Year of the Lilac

Year of the Lilac

Lilacs are among the most carefree spring-flowering, multi-stemmed, deciduous shrubs (or small trees), well-loved for their toughness, reliability, and fragrance.

Overview and History

Clusters of small, four-lobed flowers are borne in conical to narrow pyramidal clusters (panicles) up to eight inches long that stand out from the green heart-shaped leaves.

Carl Linnaeus first described the lilac genus, Syringa, in 1753. The name is derived from the ancient Greek word syrinx, meaning pipe or tube. The stems of the common lilac have a spongy pith that can be removed, leaving hollow tubes that were used to make pan-pipes.

Syringa vulgaris, the common (vulgaris) lilac, originated in southeastern Europe; other species came from Western Asia. The French imported lilacs and developed many new varieties that made their way to North America.

Lilac blooms go far beyond every imaginable shade of lilac/purple from very pale to very dark. Look for lilacs in hues of red, pink, blue, yellow, cream and white—even picotee (white-edged, deep purple ‘Sensation’). The color may change from bud to bloom and as the flowers mature. Individual flowers can be single or double.

Lilacs originated in Eastern Europe and Asia and were brought to America in the 17th century |Year of the Lilac | National Garden Bureau

Lilac Species

There are about 30 different species of lilac. Among the best-known and prized lilacs are:

  • Syringa x chinensis Chinese Lilac – Grows 8 to 12 feet tall and 6 to 10 feet wide. Hardy to Zone 3. Rose-purple flowers. Susceptible to powdery mildew.
  • Syringa x hyacinthiflora – Early Flowering Lilac – Grows 10 to 12 feet high and wide. Hardy to Zone 3. Exquisitely fragrant flowers may be single or double, opening 7 to 10 days before those of the common lilac. Unlike other lilacs, the foliage has multi-season interest, turning shades of gold, red, or purple in fall. Resistant to powdery mildew. Attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. ‘Pocahontas’ panicles are packed with fragrant, single, rich violet flowers.
  • Syringa josikaea – Hungarian Lilac – Grows 8 to 10 feet tall and 10 to 12 feet wide. Hardy to Zone 5. Late-blooming with deep lilac-purple, slightly fragrant flowers.
  • Syringa laciniata – Cutleaf or Feathered Persian Lilac. Grows 6 to 8 feet tall and wide. Heat tolerant—hardy from Zones 4 to 8. Can grow in partial shade. Very unique looking with airy, finely textured foliage—lacy, deeply cut, dark green leaves that turn yellow-green in fall. Loose panicles of fragrant, soft lavender flowers are borne on willowy, arched branchlets.
  • Syringa pubescens patula (Syringa patula) ‘Miss Kim’ – Manchurian or Korean Lilac. Slow-grower reaching 6 to 8 feet tall and wide. Heat tolerant—hardy from Zones 3 to 8. Late flowering, with purple buds that open to very fragrant, lavender-blue blossoms that attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Three-season interest with burgundy-tinged leaves in fall.
  • Syringa meyeri – Meyer or Korean Lilac – Grows 5 to 8 feet tall and 6 to 10 feet wide. Hardy to Zone 3. Fragrant, pale lilac to violet-purple flowers bloom in small, dense clusters that attract butterflies and hummingbirds.
  • Syringa persica – Persian Lilac – Grows 4 to 8 feet tall and 5 to 10 feet wide. Hardy to Zone 4. Intoxicatingly fragrant, showy, pale violet flowers attract butterflies.
  • Syringa x prestoniae Preston (Canadian) Lilac – Grows 8 to 12 feet tall and 6 to 10 feet wide. Late-blooming—two weeks or more after common lilacs. Exceptionally hardy—to Zone 2. ‘Miss Canada’ is upright, growing 6 to 12 feet tall and wide; reddish buds open to rosy pink flowers that attract butterflies. ‘Redwine’ grows 8 to 12 feet tall and 6 to 10 feet wide; magenta flowers with a spicy fragrance that attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.
  • Syringa reticulata – Japanese Tree Lilac – Grows to 30 feet tall and 20 feet wide. Hardy to Zone 3. Creamy white, upright flowers. Attracts hummingbirds and butterflies. ‘Snowdance’ grows 15 to 20 feet tall and 15 to 18 feet wide, producing a profusion of large clusters of fragrant, tiny, creamy-white blooms in early summer, followed by loose clusters of seed capsules that last into winter. Reddish-brown peeling bark completes the four-season interest.
  • Syringa vulgaris – Common Lilac – Grows 12 to 16 feet tall and 8 to 12 feet wide. Hardy to Zone 3. Lilac-purple flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Shrubs are deer and rabbit-resistant. There are more than 600 cultivars of this species. Standouts include:
    • ‘Ludwig Spaeth’ – 6 to 10 feet tall and 6 to 8 feet wide, this sweetly perfumed, late bloomer bears dark purple flowers and is used in firescaping (landscape design that reduces house and property vulnerability to wildfire).
    • ‘Président Grévy’– 8 to 14 feet tall and 3 to 7 feet wide with fragrant, showy, light blue flowers that attract hummingbirds and butterflies.
    • ‘President Lincoln’ – 8 to 10 feet tall and wide, this heirloom cultivar was introduced in 1916 and is considered one of the bluest lilacs with its fragrant panicles of lavender-blue flowers that attract butterflies and hummingbirds.
    • ‘Sensation’- 8 to 15 feet tall and 6 to 12 feet wide with outstanding fragrant, single, white-edged purple (picotee) flowers.

