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Lavender: cultivation, properties and benefits of lavender

Lavender: cultivation, properties and benefits of lavender


LAVENDER

Lavender is a very rustic plant, which is well suited to different pedo-climatic situations and grows spontaneously in southern Italy and we find it in the terreniarid and stony to form beautiful bushes.

BOTANICAL CLASSIFICATION

Kingdom

:

Plantae

Clado

: Angiosperms

Clado

: Eudicotyledons

Clado

: Asteris

Order

:

Lamiales

Family

:

Lamiaceae

Kind

:

Lavandula

Species

: see the paragraph on "Main species"

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS

The genre Lavandula belongs to the family of Lamiaceae and includes about thirty species originating from the Mediterranean countries.

The generic name lavender with which we are used to calling this plant, it was literally transposed into the Italian language from the Latin gerundto wash "Which must be washed" to allude to the fact that this species was widely used in antiquity (especially in the Middle Ages) to cleanse the body.

Lavender is a very rustic plant, which is well suited to different pedo-climatic situations and grows spontaneously in southern Italy and we find it in the terreniarid and stony to form beautiful bushes.

They are perennials, small evergreens reaching a maximum height of one meter. The leaves they are linear, lanceolate, narrow, of a characteristic green-gray color.

The inflorescences, carried by long stems, are spikes. Each row contains a variable number of flowers very fragrant and with a variable aroma depending on the species.

The fruit lavender is an achene that contains only one seed inside.

MAIN SPECIES

There are numerous species of lavender among which we remember

LAVANDULA SPICA (LAVANDULA OFFICINALIS)

There Lavandula officinalis or L. spica it is certainly one of the most unusual and particular plants of our flora. Native to the Mediterranean countries, it is an erect plant that reaches up to one meter in height. The branches are quadrangular with gray-green linear leaves.

The flowers are formed in summer carried by terminal inflorescences up to 10 cm long, grayish-blue in color and very fragrant.All the green parts of the plant are covered with a thick down.

LAVANDULA STOECHAS

There Lavandula stoechas it abounds above all in siliceous soils, characterized by having flowers that form along the flower spikes with a tuft of purple bracts at the top that persist even after the flowers have fallen.

The flowers are very fragrant and are formed starting from spring and throughout the summer. The leaves are very narrow and linear and covered with thick hair. It is a plant native to the western Mediterranean regions.
It is also known by the name of steca.

LAVANDULA LATIFOLIA

There Lavandula latifolia it is larger as a species than the others, with green leaves covered with thick down and pale blue flowers with a camphor aroma that appear in mid-late summer.

It is not very widespread in its spontaneous state and its scent is less appreciated than other species.
It is also known by the name of spigo.

LAVANDULA ANGUSTIFOLIA

There Lavandula angustifolia It is a plant native to the Mediterranean countries and it is a plant particularly suitable for forming low hedges or borders of avenues. It has the typical leaves of the species only narrower and of a more intense green.


Note 1

The flowers are carried by spikes up to 6 cm long of blue, very perfumed that open in summer.
Numerous cultivars of this species exist on the market with flowers varying in color from red, to white, to pink, to blue.

TOOTHED LAVANDULA

There toothed lavender typical of the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, it is a shrub with an expansive, bushy habit that has opposite leaves, hairy with toothed edges and with leaves that appear green on the upper page and greyish on the lower page.

The flowers are produced in summer on long unbranched stems collected in spikes, are blue-violet and slightly scented.

There are numerous hybrids, called Sinks, more cultivated than the pure species as they have high yields in essential oils because of greater vegetative development and with much larger stems and inflorescences. These include: Lavandulax intermediate, born from the cross between Lavandula angustifoliax Lavandula latifolia, widely used for the production of essential oils.

CULTURAL TECHNIQUE OF LAVENDER

Lavender is a rustic species but the environmental requirements are slightly different depending on the different species, for example Lavandula angustifolia it is much more resistant to cold than other species. In any case, they are plants that live in full sun and have no particular needs.

WATERING

Lavender does not like particularly humid soils, so it is advisable to wait for the soil to dry between one irrigation and the next.

TYPE OF SOIL - REPOT

Lavender prefers well-drained soils, as they do not tolerate water stagnation.The soils must not be particularly fertile nor acidic or tendentially acidic.They prefer clayey soils and adapt well to alkaline soils.

FERTILIZATION

It is good to carry out balanced fertilizations in early spring.

FLOWERING LAVENDER

The flowering period of lavender varies from species to species and runs from spring to summer. The flowers are gathered in spike inflorescences, carried by long stems. Each spike contains a variable number of very fragrant flowers with aromavariabials depending on the species.

