A little bit about lavender

A member of the mint (Lamiaceae) family, lavender is a hardy plant best known for its beautiful fragrance. It’s a low-growing but mostly upright shrub featuring silvery leaves rich with aromatic oils. It's a great, low-maintenance garden choice as it’ll flush into fragrant, colourful bloom with very little attention.

Plant this beauty in your garden and you can expect flowers in a range of shades, from pink and purple to off-white depending on the variety. Some varieties will flower for much of the year.

Botanical name: Lavandula

Height: Between 30 and 60 centimetres

Width: Usually less than 60 centimetres, but occasionally extends to one metre.

Lavender varieties

There are three main types of lavender: English, French and Italian/Spanish.

An English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) variety displaying purple flowers against a green foliage backdrop.

English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

Of all the types, English lavender (often referred to as true lavender) is the most popular, thanks to its remarkable scent and colour. Its peak flowering season is midsummer but its aromatic leaves are fragrant year round. You can make the most of its long spikes by drying them or turning them into potpourri. One of the best known English varieties is Hidcote, which grows well in cool, mountainous areas like New South Wales’ Southern Highlands and Sydney’s outer western suburbs.

Click to shop English varieties.

A French lavender (Lavandula dentata) variety displaying deep purple blooms against silvery foliage

French lavender (Lavandula dentata)

Just as popular as the English type, French lavender billows with strong-scented, grey-green toothed leaves and long, furry, purple flowers. French varieties are particularly happy in a pot, as a hedge and can also be mass planted.

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A Spanish or Italian lavender variety (Lavandula stoechas or Lavandula pedunculata) displaying butterfly-topped light purple blooms against silver-green foliage

Spanish or Italian lavender (Lavandula stoechas or Lavandula pedunculata)

This type is distinguished by its flowers. Each bloom (in mauve, pink or white) is topped with a distinctive pair of petals which look like rabbit ears. Unlike other types, Spanish or Italian varieties don’t mind humid Sydney summers. Two beautiful and popular examples are Lavender Avonview (pictured left) and Lavender With Love.

Click here to shop Spanish/Italian varieties.

Best lavender for Sydney’s climate

Due to its Mediterranean origins, lavender likes hot summers and dry winters.  If you haven’t had much luck in the past, we recommend Super French, a variety that’s bred from French lavender but is more tolerant of Sydney’s humidity. If you like the butterfly-topped look, you’ll love stoechas varieties like ‘Avonview’ and ‘Lace’. Both have been bred in Australia and relish our humidity.

How to use lavender

Gardeners and landscapers grow highly versatile lavender as an ornamental plant, but it’s also grown as a culinary plant and for the commercial extract of essential oils. You can also dry the flower spikes for use in arrangements or to place in linen pouches - not only does this help to keep drawers and cupboards smelling fresh, it's also a great way to help deter moths.

This plant is also a great choice for coastal, cottage or rockery gardens and can make a striking impact when mass-planted. Try growing it as an informal hedge, a specimen plant or near your veggie patch to attract bees. If you'd like to learn more about attracting bees to your garden, click here.

Caring for lavender

The ideal position for lavender

Your plant will perform best in a bright, full-sun position. Plant in dry, well-drained, sandy or gravelly soil where it can enjoy good air circulation. Not sure what type of soil you have? This article will help you work it out!


Once established, this plant requires little water - so if your garden doesn't have excellent drainage, be careful not to overdo it. All varieties hate wet feet.


Cut off dead flowers to help prolong flowering periods. Prune plants after the main summer flowering period to keep them looking tidy and dense. If needed, you can do a harder prune (by about one third), however don’t go past the green foliage and into the older wood as these branches don’t always recover and can leave unsightly gaps and patches in your plant.


If you've planted in a garden bed, fertilise it with well-decomposed compost and a little garden lime in spring and autumn to encourage flowering. For potted varieties, you should feed with a slow-release fertiliser twice a year in spring and autumn.

Pests and diseases

In areas of high humidity or where a plant is overwatered, root rot due to fungus infection can be a problem. Organic mulches can trap moisture around the base of the plant, also encouraging root rot. To prevent root rot, avoid mulching and plant your lavender on a slight mound, to encourage drainage.

This plant is rarely attacked by pests, however whitefly, aphids and scale can creep in when the plant is under stress. Look out for these pests and spray with pyrethrum to control whitefly and aphids, or try eco-oil as an organic alternative to control of aphids, whitefly and scale.

Companion plants

Plant with pansies, roses, iris, scabiosa and other cottage plants, or near veggies and fruit trees to encourage bees and other pollinators.