Lavender has been a garden staple for millennia, with a long and storied history as a favorite medicinal herb in India, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean. With fragrant purple flowers most often used in soaps, lotions, and scented oils—lavender is also a beautiful ornamental for your garden—adding a spray of small lilac-to-dark purple-colored flowers that bloom continuously throughout the summer season. What’s more, there are numerous types of lavender to pick from, and many are incredibly easy to propagate.
Whether you love the fragrance, the colors, or the drought-hardiness of this mighty ancient plant, lavender is a great perennial to consider adding to your summer garden, especially if you live in a Mediterranean climate.
If you live in colder or more humid climates, chances are you can still find a way to grow successfully and enjoy the full benefits of lavender, but it will take a bit of extra effort. Since most varieties of lavender thrive in bright sunlight, hot, dry climates with mild winters (like the Mediterranean), it can be harder to keep them happy in humid gardens or in places that experience long, frigid winters.
Success with lavender all depends on a few key components. First, you’ll want to pick the right kind of lavender for your garden. Once you’ve chosen a variety of lavender that’s best suited to your climate, it will be that much easier to provide what it needs (mainly good sun and well-draining soil) to thrive.
My 15 Favorite Lavender Varieties to Grow:
1) Anouk Lavender
As a type of Spanish lavender (Lavandula stoechas) hardy from zones 7-10, Anouk lavender is much more tolerant to heat and humidity than other varieties. For this reason, this small silvery plant is a great choice for hot southern gardens. This type of lavender will also take well to containers, and extra-small gardens, so long as it’s planted in well-draining soil.
2) Munstead Lavender
For those living in drier, colder climes, a true English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), hardy to zones 5-8, is best. Munstead is one of the more popular varieties of English lavender, likely due to its intense fragrance and distinct look. Esther McMillan in the Royal Horticultural Society highlights L. ‘Beechwood Blue’ as a notable standout, stating it “is low-growing making compact domes of narrow, grey-green leaves and an abundance of violet-blue flower-spikes in early summer”.
With violet-purple flowers and silvery foliage, I think Munstead is impossible to ignore, even in the most complex garden designs. Like most lavenders, it enjoys full sun and well-draining soil. Munstead tends to bloom from late spring through early summer and can grow up to 18 inches tall.
3) Betty Blue Lavender
For those gardening in zones 5-9 and looking to get some of the biggest lavender blooms on the market, you might just like this variety of English lavender. With large spikes of purple-blue flowers, Betty Blue is perfect for gardeners who wish to harvest and dry lavender for fragrant bouquets throughout the winter months. At a max height of 30 inches, Betty Blue Lavender is one of the tallest varieties on this list.
4) Grosso Lavandin
If you happen to live in a milder climate without extreme winters, then you might be able to try your hand at growing Grosso lavender. As a lavandin hybrid (Lavandula x intermedia) that’s hardy in zones 5-8, Grosso is known worldwide as one of the best varieties of lavender for making perfume. With long-lasting, highly-fragrant blooms that come in large spike clusters of blue-purple flowers, it’s easy to see why Grosso has earned its place among the ranks of favorite lavender varieties.
5) Provence Lavandin
Another highly-fragrant variety, Provence Lavadin is also one of the tallest kinds of lavender you can add to your garden. Often commercially grown for the perfume industry, Provence lavandin is highly aromatic and can withstand heat and humidity better than many other varieties. Besides its incredible fragrance, Provence lavandin comes in delicate purple-blue flowers that grow up to three feet tall and bloom throughout the summer season.
6) French Lavender
This is often the kind of lavender people think of when they imagine the expansive purple fields. Still, there’s a reason you don’t see French Lavender (Lavandula dentata) planted as widely as other varieties. With needle-like leaves and less-fragrant blooms, French lavender is also one of the more delicate varieties, preferring super-mild winters and thriving in zones 8-11. This type of lavender is known more as an ornamental than an herb (mainly because of its lower concentration of essential oils) and works well in courtyards and entryways in well-drained sandy soil.
