What colors complement lavender



Even the Romans used lavender to extract fragrant bath essences from it: The name of this plant is derived from the Latin word lavare = "to wash". The real lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) belongs to the mint family (Lamiaceae), which also includes mint and sage. Its different varieties, including the ‘Munstead’ lavender, are classics in the summer garden.

The subshrub - that is, it only lignifies below - was originally native to the coastal regions of the Mediterranean. There it occurs mainly on dry, warm slopes. Most lavender varieties are sufficiently hardy as a garden plant in our latitudes.

Of the approximately 25 known lavender species, the hardy species Lavandula angustifolia is mainly cultivated in Central Europe. However, "winter hardy" is a relative term - in the wine-growing climate, the lavender usually survives the cold season without problems, while it should be protected in colder regions.

One of the best ornamental varieties is Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote Blue’. It was discovered in the 19th century in England in the well-known Hidcote Manor Gardens, and naturally grows more compact and very dense. The lavender lavender (Lavandula stoechas), which is popular as a summer bloomer for tubs and window boxes, has striking bracts on the inflorescences. Unfortunately, it is not hardy.

Appearance and stature

Lavender has a compact, pillow-shaped habit with upright, highly branched and wiry shoots. Its needle-shaped, gray-green leaves and the mostly violet-blue, aromatic-scented inflorescences are characteristic. These are several rows of lively rows of flowers that form a spike-like inflorescence that is up to eight centimeters long. Lavender is perennial and reaches a height of about 60 to 100 centimeters. There are also varieties with pink or white flowers. Flowering time is from June to August.

Location and soil

Lavender needs a sunny, warm location with rather nutrient-poor, well-drained soil. It is important that it does not become too wet in winter, otherwise the plants will be sensitive to frost. If you find that the soil is too wet, you should transplant your lavender.

Use in the garden

You can plant lavender as a border or as a planting strip along walls and paths. It grows particularly well in front of warm south-facing walls. As a fragrant plant, it enriches sunken gardens and is a popular summer bloomer for rock garden beds. In addition, it fits perfectly with the Mediterranean garden style. Accompanying perennials can be, for example, bearded iris or woolen ziest. Lavender flowers attract bees, butterflies and other insects in summer.

Lavender not only impresses with its spike-shaped, violet flowers, which appear from July, but also with its silver-gray, lanceolate leaves. These make lavender attractive even after it has faded - it unfolds all its charm, especially as a border, and can also be kept in shape with scissors.

Roses and lavender are often planted as bedding partners, but actually don't go very well with each other: Although both are sun worshipers, they complement each other perfectly and lavender also has the reputation of keeping aphids away. In terms of soil requirements, however, the plants differ significantly: Lavender prefers barren and moderately dry, mineral soils, while roses like to grow on humus-rich and loamy fresh soil that should not be too poor in nutrients. You can solve the problem by maintaining a planting distance of 80 to 100 centimeters and making the locations of the lavender plants lean by incorporating construction sand. However, in terms of location requirements, late varieties of steppe sage (Salvia nemorosa) or catnip (Nepeta x faassenii) are the better choice.

Lavender is also grateful as a container or pot plant and for planting flower boxes. It is particularly decorative in terracotta pots with a Mediterranean look. So your seat is always surrounded by a light lavender scent in summer. Use light soil interspersed with sand and gravel for the real lavender. You should place a layer of potsherds or stones on the bottom of the vessel as drainage.

The potted lavender can be easily integrated into all kinds of pot plantings. It has similar requirements as the real lavender, but is used like a classic balcony flower. It goes well with ornamental grasses and other structural plants as well as white-flowered balcony flowers. Like real lavender, it is perennial, but frost-free wintering is usually not worthwhile.

Lavender as a medicinal and scented plant

The south of France in particular is famous for its huge lavender fields - for the writer Jean Giono, lavender was the "essence de Provence", the soul of Provence. What few people know: In France, in addition to real or narrow-leaved lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), mainly lavandin (Lavandula x intermedia) is grown. It is a cross between real lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) and large lavender (Lavandula latifolia). This robust cross has more panicles and is more productive.

The real lavender has long been known as an important medicinal plant. The essential oils from flowers and leaves have a calming and harmonizing effect. In the kitchen, lavender flowers are often used to refine desserts and sauces. In addition, the oils are used as fragrances in the perfume industry, which is why the plant is grown on a large scale in Provence, but also in some regions of England. Harvesting lavender early in the morning is recommended. Then the fragrance content is highest. Even today, countless products are perfumed with lavender: from lavender soap and lavender candle to the famous scented sachets. Lavender is also very popular as a kitchen spice for fish, lamb and salads.

Popular names such as nerve herbs or vertigo indicate its use as a medicinal herb against headaches and nervousness. Jean Valnet, a military doctor in the French army, treated numerous burns and other injuries with lavender oil during the Indochina War (1950–1952). In his notes he praises the excellent properties of lavender oil in healing wounds. In the meantime, more than 160 ingredients have been proven, which only appear to bring out the amazing healing power of lavender in their entirety.

