Lavender or Lavandula is a plant known around the world for its calming scent, peaceful color, and healing benefits. Lavender is one of the 47 flowering plants in the mint family, Lamiaceae. There are more than 40 species of lavender out there, which are all distinguished by the intensity of their perfume, color, and size. Though native to the Mediterranean area, the plant can also be found dazzling the well-drained and sunny fields in low-altitude areas all the way to the Middle East, making its presence worldwide.
Visually, lavender is very similar to rosemary. It is often said that “as rosemary is to the spirit, so lavender is to the soul.” Generally, lavender’s flowers grow in width instead of height, with leaves rather thick when compared to rosemary. It typically doesn’t grow too high up, as its bushes grow only up to a meter in height. The herb’s presence is accented in a beautiful light purple hue. Given its global popularity, this has transcended into being the official name of the color, lavender.
History & Culture
The use of lavender throughout history, even in ancient times, is extensive. From Tutankhamun’s tomb containing traces of a lavender-scented fragrance to Cleopatra seducing Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony with it. Ancient doctors used it to relieve headaches, sore throats, and indigestion. Lavender has been a symbol of love, seduction, and caring for centuries. Today, we can safely say it is no different.
Lavender in Croatia
In Croatia, the story of lavender goes back to the early 1920s, when a peronospora flurry had almost completely devastated a myriad of grapevine fields. Homegrowers at the island of Hvar were among the first to start replacing those fields’ crops with lavender flowers. The island is considered to be the home of lavender in the Balkans, rightfully so. It expanded from cca. 4 acres of lavender fields in 1939 to more than 700 by 1973. Today, the lilac plant has grown its way to almost all areas of Croatia. It has influenced the growth of many agricultural businesses in the region. Furthermore, the country has become famous for its blissful, home-growing landscapes, where lavender fields are now commonplace and are making home for a number of different lavender species.
As far as growing goes, lavender thrives in rougher soil that is arid and stony. For home use and gardening, it is advised to prep the ground or soil accordingly. Lavender typically doesn’t tolerate tight environments, so give the plant some space. Remember: it grows in width, not height. Nurturing lavender is easy, for the most part. Like any other plant, it loves water, although it doesn’t require all too much hydration like some plants. In fact, too much watering can damage it. So, be mindful of irrigating it only when the soil is completely dry. As long as the soil around the plant is damp, it is an indicator that it doesn’t need water. Lavender also requires a lot of sunlight, so make sure to choose a spot in your home or garden that is not shaded for most of the day.
Uses & Benefits
Where lavender truly shines is in houses and gardens, whether as a source of soothing fragrance or simply part of the decor. It is also used as a culinary herb, or as an essential oil. One can also find it as a major ingredient in skincare and beauty products. Additional uses for lavender are abundant, especially given its natural health benefits. Here are just some of lavender’s healing benefits currently known to mankind (the list goes on):
• Lifts mood and promotes calmness
• Relieves depression and improves well-being
• Improves sleep quality and energy
• Deters moths, bugs, pests, silverfish, and more
• Acts as a natural deodorizer against unpleasant smells
• Improves memory and cognitive functioning
• Relieves pain and has antiseptic effects
• Has positive skin- and wound-healing effects