National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy – Beyond Aromatics Conference – OCT. 24 – 27, 2018 – University of Utah Conference Center & Botanical Garden, Salt Lake City, Utah

October 24-27, 2018 The World of Aromatherapy IXClick here to see a review of our 2016 Conference in

Source: National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy – Beyond Aromatics Conference – OCT. 24 – 27, 2018 – University of Utah Conference Center & Botanical Garden, Salt Lake City, Utah

Lavender Infused Smudge Sticks

Burning aromatic dried herbs are referred to as “smudging.”

Tied bundles of dried aromatic herbs, or smudge sticks, often figure in spiritual healing and cleansing rituals. However, you can simply choose to burn aromatic herbs to enjoy the scent. To make your own smudge sticks, gather a large handful of aromatic herbs and use a natural string {cotton is best} to tie it at one end. {Leave both ends of the string hanging evenly.} Hang the herbs to dry. When the leaves are ready, wrap the string around them, making a compact, cigar-shaped bundle, and knot the string up top.

To burn the smudge stick, light the herbs on one end, and let the stick smolder and release its aromatic smoke. You may hold the smudge stick, gently waving it in the air and carrying it from room to room, or simply prop it up on a fireproof plate, bowl, or ashtray and let it smolder. When you’re ready to extinguish the flame, lightly tamp the lit end of the smudge stick into sand or salt and make sure the fire is out. Continue to use your smudge stick time and time again until it has burned completely.

You can use a wide variety of herbs for smudge sticks. The herbs need to have long enough stems to be cut, bundles and dried. White sage, pinion, cedar, and sweet grass are very traditional smudge herbs; they all smell wonderful either alone or in combination.

Other good smudge herbs include lavender, lemongrass, garden sage, pineapple sage, rosemary, mugwort, any aromatic evergreens, mints, thyme, eucalyptus, and sweet woodruff. Experiment with fragrant herbs found in your garden.

You can also burn loose dried herbs, such as lavender buds, rose petals, white sage leaves, or pine needles, using self-lighting charcoal discs designed for burning incense. These charcoal discs are inexpensive and very easy to use. {Caution: The type of charcoal used for grilling food is not suitable for burning herbs.} Light the disc using a match or lighter, then place it in a fire-proof container such as a ceramic bowl or ashtray. It will spark, then begin to glow red. Then simply sprinkle your dried herbs on the disc. They will smolder and burn, releasing their aromatic smoke. You can use nearly any fragrant herb for incense. I recommend gathering a selection of dried herbs and burning small quantities of each, one at a time so that you can experience how each herb smells while it’s burning.

Some of my favorite herbs to use as loose incense include white sage, lavender buds, sweetgrass, costmary, cedar wood chips, bay leaves, lemongrass, and rosemary.

What Is Lavender?

A whiff of lavender oil can trigger various sensations, and its sweet fragrance brings to mind rows and rows of beautiful blue-violet flowers under the summer sky. But if you look beyond lavender oil’s aroma, you’ll find that there’s more to it than meets the eye – or your sense of smell.

WHAT IS LAVENDER?

lavender oilLavender oil comes from lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), an easy-to-grow, evergreen shrub that produces clumps of beautiful, scented flowers above green or silvery-gray foliage. The plant is native to northern Africa and the mountainous Mediterranean regions, and thrives best in sunny, stony habitats. Today, it grows throughout southern Europe, the United States, and Australia.

Lavender has been used for over 2,500 years. Ancient Persians, Greeks, and Romans added the flowers to their bathwater to help wash and purify their skin. In fact, the word “lavender” comes from the Latin word “lavare,” which means “to wash.”

Phoenicians, Arabians, and Egyptians used lavender as a perfume, as well as for mummification – mummies were wrapped in lavender-dipped garments. In Greece and Rome, it was used as an all-around cure, while in Medieval and Renaissance Europe, it was scattered all over stone castle floors as a natural disinfectant and deodorant. Lavender was even used during the Great Plague of London in the 17th century. People fastened lavender flowers around their waists, believing it will protect them from the Black Death.

High-quality lavender oil has a sweet, floral, herbaceous, and slightly woody scent. Its color can range from pale yellow to yellow-green, but it can also be colorless.

USES OF LAVENDER OIL

lavender oil usesBoth lavender and lavender oil are valued for their fragrance and versatility. The flowers are used in potpourris, crafting, and home décor, while the essential oil is added to bath and body care products, such as soaps, perfumes, household cleaners, and laundry detergent.

Lavender oil is known for its anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antidepressant, antiseptic, antibacterial, and antimicrobial properties. It also has antispasmodic, analgesic, detoxifying, hypotensive, and sedative effects. Lavender oil is one of the most well-known essential oils in aromatherapy, and can be:

  • Added to your bath or shower to relieve aching muscles and stress.
  • Massaged on your skin as a relief for muscle or joint pain, as well as for skin conditions like burns, acne, and wounds. Make sure to dilute it with a carrier oil.
  • Inhaled or vaporized. You can use an oil burner or add a few drops to a bowl of hot water, and then breathe in the steam.
  • Added to your hand or foot soak. Add a drop to a bowl of warm water before soaking your hands or feet.
  • Used as a compress by soaking a towel in a bowl of water infused with a few drops of lavender oil. Apply this to sprains or muscle injuries.

I also recommend adding lavender oil to your list of natural cleaning products. You can mix it with baking soda to make an all-natural antibacterial scrub for your bathroom and kitchen.

COMPOSITION OF LAVENDER OIL

Lavender oil has a chemically complex structure with over 150 active constituents. This oil is rich in esters, which are aromatic molecules with antispasmodic (suppressing spasms and pain), calming, and stimulating properties.

The chief botanical constituents of lavender oil are linalyl acetate, linalool (a non-toxic terpene alcohol that has natural germicidal properties), terpinen-4-ol, and camphor. Other constituents in lavender oil that are responsible for its antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory properties include cis-ocimene, lavandulyl acetate, 1,8-cineole, limonene, and geraniol.

BENEFITS OF LAVENDER OIL

lavender oil benefitsLavender oil is known for its calming and relaxing  properties, and has been used for alleviating insomnia, anxiety, depression, restlessness, dental anxiety, and stress. It has also been proven effective for nearly all kinds of ailments, from pain to infections.

I am particularly fascinated by lavender oil’s potential in fighting antifungal-resistant skin and nail infections. Scientists from the University of Coimbra found that lavender oil is lethal to skin-pathogenic strains known as dermatophytes, as well as various Candida species. The study, published in Journal of Medical Microbiology,found that lavender oil kills fungi by damaging their cell walls (a mechanism that I believe could apply to bacteria and viruses as well). The best part is that this oil does not cause resistance, unlike antibiotics.

