Lavender has been used for millennia as a medicinal plant, in herbal medicine, in cosmetics, in traditional medicine, to prepare herbal teas, decoctions, ointments. It is generally used officinal lavender (lavandula officinalis) even though most of the species of lavender has similar properties; apart from the maritime lavender (lavandula stoechas) practically all the species of lavender contain similar active principles, as well as variable quantities of the essence that gives the intense aroma to the plant.
These are plants that are widespread throughout the Mediterranean basin, and although they need very sunny and well-drained places, they generally also cope well with cold, which occasionally spoils the outermost part of the shrub.
The officinal lavender forms compact shrubs, which can reach 2-3 meters in height, which carry the typical linear, stocky and slightly leathery leaves, covered with thick white hairs, which give the foliage the typical greyish color. The appearance of the foliage is common to all the species, as well as that of the holes, arranged in small spikes at the apex of the stems, of a lilac color, or better, of lavender, with the terminal flowers often provided with small-looking petals wings.
A separate discussion should be made for the lava steca, which is generally fragrance-free, and has characteristic flowers, different from those of other lavenders, with more open ears and often of pink or white color; this species is generally used to produce garden hybrids, with flowers of varied color and compact habit.
The healing powers of lavender
Typically the sedative properties of lavender are known, which is often used in teas that promote sleep; but few know that even the scent of lavandula officinalis it has a soothing and relaxing power, and in fact lavender candles or lavender scents are used in aromatherapy, to promote calm and peaceful nights.
Even hot baths with lavender flavoring are used in case of stress and insomnia.
Lavender also has antiseptic and analgesic power, as well as a mild bactericide; lavender is in fact often used to produce soaps, even for laundry, but also bactericidal ointments and in particular is used in the preparation of products for cleaning the body, both soaps and dentifrices.
It is also used in the kitchen, where it is part of the mix of aromatic herbs called "Provencal herbs".
Sedative herbal teas are made with flowers. lavender flowers retain their fragrance for years, once dried in the sun, it is typical to use small bunches of lavender to perfume the linen in the cabinets, removing even the insects.
There lavandula officinalis in fact it also has an excellent repellent effect against the most common insects that populate our homes, such as soft moths, flies and mosquitoes.
In provence, lavender oil, used in perfumery, is also sold as an anti-mosquito, to be used on the skin in the dose of a few drops.
Lavender - Lavandula officinalis: How it is grown
Lavender is a shrub of easy cultivation, it is positioned in a very sunny place, with a very well drained soil, even stony; it can withstand temperatures of a few degrees below zero, up to about -12 ° C, so in winter it can easily be left outdoors.
It is an evergreen, flowering occurs in late spring and in summer; to prevent the shrub from lengthening with age, remaining bare in the lower part, when the flowers begin to wither the entire shrub is pruned, shortening all the branches to about half, thus favoring a more compact and dense development.
Generally the lavenders of a few years old are satisfied with the rain water, but if we have just planted our lavender we remember to avoid excessively long periods of drought: during the first summer we water when the ground is dry for a few days.