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Spanish Lavender

    Spanish lavender is the common name for several subspecies of the lavender section Lavandula Stoechas. It is sometimes mistakenly referred to as French Lavender or Italian Lavender.

Due to the petal-like infertile bracts that protrude from the top of the bloom, it is also sometimes called Rabbit Ears Lavender or Papillon (Butterfly) Lavender.

Like many other lavenders, this lavender originates from the Mediterranean region where it grows wild. It is different enough from English Lavender that it wasn't even considered a part of the genus Lavandula until the nineteenth century.

Growing Spanish Lavender - Gardening lavender is an easy and rewarding experience and this type of lavender is no different. It will grow in USDA Zones 6-10, but is probably best in Zones 7-8. It requires well drained soil and little water after it is established. Although it is drought tolerant, it also does well in humid weather better than other varieties.

This lavender blooms in the spring and should be pruned when it is done blooming. It propagates through seeds or cuttings. The blooms don't typically attract butterflies or hummingbirds, but honey bees do seem to enjoy them. The scent from these lavender blooms is not quite as sweet as the English Lavenders and has been compared to rosemary.

There are many different cultivars with various colors of blooms and bracts. Below are a few:

'Devonshire Compact' - Purple blossoms and pink bracts

Fairy Wings - Purple blossoms and lavender/pink bracts

Hazel - Purple blossoms and blue bracts

James Compton - Purple blossoms and pink/purple bracts

Otto Quast - Purple blossoms and pink bracts

'Big Butterfly' - Purple blossoms and blue bracts

Wings of Night - Deep Purple blossoms and bright purple bracts

'Willowvale' - Purple blossoms and muave bracts

Dried Lavender - Besides being a great plant for landscaping, the blooms of this plant work well for drying and they are edible. Harvest the lavender before the buds begin to drop by cutting the stalks where they come out of the bush. Bundle a handful of the stalks together and hang upside down in a dry place out of the direct sun. Depending on the humidity, it may take several weeks to dry, and don't expect the "rabbit ears" to preserve well. Once dry, the bundles can be used for decoration or the buds can be stripped for sachets, pot pourri or for cooking . The taste of Spanish Lavender is not as sweet as other lavenders that are typically used for cooking, but it works well on meats and other non-dessert dishes.

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