Lavandula angustifolia 'Royal Velvet'
Common Name: English lavender
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Lamiaceae
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 2.00 to 2.50 feet
Spread: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to August
Bloom Description: Dark purple
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Herb
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Leaf: Fragrant
Attracts: Butterflies
Tolerate: Rabbit, Deer, Drought, Dry Soil, Shallow-Rocky Soil, Air Pollution

Culture

Grow in average, dry to medium, well-drained, alkaline soil in full sun. English lavender can be difficult to grow in the St. Louis area, primarily because of winter stresses and high summer humidity. Well-drained soils are required, particularly in winter. Root rot commonly attacks plants grown in poorly drained soils. Prefers a light, sandy soil with somewhat low fertility. Remove faded flowers to promote continued bloom. Prune to shape in spring after new leaves appear. Prune back to 8” in spring every 3 years to control plant size and to promote robust, new growth. High summer humidity in the St. Louis area is not appreciated. To combat high humidity, consider using rock instead of organic mulch. English lavender has slightly better winter hardiness than lavandin (Lavandula x intermedia) for the St. Louis area, but still may appreciate a sheltered location and winter protection.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Lavandula angustifolia, commonly called English lavender, has been a mainstay of herb gardens for many years. Despite its common name, it is not in fact native to England, but comes primarily from the Mediterranean region. It was reportedly named English lavender because of its ability to grow well in the English climate. This “true lavender” is commercially planted for harvesting its oils for use in perfumes. Lavender flowers and foliage are also popular additions to sachets and potpourris. English lavender varieties are more often used for culinary purposes than other types of lavender. This is a semi-woody plant that typically grows to 1.5-3’. Narrow, gray-green leaves (to 2 1/2” long) on square stems. Purple flowers appear in terminal spikes in late spring to early summer. Both foliage and flowers are highly aromatic. Leaves are evergreen in warm winter climates.

Genus name comes from the Latin word lavo meaning I wash in reference to a former use of the plant as an aromatic wash.

‘Royal Velvet’ is dark-flowered English lavender cultivar. It is a semi-woody perennial that typically grows to 24-30” tall. Flowers have dark navy blue calyxes and violet corollas. Flowers appear in terminal spikes (to 4” long) in late spring to early summer.

Problems

Susceptible to leaf spot and root rot. Plants may not survive in winter if soils are not well-drained and/or if temperatures dip below zero degrees without protective snow cover.

Garden Uses

This is a versatile garden perennial that should be considered for a wide variety of uses and not just relegated to a corner of the herb garden. Lavender flowers and gray-green leaves provide mid-summer color and contrast to the perennial border front, rock garden, herb garden or scented garden. Can be particularly effective when massed. Also effective as an edger or low hedge in some areas.