Nothing is more evocative of a summer’s day than the scent of lavender wafting across the garden on a gentle breeze. A magnet for bees and butterflies, the perfume is also used in aromatherapy to soothe the nerves and lower stress levels, making lavender the perfect plant for a relaxing seating area.
Lavender is a welcome addition to a patio, balcony, or garden, with aromatic foliage that releases essential oils when warmed by the sun and scented flowers that buzz with wildlife. One of the best compact forms for a container is Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote,’ a traditional English lavender with dark, highly scented, purple flowers and silver-gray leaves. Alternatively, choose one from the hundreds of other varieties, available in a range of sizes, colors, and flower shapes.
Native to the Mediterranean region, lavenders love a warm, sunny spot and do best in light, well-drained compost—they do poorly with wet roots. Fill a large pot with a soil-based compost mixed with some horticultural sand. Largely trouble-free, plants last for years with the right care, and are best planted on their own so that you can enjoy their rounded shape without distraction, or mix several cultivars to produce a combination of shades and long flowering season.
How to Care for Plants
Mix some slow-release fertilizer into the surface of the compost each spring, and water plants frequently in the summer. Lavenders hate cold, wet soil, so elevate containers in the winter to allow excess water to drain away. Although most forms can be left outside all year round, overwinter tender varieties in a frost-free place.
Also keep a close eye out for metallic green and purple rosemary beetles, which strip the plants’ leaves. English lavender, such as forms of Lavandula angustifolia, have the strongest scent of all the species.