LAVENDER OIL CAN ALSO BE USED TO:

  • Relieve pain. It can ease sore or tense muscles, joint pain and rheumatism, sprains, backache, and lumbago. Simply massage lavender oil onto the affected area. Lavender oil may also help lessen pain following needle insertion.
  • Treat various skin disorders like acne, psoriasis, eczema, and wrinkles. It also helps form scar tissues, which may be essential in healing wounds, cuts, and burns. Lavender can also help soothe insect bites and itchy skin. According to Texas-based dermatologist Dr. Naila Malik, it’s a natural anti-inflammatory, so it helps reduce itching, swelling, and redness.
  • Keep your hair healthy. It helps kill lice, lice eggs, and nits. The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database (NMCB) says that lavender is possibly effective for treating alopecia areata (hair loss), boosting hair growth by up to 44 percent after just seven months of treatment.
  • Improve your digestion. This oil helps stimulate the mobility of your intestine and stimulates the production of bile and gastric juices, which may help treat stomach pain, indigestion, flatulence, colic, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • Relieve respiratory disorders. Lavender oil can help alleviate respiratory problems like colds and flu, throat infections, cough, asthma, whooping cough, sinus congestion, bronchitis, tonsillitis, and laryngitis. It can be applied on your neck, chest, or back, or inhaled via steam inhalation or through a vaporizer.
  • Stimulates urine production, which helps restore hormonal balance, prevent cystitis (inflammation of the urinary bladder), and relieve cramps and other urinary disorders.
  • Improve your blood circulation. It helps lower elevated blood pressure levels, and can be used for hypertension.

Lavender oil can help ward off mosquitoes and moths. It is actually used as an ingredient in some mosquito repellents.

HOW TO MAKE LAVENDER OIL

dried lavender flowersLavender oil is produced via steam distillation. The flowers are picked when they are in full bloom, where they contain the maximum amount of esters. It takes 150 pounds of lavender to produce just one pound of pure lavender essential oil.

You can also make a cold infusion by soaking lavender flowers in another oil. Try this recipe from BlackThumbGardener.com:

INGREDIENTS AND MATERIALS:

  • Dried lavender flowers
  • Mineral oil or olive oil
  • Jar
  • Cheesecloth or muslin
  • Sterilized bottle

Procedure:

  • Clean and dry your jar completely, and then place the dried lavender flowers in it. You should have enough flowers to fill your jar.
  • Pour the oil all over the flowers until they’re completely covered.
  • Put the jar in a place where it can get a good amount of sun, and let it sit for three to six weeks. The sunlight will help extract the oil from the flowers and infuse it with the base oil.
  • After three or six weeks, pour the oil through your cheesecloth and into a sterilized bottle.

HOW DOES LAVENDER OIL WORK?

Lavender oil’s effectiveness is said to be brought on by the psychological effects of its soothing and relaxing fragrance, combined with the physiological effects of its volatile oils on your limbic system.Lavender oil can be applied topically or inhaled as steam vapor. Although dried lavender flowers are can be made into lavender tea, I advise against ingesting the oil, as it may lead to side effects, such as difficult breathing, burning eyes and blurred vision, vomiting, and diarrhea.

IS LAVENDER OIL SAFE?

I believe that using natural oils like lavender oil is one of the best holistic tactics that you can incorporate in your life. However, there are a few important guidelines to remember when using lavender oil.

Using diluted lavender oil topically or in aromatherapy is generally considered safe for most adults, but may not be recommended for children. Applying pure lavender oil to your skin (especially open wounds) may also cause irritation, so I recommend infusing it with a carrier oil, such as olive oil or coconut oil. Dissolving it in water also works.

Be careful not to rub lavender oil in your eyes and mucous membranes. If this happens, wash it out immediately. Lavender oil may also cause allergic reactions in people with unusually sensitive skin, so do a spot test before using it. Simply apply a drop of lavender oil to your arm and see if any reaction occurs.

SIDE EFFECTS OF LAVENDER OIL

Some people may develop an allergic reaction to lavender oil. There are also instances when people experience side effects such as headaches, nausea, vomiting, and chills after inhaling or applying the oil topically.

I advise pregnant women and nursing moms to avoid using this oil, as the safety of lavender oil for these conditions hasn’t been identified. The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) also warns against using lavender oil when taking medications like barbiturates, benzodiazepines, and chloral hydrate, as it may increase their sedative effects and cause extreme drowsiness and sleepiness.

Old Fashioned Medicinal Lavender

His Aunt Jobiska made him drink
Lavender water tinged with pink
For she said, ‘The world in general knows
There’s nothing so good for Pobble’s toes!’
 
Edward Lear, ‘The Pobble Who Has No Toes’
 
The old herbals constantly sang the praises of lavender for medicinal purposes. John Gerard wrote in his Herball {1597}:
The distilled water of Lavender smelt unto, or the temples and and forehead bathed therewith, is refreshing to them that have the Catalepsie, a light migram, and to them that have the falling sickness and that use to swoune much.
The floures of Lavender picked from the knaps, I means the blew part and not the husk, mixed with Cinnamon, Nutmeg, and Cloves, made into powder, and given to drinke in the distilled water thereof, doth helpe the panting and passion of the heart, prevaileth against giddinesse, turning, or swimming of the braine, and members subject to the palsie.
French Lavender hath a body like Lavender, short, and of woodie substance, but slenderer, beset with long narrow leaves, of a whitish colour, lesser than those of Lavender, it hath in the top bushie or spikie heads, well compact or thrust together; out of the which grow fourth small purple flowers, or a pleasant smell. The seede is small and blackish: the roote is harde and woodie.
But long before physicians like Gerard wrote of the virtues of Lavender it had been highly regarded for its medicinal uses. Dioscorides wrote in 60AD:
Stoechas grows in the islands of Galatia over against Messalia, called ye Stoechades, from whence also it had its name, is an herb with slender twiggs, having ye haire like Tyme, but yet longer leaved, & sharp in ye taste, & somewhat bitterish, but ye decoction of it as the Hyssop is good for ye griefs in ye thorax. It is mingled also profitably with Antidots.
lavender and hyssop seem to have been used in similar ways. The Angus Castus of the 14th century made the same comments as those of Dioscorides some 1300 years later:
Lavandula is an herbe men clepe lavandre. This herbe is moche lyk to ysope but it is mo lengger lewys thenne ysope and it hast a flour sumdel blew and also the stalke growith other-wyse. The vertu of this herbe is ef it be sothyn in water and dronke that water it wele hele the palsye and many other ewyls.

LAVENDER, COMMON OR ENGLISH

Ruling Planet: Mercury
 
Lavandula augustifolia or
Lavandula officinalis
 {Culpeper: Lavandula spica}
 

USES

 

Medicinal:

A strong antiseptic with antibacterial properties, lavender oil was used to treat cuts, bites, stings, burns, coughs, and colds, chest infections, rheumatic aches, giddiness, and flatulence. As a soothing tonic for nervous and digestive disorders, the herb was prescribed to relieve tension, insomnia, and depression.
William Turner, the ‘father of English botany’, said that ‘the flowers of lavender, quilted in a cap, comfort the brain very well.’ A sprig of lavender placed behind the ear was reputed to cure headaches. Culpeper warned that the oil ‘is of a fierce and piercing quality, and ought to be carefully used, a very few drops being sufficient for inward or outward maladies.’ The herb was also used in the form of lavender water, and tea.

CULINARY:

Lavender leaves were added to salads and used to flavor jellies, jams, pottages, and stews. The flowers were also crystallized.

