Purple lavender, standing tall and proud, is a beautiful Mediterranean plant. Used for centuries for medicinal and beauty purposes, and with a myriad of applications in the kitchen and home, lavender should be in every natural living enthusiast’s garden. Here’s why:
1. It’s Hardy and Easy to Grow
In general, lavender is a hardy plant that doesn’t require a whole lot of care once established. It thrives in sunshine and dry soil, so under watering or drought isn’t an issue for this stunning flower.
There are several varieties of lavender so make sure you choose one that’s right for your climate. This guide will tell you all you need to know about growing and harvesting lavender.
2. For its Scent
Aside from the fact that it’s easy to grow, lavender is an incredibly aromatic flower with a soothing scent, and fantastic blue-violet buds. Once you get a whiff of a fresh lavender plant you’ll understand why its oil is a common ingredient in soaps, shampoos and scented sachets.
Discover more of the top fragrant herbs and flowers for your garden here.
3. To Repel Mosquitoes, Flies, Fleas and Moths
Planting lavender in the garden is a great choice for those who are mosquito magnets! Unlike humans – who tend to be drawn to the soothing scent of lavender – mosquitoes are repulsed by it.
Using lavender’s natural repelling powers is far safer than rubbing DEET on your skin. Even the Environmental Protection Agency says you should wash DEET off your skin once indoors, wash treated clothing before wearing, avoid breathing it in or spraying it directly on your face.
Lavender’s aroma will also keep flies, fleas and moths at bay.
4. To Attract Pollinators
While winged pests won’t want to set up shop near your lavender plant, all manner of beneficial insects will – such as butterflies and bees.
With our global bee population in decline – something which could have devastating and far reaching consequences for the planet – it is vital that we attract and protect these invaluable species. What’s more, they’ll work hard to pollinate your flowers and plants ensuring a colorful and buzzing garden for years to come.
Lavender boasts an array of medicinal uses – from relieving stress to promoting sleep. Here are a few ways your backyard lavender plant could help your health.
5. Powerful Lavender Oil
Perhaps the most compelling reason to grow lavender in the garden is so you can make your own lavender essential oil – this tutorial provides a step-by-step guide.
To make a less potent lavender oil (a simpler process), infuse dried lavender in a carrier oil like jojoba or olive for three to six weeks. This can be used to soothe dry skin, repel mosquitoes when out and about or to give a relaxing massage.
Here are 20 reasons to make lavender oil with your homegrown plant.
6. Treat Stress and Anxiety
When stress strikes, open your bottle of oil or head out to the garden and breathe in the aroma of your beautiful lavender plants.
Researchers have discovered that lavender produces calming, soothing and sedative effects when its scent is inhaled. In fact, the scent of lavender can actually change brain wave patterns which is why it can work for a variety of neurological issues.
7. Improve Cognitive Function
Not only does lavender oil boost mood, but other studies have shown that its scent helps people perform math faster and more accurately than those who don’t inhale the aroma before taking tests.
8. Relieve Headaches
Known for its anti-inflammatory properties and its ability to dilate blood vessels, it’s easy to understand how lavender kills the pain associated with headaches.
If simply sitting in the garden isn’t enough to quell the pounding in your skull, add some lavender oil to your diffuser or take a relaxing bath with fresh lavender buds and a few drops of the oil.
9. Sleep Like a Baby
Although several plants promote a restful night’s sleep, lavender is probably the most well-known of all of these.
In one study, the smell of lavender reduced crying in babies and sent them into a deeper sleep, while simultaneously reducing stress in both mother and child. This may be because the aroma is known to slow down heart rate and lower blood pressure and stress levels.
Although there are a host of lavender scented products on the market to – from scented sleep masks to lavender mattresses – the most natural option is to cut fresh lavender flowers for your nightstand.
10. Lavender Tea for Stomach Problems & More
Steep fresh or dried lavender flowers in hot water for three minutes before straining and drinking. This tea will help with stomach problems, bad breath and the pain associated with arthritis, backache and headache.
You can also try a calming cup before bedtime, especially if you feel anxious, overwhelmed or depressed.
Lavender has a long history as both a beauty product and a cleansing tonic. Romans used it to scent and purify their baths centuries ago, ancient Egyptians turned its oil into a perfume for the mummification process, and bundles of lavender were burned during the Great Plague of 1665 to try to ward off infectious diseases. More modern day applications include:
11. DIY Massage Cream
If you don’t have time to wait for your lavender oil to infuse, whip up this soothing massage cream and say goodbye to sore muscles.
Simply simmer one cup of fresh lavender flowers in one cup of aqueous cream in a double boiler for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Strain out the flowers and allow to cool for 10 minutes before adding one tablespoon of sweet almond oil and 10 drops of an essential oil of your choice. Store this in a sealed and sterilized glass jar.
