Lavender (Lavandula genus) is a herb in the mint family which grows as a semi woody evergreen perennial shrub. Currently lavender has over 45 different species with over 450 varieties or cultivars. At Bald Butte Lavender Farm we only grow varieties from the English (Lavandula angustifolia) and Lavandin (Lavandula x intermedia) lavender species, which are the two most common species in the northern latitudes within USDA hardiness zones 5-9. The section below briefly describes and contrasts both species. Characteristics for the varieties we grow are listed in the attached tables.
Lavandula angustifolia, commonly known as “true” lavender, is propagated from both seed and rooted cuttings. Plants produced from seed have the genetic variability inherent within each variety, and will thus display slight differences in physical characteristics between mature plants. On the other hand, rooted cuttings are genetic clones of the mother plant from which the cuttings were taken, and will thus be identical to the mother plant. The English lavenders are typically smaller and more dense, and range from 1-3 feet in height to 2-3 feet in width with shorter flower stems. The varieties are sweeter and more floral in fragrance. Even though this species produces considerably less essential oils they are higher in quality. All varieties are described as delicious in taste, but Melissa is often rated the best. Other popular culinary varieties include Folgate, Miss Katherine, Royal Velvet, Buena Vista, and Munstead. Of course, taste varies between individuals and can best be described in the eye of the beholder. English varieties flower from early to mid summer for 3-4 weeks. Many varieties will have a second bloom if the first bloom is pruned early in the season.
Lavandula x intermedia, a hybrid cross between English and Portuguese lavender, is only propagated with rooted cuttings. The varieties grow larger than English lavenders with up to 4 foot widths and 3 foot heights. The flowers bloom later in July to September with more flower spikes which reach up to 30 inches in length. Longer flower stems produce better quality cut and dried flowers, and are better suited for crafts such as wreaths and wands. Even though the species produces higher yields of essential oil their quality is considered inferior to English lavenders. Grosso is a highly productive oil producing hybrid lavender, the most widely used lavender variety for oil production in the world. The intermedia varieties have a stronger fragrance which many people associate with the typical lavender aroma. While both lavender species are edible, the higher levels of campfor in the intermedia varieties often leave a medicinal or soapy aftertaste.