Lavender tea is also a tried and tested home remedy and alleviates various ailments. If you drink it before bed, it has a relaxing effect and promotes a deep, healthy sleep. In addition, lavender tea has an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effect and can therefore also be used as a natural medicine against sore throats and throat infections. is easy to prepare. Lavender tea also relieves gas, bloating and abdominal cramps, so it is also a proven remedy for digestive problems.

The preparation is relatively simple: you put two heaped teaspoons of lavender flowers in a tea infuser, scald them with a quarter of a liter of boiling water and let the tea steep for about 10 minutes. The taste of pure lavender tea takes some getting used to, but can be improved by adding other herbs such as valerian or spiced fennel. If possible, do not drink more than one cup a day, as lavender tea in large quantities can damage the mucous membranes in the digestive tract.

Cut of lavender

You have to cut lavender regularly, otherwise the plants will grow old, rotten and fall apart. The first, light pruning of the plants takes place immediately after flowering. In early spring, the lavender is then cut back into the woody parts one more time. The plant branches out at the interfaces, remains compact and nicely bushy. Since the subshrubs do not always tolerate the cut in the old wood well, an annual cut in early spring is important. In early autumn you can remove the withered flower stalks again.

In order for a lavender to bloom abundantly and stay healthy, it should be cut regularly. We show how it's done.
Credits: MSG / Alexander Buggisch

Further care tips

In order to avoid mistakes when caring for lavender, the following applies: Refrain from any fertilizer or compost. Lavender loves mineral soil and too many nutrients have an unfavorable effect on the growth of the shoots, as the plants become fattened and lose their stability. If you fertilize lavender too heavily, you are doing you a disservice; you only need to water your lavender when it is persistent.

Winter protection

A warm location protected from cold easterly winds and a well-drained soil are crucial so that the lavender can get through the winter well even in cooler climates. Winter wetness in particular is a problem for the subshrub and can lead to failures. In autumn, you should provide lavender with winter protection by mulching it at the base of the stem and also covering it with fir twigs. Only in the wine-growing regions can you usually do without protective measures.

As a potted plant, real lavender can be left outside all year round if you bring the plant and pot to a location protected from wind and rain in winter, put the pot in a wooden box and fill it up with insulating bark mulch. On frost-free days, water just enough so that the root ball does not dry out.

We'll show you step by step how to get your lavender through the winter

Credit: MSG / CreativeUnit / Camera: Fabian Heckle / Editor: Ralph Schank


In spring you can propagate lavender by cuttings. These arise automatically during the cut and are best rooted in sand under foil. Propagation of cuttings is still possible later in the season. Occasionally, lavender sows itself, but the offspring are then not true-to-variety.

If you want to propagate lavender, you can simply cut cuttings and let them root in a seed tray. In this video we show you step by step how it's done.
Credit: MSG / Camera + Editing: Marc Wilhelm / Sound: Annika Gnädig

Diseases and pests

Lavender is largely disease and pest free. It is avoided by aphids and other insect pests thanks to its essential oils. Snail damage does not occur either. The only disease that affects plants more often in too humid locations is the so-called stem rot, which is caused by a fungus of the genus Phytophtora. Commercially available fungicides can help if the infection is detected in good time.

When can you plant lavender?

From April you can plant lavender in the garden. However, it is recommended to wait for the ice saints and plant lavender in the bed only in mid-May.

Where does lavender grow?

Lavender is a Mediterranean subshrub that grows in the coastal regions around the Mediterranean. With us, too, lavender prefers a warm and sunny location in the garden with a well-drained and nutrient-poor soil.

How often do you have to water lavender and how much water does it need?

As a rule, watering lavender only every few days is sufficient. However, lavender needs a little more water in a pot than in a flower bed. Here you should first make sure with a finger test whether the substrate is dry. Only when planting, the soil should always be slightly moist for the first few days.

When can you transplant lavender?

Lavender can only be transplanted relatively safely in the first three to four years, after which it becomes critical. The best time to transplant is early spring from mid-February to mid-April. If you are transplanting in autumn, the plants definitely need winter protection.

When can you cut lavender?

It is advisable to cut lavender once in spring, as soon as there is no longer any threat of permanent frost. In summer, the lavender is cut back after flowering.

How should you cut lavender?

Follow the "one-third-two-thirds method": In summer, remove the withered inflorescences by cutting back the shoots by about a third. In spring, the lavender is then cut back by about two thirds.

When can you harvest lavender?

If you want to harvest lavender, for example to dry lavender, you should cut the flowers together with the stems just before they bloom. You can also use the flowers fresh.

Which lavender is hardy?

The real lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is hardy and gets along in mild regions without special winter protection. In rougher climates you should protect it with some brushwood or mulch.

Is there white lavender?

Yes there is white lavender. Popular varieties are, for example, Lavandula angustifolia ‘Alba’ or ‘Edelweiss’.

Which lavender is suitable for bees?

All types and varieties of lavender are suitable for bees or are bee-friendly.