MISCELLANEOUS:

A native of the Mediterranean region, lavender was introduced into England by the Romans. Its botanical name Lavandula derives from the Latin for to wash, a reference to its use by the Romans as a scented additive to their bathwater. Grown in medieval monastic gardens, it was not only valued for its medicinal properties, but for its beauty and fragrance, and as a strewing herb, insect repellant, and a mask for unpleasant smells.
The dried flowers were added to potpourri’s, herb cushions and sachets for freshening and keeping moths away from linen. The oil was used in varnishes, perfumes, soaps and cosmetics.
lavender water

Recipe: Lavender Water.

Of course, this can be bought commercially. My favorite comes from Norfolk Lavender in England. But for home purposes, you can enjoy making up your own supply.
In a clear glass bottle steep 100 g of lavender flowers in half a liter of alcohol {brandy or vodka are both good}. Place in the sun for a few days, then strain. Repeat until the fragrance is very strong.
Strain and seal in a glass bottle. If your hair is weak, falling out and breaking, try an old idea and rub lavender water into your scalp several times a week. Try it too as a rub for rheumatism. It has a long tradition of usage for both problems.

Lavender Herbal Bath Bags {DIY}

Lavender has a relaxing effect on the peripheral nervous system and has long been used to treat headaches originating from nervous tension. Not surprisingly with these medicinal properties combined with its sweet clean smell, lavender has long been a constituent of bath bags. These are made from squares of muslin or voile. A cupful of the mixture is placed in the center of the square, the sides have drawn up and tied into a bag with appropriate colored ribbon.

Lavender Mist Bath Bags

 
1/2 cup dried sweet cicely
1/2 cup dried sweet woodruff
1 tablespoon dried valerian roots
1/4 cup dried lavender leaves
1/2 cup dried lavender flowers
1/4 cup dried angelica leaves
1 1/2 cup medium ground oatmeal
1/2 cup almond meal
20 drops oil of lavender
Divide the mixture into 3 equal portions and tie into bags as previously described.
Soak the bag thoroughly in hot water at the bottom of the bath before topping up with cool water.
Squeeze the bag repeatedly until no more milkiness emerges. The water will now be silky soft and fragrant.
Use the bag as a final gentle skin scrub. The bag is reusable once provided it is used the next day.
lavender flower spikes

Aromatic Bath

 
This recipe is adapted from the Toilet of Flora published in the seventeenth century.
Combine half a cup of each of the following dried herbs: lavender, sweet marjoram, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, wormwood, peppermint, pennyroyal, lemon balm.
Add the mixture to two liters of water in an enameled pan, boil for ten minutes, then allow to cool.
Strain through a double layer of cloth and add half a bottle of brandy.
Bottle. Add a little to the bathtub when bathing.
lavender flower spikes

The Beauty Bath

 
Ninon de Lenclos was a celebrated and exceedingly beautiful French courtesan of the seventeenth century.
She died at the age of 85 {rare indeed at that time} and reputedly retained her smooth youthful skin and curves until the end. She attributed this to her special daily herbal bath.
Here is her secret recipe.
1 handful crushed comfrey root
1 handful dried lavender flowers
1 handful dried mint leaves
1 handful dried rosemary leaves
1 handful dried Centifolia rose petals {recommended by famous French herbalist Maurice Messague for its anti-wrinkle properties}
Mix together, tie in a muslin bag and place in a large bowl. Pour boiling water over the herbs and leave to steep for 20 minutes. Pour the resulting infusion into a warm bath, squeezing the bag hard to extract all the active principles.
lavender flower spikes

An Eighteenth Century Sweet Bath

 
This bath is refreshing, antiseptic and deodorizing.
1 cup dried rose petals
1 cup dried orange flowers
1 cup dried Jasminum Officinalis flowers
1 cup dried bay leaves
1 cup dried mint leaves
1 cup pennyroyal leaves
1 cup dried citrus peel {yellow part only}
6 drops essential oil of lavender
6 drops essential oil of musk
6 drops essential oil rose geranium
Mix well and store in a glass jar.
To use, tie 2-3 cups of the mixture in a muslin square, place in a bowl and pour boiling water over the herbs.
Allow to infuse for twenty minutes, remove the herbs squeezing the muslin bag firmly to extract all the herb extract, and add this concentrated infusion to a warm bath.
lavender flower spikes

The Ultimate Tranquility Bath

 
Save this bath until evening.
You will find yourself unwinding wonderfully with this fragrant bath.
1 cup dried lavender flowers
1 cup dried linden flowers
1 cup dried chamomile flowers
1 cup dried valerian root chips
1 cup dried sweet marjoram
1/2 cup dried angelica leaves
1/2 cup dried lemon verbena leaves
Mix well together and use in the same way as the previous recipe.

Lavender Aromatherapy and Labor Pain

Pain specialists rank the pain of delivery among the most severe in the human experience. To mitigate it, women at term use many treatments, including massage therapy, deep-breathing exercises, hypnotism, acupuncture, pain drugs, and anesthesia. Iranian investigators wondered if aromatherapy with lavender oil {Lavandula angustifolia} might also help.

The essential oil of lavender is a mainstay of aromatherapy. Many studies have shown that inhaling the pleasant fragrance helps treat stress, anxiety, and pain – even at concentrations so low it can barely be detected. Previous studies demonstrated that lavender aromatherapy relieves some of the pain of Caesarean section delivery and episiotomy. But other trials have shown no delivery-related benefits.

120 women pregnant for the first time participated in this study, published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice. During labor, they rubbed either water or lavender between their hands. In the herb group, the fragrance filled the birth room. The aromatherapy group reported significantly less labor pain {p<0.001}.

Essential oil of lavender is highly concentrated. A drop or two is all it takes to noticeably reduce most pain. Essential oils are also highly toxic. Ingesting as little as a teaspoon can kill a child. Always keep essential oils out of the reach of children.

aromatherapy-essential-oils

Aromatherapy: The Sweet Smell of Pain Relief

Lavender essential oil has antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory chemicals; it can soothe the soul and alleviate pain.
Ever thought of using your nose to help ease your pain?
Volatiles in essential oils can easily enter your body via your olfactory system and adjust brain electrical activity to alter your perception of pain.
Clinical aromatherapists commonly use lavender, peppermint, chamomile, and damask rose for pain relief and relaxation.
A report from Nursing Clinics of North America says that massage with lavender relieves pain and enhances the effect of orthodox pain medication. Lavender and chamomile oils are gentle enough to be used with children and, in blends, have relieved children’s pain from HIV, encephalopathy-induced muscle spasm, and nerve pain. Both oils contain anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic chemicals, and exert sedative, calming action.
Rose essential oil contains pain-reducing eugenol, cinnamaldehyde, and geraniol; but the report’s author suggests it may also alter the perception of pain because it embodies the soothing aromas of the garden.

LAVENDER’S MEDICINAL AND AROMATHERAPY USES

There are few scents in this world that evoke the feeling of clean – lavender is one of them. Its common and scientific name originates from lavare, the Latin word for wash or bathe. Lavender was popular as a linen-washing herb in Europe, no doubt due to its pleasant aroma, but it also possesses antiseptic qualities and can help to keep insects at bay. Discouraging or killing insects was paramount before the invention of glass windows and screens, a time when humans often shared the same roof with flea and lice-ridden livestock. Maude Grieve writes in A Modern Herbal (no longer especially modern, as it was written in 1931):

Dried Lavender flowers are still greatly used to perfume linen, their powerful, aromatic odour acting also as a preventative to the attacks of moths and other insects. In America, they find very considerable employment for disinfecting hot rooms and keeping away flies and mosquitoes, who do not like the scent. Oil of Lavender, on cotton-wool, tides in a little bag or in a perforated ball hung in the room, is said to keep it free from all flies.

