Five Lavenders to Grow and Why

by Kat Sanchez, Guided Botanicals
February 2022

One of the most popular flowering herbs in the mint family (Lamiaceae) is lavender, the common name for the genus Lavandula. The fragrant plant is native to Southwest Asia, North Africa, and the Mediterranean. 

Lavender creates lovely pollinator-friendly yards and makes for beautiful borders and entrances. They are aesthetically pleasing and aromatic accents when grown in a container around the garden or on a patio.  

Besides being grown for ornamental reasons, their use is also highly valued in aromatherapy and herbalism.

Because there are over 40 different lavender species and even more varieties, sometimes it can be overwhelming to know which one will be best for your garden design. Highlighted below are five main lavender species that are commonly grown in gardens. 

Lavandula stoechas
Annual or Tender Hardy Zones 7 to 10
Can get to 2-3’ wide and 2-3’ tall depending on variety.

This species is commonly known as ‘Spanish lavender’ and ‘French lavender,’ this lavender is frequently used in landscaping designs thanks to its resilient growth and showy flowers. This species is native to North Africa and several Mediterranean countries, including France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Greece. It’s not as fragrant as the other types highlighted below, but the flowers are still used in bouquets, potpourris, and baths since they omit a gentle fragrance and are attractive. Like most lavenders, this species will produce more flowers if pruned. This lavender is not as cold tolerant as the others but can handle lower temperatures and thrives in the heat and humidity better than common lavender (Lavandula angustifolia). Thanks to the many varieties this species has, there is a wide range of fragrance, flower color, leaf texture, and size options. 

Lavandula dentata
Hardy zones 8 to 10
Can get to 3-4’ wide and 3-4’ tall.

Commonly known as ‘French lavender’ and ‘Fringed lavender,’ this species is native to Southwest Asia, North Africa, and the Mediterranean region. You can note this variety by the grey color of their highly aromatic foliage and pale purple flowers that are long-lasting. This species is used a lot in the form of hedges and is suitable for warmer climates. This lavender is more aromatic than Lavandula stoechas but not as valued as ‘Grosso’ lavender is for its essential oil. 

Lavandula angustifolia, formerly L. officinalis
Hardy zones 5 to 10 depending on variety.
Can get to 3-8’ wide and 4’ tall depending on variety.

Commonly known as ‘narrow-leafed lavender,’ ‘common lavender,’ and ‘English lavender.’ This species is native to Spain, France, Italy, and the Balkan region and is used in aromatherapy and herbalism thanks to their strong scent, making them a popular selection for herbal gardens. Common lavender, like all lavenders, thrives in well-drained soil. This species prefers lower humidity, and when temperatures increase, their flower production will slow down. Their flowers and stems are sturdier than Lavandula stoechas and Lavandula dentata making them a go-to for fragrant bouquets.  

Lavandula latifolia
Hardy zones 6 to 10
Can get to 1-2’ wide and 1’ tall.

Commonly known as ‘Broad-leaved lavender,’ ‘Spike lavender,’ and ‘Portuguese lavender,’ this species is native to the Mediterranean region and can be found in central Portugal, north-western Italy, Spain, and southern France. The scent is considered more pungent than common lavender because of the higher camphor content. However, because they are highly aromatic, they are also valued for their strong scent.

Lavandula x intermedia
Hardy zones 5 to 10
Can get to 3’ wide and 3’ tall.

This lavender is commonly known as ‘Lavandin’ and is a hybrid of L. angustifolia and L. latifolia. One of the most popular varieties of this hybrid is ‘Grosso’ lavender because of the quality of essential oil. Its use is prevalent in herbalism, aromatherapy, and natural perfumery. This lavender offers a compact option that looks nice in repeated plantings while providing a strong scent in the garden.


Please note that identifying specific lavender varieties through internet photos is not easy and categorizing them by scent and size can help. I suggest not relying on the photos in this post as IDs and visiting your local nursery, community garden, or arboretum to learn more on how to properly identify them.

