If you are interested in growing fragrant lavender for your home, you are not alone. Lavender buds produce a lovely fragrance that is used by aromatherapists to induce feelings of calm and relaxation in people who are feeling stressed out. Lavender is also used for combating insomnia or sleeplessness, and many people insert a small sachet inside of one of their bedroom pillowcases to help relax them before bed every night.
Of course, the fragrance of lavender is its most desirable feature, and sprigs of dried lavender can be placed around the house in bud vases or potpourri pots to perfume the air of your home. Growing the most fragrant lavender possible involves careful planning and selecting the correct type of lavender.
There are many different types of lavender plants. Among these are yellow lavender, Spanish lavender, French lavender, gray lavender, and wooly lavender. In addition, there is a whole sub-set of English lavender plants, including Munstead, Hitcote, Pink Hicote, Jean Davis, and Vera varieties of lavender.
So, with so many different types of lavender to pick from, how do you know which will develop the most fragrant blooms? For aromatherapy purposes, English Vera lavender is generally preferred. You may also see it sold under two other names at a garden center: True Lavender or Fine Lavender. Spanish Lavender is also particularly sought out from among all other lavender varieties, and it frequently used in perfumes, scented oils, or soaps. Either of these two varieties of lavender plants should be your top choices when planning to plant lavender, though it should be noted that all types of lavender plants have scented leaves and/or buds.
The ideal growing conditions for lavender plants will vary a bit, depending on what types of lavender you are trying to grow. For example, fine English Vera lavender plants thrive at mountain altitudes of between 2500 feet and 4500 feet. The other varieties will grow well at much lower altitudes, and actually thrive well in soil that is relatively poor. In fact, if your goal is to produce very fragrant lavender blooms, you will actually want to abstain from planting lavender seeds in soil that has been fertilized, as fertilized lavender actually has a much more mild scent compared to the stronger scent of lavender that has not been fertilized. Sunny areas that do not get boggy when it rains are perfect locations for growing lavender.
The best time to harvest lavender will depend slightly on your geographic location. You should harvest the lavender when the flowers have reached full color, but are no more than 1/3 open. Unopened buds are also okay to harvest. Select the day you harvest carefully. If you harvest during a wet day, or too early in the morning, the damp and dew on the leaves and buds will cause rot and mildew. Select a hot, bright, sunny day, and harvest with a mini sickle or pair of shears. Tie into bunches and hang upside down to dry in the sun.