Lavender Flowers: Meaning, Symbolism, Origins, Popular Varieties, Planting & Care Tips
Only a handful of plants like lavender flowers gain recognition for their distinctive color and fragrance. Lavenders, in particular, stand out with purple-hued blooms, gray-green foliage, and relaxing scent. They are a popular choice in cut flower production, home gardens, and many other uses. Below you’ll find everything you need to know about lavender flowers meaning & symbolism, their origins & history, uses & benefits, and the most popular types of lavender flowers. We’ve also included some useful tips on how-to-grow and how-to-care for lavender flowers at home and a quick guide for lavender cut flower care.
All About the Lavender Flower
Lavenders are flowering plants from the Lavandula genus in the same botanical family as mints. They are prized for their delicate beauty and earthy floral fragrance.
These small evergreen shrubs flaunt gray-green, linear leaves covered with gray or white hairs. The dainty five-petaled flowers form clusters at the end of long spikes. Although most flowers come in varying lavender shades, some types present white, pink, purple, violet, and blue flowers.
Popular Types and Varieties of Lavender Flowers
Lavenders are grown in many parts of the world because of their uses in floristry, health, beauty, aromatherapy, and more. Because of such versatility, not to mention their charming aesthetics, these blooms continue to gain popularity more than ever. To date, hundreds of lavender cultivars are available, but the most common types include the following:
English Lavenders (Lavandula angustifolia)
English lavender, dubbed as the true lavender, is the most grown and one of the most fragrant types of lavender plants. Renowned for its recognizable scent and the best essential oils, this Lavandula species flaunts dainty flowers in various shades (from violet to purple, pale lavender, and dusty pink). The plant grows up to two to three feet in height and blooms in early summer.
Best English lavender varieties to grow:
One of the most common lavender varieties is the English lavender ‘Hidcote.’ It boasts silvery-gray leaves and aromatic, dark purple-blue flowers. These famed lavenders grow up to 20 inches tall and bloom in late spring or summer.
Like Hidcote lavenders, ‘Munstead’ lavenders are also famous for their strong fragrance. These plants have compact growth, silvery foliage, and violet-purple blooms. They grow up to 18 inches tall.
Other popular varieties of English lavenders include:
- Nana Alba
- Betty’s Blue
- Thumbelina Leigh
- Miss Katherine
- Little Lottie
- Royal Velvet
- Lady Ann
Spanish Lavenders (Lavandula stoechas)
Spanish lavenders, also called Butterfly lavenders, are native to North Africa and the Mediterranean. Among the other types, they have petals that sprout from the top of each cone-like spike of deep purple flowers.
A long-blooming lavender species, Spanish lavenders give a vibrant display of flowers throughout summer and spring. Unlike other lavender types, their flowers are not fragrant. Yet, the silver to gray-green foliage makes up for that as they are usually heavily scented.
Best Spanish lavender varieties to grow:
‘Ballerina’ is a recognized Spanish lavender variety. It has distinctive bulbs showcasing white flowers that eventually fade to pink and purple. The ‘Kew Red’ Spanish lavenders, on the other hand, feature crimson-violet and pale pink flower spikes.
Other popular varieties of Spanish lavenders include:
- Willow Vale
- Ann’s Purple
- Purple Ribbon
- Winter Bees
- Lutsko’s Dwarf
- Van Gogh
Lavandin (Lavandula x intermedia)
Lavandin is a popular hybrid between English lavender and Portuguese lavender. Known for being extremely fragrant, both its foliage and clusters of blooms give off a relaxing, easily recognizable scent. It showcases beautiful flowers throughout summer in varying colors that range from creamy-white to vibrant purple.
Best Lavandin varieties to grow:
Lavandin ‘Impress Purple’ is a popular cut flower choice for fresh bouquets and floral arrangements since it’s one of the most fragrant lavenders. It features dark purple flower spikes that sit atop long stems.
‘Grosso,’ sometimes called fat lavender, is another famous Lavandin variety. It has one of the strongest scents than other lavender types. The deep violet flower spikes are lush and make an excellent choice for wands and sachets.
Other popular Lavandin varieties include:
- Gros Bleu
- Hidcote Giant
French Lavenders (Lavandula dentata)
Another common type of lavender is the French lavender or also known as fringed lavender. It may not be as widely grown as the other lavender species, but it is the type that produces flowers for potpourri and sachets.
Unlike the English lavender, it has light-scented flowers and won’t tolerate cold winters. It’s also larger, growing about 2 to 3 ft in height. The narrow and finely-toothed leaves, however, have a rosemary-like fragrance.
Best French lavender variety to grow:
- Royal Crown
Lavender Flower History, Origins, and Cultural Significance
Lavenders are native to the Mediterranean region, but some species originated from Russia, Africa, Europe, and Asia. Today they are cultivated extensively in various parts of the world, including the United States, Australia, and Europe, for ornamental purposes, culinary uses, and essential oil production.
This plant’s name came from the Latin word lavare, which means “to wash.” Some believed that the Romans had named it after lividus, meaning bluish and livid and referring to the flowers’ appearance.
Lavender Flowers Uses and Benefits:
Aside from their irresistible beauty, lavender shrubs present for many other uses. Most notably, they produce essential oils that have antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties.
Lavender essential oils serve as a natural remedy for sleeping problems. They are effective insect repellents, too. In some households, the oil is dissolved in water and used to clean kitchen and bathroom surfaces.
On the other hand, the flowers are commonly dried and used in closets to scent clothes and repel moths. As for the Ancient Romans, the aromatic blooms work well in baths.
