There are many different groups (species and subspecies) within the ‘family’ of lavenders. Many of these, although genetically related bear little resemblance to the lavender we know and love. We only grow 3 of these species, and only 2 of these are used for commercial oil production.
also known as English Lavender
Probably the best known of the lavender family, produce generally compact, neat plants with a profusion of flowers. The best known varieties are Hidcote and Munstead. Almost all of us have some this family somewhere in our gardens. They produce the highest quality essential oils used for toiletries and perfumery.
also known as Lavandin or Cottage Garden Lavender
These grow larger than Angustifolia types and are often used at the back of a border to give height and movement. Typical varieties are Grosso and Abrialii. The most widely grown group of lavenders in the world due to their high oil bearing properties used for bulk fragrance applications such as soaps and room fragrances. Their oil contains a more camphorous note. Technically this group are a hybrid of L. angustifolia and L. latfolia.
also known as French or occasionally Spanish Lavender
Completely different in nature to both L.angustifolia and L.intermedia. Has large, fat heads on top of slender stems. Colourful bracts (often compared to rabbit’s ears) protrude from the top of the flower head. This group will keep flowering if ‘dead-headed’ through the flowering period. They do not produce commercial amounts of essential oils and are regarded as an ornamental variety. Some varieties can be frost sensitive.