Lilacs can grow for 100+ years, often outliving the homes they were planted around | Year of the Lilac | National Garden BureauNew and Unique Lilac Varieties

Has It All: 

  • Syringa x ‘Josee’ – Not only is it small and a rebloomer, but it also has one of the widest hardiness ranges of any lilac—from Zones 3 to 9! Slowly growing into a 4- to 5-foot mound, highly fragrant, lavender-pink, large flower clusters bloom heavily in spring and continue to blossom sporadically through summer, attracting butterflies and hummingbirds.

Heat Tolerant: 

People living in Hardiness Zone eight, especially those who have lived in cooler areas and have treasured having lilacs in their gardens, can now enjoy all the virtues of lilacs thanks to breeders who have worked on heat and humidity tolerance to Zone 8.

  • Blue Skies® quickly grows to 10 feet tall and 6 feet wide, with both cold- and heat-tolerance (Zones 3 to 8), this outstanding shrub with spectacular clusters of lavender-blue flowers can be used in firescaping and firewise gardens.
  • ‘Old Glory’ grows 8 to 11 feet tall and 10 to 12 feet wide with an abundance of fragrant, purple-blue flowers that attract butterflies and hummingbirds in Zones 5 to 8.
  • Syringa x sinensis ‘Lilac Sunday’ arches to 10 feet tall and wide, blooming profusely from lateral buds all along the stem as well as the typical branch tips with sweetly scented, lavender flowers. Hardy in Zones 3 to 8, it is used in firescaping.
  • Syringa x oblata ‘Betsy Ross’ grows 8 to 10 feet tall and wide. Good hardiness ranges from Zones 2 to 8. Showy panicles up to 14 inches long packed with fragrant, pure white flowers that glow as the light fades at twilight. Attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.

Small Lilacs

Many gardeners, especially those in urban spaces, just don’t have the room for the traditional larger lilacs yet want all their beauty and fragrance. Breeders have been hard at work creating compact varieties. There’s no excuse now for not having the joy, fragrance, and beauty that lilacs bring in spring, these beauties will even grow will grow happily in a container on your balcony.

