Lavender flowers are spike-like flowers composed of multiple, tiny purple florets on a slender, elegant stem. They are valued for their soothing, herbaceous fragrance, their healing properties, their multitude of uses and their physical beauty. In addition to these characteristics, lavender flowers, like many other types of flowers, possess a unique meaning.
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Meaning of Lavender Flowers
Throughout history, humans have ascribed specific meanings to flowers and used flowers to convey these meanings. This practice grew especially popular during the Victorian era, when people selected the flowers within a bouquet as carefully as they would choose the words for a letter. Many flowers have distinct meanings. For example, red roses are associated with romance and passion, while daisies denote innocence. In the language of flowers, lavender flowers denote purity, silence, devotion and caution.
Types of Lavender Flowers
There are at least 28 species of lavender plants that produce flowers having slightly different appearances and smells. One of the most common types of lavender is Lavandula angustifolia, which is known as English lavender and has narrow leaves. Lavandula dentate, which is sometimes referred to as Spanish or French lavender, is a favorite within the perfume industry and has toothed leaves. Lavandula spica, also known as spike lavender, has tufted leaves. The genus name “lavandula” derives from the Latin word “lavare,” which means to wash; the ancient Romans liked to used lavender as a bath scent.
Growing Lavender Flowers
Lavender flowers are perennials, which means they grow back on their own year after year, and tend to appear from June through September. Lavender thrives in warm climates and does well when exposed to full sun. Most English lavender is well-suited for zones five through eight. To learn more about plant hardiness zones, consult a USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map, such as the one at usna.usda.gov. For the best results and most abundant flowers, grow lavender plants that are labeled as suitable for the zone in which you live.
Healing Properties of Lavender Flowers
For centuries, people have valued lavender flowers for their healing properties. The scent of lavender flowers is soothing, and promotes relaxation and sound sleep. The essential oil of lavender flowers is antiseptic, antibacterial and antispasmodic. Lavender essential oil is useful for a broad spectrum of ailments and conditions, ranging from eczema to menstrual cramps, from burns to back pain.
Uses of Lavender Flowers
You can cut and air dry lavender flowers and use them for a multitude of purposes, including the following: alone or combined with other herbs to make herbal tea; as a fragrant, flavor-enhancing addition to all types of recipes, especially desserts; to make sachets with which to scent dresser drawers, closets and other spaces; to stuff pillows that will promote a good night’s sleep; as an addition to handmade grooming products such as soaps, bath salts and scrubs; as potpourri to fragrance a room; or to make scented wreaths, swags or other dried floral arrangements.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- "Lavender: Growing & Using Lavender for Fragrance, Mood & Body Care"; Jessie Hawkins, 2008.
- "Essential Oils Desk Reference"; Essential Science Publishing, 2007.
- The Dance: Lavender
- The United States National Arboretum: USDA Hardiness Zone Map