There are 39 different species of lavender plant (which is in the mint family), but the one most commonly used for cooking is Lavandula angustifolia (also known as Lavandula officialis) -- this is usually the species people mean when they're talking about lavender.
Lavender is native to the dry temperate regions of the Old World, and can be found from southern Europe and northern Africa to southwest Asia, but it can be grown pretty much anywhere.
In fact, in some areas (such as Australia and Spain) it has become invasive!
Plant type: woody evergreen perennial shrub, has a symmetrical mounding habit when younger
Plant size: usually 2-3 feet (60-100 cm) in all directions (depending on variety -- there are dwarf cultivars which are smaller), but older plants can get up to 6 feet (2 meters) tall.
Easiest way to plant: buy the plant. That way you're sure to get the lavender variety you want and is the easiest way to go when you're planting several of them, such as when you're creating a lavender border or divider hedge.
Propagate by: cuttings
Edible parts: flowers, leaves
Fruit color: N/A
Flower color(s): white, lavender, purple, blue-purple (depending on variety)
Flower type: spikes
Blooms: spring through early fall
Leaf color(s): green or gray-green, depending on variety
Leaf type: flat needle-shaped
Leaf size: 1 inch (2.5 cm) long, 1/8 inch (3mm) wide
Stem color: green or gray-green, depending on variety
Branch color: silver-gray, with interesting bark
USDA zones: 5-13
Likes: Dry, stony, poor soil, neutral to alkaline soil, full sun
Tolerates: acid soil, partial shade
Dislikes: lavender cannot grow in wet soil -- it will wilt, turn yellow, get fungal infections, and rot.
Uses: border plant, low divider hedge, flower bed plant, container gardens, raised beds, formal and informal herb gardens, kitchen gardens, country theme garden, French garden, Herbs de Provence garden, herb knot garden, herb spiral
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