  • Baby Kim® is the smallest lilac, growing only 2 to 3 feet high and 3 feet wide, giving it a nicely rounded shape. Its shiny green leaves beautifully set off the non-fading, purple flowers that attract butterflies. Extended hardiness from Zones 3 to 8.
  • Little Lady™ (Syringa x) is a new compact introduction that matures to 4-5’ tall and wide with dark pink buds that open to lilac-pink flowers. Bred in Canada, Little Lady™ is hardy zone 2 to 7.
  • “New Age Lavender’ and ‘New Age White’ (Syringa vulgaris) are super-compact, growing from 4 to 5 feet tall and wide, and were bred for mildew resistance. Their names perfectly describe the colors of their fragrant flowers that attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Hardy to Zone 4.
  • Pearl Potion™ (Syringa meyeri) has an upright shape, growing 4 to 5 feet tall and 5 to 7 feet wide. Fragrant, pure white flowers bloom in late spring perfuming the air like their big cousins. Hardy to Zone 3.
  • Pinktini™ Lilac (Syringa x prestoniae) is new in garden centers in Spring 2022. Upright, compact, and cold hardy to Zone 2, this new pink-blooming variety is great for small spaces and early-season blooms in cold climates. Pinktini™ is more compact and tidier than the classic ‘Miss Canada’ Lilac.
  • SCENTARA® lilacs (Syringa x hyacinthiflora) – This series is ideal for warm climates to Zone 8 and is hardy to the cold of Zone 2. With a dwarf form and some of the best fragrance from their parentage combined with good resistance to powdery mildew, they fit into any garden. Scentara Pura® grows 4 to 6 feet tall and wide, bearing deeply scented, pure purple flowers. Scentara® Double Blue grows 6 to 8 feet tall and wide and is a showstopper with its large clusters of highly perfumed, lavender-blue, double flowers.
  • Sugar Plum Fairy® (Syringa vulgaris) grows to 4 feet tall and 5 feet wide. Hardy from Zones 3 to 8, it’s a late bloomer bearing spicy scented clusters of rosy pink flowers that attract butterflies and hummingbirds.
  • Tinkerbelle® grows to 6 feet tall and 5 feet wide. Hardy to Zone 3, it’s a superb lilac with wine-red buds that open to deep pink flowers with a spicy fragrance that attracts hummingbirds.

Reblooming Lilacs

  • Syringa meyeri ‘Palabin’ Dwarf Korean Lilac is a spreading shrub that grows 4 to 6 feet tall and 5 to 7 feet wide, bearing reddish-purple buds that open to pale purple flowers with a jasmine-like scent. It flowers in spring and then from summer to frost., attracting butterflies and hummingbirds. Cut back early flowers as soon as they fade. Hardy to Zone 3.
  • Bloomerang® Lilacs are outstanding reblooming lilacs with a profusion of stunning, sweetly scented clusters of star-like flowers in spring that seem to cover the plant and then rebloom less profusely from midsummer until the first frost. The fragrant flowers attract butterflies and other pollinators and are both disease and deer-resistant. Hardy to Zone 3. Bloomerang® Dark Purple grows 4 to 6 feet tall and wide with dark purple flowers. Bloomerang® Dwarf Pink grows 2 to 3 feet tall and wide with pure pink flowers. Bloomerang® Dwarf Purple grows like Bloomerang® Dwarf Pink, but with purple flowers. Bloomerang® Pink Perfume grows 4 to 5 feet tall and wide with highly fragrant, pink flowers. Bloomerang® Purple grows 4 to 5 feet tall and wide and bears purple flowers.
Purple colored varieties traditionally have the strongest scent | Year of the Lilac | National Garden Bureau

Lilacs in the Garden

Lilacs have myriad uses in the garden. In addition, new sizes, a wider range of growing zones, and reblooming characteristics make them attractive and accessible to gardeners who may not have thought about growing them in the past.

These plants are at home in so many types of themed gardens, including pollinator, butterfly, cutting, fragrance, cottage, deer-resistant, and single-color (white, purple) gardens. In Zone 8 other fire-prone areas, some are used for firescaping and firewise gardens. Lilacs are great in mass plantings in a flowering hedge, border, windbreak, foundation planting, privacy, or screening hedge. Lilacs of any size can be impressive specimen plants. These versatile shrubs are equally comfortable at the edge of a woodland garden or in an urban setting. In containers, small varieties are moveable accent plants. Lilac colors blend so well together, they are beautiful in a grouping or hedge of many different cultivars.

