In the rest of this guide, we will tackle anything that has to do with lavender – from its medicinal benefits to its culinary applications, from its different types to its rich history. Most importantly, we will let you know how to grow this plant successfully.
Lavender exists for more than 2,500 years now. Its floral fragrance is perhaps the top reason why it is popular during the ancient times. To have a better perspective about the history of lavender, let us take a quick look at its uses in the various parts of the world thousands of years ago.
Lavender is named after lavage, an ancient word that means to wash. Because the Romans add lavender in their bath. Not only that, but they also use it for washing clothes and their bed, which is because of the fragrant scent of this plant. In the writings of Dioscorides, which dates back to 77 AD, Nero, a military physician who works for the emperor, came all the way to the Mediterranean to collect lavender and use it for the treatment of common problems, such as a sore throat and indigestion.
In ancient Egypt, on the other hand, lavender is the main ingredient in cosmetics, as well as for embalming. According to historians, urns are decorated using Lavender. Certain methods for mummification also incorporates the use of Lavender. In fact, upon the opening of the tomb of Tutankhamen, several jars have lavender.
Meanwhile, the Greeks incorporate Lavender in their perfume, much like the Egyptians. Theophrastus, a Greek physician, is one of the authors who documented the many traditional uses of lavender. In a book entitled Concerning Odours, he wrote that the scent of lavender makes it deliver a broad range of healing effects.
Elsewhere in history, lavender has a significant role. For instance, during the 16th century, it became popular in France as one of the most efficient ways to get rid of an infection. Meanwhile, in the 17th century, many herbals have lavender. During the Victorian era, Queen Victoria has a penchant for Lavender. Proof to this was her appointing Miss Sarah Sprules as the official Purvey of Lavender Essence of the Queen.
In modern day era, the use of lavender in aromatherapy stems from the works of Rene Gattefosse. One time, while working in his laboratory, he accidentally burnt his hand. He applied lavender oil since it was available in his workplace. This eased the pain and sped up the healing. From then on, he was able to discover more about the health benefits of lavender and its applications in the field of aromatherapy.
Types of Lavender
As you research about lavender, you will find out that they are available in different types. Here are some of their common varieties:
For a long time now, lavender is one of the traditional herbs used in the treatment of some medical conditions. Below are some of the health benefits of lavender:
- Improves Sleep: Especially in the form of essential oil, lavender is an effective way to induce sleep, making it an excellent choice for people who are looking for a natural way to treat insomnia. You can just spritz lavender scent on the pillow, and it can already help you to fall asleep quicker.
- Relief from Anxiety: In the same way that Lavender can help you sleep, it can also be effective in calming your nervous system, and hence, will be excellent for stress and anxiety relief. Aside from smelling it, brewing a tea using lavender is also a good way to enjoy this benefit.
- Prevents Digestive Problems: When there is an overgrowth of harmful bacteria in your gut, there is a tendency that you will experience bloating and indigestion. Lavender is useful in improving the mobility of food in your intestine. With this, it can also provide natural treatment for colic, diarrhea, and stomach pain, among others.
- Improves Blood Circulation: According to research, lavender essential oil can also improve coronary blood flow. It is used for the treatment of hypertension as it can regulate blood pressure.
- Skin Care: Lavender is also known for its numerous benefits for the skin. This is basically because of its anti-fungal and antiseptic components. It can be used in the treatment of wounds, eczema, sunburn, and burns.
- Insect Bites: There are also several studies proving that lavender will make an excellent ingredient for a natural insect repellent. Also, you can use lavender essential oil in treating an insect bite. This will help in the reduction of itchiness and swelling.
- Hair Health: You can use Lavender in a variety of ways to promote healthier hair. For instance, it is positively linked to the treatment of hair loss and alopecia. It can also be useful in getting rid of dandruff.
Lavender is not only good for your health. It can also be a multipurpose herb because of its abundance of uses, including those that will be mentioned below:
- Room Spray: This is one of the most fragrant herbs that you can plant in the garden, which makes it a natural alternative for making the room smell fresher. To do this, combine two cups of water with lavender, peppermint, and tea tree essential oils. Keep it in a bottle and spray liberally in the room.
