The common name of the herbaceous perennial evergreen Lavandula angustifolia shrub is English Lavender.
Its name depicts England because it thrives in the English climate; it is actually a native of the mountains of western Mediterranean regions. It is also referred to as narrow-leaved, true and common lavender.
It is a member of the ~7000 strong mint/dead nettle family (Lamiaceae) and is therefore closely related to species belonging to the Mentha, Nepata, Satureja, and Salvia genera. The Lavandula consists of 39 species, and in addition to Lavandula angustifolia, other frequently grown plants include* L. latifolia (Spike/Portuguese), L. lanata (Woolly/Silver leaved), L. multifida (Egyptian), L. pedunculata (French), L. stoechas (French/Spanish), L. dentata (French), and L. pinnata (Fernleaf).
Lavandula angustifolia photograph by Maja Dumat.
Plants are easy to grow, have an attractive fragrance, and can be used for culinary purposes. They attract bees and look great in borders, when used as a small hedge, or as container plants.
English Lavender is a great plant to grow to attract bees to your garden. Picture by Tim Ford.
As Lavandula angustifolia is drought tolerant they make an ideal plant to grow in drier regions and areas that have hosepipe restrictions in the summer. They are also fairly tolerant to deer and rabbits. English lavender is grown commercially for its perfume oils, and often used in aromatherapy, making herbal teas, and in potpourris sachets.
*Common names in brackets; note overlap of common names.
Plants are semi-woody and reach a height of 18 to 36 inches (45–90 cm) with a similar spread (18 to 60 inches/45–150 cm). They have narrow evergreen grey-green leaves that are about 1 to 2.5 inches (2.5 to 6 cm) long. The hermaphrodite flowers bloom from late in spring through the months of summer. Lavandula angustifolia flowers gives rise to the color of the same name, and appear on terminal spikes. Like the leaves, the flowers are very aromatic.
A commonly grown variety is Lavandula angustifolia Hidcote; this is named after Hidcote Manor in Gloucestershire. It is smaller than true lavender ecotypes, reaching a height of about 20 inches (50 cm), with 1.5 inch (4 cm) flower spikes.