10 Lilac Planting Tips

  1. Most lilacs do well in Hardiness Zones 3 to 7—climates that provide a chill period in winter. 
  2. Lilacs grow best in full sun, so avoid planting them where they will be shaded for more than a few hours.
  3. Lilacs need good drainage and fertile soil. Soil should retain sufficient moisture to nourish the root system yet drain freely when rainfall is abundant.
  4. Test drainage before planting: Dig a hole 8 inches across and 12 inches deep. Fill it with water. If any water remains in the hole after an hour, choose another planting area.
  5. Lilacs love fertile, slightly alkaline soil. If your soil is very acidic, add garden lime in the fall.
  6. Choose a planting space that will allow for future growth. Read the plant label for the height and spread of the mature plant.
  7. Dig the planting hole as deep as the root ball and twice as wide.
  8. Set the plant in the hole; it should be at the same soil level as it was in its container.
  9. Fill in around the sides with soil. Press it in firmly.
  10. Water well.

8 Lilac Growing Tips

  1. Water your lilacs regularly for the first couple of years—at least 1 inch of water a week.
  2. Apply granular organic fertilizer early each spring at the base of the plant. Water it in well. Buds are set the previous year, so the fertilizer feeds this year’s leaves and next year’s blooms.
  3. Annual pruning is not necessary, but cutting off spent flower heads within a month after bloom helps the plant set more flowers for next year.
  4. Cut back off root suckers as they appear to keep the common lilac from spreading into a colony.
  5. Rejuvenate an overgrown plant or one that blooms sparsely by cutting one-third of the oldest branches back to 12 to 15 inches from the ground. Do over a three-year period to refresh the plant without sacrificing blooms.
  6. Powdery mildew can be unsightly but generally does not harm the plant. You can make a spray of 2 tablespoons of baking soda in a gallon of water with a couple of drops of Ivory liquid. Spray it on the leaves, but not if the temperature is over 80°. The alkalinity of the solution helps to kill the fungus.
  7. Rake fallen leaves from around the plant in autumn. If you had powdery mildew or any disease, bag them and toss them in the garbage, otherwise add them to your compost pile.
  8. Anytime: Prune out any dead or broken branches from storm or winter damage.

This fact sheet is provided as an educational service of the National Garden Bureau. 


  • Kristin Ego
Sensational Sunflowers

Sensational Sunflowers

The Sunflower is one of the most popular genera of flowers to grow in your garden. First-time to experienced gardeners gravitate to these bold, easy to grow flowers.

Sunflowers originated in the Americas and domestic seeds dating back to 2100 BC have been found in Mexico. Native Americans grew sunflowers as a crop, and explorers eventually brought the flowers to Europe in the 1500s. Over the next few centuries, sunflowers became increasingly popular on the European and Asian continent, with Russian farmers growing over 2 million acres in the early 19th century (most of which was used to manufacture sunflower oil).

Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh famously painted a world-renowned still-life series of sunflowers. His sunflower paintings are so famous, the Van Gogh museum has teamed up with the breeder of Sunrich sunflowers to create the “Sunrich-Van Gogh’s Favorite” label of sunflowers.

The sunflower head is actually made up of thousands of tiny flowers - Year of the Sunflower - National Garden Bureau
Sunflower Types:

Sunflowers can be annual (Helianthus annuus) or perennial (Helianthus maximiliani), but most modern sunflowers are annuals.

Single Stem vs Branching Sunflowers:

Single stem sunflower varieties are best for high-density plantings and produce consistently beautiful flowers on tall stems. Succession planting will be needed for continuous Year of the Sunflower blooms throughout the season.

Branching varieties produce flowers on multiple shorter stems throughout the season, which makes them ideal for sunflowers all season long.

