Name:
Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia)

Description:
*beautiful, purple perennial with an amazing scent
*best in zones 5-8
*there are many varieties, but English Lavender is the best choice for medicinal purposes

Parts Used:
*mainly flowers, fresh or dried (but all aerial parts can be used)

Position:
*excellent draining soil
*full sun is the best
*they can be grown in large pots

Propagation:
*you can propagate by seed: use cold stratification for 1-2 weeks, then sow indoors and do not transplant outside until it is late spring
*you can propagate by cuttings: use a rooting hormone, and do not keep new plantlings by cuttings outdoors for their first winter and do not overwater

Maintenance:
*prune annually in the spring to get rid of old growth (spring pruning gives you more flowers)
*if the plant becomes straggly, give it a good cut back in the fall followed by a second cut in the spring
*if you have low winter temperatures in your area, lavender cannot be treated as a hardy evergreen. However, if you put it in a container and bring indoors, it should continue to be an evergreen
*feed regularly in the flowering season with liquid fertilizer
*deadhead for more flowers
*lavender plants should be replaced after about 5 years

Harvesting:
*in midsummer, when the flower spikes are half open, is the best time to harvest
*if you are using the aerial parts, cut down the parts to 3 inches above ground
*if you are using only the flowers, cut them as far down as possible and tie them in bunches (see picture at right) and hang them upside down to dry
*when they are dry, strip them of their flowers and store in an airtight container out of direct sunlight

Medicinal:
*an excellent remedy for nerves and anxiety
*also excellent remedy for stress, insomnia, depression, and headaches
*it makes a delicious tea for these purposes
*the lavender essential oil (learn more about essential oils here) is an amazing and important product for households: a bath with the essential oil will help with headaches, sicknesses, and stress; and a drop of the essential oil on a bee sting will help aid in relieving the pain. You can also rub your forehead with the essential oil and massage temples to relieve headaches and stress.

Cooking:
*the flowers can be used to make sweets such as ice cream and cookies. Stay tuned for recipes.

Misc.:
*infuse distilled white vinegar with the flowers and leaves (fresh or dried) for an inexpensive but very efficient spray for cleaning and disinfecting
*add drops of lavender essential oil (learn more about essential oils here) to environmentally friendly unscented kitchen and laundry cleaning products for a fresh scent
*dampen a cotton ball and add a few drops of lavender essential oil (learn more about essential oils here). Place in the kitchen pantry or vacuum cleaner bag to eliminate stale odors

 

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