Munstead lavender is compact and early flowering. Lavender can be grown as a low hedge, responding well to trimming. Munstead, growing to 50cm tall with tight flower spikes, is a good cultivar for hedges.
Lavender is a very ornamental plant that is often grown in the herb garden and is also grown commercially for its essential oil. Not a very long-lived plant, it can be trimmed to keep it tidy but is probably best replaced every 10 years. Any trimming is best done in spring and should not be done in the autumn since this can encourage new growth that will not be very cold-hardy.
Lavender is a commonly used household herb, though it is better known for its sweet-scented aroma than for its medicinal qualities. However, it is an important relaxing herb, having a soothing and relaxing affect upon the nervous system.
The flowering stems, once the flowers have been removed for use in pot-pourri etc, can be tied in small bundles and burnt as incense sticks.
When growing for maximum essential oil content, the plant must be given a very warm sunny position and will do best in a light sandy soil, the fragrance being especially pronounced in a chalky soil.
Plants are hardy to between -10 and -15°c.
Succeeds in almost any soil so long as it is well-drained and not too acid. Prefers a sunny position in a neutral to alkaline soil. Prefers a light warm dry soil. When grown in rich soils the plants tend to produce more leaves but less essential oils. Established plants are drought tolerant. Plants are very tolerant of salt wind exposure.
Sow spring in a greenhouse and only just cover the seed. It usually germinates in 1 - 3 months at 15°c. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse or cold frame for their first winter, planting them out in late spring after the last expected frosts.
The leaves, petals and flowering tips may be used fresh as a condiment in salads, soups, stews etc. They provide a very aromatic flavour and are too strong to be used in any quantity. The fresh flowers are also crystallized or distilled to create an essential oil which can be added to jams, ice-creams, vinegars etc as a flavouring.
The fresh or dried flowers are used as a tea.