Single stem: ProCut® Series, Sunrich™ Series, and Vincent® Series
Autumn Beauty Mix, Soraya, SunBuzz, Suncredible®, Sunfinity™Pollen vs Pollen-free Sunflowers:

Sunflowers that produce pollen are a great option for gardeners focused on supporting pollinators or for those looking for a lower price point.

Many modern sunflower varieties are bred to be male sterile, or pollen-free, to help foster extended vase life and a nice, clean appearance. These also keep your table clean from pollen!

Luckily, there are many varieties of both pollen and pollen-free:

Pollen-free: Moulin Rouge, ProCut Series, Sunbuzz, Sunrich Series, and Vincent Series
Pollen: Soraya, Ring of Fire, and Valentine

Sunflowers are a great addition to a pollinator garden providing both nectar & seeds - Year of the Sunflower - National Garden BureauSunflowers track the sun; the flower heads turn as the sun moves across the sky. This is called heliotropism - Year of the Sunflower - National Garden BureauDid you know the tallest sunflower grown was 30'1" in Germany in 2014 - Year of the Sunflower - National Garden Bureau

Height/Size of Sunflowers:

Another way to distinguish sunflowers is by their height and size. Smaller, ornamental sunflower varieties, such as the Sunrich or ProCut series are only a few feet tall, while American Giant Sunflowers can grow to be 15+ feet. Depending on their height, the size of the flower will also change with larger flowers on the taller varieties.

Tall: American Giant, Kong, Mammoth, Sunforest
Dwarf: Smiley, Sunbuzz, Suntastic, Teddy Bear, Suntastic Yellow with Black Center 

Sunflowers for Edible Seeds:

Some varieties have been bred to produce large, edible seeds that are great for snacking. The seeds are ready to harvest once the petals have withered and the seeds can be seen.

Edible seed types: Feed The Birds, Mongolian Giant, Skyscraper, Super Snack Mix, Titan

Sunflower seeds traveled to space in 2012 when astronaut Don Petti took them on board the Int'l Space Station - Year of the Sunflower - National Garden BureauThe Sunflower symbolize optimism, positivity, long life and happiness. - Year of the Sunflower - National Garden BureauSome people have a fear of sunflowers. It's called Helianthophobia - Year of the Sunflower - National Garden Bureau

How to Grow and Care for Sunflowers:

Sunflower seeds can be direct sown after the risk of frost has passed or started indoors. Seeds should be sown ¼” to ½” deep and kept moist. Taller, larger sunflower varieties have a large taproot to keep them rooted and do not do well when they are transplanted so direct sowing of those varieties is recommended. Choose a site, or a container, in full sun, with average fertility and good drainage.

Recommendations for the best vase life:

If you’re growing sunflowers for cuts, here are some recommendations to extend the vase life of your flower.

  • Cut when the petals or ray flowers just begin to open, before they have opened off the disc completely. It is recommended to cut in the early morning before the heat of the day.
  • Remove the leaves below the water line and place in freshwater or properly measured fresh flower food solution
  • Check water regularly; sunflowers are heavy drinkers and can empty a bucket or vase overnight
  • Change water daily; sunflowers have what some call a dirty stem, as the water quickly turns cloudy with potential for bacterial issues



This Year of the Sunflower fact sheet is provided as an educational service of the National Garden Bureau.

PW Idea Book

PW Idea Book

We grow many of the varieties featured in the annual PW Idea Book.

Click here to download a little inspiration for 2020

  • Kristin Ego
Classic Blue Named Pantone Colour of the Year

Classic Blue Named Pantone Colour of the Year


PANTONE 19-4052 Classic Blue

Instilling calm, confidence, and connection, this enduring blue hue highlights our desire for a dependable and stable foundation on which to build as we cross the threshold into a new era.

A timeless and enduring blue hue, PANTONE 19-4052 Classic Blue is elegant in its simplicity. Suggestive of the sky at dusk, the reassuring qualities of the thought-provoking PANTONE 19-4052 Classic Blue highlight our desire for a dependable and stable foundation on which to build as we cross the threshold into a new era.