12. Strong and Healthy Hair
Use the power of your lavender plant to get those long and luscious locks you’ve always wanted. Lavender and other essential oils have been shown in studies to stimulate hair growth when used as part of a daily massage. 44% of alopecia patients studied experienced new growth after seven months of the therapy.
You can also harness the plant’s cleansing properties with a regular lavender hair rinse which will remove product build-up, combat bacterial infections and reduce breakage. To make the rinse, add a few sprigs of fresh lavender to a glass jar of warm water and leave in the sun for several hours. Remove the herbs, add in a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and work through the hair after shampooing.
13. Detangling Spray
Say goodbye to knots and keep hair shiny and manageable with a homemade lavender detangling spray.
Infuse lavender flowers in one cup of warm water and leave to steep overnight. Discard the flowers and decant the water into a spray bottle. Mix in a half teaspoon of jojoba oil, a half teaspoon of vitamin E oil and 30 drops of homemade (or store-bought) lavender oil.
Because this is water based, it will keep in the fridge for up to a month. When you need to use, shake well to distribute the oils and spray the hair with one or two light mists. Comb through and style as normal.
14. Lavender, Rose and Oatmeal Bath Bombs
These delightful bath bombs will liven up your bath-time and provide a soothing aroma whilst nourishing your skin.
You’ll need all natural ingredients such as citric acid, baking soda, oats, witch hazel, lavender flowers, lavender essential oil, rose petals and optional other essential oils of your choice. Follow the tutorial here.
15. Bath Salts
Salts like Epsom and Himalayan pink salt are beneficial for overall health when used in the tub. They work to draw toxins out of the body, while adding back some essential minerals like magnesium.
Blend either (or both!) of these salts with dried lavender and lavender oil for a de-stressing and detoxifying soak. Make sure to check out these 10 compelling reasons to have a Himalayan Pink Salt Bath.
16. Relaxing Eye Pillow
Get all the beauty sleep you need with a relaxing eye pillow. Simply fill a soft fabric with two parts dried lavender and one part organic rice or flax seed before sealing or sewing. Here’s a handy tutorial to follow.
In Your Home
With such beautiful purple flowers and strong aroma, there are endless possibilities for using fresh and dried lavender to decorate and enhance the home. Here are just a few:
Preserve your garden flowers by making a batch of potpourri to fragrance your home through the winter.
Using rose petals, orange peel and lavender buds, you can easily whip this up in minutes. Follow these steps.
18. DIY Scented Soy Candles
Homemade soy candles are a safer alternative to store-bought scented ones, which often aren’t very good for our health.
This one uses soy wax, lavender essential oil and dried lavender to create a pretty, safe and beautifully scented mason jar candle – the step-by-step process is outlined here.
19. Laundry Freshener
Get rid of unpleasant odors that are lurking on your sheets, towels and pet beds by throwing a small cotton sachet stuffed with dried lavender into your dryer before switching it on.
20. Lavender Spray
For an all-natural room scent and linen spray, mix two teaspoons of witch hazel with one cup of distilled water and 10 drops of lavender essential oil. Decant into a spray bottle and use whenever you need to freshen up your sheets or wind down after a hard day at the office.
It’s also an ideal pre-bedtime spray to ensure a restful sleep.
21. Home Décor
From wreaths to tea light candle holders, here are 25 beautiful and creative ways to bring your lavender plant indoors.
For Culinary Purposes
That’s right, you can use lavender in your cooking and baking too! It’s also a delicious addition to cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks. Here are a few classic ways to utilize lavender in the kitchen:
Lavender is one of the trendiest cocktail ingredients – particularly as it lends a fragrant complexity to all manner of tipples.
Whether you are a fan of gin, vodka or Cognac, one of these lavender inspired drinks is sure to please your palate.
23. Lilac Lemonade
This pretty summer drink – using honey, lavender and lemons – is perfect for parties, baby showers and even weddings. Learn how to make it here.
24. Lavender Sugar
Impart a subtle floral flavor to baked goods, teas, fresh fruit and more by adding fresh or dried lavender to plain sugar. It looks great when presented in a jar too – making it an ideal homemade gift for friends and family.
Here are the exact measurements.
25. Lavender Syrup
A floral take on the simple syrup normally used in cocktails, lavender syrup simply involves mixing sugar, water and lavender to get a thick clear liquid that’s great when drizzled on poached or stewed fruits, on pancakes and waffles, on ice cream, in cocktails, or when whipped into cream.
Follow Martha Stewart’s simple recipe for lavender syrup.
26. Lavender Sea Salt
Don’t have a sweet tooth but want to use lavender in your kitchen? Try blending it with sea salt instead of sugar!
It can be used as a meat or vegetable rub, on potatoes, in baked bread, on savory crackers, as a salad seasoning, to add a salty rim to a cocktail glass, in salted caramel or chocolate desserts, on fresh fruit and more!
Here’s how to make a batch.
Hooked on lavender? Here are another 15 things you can make with your lavender plants.