LAVANDER

LAVANDER
Description

The Lavandula genus belongs to the Laminaceae (Labiatae) family and includes 25 wild species native to the Mediterranean region. These plants are, in fact, spontaneous to our regions and can easily be found in arid and rocky areas of the peninsula. Lavender plants are perennial and very hardy and adapt well in different environments. Depending on the species, they grow well in warm areas near the sea or cold and inaccessible areas up to 1400 m above sea level. A common feature of all species is their particularly intense aroma and man has, since ancient times, attributed antiseptic, analgesic, healing, and esoteric qualities to lavender. In Roman times, lavender was used as a detergent and disinfectant, while its use as a perfumed oil began only around 1700. The name lavender comes from the Latin lavare meaning "to wash" which further underlies its use as an antiseptic and cleanser. Lavender's scent is attributed to an essential oil that is present in all parts of the plant, particularly in the flowers. As the aroma lasts for a long time, it is customary to dry the flowers and put them in cloth bags to scent linens. The most well-known species is the Lavender Spica, also called officinalis or vera, which blooms in the summer and produces bushes that are almost one meter tall. The L. Stoechas, or sea lavender, blooms from spring to summer, producing ears of compact flowers on top of purple bracts. The L. angustifolia, on the other hand, has rather narrow, dark green leaves and blooms in the summer, producing not only lilac flowers but also red or white ones. The L. Dentata lives in marine environments, has toothed leaves on its edges, and is very hairy on the underside. In addition to these species, currently on the market there are numerous hybrids said lavandini or "small lavender", which have intermediate characteristics and which are selected to form borders or bushes in gardens, or to be grown in pots.

Cultivation

The cultivation of lavender requires exposure to full sun and well-drained soil. Despite not having the need for fertile substrates, the plant does not tolerate stagnant water, so if grown in the garden, one should place it in raised areas and, in the case of growing in pots, one must prepare a compost that contains at least 50% expanded clay or sand able to quickly drain excess water. One should fertilize with soluble fertilizers distributed once a month with the regular irrigation. With regards to irrigation, this should not be excessive and one may want to wait for the soil to dry between intervention cycles. Lavender is very resistant to diseases and pests of the external part of the plant, but is very sensitive to diseases of the rootage resulting from excess moisture. For this reason, it is recommended to pay attention to soil conditions. During cultivation, at the end of flowering or before the start of spring regrowth, it is good to prune the plant by removing the dry stems and part of the vegetation. The harvest of flowers for storage must occur at the time of maximum flowering. To keep the perfume, the stems must be tied in bunches and left to dry in the shade hanging upside down.