Funny story time: When I was young my mom had a lavender plant in our herb garden. I often helped out and had learned that removing the flower buds kept herbs from bolting (something that was not wanted). One day I decided to be helpful and I took it upon myself to keep the lavender from bolting. With small garden shears in hand I carefully cut each and every bud from the lavender plant. I was so proud of myself for doing something without being told to and thought mom would be so happy. She wasn’t.
I give my mom a lot of credit, she didn’t get mad. Like many times in my childhood she managed to see past what I had done and understand that I was only trying to help. She explained to me that unlike the other herbs, we wanted the lavender to flower because it was the flowers that smelled so nice. We did end up getting a few flowers that year since I had missed some of the buds and I never prematurely cut lavender blossoms again.
Lavender has been around for a long time, over 2000 years. It originated in the Mediterranean and the Egyptians used it as a perfume and for mummification. The Greeks used lavender to cure many different ailments and the Romans used it to perfume their bathwater. This is actually how Lavender got its current name (lavare means “to wash” in Latin). In the Middle Ages lavender was used as a disinfectant, deodorant, and medicinal herb. During the Black Plague, lavender was used ward off the disease. Today lavender is used in bath and beauty products, potpourris, and in the kitchen.
Grosso lavender is hybrid of cold-hardy English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) and heat-tolerant Portuguese Lavender (L. latifolia). It is the primary commercial variety for the production of lavender oil. This is the variety that I planted in my front garden this past fall.
Grosso Lavender Care
Size: The Grosso variety of lavender can get up to 2.5 feet (76 cm) tall and wide.
Water Requirements: This lavender prefers soil that is kept between dry and moist.
Soil Requirements: Grosso lavender grows best in neutral to slightly alkaline soil that is well drained.
Light Requirements: Grosso lavender does best in full sun.
Temperature Requirements: This lavender grows well in USDA zones 5 to 8, though may not survive the winter if the temperature gets below 0F and there is no snow to insulate the plant.
Nutrient Requirements: Lavender actually prefers a soil with somewhat low fertility.
Pruning: For continued blooming, remove faded flowers. About every three years, prune back to 8 inches (20 cm) tall in the spring.
Pests: This lavender is susceptible to root rot and leaf spot.
Blooms: The blooms of this lavender are lavender in color and very fragrant. Blooms appear from June to August.
Harvesting and Use: Grosso lavender can be used for culinary purposes but is most often used for its fragrance (i.e. in sachets and potpourris). The leaves of this variety are also quite aromatic. In the garden it is a nice border plant and does well in containers. One of my favorite ways to consume lavender is to add a pinch of dried flowers to my mug whenever I make Earl Grey tea.
Missouri Botanical Garden
Pantry Garden Herbs – Lavender, Grosso
Mother Earth News – Herb to Know: Lavender ‘Grosso’ Plant
Aura Cacia – The History of Lavender
Lavender Valley – History of Lavender