Lavender is one of the world's most popular herbs. Botanically, lavender is known as Lavandula. It has been around for centuries. Its name derives from the Latin lavar "to wash," indicating its use for both bathing the human body and washing clothes. The words laundress and laundry derive from the verb lavandre.
Most lavenders are natives of the Mediterranean region, the islands of the Atlantic, Asia Minor, and India, but are now grown all over the world. There are twenty-eight known varieties.
Two varieties can tolerate the hot, humid summers here in East Texas:
Spanish Lavender (Lavandula stoechas) displays fragrant royal purple spikes with gray-green foliage. It can be used as a low hedge in your garden or can be grown in a container. It is ideal for cutting and drying flowers to be used in potpourri. It likes full sun, requires average watering (do not over water), and grows to an average height of 28-36".
Fernleaf Lavender or French Lace Lavender (Lavandula multifida) displays flowers that occur in winged spikes, like a pitch fork, that are a deep lavender color. It has green, fern-like leaves from which the name multifida, meaning "much divided," comes. It will bloom very heavily in late spring through the summer, but is very tender and needs protection indoors in the winter. The flowers do not dry well. Unlike other lavenders, its fragrance is pine-like. It likes full sun and will grow to a height of 18-24 inches. Do not over water.
Sue McGuire, Smith County Master Gardener
Texas AgriLife Extension Service