Our noses do not betray us when they register lavender’s aroma as clean and refreshing; studies have demonstrated lavender’s inherent antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. Lavender is extremely popular as a sachet herb; I like to combine it with white sage and cypress needles in mesh bags and place them in my drawers and closet.

There are thirty-nine species of lavender (Lavandula spp.), most are native to Eastern Europe, northern Africa, the Mediterranean and western Asia. Lavender is in the mint family (Lamiaceae), as evidenced by its bilabiate flowers, aromatic oils, opposite leaves and a square stem. Lavender has been used medicinally for centuries as a remedy for digestive issues, headaches, grief, and stress. How many herbs can claim to have flowers which inspired the name of a color?!

Lavandula angustifolia, often called English lavender even though it is native to the Mediterranean, is the most common species grown and used medicinally. The species name Angustifolia means “narrow leaf.” Former scientific names include Lavandula officinalis and Lavandula vera.

Bees and many other insects frequent lavender; its flowers are often abuzz in the growing season. Lavender’s nectar yields a choice varietal honey.

Cultivation

Lavender is a short-lived perennial and prefers full sun with well-drained soil and ample airflow. If your native soil doesn’t drain well, try adding gravel or rocks to the soil. I add river sand (coarser sand), along with organic matter (decomposed manure), to break up our heavy clay soil. Try mulching with sand, light-colored gravel or oyster shells if you live near the sea. High humidity and cold wet winters can be problematic. Ask your local herbal nursery which varieties or cultivars grow best in your area.

Lavender can be grown from seed, but it is typically propagated from cuttings for a number of reasons. The cultivars need to be propagated asexually (cuttings) as they won’t come true from seed. In addition, growing lavender from seed is much slower going than from cuttings. The seed will germinate better if stratified for one month prior to planting. Lavender prefers a more neutral pH, around 7.0 is ideal.Lavandula angustifolia is typically cold hardy to zone 6, although there are varieties that can tolerate colder temperatures- ‘Munstead’ is hardy to zone 5.

Lavender is popular as a low-maintenance xeriscape ornamental in arid climates. I was pleasantly surprised to see it growing in the median of the roadways in the Mediterranean region of Italy. There are dwarf varieties that grow 6 inches tall (12 inches in flower) but standard varieties typically grow 12 to 24 inches tall (24 to 40 inches in flower).

Common Name: Lavender

Scientific name (s): Lavandula angustifolia. Other species are used medicinally but may have a slightly different medicinal profile than outlined below. Much of the historical medicinal information from the Greeks and Libyans stems from the use of Lavandula stoechas, or French lavender.

Family: Lamiaceae

Part used:  Above ground parts in flower or flowers

Preparation & Dosage:

  • 1-2 teaspoons (approximately .8 to 1.6 grams) of the flower or herb flower per 8 ounces of water as an infusion, drunk up to three times a day
  • 1 dropper full of tincture (1:2 95%) up to three times a day

Actions: carminative, sedative, bitter, antidepressant, hypnotic, cholagogues, anti-microbial

Energetics: bitter, drying, cooling

Indications/Usages:

Nervine: Lavender is a gentle sedative and can help with anxiety, stress, and insomnia. It is often used in the formula for the herbal treatment of depression as it has more immediate effects as compared to many of the slower-acting tonic antidepressants and adaptogens. I combine lavender with lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) and lemon verbena (Aloysia ci trod ora) in tea to help lift the spirits. Lavender is also used to alleviate grief; it is often paired with the flowers of hawthorn (Crataegus spp.), rose (Rosa spp.), and mimosa (Albizia julibrissin).

Lavender is a traditional remedy for headaches; both internally as a tea and externally as an essential oil rubbed into the temples.

Digestive: Lavender is slightly bitter and many herbalists use it as a hepatic and bile stimulant. It is also carminative and anti-inflammatory. Safe for children and the elderly, it can be used in the treatment of intestinal gas, irritable bowel syndrome, and nausea. Other gentle digestive aids, used in a similar vein, are catnip (Nepeta cataria), chamomile (Matricaria recutita) and lemon balm (Melissa officinalis).

  • Rejuvenating, skin stimulating bath – pregnancy, bedridden
  • Equal parts: Symphytum leaf, Thymus leaf, M. Piperita, Lavandula flowers + Matricaria flowers
  • Aura state for migraines, especially after too much sun

Notes: The flavor of lavender tea is stronger than one might expect: slightly bitter, mildly astringent and very aromatic. A little goes a long way. Try combining it with rose petals, mint, chamomile or passionflower for insomnia and decompression. I prefer the external use of essential oil or the ingestion of tea rather than the tincture, but the tincture is serviceable for those who avoid tea and essential oils.

Topical use: A strong infusion of the flowers is made into a sitz bath to heal tears in the perineum from childbirth; combine with calendula flowers (Calendula officinalis), chickweed (Stellaria media) and witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana). Lavender infusion is sometimes used as a douche for vaginal yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis. Sage leaf (Salvia officinalis) and calendula (Calendula officinalis) are welcome additions to this tea. After herbal treatment for vaginal infections, insert two capsules of acidophilus low in the vaginal canal at night just before bed (so they will stay in and melt). Unsweetened live yogurt can be substituted for the acidophilus pills. Both treatments help in replenishing healthy populations of vaginal flora displaced by the anti-microbial douching and infection.

Contra-indications/ Side effects: None known, although its tonic use may be constitutionally inappropriate. For example, if you have very dry skin and mucous membranes the long-term internal use of lavender may be too drying.

Aromatherapy:

Lavender essential oil is used topically as an anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, hypnotic and anxiolytic. Lavender essential oil is always in my first aid kit, car, and travel bag. It is one of the few essential oils that can be used topically without dilution, but it is always prudent to initially try a small amount of the oil on the inside of the arm and watch for 24 hours to see if there is any reaction. After cleaning out and disinfecting scrapes and cuts, I use lavender as an all-purpose anti-microbial. I also employ it to help ease the itch and swelling of mosquito and chigger bites. Lavender is applied topically on sunburn and first degree burns; I like to rub fresh aloe vera gel on the afflicted area and then add a couple drops of lavender essential oil.

Lavender essential oil can be rubbed into the temples along with diluted peppermint essential oil for headaches. A couple drops on the pillow can help ease a busy mind into dreamland. For children that have trouble relaxing into sleep, try adding two to four drops of the essential oil into the bedtime bath.

Finally, I like to use lavender essential oil to freshen up my car (can a motor vehicle really ever feel fresh?!)

lavender foot soak

Luxurious Lavender and Rose Mineral Foot Bath

The sensitive skin and tissues of the feet contain many nerves and blood vessels that readily absorb the healing effects of essential oils and carry them throughout the body. A foot massage can be easily performed on oneself and is a perfect stress-reducing activity.

