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How to Grow Low-Maintenance, Great-Smelling Lavender

Updated on May 20, 2018
Casey White profile image

Dorothy is a master gardener, former newspaper reporter, and the author of several books. Michael is a landscape and nature photographer.

Bees love lavender, and so will you!
Bees love lavender, and so will you! | Source

Sandy or Gravelly Soil Works Best for Lavender

To successfully grow beautiful lavender flowers, I suggest sandy or gravelly soil, so if you have an area like that in full sun (which they prefer), this may be your flower of choice. They don't require much fertilizer at all, and I like to grow them in an area with lots of crushed rocks, which seems to work very well.

Keep reading, and you will discover that lavender is not only a beautiful flower, but it has many uses and I urge you to try some of them.

They are gorgeous and smell heavenly.
They are gorgeous and smell heavenly. | Source

Lavender in the Kitchen

It's hard to imagine that lavender might be used in the kitchen, but in some areas, this flower is grown and used as a condiment in dressings. Bees make honey from nectar, and nectar is produced in lavender plants. Plus, I'll bet you've never even heard the term "lavender sugar", but it's made with only two ingredients - regular granulated sugar and lavender that has been dried. Many people love it in tea or lemonade, but I must profess that I have personally never tried it (except in a sugar scrub for my feet). There are hundreds of great recipes online using lavender, such as Lavender Fudge and Lavender Honey Ice Cream. Yummy! Just Google "Lavender Recipes" and you'll find an abundance of very tasty-sounding ones that you should try. (My favorite is Banana Blueberry Muffins With Raspberry).

(Note: When cooking with lavender, do not use lavender that has been prepared for potpourri as it is probably treated with chemicals that are not meant for eating; instead use culinary grade lavender that has either been grown by you, or purchased in a grocery store). I have included a great video on culinary lavender below.

Essential Oil of Lavender and Some of It's Many Uses

Only the buds of a lavender plant contain the essential oil of lavender, in which the amazing flavor and clean-smelling scent lie. Lavender Essential Oil is truly amazing and I have compiled a list of ways you can use it in your everyday life, although you won't always find these uses listed on the product's label. Let's just say that some "old wive's tales" are actually true, so don't be so quick to dismiss them, but DO talk to your doctor before applying any topical remedy. That being said, Essential Oil of Lavender has been reputed to do the following things:

  • Repel insects - We may love the smell of lavender, but most bugs don't, so you might try putting a drop or two on some cotton balls and place them in places in which you would like moths to steer clear!
  • Fight dandruff - Massage several drops of lavender oil mixed with argan oil into the scalp to help fight this annoying, itchy problem. Lavender oil can also promote hair grow, prevent hair loss and improve blood circulation. Using a good lavender oil shampoo is a good idea to help increase circulation to your hair follicles.
  • Soothe bug bites - My husband and I are hikers, photographers and nature trail enthusiasts so we are no strangers to bug bites. One tiny drop of lavender oil rubbed on a bee sting or bug bite helps to relieve the pain and speed the healing, so we are able to get right back out there and get bitten and stung again!
  • Soothe mosquito bites - Mosquito bites are particularly uncomfortable, but lavender oil rubbed lightly on the bite can bring instant relief.
  • Relieve headaches - Many people believe that lavender oil can be used to relieve headaches naturally - you know, without those nasty drugs - by simply rubbing a tiny bit of the oil on your temples when you first feel a headache starting. (Personally, I have suffered with migraines for about 40 years and immediately grab the Excedrin Migraine pills, so I can't verify that the lavender oil works for migraines, but one of these days I will not grab the pills by force of habit, and try the oil).
  • Soothe dry hands - Because you are reading this article, I can already assume that you are into gardening, and, that being said, I know you've had the problem of dry hands, which can be soothed by rubbing lavender oil mixed with a little bit of argan oil on them. The oil seals in the moisture in the winter and is great for keeping your knuckles from splitting from the dryness. (Note: Personally, I use the lavender oil and argan oil on my hands, then follow up with Gold Bond Ultimate Hydrating Lotion - Diabetics' Dry Skin Relief, and my hands are always as soft as a baby's bottom). The combination of these products together is absolutely amazing.

(Note: I always prefer to err on the side of caution and I normally mix any essential oil with another oil - usually argan oil - rather than use it "neat", or undiluted).

Don't Ingest Essential Oil of Lavender

Although essential oil of lavender may be the "Swiss Army Knife" of oils, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH),

  • Lavender oil may be poisonous if taken by mouth.
  • Lavender extracts may cause stomach upset, joint pain, or headache.

When Is It Safe to Use Undiluted Essential Oil of Lavender?

I have given examples of the many uses of lavender oil, but there is a lot of controversy about the use of the oil undiluted, so I have prepared a list of instances in which it is usually considered safe to use it "neat" (full strength, not diluted):

  • For ear infections (apply it BEHIND the ear and NOT IN THE EAR)
  • Spot treatment of acne
  • Treatment of cold sores (use it sparingly)
  • Minor skin trauma
  • Insect bites
  • Acute migraine headaches (applied directly to your temples)


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