Imprinted in our psyches as a restful color, PANTONE 19-4052 Classic Blue brings a sense of peace and tranquility to the human spirit, offering refuge. Aiding concentration and bringing laser like clarity, PANTONE 19-4052 Classic Blue re-centers our thoughts. A reflective blue tone, Classic Blue fosters resilience.

  • Kristin Ego
Lantana - Easy Growing Butterfly Magnet

Lantana - Easy Growing Butterfly Magnet

Lantana has a rich history of being utilized in the garden for long-lasting, colorful blooms, superior heat tolerance and the ability to attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Featuring clusters of bright colors, solid as well as multi-color, Lantana can be used in containers, landscaping and hanging baskets.

In the 18th century, lantana was a popular greenhouse plant in Europe and breeding efforts were extensive, resulting in hundreds of available selections.

There are 150 species of lantana in the verbena family (Verbenaceae) and the most commonly used ornamental selection is Lantana camara. Hardy to zone 8, this plant can be a perennial (tender perennial in zone 7) or even a medium shrub in frost-free locations. It is most commonly used as an annual in colder areas.


Pollinators love Lantana - Year of the Lantana - National Garden Bureau

Butterfly Heaven

Looking to attract butterflies in your garden? You can’t go wrong with lantanas!

Lantana is a must-have for creating a pollinator haven. These plants are REALLY attractive to butterflies, bees and hummingbirds on so many levels: sweet nectar for food, attractive scent, bright color, and the overall flower form (it’s a literal landing pad!).

These flat-topped “landing pad” flowers consist of clusters of tubular blooms that together make an umbel flower form. Lantana flowers come in single or multiple colors. Multiple colored lantana flowers change color as they mature. The newest flowers, opening in the center of the umbel, are one color that changes as they mature and move to the outer edges of the cluster. This maturation of the flowers within the umbel can lead to two or even three-toned flowers. The flowers come primarily in shades of red, orange, yellow, white, pink, purple or lavender and often have a slight, spicy flower fragrance.

Lantana Little Lucky Red by Ball Flora - Year of the Lantana - National Garden Bureau

Ready for the Heat and Drought!

Want a flower that keeps on flowering throughout the summer is scorching heat and dry conditions? Then Lantana is the perfect plant to grow in your garden and containers!

These plants love the heat and like to be kept on the drier side. They do best in full sun and well-drained soil and hate to be overwatered.

Breeders have recently introduced sterile, or near sterile, Lantana, which means the plant never sets seed, so they continue to bloom and bloom and bloom through the entire season! So, when that heat kicks up, these sterile varieties won’t set seed or cycle out of flower. (setting seed usually means the end of flowering).

Compact or Trailing

Lantanas fall roughly into two forms: compact or trailing. Compact, mounding plants are readily available and perfect for small spaces and containers. Trailing forms, which can spread up to three feet, are ideal to economically fill in larger areas with an impressive display of color. When purchasing your Lantana, always consider the final plant size as some can get quite large.

Home Gardening Tips

  • Continuous blooms and easy care make Lantana perfect for those new to gardening.
  • Lantanas grow best with at least 8 hours of full sun and in a variety of well-drained soil (they do tolerate salt). Avoid overwatering or placing them in poorly drained locations.
  • In the spring, home gardeners will find Lantana plants at their local garden retailers and through some plant catalog companies.
  • In colder climates, plant after the threat of frost has passed and ideally after the soil has warmed.
  • Very few diseases are found. Powdery mildew may become an occasional issue, particularly during cool, wet summers and in situations where proper air circulation isn’t available. Root rot and sooty mold will occasionally become factors in overly damp situations as well.
  • Overfertilization may result in more stem and foliage growth at the expense of flower production.
  • Deadhead (removing spent blooms) regularly to keep the plant tidy and neat.
  • If your plant becomes overgrown, prune it back severely to maintain a more compact form.
  • Deer and rabbits avoid Lantana because of the “disagreeable odor” of the leaves.