Lavenders are useful in culinary, too. Lavenders sure find their way into a wide range of tasty food and drinks, from lemonade to jellies, cookies, and salads.
Lavender Flowers Meaning and Symbolism
As with most well-received ornamentals, lavender flowers’ meaning and symbolism make them all more appealing and significant.
For instance, the purple-hued blooms signify devotion in Victorian times. In Europe’s Middle Ages, on the other hand, lavenders express love. The flowers are also associated with the Virgin Mary, representing purity, cleanliness, and virtue. For others, lavenders symbolize good luck and trust. Also, lavender flowers meaning is believed to signify serenity, silence, grace, and calmness.
Lavender flowers play a crucial part in ancient Greece, too. Back then, lavenders were considered sacred flowers and frequently used in temples and shrines as fragrances. In ancient Rome, these flowers symbolized higher social status due to their sky-high price.
Lavender Flower Meanings & Colors
Most flowers come in varied colors, but lavenders are one of the peculiar ones. Unlike roses, carnations, or other highly prized flowering plants that present many color options, you’d often see lavender in different hues of purple, sometimes in cream, pink, or blue-violet.
The flowers often represent royalty, elegance, luxury, nobility, and refinement because of their purple color. This color likewise relates lavenders to the Seventh Chakra, known as the Crown Chakra. Lavenders also symbolize spirituality. Thus, the flowers usually play a part in spiritual and religious rites.
Regardless of the limited color options, lavender flowers still make an excellent gifting flower for any occasion. With their alluring beauty and relaxing scent, lavenders are a perfect way to express care, love, and thoughtfulness to someone.
How to Grow Lavender Flowers
Knowing the growing requirements will help you achieve healthy and attractive lavender plants. Give them the right conditions and proper care, and these fragrant ornamental herbs won’t be shy to adorn your place with its beauty and earthly scent. Here are a few lavender flower growing tips to help you get started.
Where to Grow
Growing lavender plants is relatively easy. They are typical in garden beds or hedges, but these shrubs can also be grown in pots or containers. Planting lavenders in a flowerpot is ideal in areas with harsh winters or heavy and dense soil conditions. You can place the plants anywhere in your home, from patio to windowsill or any bare spot indoors.
Most lavender plants grow about 1 to 3 ft tall on a multi-branched stem. They usually take two to three years to reach full maturity with maximum flower and foliage production. Flower production starts to decline when the plants are about five years old.
Whether planting in garden beds, hedges, or containers, lavenders grow best in fertile, well-draining, and alkaline soil. You can add some organic matter to heavy and dense soils to improve soil quality. Allow plant spacing of about 3 ft between plant groups, or about 1 ft if planting a hedge. If growing in containers, select large ones that measure at least 1 to 1.3 ft in diameter.
Lavender plants prefer full sun with at least eight hours of direct sunlight. However, they will still thrive in partial shade. If you are growing your plants indoors, place them in a sunny windowsill or any area where they can still receive sunlight.
Water your lavender plants thoroughly to keep the soil moist, but do not overwater. Give deep watering only when the soil is almost dry. Frequent and unnecessary irrigation may only result in root rot.
Prune lavender plants in spring or summer right after flowering. Cut back the new growth to about 1 to cm from the woody part of the stem. Regular pruning once or twice a year will encourage new growth and keep the plants in good shape for the next season.
Pest and Disease Considerations
Generally, pests and diseases are not a usual problem for lavenders. However, in some cases, like poor growing conditions, the plants suffer from root rot. Minor lavender pests include rosemary beetles, sage and Ligurian leafhoppers, and Cuckoo spit.
Lavender Flower Care Tips
Lavender flowers make beautiful floral arrangements. They’re lovely to look at, yet they are not like any other regular florist-favorite blooms. Unlike top-ranking cut flowers, lavenders are one of the few that help you achieve two things at once – fresh or dried! Arrange fresh lavender stems for a beautiful, fragrant display, allowing them to air dry in a vase as a nice piece of home decor. Because lavender flowers dry well, you can enjoy their charm for a long time.
Getting the best out of your lavender cut flowers is not as tricky as it should be. One key to achieving that is harvesting them at the right stage. Pick ones that have about three-quarters open buds in each flower head. Once you have these, maximize the beauty and fragrance by following these tips:
- Pick a clean vase and fill it with about a third full of cold water.
- Trim the stems of your lavenders before placing them in the vase.
- Change the water regularly to avoid the buildup of bacteria.
- Keep the lavender cut flowers out of direct sunlight to help them last longer.
Dry the lavender flowers to preserve their beauty and fragrance. You can either arrange them in a vase without water or hang them. For the latter, make a bundle of lavender flowers and secure it with an elastic band or string. Then, hang the bundle of lavenders upside down in a dry, dark, warm spot where it can’t grow molds.
Lavender flowers continue to gain popularity in floristry, culinary, cosmetics, and aromatherapy because of their beauty and intoxicating scent. They present countless types and varieties that make it difficult for anyone to pick just one favorite.
They may not offer a broad range of colors, but lavender flowers meaning and symbolism only make these plants a definite must-have. You can find lavender flowers almost anywhere, and you can undoubtedly grow one in your home or garden.
Petal Republic’s Flower and Plant Guides:
Looking for a particular stem or in need of some inspiration on the best blooms for a certain occasion? Check out Petal Republic’s expert guides to Roses, Edelweiss, Ranunculus, Lilies, Irises, Tulips, Orchids, Carnations, Gerbera Daisies, Gladiolus, and Peonies.