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A Guide to The Different Types of Lavender in Australia

Lavender is one of my favourite plants to have in the garden. I especially like to plant some lavender near my veggie patch because it helps to attract lots of lovely bees that help to pollinate my fruiting plants.

I also love the sweet scent that is released when you brush against the plant or when you pick a bunch of lavender flowers and display them inside the house in a vase.

There are numerous different types of lavender that you can grow in your garden. In this guide, I’ll discuss some of the more popular varieties for you to try.

English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

English Lavender Lavandula angustifolia | Plant varieties

Even though it’s called English lavender, this species is actually native to the Mediterranean. Therefore, it prefers a temperate climate with warm dry summers and cool winters.

The flowers of this species are a rich purple colour but you can also get certain cultivars that have pink flowers.

This species loves to grow in full sun and does need well-drained soil. Sandy soil is absolutely the best for this plant. Flowers usually appear in mid-spring and can continue right through until early summer.

Some common varieties include:

  • Hidcote with lovely dark purple flowers
  • Betty’s Blue with violet-blue flowers
  • Lavenite Petite with pretty light purple flowers

French Lavender (Lavandula dentata)

French Lavender Lavandula dentata 1 | Plant varieties

French lavender isn’t quite as hardy as English lavender. It has pretty fringed light purple flowers that have a slightly more delicate scent. This species has a long flowering season from early summer right through until the middle of autumn.

It also prefers a more temperate climate but with milder summers and warm winters. Like English lavender, it prefers sandy well-drained soil and a growing position in full sun.

Common varieties include:

  • Provence with pretty violet-blue flowers
  • Grosso with purple flowers
  • Fred Boutin with much paler violet flowers

Spanish Lavender (Lavandula stoechas)

Spanish Lavender Lavandula stoechas | Plant varieties

This is another Mediterranean variety that prefers both mild summers and winters. It has gorgeous deep purple flowers that are highly scented. In fact, this species is perfect if you want to make your own potpourri.

This species also has a rather long blooming season from around mid-spring right through until late summer. To distinguish this variety, you’ll notice that the flower heads have a somewhat pinecone shape with two or more bright petals sprouting from the top like little rabbit ears.

If you experience a fair bit of humidity where you live, you’ll be pleased to know that this species can handle the humidity reasonably well.

Some common varieties include:

  • Kew Red with pinkish-purple flowers
  • Ballerina with stunning white flowers
  • Anouk with rich deep purple flowers

Portuguese Lavender (Lavandula latifolia)

Portuguese Lavender Lavandula latifolia | Plant varieties

This species has blooms that are quite different from some of the other lavender species. The pale lilac inflorescences appear on long stems and are highly fragrant. If you like adding lavender to your cooking, then this is the species for you.

Once again, it likes to grow in a sunny position and prefers sandy but well-drained soil. It does best in a warm climate that does not have cold winters.

Common varieties include:

  • Portuguese Giant with larger purple flowers
  • Broadleaf which has fuzzy leaves

Italian Lavender (Lavandula pedunculata)

Italian Lavender Lavandula pedunculata | Plant varieties

This species is closely related to Spanish Lavender and has a similar appearance. It produces large pinkish-purple flowers with a heavenly scent. These appear in spring. 

This species is perfectly suited to coastal areas as long as it’s allowed to grow in sandy, well-drained soil. Being a more compact plant, this variety is perfect for growing along borders but is also quite popular in cottage gardens.

Some common varieties include:

  • Wine with pretty mauve flowers
  • Leucantha with delightful white flowers
  • Avonview with delicate pinky-mauve flowers

Lavandin (Lavandula x intermedia)

Lavandin Lavandula x intermedia | Plant varieties

This is a hybrid lavender that has been created by mixing English lavender with Portuguese lavender. This cross-breeding has resulted in a lavender hybrid that is both cold-hardy and heat tolerant. 

The highly scented flowers are dark purple to white in colour and will bloom from mid to late summer. This variety is quite compact and only grows to a height of around 75 cm. This makes it ideal for planting along borders or for creating a low lavender hedge.

FAQ

What is the best lavender to grow in Australia?

This will depend on where you live. English lavender can be grown successfully in Melbourne while Spanish and Italian lavenders are more suitable if you live further north in Sydney. However, most lavender varieties can be grown in most areas of Australia.

Is there an Australian native lavender?

No, there is no such thing as an Australian native lavender. All true lavenders come from Europe.

Does lavender prefer sun or shade?

You should definitely grow lavender in full sun, no matter what species you select.

How many years will lavender last?

This primarily depends on the species. While English lavender can easily live up to 25 years in the garden, French or Spanish lavenders may only last for around 5 years.

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Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.

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