Ingredients

 2 tablespoons sea salt
1 tablespoon Epsom salts
1 tablespoon sodium bicarbonate or 1 tablespoon baking soda
1 tablespoon French white clay powder
8 drops lavender oil
4 drops rose oil
4 drops cedarwood oil
2 drops patchouli oil
2  gallons of hot water
1 tablespoon rose petals
1 tablespoon lavender flowers

Directions

Combine dry ingredients. Add the essential oils and mix evenly.

Dissolve the mixture in a large basin containing two gallons of hot water. Sprinkle flowers into the basin and soak feet for as long as desired.

 

Benefits: Balancing

Great Grandma’s Old-Fashioned Lavender Recipes

The ‘recipes’ are extremely old but still usable in our modern lavender era. We did not change the wording.

Scottish Handwater and English Sweet Handwater:

Scottish Handwater
 
1 handful of lavender flowers
1 handful of thyme leaves
1 handful of rosemary leaves
1 bottle of still white wine
Place all the ingredients in the wine, cover, and allow to infuse in a warm place for two to three weeks. Strain and bottle attractively.
An old English recipe for sweet handwater is based on the simple Scottish recipe but it is more complex in its ingredients and the final product was distilled.
Here are an adaptation and translation.
English Sweet Handwater
 
6 handfuls fragrant Damask roses
2 handfuls rosemary
2 handfuls lavender
2 handfuls sweet marjoram
2 handfuls sweet basil
2 handfuls sweet balm
1 tablespoon cloves
2 tablespoons cinnamon bark chips
1 handful of bay leaves
Thinly sliced rind of two lemons
Thinly sliced rind of two oranges
Handful of flowering rosemary tops
White wine
Cover with white wine and leave in a warm place for 8 to 10 days. Distil off and bottle.Handwaters are a wonderful idea. They are added to the final rinse of delicate garments, used as a final hair rinse, or added to a basin of water when washing hands or face.
A traditional Scottish recipe used equal quantities of lavender, thyme and rosemary infused in wine.

Lavender Water for Fever and Headaches:

2 tablespoons dried lavender leaves
1 tablespoon Sweet Cicely
1 tablespoon marjoram
1 tablespoon red rose petals
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 large pinch ground cloves
Powder all the ingredients as finely as possible and mix with four cups of either surgical spirit or brandy.
Allow to steep for 14 days, strain and bottle, sealing tightly. Add a few drops to cold water, wring out a towel in the liquid and place on the forehead. Repeat until relief is obtained.
In my experience, a sachet of the same mixture makes an excellent portable headache reliever.
In the once Imperial Library of Hungary lies a handwritten manuscript inscribed long ago by Queen Elizabeth of that country and dated 1235. In it is written the original prescription for the famous Hungary Water. The Queen was paralysed, but was cured by a secret herbal recipe invented for her by a hermit. The preparation was rubbed each day into her limbs and eventually restored her. The Queen’s formula for Hungary Water became well known throughout Europe and was particularly widely used in southern France. The original recipe given here is on a queenly scale but can, of course, be made in much smaller quantities.

Lavender Cosmetic Vinegar and Sweet Water for Linens:

White wine vinegar
Freshly gathered heads of lavender with the dew dried from them
Fill a glass jar with whole heads of lavender blossoms, and cover with white wine vinegar.
Leave the jar with a plastic lid on in a sunny place for 2 weeks, shaking the bottle each day.
 Empty the bottle, straining out the vinegar. Refill the bottle with fresh lavender flowers and cover with the same vinegar. Repeat after 2 weeks making a triple infusion in all.
An old Scottish recipe used half rosemary and half lavender to make a very refreshing vinegar for adding to ‘Sweet Washing Water’.
Lavender foot baths are another very old-fashioned pleasure and made good use of lavender’s ability to soothe the peripheral nerves, as well as its antiseptic qualities and its clean sweet fragrance.
A strong infusion of lavender flowers and leaves in boiling water was made.

This was added to a basin of warm water in which the feet were allowed to soak blissfully at the end of a long day.

Sweet Water for Linens

This recipe is culled from Bulleins Bullworke {1562}

Three pounds of Rose water, cloves, cinnamon, sauders’, 2 handfuls of the flowers of Lavender, lette it stand a moneth to still in the sonne, well closed in a glasse; Then distill it in Balneo Marial.
It is marvellous pleasant in savour, a water of wonderous sweetness, for the bedde, whereby the whole place shall have a most pleasant scent.
Sandalwood
Bain Marie or waterbath

Oil of Lavender:

This is not the commercially distilled essential oil, but a rubbing oil which can be used at full strength. {Essential oil of lavender obtained by distillation of fresh lavender flowers should be diluted in light vegetable oil for use as a massage oil when needed.}
To make oil of lavender, take a clean glass bottle and add to it a good large handful of fresh lavender flowers and cover with one liter of olive oil. Cover and leave to macerate in the warmth of the sun for three to five days. Strain through a cloth, add fresh flowers to the bottle and return the lavender-infused oil. Repeat until the oil is highly perfumed and charged with the active principles of lavender.

Lavender Sleep Pillow:

Mix together the following ingredients:
3 parts of lavender flowers
Hop flowers or lemon verbena leaves
Rosemary leaves
Marjoram leaves
Sweet Cicely leaves
2-3 drops lavender oil {recipe Oil of Lavender above}
Sew the mixture into a bag made of thin material which allow the fragrance to escape eg. Organza or muslin.
Make a pillow slip to contain the sleep pillow. Silks are ideal.

Lavender used as an inhalant is considered to speed recovery from colds, bronchitis, tonsillitis and flu.Many people who have used the lavender-based herbal sleep pillows from us have reported not only overcoming insomnia but that they were helpful in cases of asthma, and particularly in breaking up pulmonary congestion. The ingredients of sleep pillows vary but it is important to make the mixture around 3 parts of dried lavender flowers and leaves. The fourth part, made up of various tranquilizing or sleep inducing herbs, can be mixed in different proportions according to what you have available.

lavender-fans-trio

Lavender Fans:

These can be quite exquisite but should be treated as strictly ornamental and hung from a mirror or used to ornament a pillow or dressing table. They are better made as miniatures.
English lavender is freshly cut with long stems when approximately half the flower spike is open. Tie at the base of the bunch and about one-third of the way up the stems.
Cut two pieces of lavender organza or lace into a fan shape to cover the upper two-thirds of the lavender stems when gently teased out to form a fan shape. The lavender stems {I use pairs of stems for strength} form the ribs of the lavender fan. These are now sown into the lace casing, sewing both sides of each rib.
Press flat between books until dry and retaining their fan shape. Finish each little with lace and lavender ribbon bows, and wrap the satin ribbon tightly around the handle as a final touch, tying off with a bow and sprig of dried French lavender.

potpourri making

Lavender Fragrance and Fancies {How To Make Potpourri}:

Making your own potpourri is a delightful hobby and easier than you may think….
The ancient and fragrant art of potpourri is one of the few truly civilized and civilizing processes left for the twentieth century inhabitant to partake of. This ‘preservation of garden souls’ is a work worthy of time and loving care and its products can bring delight not only to the maker but to so many others.
We will disdain the often quoted and unworthy translation of the French ‘rotten pot’, and proceed hastily to the fact that there are two distinct techniques for potpourri production, ‘moist’ and ‘dry’.
Moist potpourri is an old method of production and its presumably the source of the French title, for it is the fragrance, and most certainly not the appearance  that is the attraction with this variety. Moist potpourri are reputed to retain their fragrance for up to fifty years, so the process results in much longer staying power. They are made from floral materials that are partly dried, despite the name.
The peak time to pick any floral ingredient is just as it is coming into full bloom. Pick after the dew has dried but as early as possible on a sunny day. Dry the flowers on papers or preferably on screens, out of sunlight but in an airy place. For moist potpourri they should be only partly dried. leathery when finished rather than crisp. Aim for a very limp appearance. Around one third of their bulk will be gone.
We use large straight sided glazed pottery crocks with good fitting tops to hold and mature moist potpourris. These should really be set aside for the purpose as it takes a number of weeks to mature a batch. Never use metallic spoons to turn the mixture. Buy some long-handled wooden spoons and keep them for this purpose alone. To make your job pleasant the crock needs to be sufficiently large and wide-mouthed to hold all the ingredients comfortably during the necessary turnings and stirrings as the mixture ages. The shortest time needed to mature the mix is two weeks. This is really far too short. The best results come with longer maturation. We wait at least six to eight weeks, but in previous centuries, far more noted for their patience than our own, the crocks were left to stew for months.
The general principles are simple. Place a layer of ‘leathery stage’ petals at the bottom of the crock, then cover with a layer of common {not iodized} salt. Add another layer of petals, then salt, alternating them until the crock is about three quarters full. A batch requires at least two weeks ageing before the remaining ingredients are added. Weigh the mixture down with a plate on which is placed some heavy non-corrodible object. A large bottle of homemade preserves is an answer. A large glass jar filled with sand and tightly capped will do the job well too. Each day the mix needs to be stirred well from the bottom. A kind of ‘petal soup’ appears and should be mixed back into the petals. If a hard crust appears, remove it and allow it to dry. Reserve this for the final mixing when it should be crushed and added back.
Next the spices, ground roots, dried peels, fragrant leaves and fixatives are added and blended. Leave for one month, stirring daily and covering again, to mellow and mix the fragrances. Finally add whatever essential oils may be required and allow the mix to continue to ‘stew’ {the word is too appropriate to be avoidable}, stirring daily, for a few more weeks.
If all this sounds tedious in the extreme, interrupting a very busy schedule, you are probably one of those who would most greatly benefit from its therapy! The fragrance alone is sufficient reward as the mixture is stirred each day, and it is no more difficult to build this routine into your day than any other daily routine.
Now is the time to move the potpourri into its final containers. Remember how long it will give pleasure to its owner and choose something worthy of the contents. Old Chinese ginger jars, oriental porcelain jars, even old-fashioned tea-caddies and marmalade jars in fine pottery are suitable. Haunt secondhand and antique shops for suitable potpourri jars. The only provisos are that there is a solid cover and that it is made of glazed pottery of some kind. Once you are looking, it is amazing how many unusual and attractive old containers suggest themselves.
The mixture in its new container will still be a little raw in its quality of fragrance, but in a few weeks will be a delight. When you wish to scent a room, remove the cover and a delicious subtle fragrance will gently pervade the whole area. Otherwise, keep the lid on the mixture.
Here are a few recipes for moist potpourri. Once you have mastered the basic technique you will be able to devise your own mixes.

Lavender Antiseptic Washes and More…

Lavender Antiseptic Wash.
This is a favorite treatment for eczema, cuts, acne and minor burns.
Take a good handful of the flowers and boil together with half a liter of water for ten minutes. Filter and allow to cool before using.
Since Roman days this has been used in hot baths, to relax the body, and it is known to have a marked effect on the peripheral nervous system. It has also been widely used as a gargle for sore throats and sore or infected gums, due to its antiseptic properties and relaxant effect on the nervous system.
Hungary Water.
1 gallon brandy or clear spirits {equal to 16 cups}
1 handful of rosemary
1 handful of lavender
1 handful myrtle
Handfuls are measured by cutting branches of the herbs twelve inches long. A handful is the number of such branches that can be held in the hand. After measuring, the branches should be cut up into one-inch pieces, and put to infuse in the brandy. You will then have the finest Hungary Water that can be made.
Four Thieves Vinegar.
This antiseptic vinegar is attributed to a gang of four thieves who robbed the bodies of victims of the plague in Marseilles in 1722. They washed their bodies with it, frequently disinfecting their hands, and sprinkled it on their clothes and around their houses. It is said that all four survived without infection.
Actually it is not surprising that this famous aromatic vinegar was so successful. Many of its ingredients are among the most powerful natural antibiotics in the world. Another case of empirically gained knowledge long preceding that obtained by scientific investigation.
*Infuse garlic cloves, lavender flowers, rosemary, sage, calamus root, mint, wormwood, rue, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves in a glass flagon of wine vinegar and leave sealed in the sun for 3-4 weeks to release the powerfully antibiotic oils into the vinegar. Filter, pour into smaller bottles, add a little camphor and seal until ready for use.
Soothing Massage Oil.
1/2 cup safflower or sunflower oil
Dried pot marigold petals
12 drops essential oil of rose geranium
12 drops essential oil of lavender
10 drops essential pine oil or oil of cypress
Place the safflower oil in a glass jar and add as many freshly dried pot marigold petals as possible.
Cap the bottle and place in the sun for 4-5 days. Filter off the petals and squeeze out any retained oil from them before discarding. The oil will now be deep orange and fully charged with the active healing principles of calendula. Mix the other essential oils into the infused oil of marigold, bottle and store in the refrigerator.
lavender-hand-cream

Lavender Cream and Lavender Night Cream:

This is an antiseptic cream and has been traditionally used for all manner of minor cuts, abrasions, bruises etc.
* 125 g white wax
500g sweet almond oil
370 g distilled water
10 g essential oil of lavender
2.5 g spike oil
Lavender Ointment:
 
25 drops essential oil of lavender
10 drops essential oil of lemon or neroli
5 drops essential oil of thyme
2 tablespoons oil of lavender
60 g pure beeswax
Warm the beeswax in a small pot in a roasting pan of hot water and, when melted, beat in the oil of lavender; then, as the ointment cools, add the essential oils, continuing to beat until cool. Store in a covered jar in the refrigerator.
Oil of Lavender.
This is not the commercially distilled essential oil, but a rubbing oil which can be used at full strength. {Essential oil of lavender obtained by distillation of fresh lavender flowers should be diluted in light vegetable oil for use as a massage oil when needed.}
To make oil of lavender, take a clean glass bottle and add to it a good large handful o fresh lavender flowers and cover with one litre of olive oil. Cover and leave to macerate in the warmth of the sun for three to five days. Strain through a cloth, add fresh flowers to the bottle and return the lavender-infused oil. Repeat until the oil is highly perfumed and charged with the active principles of lavender.
 
g=grams
Lavender Night Cream
1 tablespoon avocado oil or apricot oil
1 tablespoon almond oil
3 tablespoons lanolin
1 teaspoon oil of lavender {see
‘Oil of Lavender’}
If you work outside a lot this is the ideal answer to sore chapped hands and weather beaten skin.
Put the lanolin in an ovenproof bowl and place in a roasting pan half full of hot water.
Pour in the avocado and almond oil and beat well to completely combine.
Remove from the heat and continue to beat as the mixture cools and thickens.
Add the oil of lavender. Continue beating until mixture is thick and creamy and cool.
Pour into a small pot, cover and store in the refrigerator.
Vitamin E can be added by squeezing the contents of 2 or 3 capsules at the same stage as oil of lavender is added.