7) Curly Top Spanish Lavender
As the name would suggest, this type of Spanish lavender (Lavandula stoechas) has a distinct curly appearance which comes from the ruffled shape of each flower’s bracts. Besides the large purple blooms, another reason to love this variety is that it can bloom for almost the entire growing season and reach over two feet tall when planted in ideal conditions. Although only hardy in zones 7-9, Curly Top Spanish Lavender is slightly more cold-resistant than other varieties of Spanish lavender and is also an excellent choice for water-conscious gardens.
8) ‘Hidcote Giant’ Lavandin
Another extra-large variety of lavender we love? Hidcote Lavandin. In addition to being highly fragrant, Hidcote lavender is also a favorite for gardeners who wish to make dried bouquets at the season’s end. With bright purple spikes that reach up to 2-4 inches long (on incredibly long, strong stems), Hidcote is a variety that’s sure to look as good in your garden as it will in a vase many months later. In warmer winter climates, you can expect this variety to maintain its evergreen glow all year long. During the summer, Hidcote lavender creates large green mounds of flowering stems that spray outwards and reach heights of 24-30 inches tall.
9) Winter Bee Spanish Lavender
Winter Bee Spanish lavender is another excellent choice for humid climates with the occasional cold, wet weather. Growing equally well in gardens or pots, Winter Bee Lavender offers a fuller appearance than some other varieties, partially due to its dense gray-green foliage. The large purple blooms of this type of lavender are highly fragrant and will attract plenty of pollinators to your summer garden. Hardy in zones 7-9, Winter Bee lavender enjoys hot heat and only occasional watering once established—making it another excellent variety for gardens affected by drought.
10) Miss Katherine Lavender
It isn’t every day you encounter a lavender so pink and delicate that it seems to almost float in a cloud of white blooms. Add to that an incredibly sweet scent (that the bees will love as much as you do), and you’ve nearly captured the magic that is Miss Katherine Lavender. As a variety of English Lavender, Miss Katherine can over-winter in harsher climates and does best in zones 5-9. Miss Katherine enjoys sandy, well-drained soil, and is a great addition to hot, dry, southwest gardens where water is limited.
11) Buena Vista Lavender
These dual-colored blooms are a favorite in hot, dry gardens that need extra color. A shorter variety of English lavender, Buena Vista is hardy enough to handle real winters while also adapting to intense heat and drought conditions. With extra sweet-smelling flowers that bloom twice per season, this variety has quickly become a garden favorite among those who are lucky enough to get their hands on it.
12) Gray Lady Lavender
Another hardy type variety of English lavender, Gray Lady, is best known for its long stems and distinctly bright purple flowers that come with dark purple centers. The silvery foliage of this variety and its ability to reach over two feet tall making it an easy choice for gardeners looking for fresh-cut lavender bouquets. These evergreen perennials are hardy in zones 5-9 and prefer drier climates with plenty of sunshine.
13) Compacta Lavender
If you’re looking for lavender that won’t overshadow your other blooms, consider Compacta lavender. This dwarf English lavender variety only grows about 15 inches tall but puts out plenty of blooms on its dense blue-green stems. Because of their small stature, these hardy little plants are best for edging around your garden borders or pathways. With a strong fragrance, they also have the added bonus of acting as a natural fence to keep deer and other nibbling creatures away from your more delectable plants.
14) Jean Davis Lavender
As one of the few pink varieties on this list, Jean Davis Lavender holds a special place in our hearts. Known for the delicate pale pink blooms with an unusually ‘fruity’ taste, this evergreen perennial is great for culinary gardeners looking to expand their herbal flavor profiles. Hardy in zones 5-11, this variety prefers well-drained soil and full sun, without prolonged, extreme heat. Try planting your Jean Davis Lavender in a spot with some afternoon shade to avoid over-exposure.
15) ‘Edelweiss’ Lavandin
White lavender? Yes, it does exist, and if you plan on doing any sort of crafting with your dried blooms, you’ll want to add some Edelweiss Lavandin to your wishlist. Growing up to two feet tall, Edelweiss lavandin first appears as pink buds that later turn into soft white blooms, rich in nectar for all pollinators visiting your garden. Blooming in midsummer, these exotic beauties grow best in full sun with well-drained soil in zones 6-8.