- Ice Cream: If you have made ice cream at home before, you might have used chocolates and sprinkles as toppings. For something that is unique, add lavender buds, which will work correctly with vanilla ice cream. This does add not only flavor but also a beautiful color.
- Garnish: If you take plating seriously, you will also be able to use lavender in multiple ways. The buds, for instance, can make an excellent addition to greens in your salad. Lavender stems, more so, can double as a stirrer in drinks served in mason jars.
- Vinegar: You can also quickly make your version of a lavender-infused vinegar. To do this, just add a handful of fresh lavender blooms in two cups of apple cider vinegar. Let it stay there for about six weeks before using.
- Décor: There are many ways by which you can incorporate lavender in your decors at home. For instance, you can make a wreath out of dried Lavenders. Also, you can plant it in the garden for decorative purposes.
- Soap: It is a given that Lavender is an aromatic herb. More than its scent, its bright color is a plus. With this, you can also use it as a main ingredient for home-made soap. For sure, these soaps will be able to provide a calming effect in the shower.
- Beverages: There are also several ways by which you can mix lavender in your favorite beverage. For instance, you can make your lavender hot chocolate, which is perfect for the rainy days. For the summer months, on the other hand, a blueberry lavender lemonade will surely be refreshing.
- Natural Perfume: Do you want to smell good naturally? Lavender can be an excellent alternative to perfumes that are laden with toxic chemicals. You can use it for a DIY perfume or cologne.
How to Successfully Grow Lavender
In this section, we will provide you with insights on how you can plant lavender, including care and maintenance to ensure its healthy growth.
Tips for Planting
The first thing that you have to do is to select the right location. As a Mediterranean herb, the best place to plant is in a place that is sunny and hot. Pick a position in the garden where it will receive full sun, or at the very least, eight hours of sun in a day. Also, it will be good if it is sheltered as a protection from high wind.
There are also special conditions that are necessary for the soil to be sure that lavender will thrive. In this case, one of the most important is for such to be well-drained. Moisture is one of the mortal enemies of Lavender, so be sure that the soil will never remain damp. When it comes to pH level, on the other hand, this should be anywhere from 6.7 to 7.3.
When growing lavender, it is best to buy a small plant from a nearby nursery rather than growing from seed. Once you have chosen a healthy plant, dig a hole, making sure that there is enough space for the plant that will be transferred. Plant the lavender in the soil. It will be good to add compost or manure to make it richer and more ideal for the growth of the plant.
The best time to start harvesting lavender is just before the buds open. This is the time wherein the lavender is at its peak and is most fragrant. Harvest by cutting the flowers just next to the stem. Once you have harvested the flower, you can now use it as desired.
For most people, after harvesting, they dry the flowers. To do this, you can bundle around 100 flowers together and tie them with a string. Choose a warm, dry, and dark place indoors where you can hang it and never in a place with too much heat from the sun. It would be best to dry it for about two weeks.
On the other hand, if you plan to use it raw and as edible, consume the flowers while they are fresh. As mentioned earlier, it will make a terrific addition to salads, soups, baked treats, and even for a calming cup of hot tea.
Care and Maintenance
To ensure the optimal growth of lavender, you have to exert effort in making sure that it is well-maintained. With this, one thing that you have to do is pruning. For some people, they prune only when it is time to harvest. However, during spring, it is also good to prune, which will help to maintain the best appearance of the plant.
It is important that lavender is watered, but not too much. Over-watering can be a problem and can make the plant susceptible to root rot. In between each watering, see to it that the soil is dry. If it is always damp, there is a lesser likelihood that the plant will survive. If you are growing the lavender in a container or pot, make sure that there is drainage so that water will not end up accumulating inside.
Weeds can also grow around the plant and can take up the nutrition that is needed by lavender to survive. With this, if you want to get rid of weeds, one thing that you can do is to apply mulch on the top of the soil. This will also help in providing the protection that is needed by the plant against winter frost.
Indeed, lavender is not just a fragrant herb. It has a rich history, and this shows us that even since the ancient times, it can already deliver a wide array of benefits, especially for the health. With this, keep in mind the things mentioned above so that you can succeed in planting lavender in the garden.