Lavender makes an excellent companion plant for almost anything from roses to cabbage. It is one of those aromatic, gray herbs that deer avoid, making it a great choice as a decoy in your Hosta or daylily beds.
A major reason lavender is so prized is that the flowers keep their fragrance when dried. For best drying results, harvest the flowers as the buds first begin to open. Hang in small bunches upside down in a warm spot with good air circulation.
Besides being beautiful and aromatic, lavender flowers are also edible. They can be used raw in salads, added to soups and stews, used as a seasoning, baked into cookies and brewed into tea.
Unfortunately even if you do everything right and your lavender plants appear happy, the genus is generally not long lived and most lavender plants begin to decline after about 10 years. So keep starting new plants to carry you through your rough spots.
Lavandula angustifolia (English Lavender) Zones 5-8
'Munstead' An old-fashioned standard with blue-purple flowers. 18" tall
'Hidcote' is favored for its dark purple flowers. 24" tall
'Jean Davis' produces pale pink flower spikes. 18" tall
L. x intermedia Zones 5-8
'Provence' dries particularly well. 30" tall
'Grosso' is highly disease resistant and fragrant. 30" tall
L. dentata (Fringed Lavender) Zones 8-9
This is a bushy, spreading shrub that produces dense purple-blue flower spikes that are very pretty, but only mildly fragrant. 3' tall
L. stoechas (French Lavender) Zones 8-9
A beautiful Mediterranean native that is compact and bushy with fragrant, dark purple flowers topped by a feathery purple bract. Good cultivars include: ‘Dark Eyes’ and ‘Silver Frost’.
L. stoechas subsp. pedunculata (Spanish Lavender) Zones 9-10
Bears its flower stalks high above the foliage.