  • Kristin Ego
Lavender Lifestyle

Lavender Lifestyle

The “Lavender Lifestyle” is real! Everywhere you look, people are incorporating this multifaceted plant into their daily lives: It’s seen in gardens, as well as in kitchens and décor. It’s even a special part of health and wellness routines. The texture, scent, attractiveness, and overall usability of lavender make it one of the most versatile plants you can grow.

Lavender Types

Lavender is a member of the mint family (Lamiaceae) and is found in many regions around the world, especially temperate climates. The most common types are English lavender (L. angustifolia) and Spanish or French lavender (L. stoechas or L. dentata).

Spanish Lavender Flower

English Lavender

English Lavender

Spanish or French Lavender


is the hardiest in terms of garden performance. There are several varieties, such as Hidcote, Munstead or SuperBlue, that have been trialed to overwinter reliably through USDA Zone 5. English lavender blooms sit on spikes rising tall above a gray-green base of leaves. Both the florets and foliage are heavily scented. The plants flower mostly in pink-purple colors, but some silver-white varieties exist as well. It can grow as high as 3 to 6 feet (1-2m) depending on your region, but most of the top-selling varieties today are dwarf styles, which grow in a more manageable height of 6-24 in. (15-60 cm). Additional varieties of English lavender include Annet, Aromatico, Big Time Blue, Blue Spear, Ellagance, Lady, Lavance, Sentivia, Sweet Romance and Vintro, among others.

Spanish and French…

are natives to the Mediterranean where they grow evergreen. Their leaves are longer and gray-green, and the taller flower stems are topped with thicker pink-purple pinecone-like flower clusters crowned with similarly colored bracts. (Stoechas is a Latin word derived from the Greek word for “in rows,” which is how these cones generally display their tiny purple clusters.) This type of lavender is more fragile than English varieties; it is less winter hardy (USDA Zones 6-9). However, it still tolerates a wide range of temperatures. Its fragrance also makes it very attractive to bees – an excellent pollinator-friendly option for your garden or patio.

Some reblooming Spanish lavenders, such as the Anouk or Bandera series, flower heavily in the spring with a second flush of flowers later in the growing season. Spanish and French lavender work well indoors, too, and can be a scented décor or gift item. Additional varieties include Castilliano, Javelin Forte, LaVela, Papillon and Primavera among others.

New Varieties…

Then there are additional varieties, such as Phenomenal, Provence, Torch, Hidcote Giant, Edelweiss and Fred Boutin that are crosses between species to give an even wider array of lavender types, colors and habits.

As they say, there is something for everyone!

Ideal Growing Conditions

Lavender grows best in full sun in dry, well-drained soil; it does not like saturated roots. Adding inorganic mulches, such as gravel or sand, could help the soil conditions for a successful lavender bed. All lavender types need little or no additional fertilizer, and it is a good practice to provide air circulation. If you live in a region of high humidity, watch out for root rot due to fungus infection. This is sometimes aggravated by using organic mulches, which can trap moisture around the base of the plant.

Quick tip: Use gravel or crushed rocks at the base of the plant for a better growing environment.

In Your Garden

Planting lavender as a front border means you’ll see it up-close. Feel free to run your fingers through the soft foliage and enjoy the fragrance! Lavender can also be planted in a mixed patio container with other sun-loving plants, or by itself as a fresh way to scent the air in a small space.


The flowers and leaves of lavender plants are used in many herbal medicines and self-care regimes. Homemade projects and recipes include herbal teas, culinary spices, essential oils, aromatherapy, balms, and more. It is widely added to bath salts, soaps, soaks, perfumes, etc., for a fresh fragrance and calming effect. As a strong-scented herb, dried lavender florets can also be used to repel pests in the garden, or even in the home closet as a fragrant sachet pillow that can ward off moths. French chefs use lavender in a blend called herbs de Provence, which adds a fragrant spice to both savory and sweet dishes.

All of these uses add up to quite a versatile and enjoyable flower that’s become a must-have in gardens and homes around the world. And it’s easy to see how 2020 can be your Year of the Lavender!


This fact sheet is provided as an educational service of the National Garden Bureau.

  • Kristin Ego