I need info about lavendar and it's uses

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by babysteps, Jun 19, 2006.

  1. babysteps

    babysteps living at 6800 feet

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    My husband purchaced me some lavendar plants and they are doing quite well. How should I care for them. When will they flower. What should I do with them. Are there every day uses? Any suggestions appreciated.
    Thanks Christine, babysteps :walk:
     
  2. culpeper

    culpeper Well-Known Member

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    Lavender is my all-time favourite herb, despite having many competitors for my affections! It has multiple uses, making it very versatile, and of course the perfume is The Best! However, I'm hoping you have the real English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) or one of its cultivars, because that's the one that is used for culinary and medicinal purposes. The French and Italian lavenders have a much more camphory smell, not nearly as nice. The French lavender is the one most often used in perfumery - not because it has a better smell, but because it's more economical for growers - larger plants, more prolific flowers.

    Now, every book you read on the subject will tell you that lavender likes fairly dry soil, and won't do well in humid climates. Well, I say PHOOEY to that! It's true that lavender won't tolerate wet feet, but it can take huge amounts of water - as long as it is very free draining. Good drainage is absolutely essential. It takes a year or two before the baby lavender can cope with drought conditions. I live in the subtropics where humidity is very high, and in normal years we get frequent torrential downpours during which my garden closely resembles a swimming pool, and my lavenders do very nicely, thank you. You lavenders might not flower for 2-3 years. If your climate is on the cool side, it might not flower much at all. Lavender likes HEAT.

    All lavenders need to be grown in full sun in light, well-drained sandy loam. An addition of compost or decayed manure is beneficial. Dolomite can also be added to raise pH to 6.5-7.5 where required. In very severe winters, they can be taken indoors to a cool, very sunny position. Cuttings up to about 10cm long can be taken from the new season’s growth and inserted into sandy soil. Cuttings taken from older sections of the plant with a ‘heel’ are usually successful. Plants about 3 years old may be divided and replanted, but this is not recommended for beginners. Seeds are difficult to germinate and should be refrigerated for one month, or frozen for 24 hours, before sowing. They should be sown in autumn at an ideal temperature of 20°C. Just barely cover seed. They need warmth and good light. If no germination in 3-4 weeks, move to –4-+4°C for 2-4 weeks. Once established, prune each spring or summer by about one-third. Do not prune in autumn or winter. Lavender may be grown in a container. Protect it in the winter by keeping in a cool bright place. Allow the soil to almost dry out in winter. Slowly reintroduce watering in spring. It will not do well indoors. As a rule, the poorer the soil, the better will be the fragrance.

    Harvesting: For drying, pick flowers just as they open, along with some of the foliage, and hang in bunches upside down in a dark, airy room. Do not use excessive or prolonged heat if drying them artificially, as the oil is very volatile. Pick the leaves anytime for fresh use, or before flowering if drying. Small, woody black or brown oval seeds are enclosed in the tightly closed calyx.

    Culinary Uses: Flowers can be used in cakes, biscuits, bread, fruit salads, desserts, jellies and vinegars. Flowers can be crystallised. An essential ingredient in Herbes Provence. The bitter leaves and tips can be used in salads, soups, vinegar, jellies and wine.

    Medicinal Uses: Used to treat insect bites, fever, headache, sleeplessness, to soothe frayed nerves. A tea made from the flowers reduces flatulence, treats dizziness, nausea (including travel sickness), mild burns, depression and bad breath. Crushed leaves and the oil relieves pain of insect bites. Add the oil to baby oil and apply to painful areas when suffering from shingles, or to cold sores or tinea. Diluted oil is used to treat cuts, minor burns, abrasions, sores, wounds, acne, eczema and scars.

    Other Uses: Add to potpourri and sleep pillows; pretty in crafts. Fresh or dried flowers are used in rinsing water for clothes and hair. In closets and drawers, it has perfuming and insect-repellent qualities. Add to personal insect repellents to repel most insects, including mosquitoes. Use the oil in cosmetics for oily skin.

    If your baby won't sleep, or if you have trouble relaxing enough to fall asleep easily, put some lavender flowers into a sleep pillow, or lightly sprinkle some lavender oil over your pillow, or burn some lavender incense, and you'll find it very relaxing. Just the smell of it is great for a headache, and for easing stress. It's the best perfume for soaps and face creams etc, IMO.

    Note: the flowers are the part that is normally used, however, you can use the leaves for perfuming and insect-repelling.
     

  3. Marcia in MT

    Marcia in MT Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We add lavender flowers to lemonade and it's quite tasty.
     
  4. Ann Mary

    Ann Mary Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I've been using the dried flowers in a tube sock clamped shut with a clip in the dryer to make the towels smell wonderful! :)