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Tender Lavenders


Tender lavenders are those that cannot tolerate frost. They come from the warmer regions of the world and have such names as Spanish Lavender or French lavender. Most are fragrant but not as useful in the kitchen as the English lavenders.
As a group the characteristics vary. In some the gray leaves are slightly wooly or fringed whereas in others the whole plant has more green than gray with almost yellow flowers. Most of the flowers are concentrated towards the top and many have a ‘winged’ effect from the upper flowers (bracts). Although some of the tender lavenders can be grown from seed they are not as commonly available as the L. angustifolia .

In areas where the tender lavenders are not hardy it is still worthwhile growing them either in pots or in the garden and protecting them over the winter. If in the garden, uproot well before the first frost as these plants really do appreciate warm weather. Place the lavenders in a warm but light area for the winter. The hours of daylight are much lower in winter months and you lavender will probably not flower, but it will stay healthy until the weather warms up next year.
Fringed Lavender (L. dentata): As the name infers this lavender has a fringed edge to the leaves which are more toward green than gray. The flowers are concentrated toward the top of the stem making them useful for arrangements or pot pourri. The flowers have only a light scent.
Spike Lavender (L. latifolia): This is the lavender that is hybridized with L. angustifolia to form the intermediate group. This lavender is a sturdy shrub form but not hardy. The spikes though are quite highly scented.
Spanish Lavender (L. stoechas): This group of lavenders has as many varieties as the angustifolia and it includes such beautiful lavenders as Kew Red, Silver Anoek and Alba. Foliage is mid green to gray and compact with the flowers on shorter stems than the angustifolias. The variety of flower color though is stunning.
Kew Red is a dark pink with lighter pink bracts showing at the top giving a burgundy red color to an established group;
Silver Anoek is a more traditional gray color overall with dark purple flowers and bracts. Silver Anoek also comes true from seed and is small enough to do well in containers and window box arrangements.
Leucantha or Leucantha Alba is a white flowering form of lavender which is compact and tends toward green in the lavender spectrum.
Seeds for Spanish lavenders are not common yet but will likely be more available in a few years. Right now Purple Ribbon is one of the few seed varieties available.
Yellow or Green Lavender (L.viridis): One of the very tender lavenders that is only viable as a perennial in tropical areas but if you want a scented and unusual plant for a container this could be it. The overall plant is green but the flowers can look yellow.

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