Recipe: Lavender Water:

Of course, this can be bought commercially. My favorite comes from Norfolk Lavender in England. But for home purposes you can enjoy making up your own supply.
In a clear glass bottle steep 100 g of lavender flowers in half a liter of alcohol {brandy or vodka are both good}. Place in the sun for a few days, then strain. Repeat until the fragrance is very strong.
Strain and seal in a glass bottle. If your hair is weak, falling out and breaking, try an old idea and rub lavender water into your scalp several times a week. Try it too as a rub for rheumatism. It has a long tradition of usage for both problems.
lavender breath mints

Lavender Sweet Breath Lozenges and Lavender Inhalant:

egg white
icing sugar
lavender oil
These sweet lavender pastilles were once most fashionable among ladies as a breath freshener after indulging in a little wine. A few drops of essential oil of lavender were added to well sieved icing sugar and mixed thoroughly. It was then bound with sufficient lightly beaten egg white to form a stiff paste, and small portions shaped into lozenge shaped pastilles.
These were then set aside to dry and harden in a warm place.
While these pastilles were an emergency social measure, a mouthwash made from an infusion of sage leaves was much favored for everyday use, as was sage toothpaste.
Lavender Inhalant.
Make a hot infusion of one good handful of lavender in 3 1/2 cups of water. Add a few drops of oil and inhale the steam under a cloth. If you wish, add one or more of the following:
thyme, sage or peppermint.
As an alternative, you might like to try William Turner’s suggestion from the New Herball {1551}:
 
“I judge that the flowers of Lavender quilted in a cap and worne are good for all diseases of the head that comne from a cold cause and that they comfort the braine very well.”
lavender tisane

Sweet Lavender Tisane:

Queen Elizabeth I reputedly consumed countless cups of this tisane.
3 tablespoons fresh English lavender flowers
2 cups boiling water
Honey
Allow the flowers to steep for 3 to 4 minutes, strain and serve with a slice of lemon and honey if liked.
If using dried flowers, halve the quantity used. A little mint or rosemary can be added for an interesting flavor variation.
The English long served their equivalent of the modern fruit salad with lavender flowers and on a bed of lettuce and lavender leaves. This is a delicious modern adaptation of that old idea.
lavender and rose washballs

Lavender and Rose Wash-balls:

2 bars Castile soap {or any good quality pure soap} finely grated

10 drops oil of lavender

Rosewater

Heat a quarter of a cup of rosewater and pour over the soap and allow to stand for 10 minutes.

Work together very thoroughly, then incorporate the lavender oil. Set aside to begin drying out.

After two days, form balls of soap between your hands and set aside to dry in the sun.

When the balls have almost fully hardened moisten the hands with rosewater and polish each wash ball by rubbing between the hands.

Now put aside for approximately six weeks to fully harden.

Wash balls make delightful gifts wrapped in a square of tiny sprigged fabric tied with a satin ribbon.

Recipe: Oil of Lavender.

This is not the commercially distilled essential oil, but a rubbing oil which can be used at full strength. {Essential oil of lavender obtained by distillation of fresh lavender flowers should be diluted in light vegetable oil for use as a massage oil when needed.}

 To make oil of lavender, take a clean glass bottle and add to it a good large handful of fresh lavender flowers and cover with one liter of olive oil. Cover and leave to macerate in the warmth of the sun for three to five days. Strain through a cloth, add fresh flowers to the bottle and return the lavender-infused oil. Repeat until the oil is highly perfumed and charged with the active principles of lavender.

7 Cool Things We Never Knew Lavender Could Do

ADD THIS WONDER PLANT TO YOUR FARMERS’ MARKET SHOPPING LIST.

 Maybe you’re thinking of planting lavender because it’s a beautiful addition to any flowerbed and because bees seem to love it. But its usefulness doesn’t stop there. Here are seven ways to put it to work at home outside or in an indoor herb garden.
1. Keep Moths Away
Dried lavender is a popular natural alternative to mothballs, which contain toxic pesticides. The scientific data is a little sparse, but one study did find that lavender essential oil was an effective insecticide against a specific type of moth larvae (orgyia trigotephras, to be exact), so we say it’s worth a shot. Fill small sachets with dried lavender and keep them tucked in your closet and wardrobe. Moth problem or not, these pouches will do double duty by leaving your clothes smelling fresh and clean.
2. Make A Fragrant Wreath
In aromatherapy, lavender is used to relieve anxiety and boost mood, so keeping it around the house may help you to relax after a long day. Incorporate it into your décor by learning How To Make A Lavender Wreath that will freshen the air and add charm to any room.
3. Sanitize Hands
Lavender essential oil has antibacterial properties, making it a popular ingredient in many organic and homemade hand sanitizers. You can find lots of DIY recipes online, many of which include aloe vera gel and witch hazel in addition to lavender oil.
4. Clean Up Contaminated Soil
Several studies have found that planting lavender is an effective way to restore contaminated land, such as former mine sites, because it removes heavy metals and other pollutants from the soil. Even better, these contaminants don’t affect the quality of the lavender plant or its essential oil.
5. Make A Mean Lemonade
Lavender is the secret to ultra-refreshing, lemonade. Simply blend lavender and sugar together before mixing with water and lemon for a floral-infused thirst-quencher that’s naturally pinkish-purple in color.
6. Take An Aromatherapy Bath
We’ve already mentioned lavender’s soothing effect, and the best place to take advantage of it is in the bathtub. Whip up an easy batch of rosemary-and-lavender bath salts in your stand mixer with homegrown or farmers’ market herbs for a therapeutic soak. Or add it to a homemade shampoo. Bonus: Treat your body to a rub with healing Tulsi Luminous Lavender and Pink Sea Salt Body Scrub.
7. Help You Sleep
Science confirms what people have known for centuries: The scent of lavender has a soothing, sedative effect that can help you get to sleep. Make a tea with the flowers before bed or stuff a lavender sachet inside your pillow to help you on your way to sweet dreams and kiss the melatonin pills goodbye.

Which Lavenders Are The Most Fragrant For My Garden?

A lot will depend on the weather, how much sun and rain the plants receive, how harsh the winter is, the type of soil that the plants are grown in when the lavender is harvested, and how soon after harvest you process it.

Here on the farm, we grow mostly English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) which are typically the most fragrant.  The cultivars that we like for fragrance include Buena Vista, Folgate, Maillette, Royal Velvet, Sharon Roberts and Tucker’s Early Purple. We have examples of each of these on the farm. Of the Lavandins (Lavandula x intermedia), the most fragrant cultivars are Grosso and Provence both of which we grow here.

Which lavenders have the best purple?