PRUNING

Lavender, when flowering ends, must be pruned to eliminate all flowering stems and to trim the plants.

Plants that are a little weakened and not very compact can be subjected to a more drastic pruning, in order to leave only a few cm of stem. In this way the lavender plant will grow more luxuriant and invigorated by stimulating the development of new buds.

Make sure that the tool you use for cutting is clean and disinfected (preferably over a flame) to avoid infecting the tissues.

MULTIPLICATION

Lavender propagates by cuttings.

MULTIPLICATION FOR TALEA

When the flowering of the lavender ends, at the end of the summer, cuttings about 10-15 cm long with a woody part can be taken from the non-flowering branches of one year.

It is recommended to cut with a razor blade or a sharp knife to avoid fraying of the fabrics, taking care that the tool used for cutting is clean and disinfected (preferably with a flame) to avoid infecting the tissues.

After removing the lower leaves, the cut part is immersed in a rhizogenic powder to facilitate rooting.

Subsequently, the cuttings are placed in a compote formed by a part of peat and a part of coarse sand. You make holes with a pencil, as many as there are cuttings and arrange them as shown in the photo. Then take care to gently compact the soil.

Cover the box or pot with a transparent plastic sheet (or a hooded bag) taking care to always keep the soil slightly moist (always water without wetting the rooting plant with water at room temperature). check the soil moisture and eliminate condensation from the plastic.

Once the first shoots start to appear, it means that the cutting has rooted. At that point the plastic is removed and they are transferred to small terracotta vases (if you have rooted them in boxes), which are placed in a place sheltered from the cold and drafts and in good light.

The new lavender seedlings will be planted the following spring

PARASITES AND DISEASES OF LAVENDER

Light spots on the leaves

This symptom could mean that your lavender is having an attack of Septoria spp. a particularly harmful fungus.
Remedies: it can be fought, eliminating the infected parts, ventilating the environment and decreasing the humidity. If it is widespread, treatments with specific fungicides, easily available from a good nurseryman, can be used.

Root and basal rot

Root and basal rot can be caused by different species of fungi:Rosellinia spp, Armillaria spp, Phytophtora spp. The affected plants show stunted growth, the leaves take on a gray-yellowish color. In this pathology the primary roots are conspicuously browned.

Remedies: the fight is based on the disinfestation of the soil and with specific treatments.

Yellowish spots, distortion of the vegetative apexes and stunted development of the plant

It could be a not uncommon viral attack in these plants caused by AMV alfalfa mosaic virus.

Remedies: There are no remedies.

AROMATIC PROPERTIES

Those responsible for the characteristic scent of lavender are the lavender essential oils produced by glands, located in all the green parts of the plant (flowers, leaves and stems) but particularly concentrated in the flowers.

These components are present in a variable manner in the different species ofLavandula but the most fragrant is obtained from the species Lavandula angustifoliais Lavandula stoechas.

COLLECTION AND STORAGE

Lavender flowers are harvested at different times depending on their use: for herbal use they are harvested at the beginning of flowering while for industrial cosmetics and perfumery in the period of maximum flowering.

After harvesting, which must be done by collecting the inflorescence with all the stem, they are dried in bunches hanging upside down, in ventilated and shady places as the sun would discolor the flowers. When they are dry, the ear is separated from the stem and the flowers are kept in cloth bags or bowls to perfume the house.

Lavender flowers retain their scent for a long time, so much so that they are normally stored in muslin or canvas bags to perfume the linen.

Instead, fresh flowers are used to extract essential oils.

MEDICINAL PROPERTIES OF LAVENDER

See: «Medicinal plants: lavender».

USE IN THE KITCHEN

Normally lavender is rarely used for food purposes. However, it is used to flavor white wine and vinegar, to prepare jellies, to flavor sweets.

Lavender honey is very particular and fragrant and is very suitable for treating bronchopulmonary affections.

CURIOSITY'

Lavender has been and is the basic element for the preparation of potpourri to perfume the home since the distant 1700s.

In ancient times, lavender was used not only for its perfume and personal hygiene but also as a disinfectant: in the Middle Ages and up to 1700 floors were sprinkled and scrubbed using lavender as a disinfectant.

The ear is considered an amulet against misfortunes and demons and is said to be also a talisman to bring prosperity and fecundity. Lavender is the astral essence of the Aries zodiac sign.

LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS AND PLANTS

See: «Lavender - The language of flowers and plants».

LAVENDER SEEN THROUGH THE EYES OF AN ARTIST

The colors, the scents, the sounds are all that can be good for the soul, because it is life. In an everyday context, serenity is visible to everyone, but few are able to perceive its essence (work and thoughts by Elisa Caserini)

Note
1. Non-copyrighted image, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.


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