gets sufficient drainage, we should be able to have a wonderful plant of lavender ready to bloom in the spring. If the winter is particularly cold, it is better to protect the plant or to move the pots in warmer areas.

Does lavender bloom all summer? When does lavender bloom?

Not all types of lavender bloom at the same time. For instance, Spanish lavender blooms for four to six weeks during spring; English lavender – the most common type of lavender – blooms in late spring-early summer for three to four weeks; and hybrid lavender starts blooming in mid-summer until late summer. Hybrid lavender better tolerates warm and humid weather.

Where are the best places to buy lavender?

Lavender can be bought online or from local retail stores. Yet, the best places to buy lavender are local markets and private farms. In fact, buying home-grown lavender means avoiding plants and seeds covered in pesticides and chemicals.

When is the best time to prune lavender?

The best time to prune off lavender blossoms is late June – early July, when the flowers are at the height of color. Cutting off faded flowers in early summer encourages a second round of blossoming by fall. For better results, it is preferable to use sanitized pruning shears to cut the stems just below the leaves.

Which type of lavender is the best one?

Although it is hard to identify “the best” type of lavender, English lavender seems to be the most widely planted and used. The English variety is characterized by long stems that grow 3-4 feet high, light purple flowers, and 24-inch-long spikes that grow at the end of the stems in July and August. French and Spanish lavender are also widely planted: the first grows to 3 feet high and has lavender-purple flowers; the second is very similar to English lavender but has broader leaves.

Does lavender contain estrogen?

Researchers and scientists conducted in-depth studies on the alleged link between lavender oil and gynecomastia in pre-adolescent boys. In old researches, lavender oil had been classified as endocrine disruptor. However, recent studies show no evidence of the estrogenic nature of lavender. As such, though there is no final answer yet, lavender and lavender oil do not appear to contain estrogen.

Does lavender have pollen?

Yes, lavender has pollen. Lavender’s nectar and pollen are very appreciated by bees.

When is the best time to harvest lavender?

The best time for harvesting lavender depends on what we need to do with the flowers. For instance:

  • For fresh bunches: stems should be picked when only few corollas are open;
  • For heating pads and sachets: the harvesting period goes from the moment when the first corolla opens to the moment when the flower starts to shrivel; and
  • For dried bunches: stems should be picked when calyxes (the whorl of petals) are swollen and colored.

There is no particular “harvesting technique;” we can just cut the stems from the plant – possibly avoiding clipping more than three or four stems at a time to preserve the volume of the plant.

Is lavender edible?

Lavender can be used for cosmetic, ornamental, medical and culinary purposes. In fact, it is quite common to find lavender oil and extracts in foods and beverages. Although most varieties of lavender can be used in the kitchen, some are better for cooking than others. For instance, English lavender and the “Munstead” cultivar have a sweet fragrance and their flowers give a unique taste to dishes and recipes.

Is lavender poisonous?

If assumed in therapeutic doses (2-4 drops 2-3 times a day), lavender oil is not toxic and has no contraindications. Furthermore, lavender oil and flowers are used in cooking and are not poisonous for humans and animals. However, high doses of lavender can cause poisoning and can be fatal. Symptoms of lavender poisoning include hallucination, depression, excitation of the central nervous system, increased heart rate, headache, nausea, vomiting, and even death from cardiac arrest. Before using lavender oil on the skin or utilizing it in the kitchen or for aromatherapy, it is advisable to consult a doctor or to verify the tolerance to it.

Is lavender deer resistant?

Yes, lavender is deer resistant. In fact, this herb is particularly robust: it is deer resistant, it tolerates drought, and it resists almost all types of diseases.

Does lavender help you sleep?

According to studies and researches, the scent of lavender has a relaxing power and can ease insomnia and anxiety. In order to induce sleep, lavender oil can be sprayed in the air or few drops can be sprinkled on the pillow or on a piece of tissue.

Does lavender repel spiders?

Yes, lavender can be used to repel spider. All you need to do is spray lavender oil in the areas where spiders are most commonly found (i.e. dark corners, crevices etc.). Doing so, you will get rid of all spiders and fill the air with the unmistakable lavender scent.

Does lavender repel ticks?

Yes, lavender can repel insects, pest and ticks. Furthermore, as it is not toxic for dogs (in small quantities), it can safely be used on our four-legged friends.

Does lavender oil repel mosquitoes?

Lavender is a powerful repellant for mosquitos, insects, pests, ticks and spiders.

Do lavender plants attract bees?

Yes, lavender (and lavender’s pollen) attracts bees, particularly when it is in bloom. In fact, it is quite common to see lavender plants surrounded by dozens of bees looking for nectar and pollen.

Is lavender safe for pregnant women?

Lavender oil – mixed with mandarin and jojoba oil – is an excellent remedy for stretch marks caused by pregnancy, in particular in the abdominal area and on the upper thighs. However, although lavender oil is very safe, it is not recommended to use it during the first four-five months of the pregnancy as it believed to encourage menstrual flow. During the last stages of pregnancy, lavender oil can be used for massages and aromatherapy.

Who buys lavender?

Lavender can be bought by virtually anyone. It is recommended to all those who suffer of anxiety, depression and insomnia, and it can be used as natural repellent for insects and spiders. In addition, it can also be employed as air sanitizer or just as natural fragrance to spray in the air. Finally, lavender can be planted in the garden or in small pots to give a touch of color to the house.

What is lavender oil used for?

Lavender oil is used for a multitude of purposes. Because of his unique scent, lavender is used in the cosmetic and fragrance industries. Furthermore, this herb is known for its relaxing power and its ability to repel mosquitos, ticks and spiders. Lavender oil is also used to treat skin conditions (i.e. acne, redness, and itchiness) and to diminish pain in case of toothache, migraine, headache, joint pain, and circulation disorders. Finally, it is also used to prevent hair loss and to combat insomnia, depression and anxiety.

Is lavender oil safe for cats?

According to the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), lavender is not toxic for cats. As such, it is safe to keep lavender plants in the garden. However, if eaten in big quantities, lavender could cause gastrointestinal problems and other complications – so make sure your cat does not eat too much of it. Lavender oil can also be used to sanitize and perfume cat litters and cat toys.

Is lavender oil safe for dogs?

According to Animal Planet, lavender is not toxic for dogs. In fact, lavender flowers are also used in dog biscuits and treats that can easily be found in pet stores. Furthermore, lavender oil can also be used to repel ticks and to massage dogs’ fur. However, if dogs eat too much lavender, they could have gastrointestinal problems and might experience diarrhea.

Is lavender oil good for acne?

Lavender oil is often indicated as a useful and effective product to treat acne. In fact, many acne care products contain lavender oil in different percentages. However, in some cases lavender oil could worsen the condition or trigger allergic reactions. Therefore, it is preferable to never apply lavender oil directly on the skin – particularly on acne-affected skin, but to always combine it with other products and to use it in small quantities. Moreover, it is fundamental to verify tolerance to the oil before applying it on the skin.

Author: Giulia Squadrin

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