Again, English lavender cultivars (Lavandula angustifolia), have the darkest colors and include Hidcote, Imperial Gem, Purple Bouquet and Royal Velvet.

Which lavenders have the darkest blue?

English lavender cultivars (Lavandula angustifolia) have the darkest blues with Betty’s Blue, Blue Cushion and Violet Intrigue.

Which are our all-around favorite lavender plants?

We are often asked which are our favorite lavenders and it is really hard to answer because they all have different qualities that we enjoy!  If we had to pick our top 6 plants though, these cultivars would definitely qualify:

1. Lavandula angustifolia Folgate – this plant is amazing – it can withstand the colder temperatures we see here in winter; it is one of the first to bloom and the soft periwinkle blue flowers make great fresh cut bundles and dried bundles alike.  It is a really good all-rounder.

2. Lavandula angustifolia Buena Vista – A really sweet fragrance and rich purple color which has bloomed for us up to three times a year! We have also used this cultivar for cooking.

3. Lavandula angustifolia Royal Velvet – The color is rich and “velvety” and it has lovely long stems which are good for making wreaths and wands.  This is a favorite one for use in cooking as it has a subtle sweet taste.

4. Lavandula angustifolia Hidcote – This one we love for the color – it’s a really dark purple plump flower that looks great in a landscape setting

5. Lavandula angustifolia Purple Bouquet – we like the combination of long stems with rich purple flowers which bloom twice in the season.

6. Lavandula intermedia Grosso – This is the one we recommend for making lavender wands because of the very long stems and strong fragrance.  It also makes a wonderful dried product for sachets and pillows and looks stunning in the field.

How are English lavender plants (Lavandula angustifolia) different from lavandin (Lavandula x.intermedia) plants?

English lavender plants produce seeds and are the largest group of lavenders. The average size of a mature English lavender plant is 18-24 inches.  The fragrant foliage of English lavender is generally a green/ grey and they tend to have shorter leaves on the stems. The flower stems themselves are an average of 12 inches long.  The fragrance of the flowers is generally sweet. English lavender cultivars come in a wide variety of colors from light blue to purple and light pink to white.  In Southeastern Utah, our English lavenders start blooming in early to mid-June, usually finishing around mid to end July.  Some will bloom two or three times especially if the first flowers are harvested early in the season.

Lavandin is a cross between Lavandula angustifolia and Lavandula latifolia. This hybrid, typically forms much larger, rounder plants – up to 48 inches in height. The flowers are generally lighter in color, the leaves are wide, long and grayer. Lavandins start blooming 2-4 weeks later than most English lavenders which in Southern Oregon is usually mid-July and into August.  All lavandin plants have long flower stems that grow in a fan-like shape from the plant, so they need to be planted further apart and have more space in the garden. These plants will grow faster than English lavender plants and they hold their shape better. The fragrance is less sweet and more pungent because of the higher camphor content in the oil produced by lavandin plants.

How do I take cuttings from my lavender plants?

Experiment a bit because methods vary from one grower to another but this is the method that works for us:

1. Make up your rooting soil using 60% perlite and 40% peat moss and place in a sterilized cutting tray with holes for drainage.

2. Take a hardwood cutting by finding a branch close to the top of the plant and feel for a “bump” indicating a leaf node. Using sharp sterilised pruning shears cut a 3 1/2″ piece at a 45-degree angle just below the node.

3. Remove the leaves from the bottom two inches of the cutting.

4. Using a sharp clean knife scrape the skin from the bottom portion of the cutting on one side.

5. Dip the cutting in rooting hormone powder and place in the rooting soil. Do not remove the cutting once you have placed it in the rooting soil.

6. Keep the soil moist and the cutting warm (68 – 70 degrees using a heating mat if possible) through the rooting process which may take up to 4 weeks.

7. Do not allow the cuttings to become too hot or to dry out completely

8. Check for roots by gently tugging on the cutting – you should feel resistance if roots have formed.

9. Transplant the cuttings into a larger container – water and then allow them to get a little dry.  Water occasionally but do not allow them to get too wet.  Feed with an all-purpose fertilizer to promote growth. Protect from extreme temperatures.

10. When the cutting begins to grow it will produce a top shoot that will need to be snipped off to promote branching.  Remove foliage from the bottom of the start.

When is the best time to prune lavender plants?

We have found that pruning lavender plants in September and then lightly in the Spring helps them to look and grow better over a longer period of time.  This has worked well for us in our location, but not everyone growing lavender will work to this pattern.  Some like to prune heavily in the Spring and only lightly in the Fall.

Whatever the pattern you chose you should begin pruning when the plants are young, but not too much in the first year. Your plants will have a better start however if they are not allowed to flower the first year so as soon as you see spikes forming cut them off;  that way all the new growth will go into the foliage and roots and will produce less woody looking shrubs that have more growth at the base of the plant.

English lavenders and Lavandin plants will live for many years if they are pruned well. Most lavender plants will hold their shape at least 10 years if you start pruning them when they are young and you prune them hard at least once a year.

In late June and throughout July, we harvest lavender for fresh and dried bouquets.  We cut the flowers with as long a stem as possible so the stems have a few sets of leaves on them.  At this time, we are lightly pruning the plants to encourage new growth.  Some of the English lavenders will bloom again if the plants are harvested early on in the season.

Established plants may be pruned back by 1/3 to 1/2 their size.  If necessary, they can be cut back to three sets of leaves from the base. This drastic pruning may help revive some older lavender bushes.  Lavender plants that have not been pruned become woody sooner. If you already have old woody bushes, it may be too late to revive them. If they have reached three years of age or older and have never been pruned, then pruning at this stage may not help.  You might be better off replacing the plants.  If you can see young green growth just above the woody part, the plant may be pruned back to within 2 inches of the new growth. But, if you cut it back too far, it may die.

When is the best time to pick lavender for drying?

Both the English lavender and the lavandins can be dried successfully on the stem. There are certain cultivars that dry better than others; more of the buds (calyxes) will stay on the stem when dried. On mature plants, it is hard to cut all the flowering stems at the perfect stage, without sacrificing some that are not really ready but it is easier to cut all the flowers on a plant all at once, instead of individually.  You will have to watch closely as the plants begin to show more color.  Usually, the lavender is ready to harvest when the colors are dark or bright; most of the flowering stems are in the bud stage; the buds are plump, and just a few of the flowers (corollas) have opened on each stem. Another good indication is when the bees begin to start working the plant!

It is best to harvest the flowers in the morning after the dew has dried. You will not want to pick the lavender flowers if it has rained within the last 24 hours.  A good size bundle is usually around 100 stems. Use a sickle to cut your stems (a curved serrated blade with a wooden handle).

How do I dry lavender?

To speed up the drying process, you should strip the leaves off the stems.  Hang the lavender bundles (use rubber bands to secure each bundle and an opened paper clip to serve as a hanging tool) upside down. Choose a drying area that is warm but not in direct sun, with good air circulation and low humidity.  The lavender bundles should be dry within 3 to 7 days. Remove them from the drying room and store them loosely in a covered cardboard box, in a cool area.

No matter how carefully you dry your lavender, you can expect that a certain amount of the buds will fall off but you can collect these to use in crafts.