References: https://powo.science.kew.org/taxon/urn:lsid:ipni.org:names:449031-1, https://powo.science.kew.org/taxon/urn:lsid:ipni.org:names:20960-1#descriptions

Herbal Aromatic Salts

by Kat Sanchez, Guided Botanicals
December 2021

Various forms of smelling salts have been used for generations and for many reasons, not just what they were once popular for which unfortunately included the use of harmful ingredients.

Aromatic botanicals like lavender and eucalyptus were the safer options used in earlier formulas and still stand as great allies to invite into an aromatic blend. There are so many ways that we can make and use aromatic salt jars thanks to the variety of botanical aromatics that we can craft with. We can create aromatic blends to support anxiety, depression, night terrors, grief, and so much more! I like to keep my jar near my bed so I can awaken the aromatics to help me rest or before bedtime. My dreams have been very active recently and I find this bedside approach helps set a dream scene that is more protected and guided.

Below is a guide on how I made my blend that I thought I’d share to inspire you to create your own or to share with your community.

What you need
One package of sea salt, preferably big chunks, and please, not dead sea salt
Aromatic plants of choice, dried
Ethically sourced essential oil, optional
Large glass jar
Smaller airtight jars/bottles

Process
Chop up plants then crush them up to help release their volatile oils (I used homegrown CA Fragrant Pitcher Sage and Hummingbird Sage). It’s up to you how much dried plant matter you would like to add to your blend. I go off of the scent when determining the quantity to add in.

Place the salt and crushed plants in a jar that is large enough for you to shake the salt and herbs together on the daily, you want a lot of space for extra movement and releasing of the aroma within the jar.

Let infuse for 3-4 weeks, or for a full moon cycle.

If you want you can also add a few drops of an ethically-sourced essential oil, you only need a few drops for this, you can easily go overboard here so remember to use some caution and build instead of flood your aroma.

Now, store the finished salts into an airtight labeled glass bottle/jar for use, leave space at the top so you don’t spill any salt while opening your container.

To use, shake your airtight bottle, carefully remove your lid and let your jar sit open to allow the scent to fill the room or you can smell the salts for a more potent experience.

Remember to always close your bottle/jar, the sooner you do the longer your scent will last. You can then use the salts in a bath or foot bath once you feel you are done using them as herbal aromatic salts.


As mentioned, I want to emphasize that you can successfully craft this without the use of essential oils. You just need to ensure you are using highly aromatic plants. I hope you enjoy this fun, easy, and accessible herbal craft and remedy!

Guided Botanicals content is for educational purposes only. This website is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical conditions. We always invite you to do your own research concerning the safety and usage of any herbs or supplements.

Chickweed & Pistachio Pesto

by Kat Sanchez, Guided Botanicals
February 2021

As the season begins to turn, I enjoy making recipes that sing in spring from the garden! They help wake up my senses from hibernation and invite me to tune into the cycles of nature. This is the first recipe that the garden guided me to craft and share with you all. You can change up your green options, however, I really like the way this exact recipe turned out, especially when introducing a variety of weeds to palates that might be new to them. The recipe below was inspired by what I had available and I must say that the olive oil played a great part in flavor thanks to the depth of the oil’s flavor along with fresh fruity notes.

Ingredients
1/2 cup of pistachios
2-3 garlic cloves
2 cups chickweed loosely packed (you can substitute with various greens like blanched nettles, nasturtiums, and/or mallow)
1 cup of basil loosely packed
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Process
Place all ingredients in a food processor. I like to slowly add in the olive oil to achieve the consistency I desire.

Once blended you can sprinkle edible flowers on top, I invited some dandelion petals into this recipe.

Store in airtight container and keep in refrigerator. Enjoy within 2-3 days or you can freeze for later use. I like using this pesto on slices of sourdough, fresh pasta, and to mix into a soft cheese for a creamy spread.

Chickweed is a cooling and moistening nutrient dense herb that thrives in early spring. This cute short lived annual that has white star shaped flowers can help encourage lymph flow and may also support the healing of cysts; an amazing ally for when stagnation is paired with heat.


Enjoy the season guided ones!

Guided Botanicals content is for educational purposes only. This website is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical conditions. We always invite you to do your own research concerning the safety and usage of any herbs or supplements.