A Brief High Country Lesson in Lavenders

Lavandula (common name lavender) has 47 known species of flowering plants in the mint familyLamiaceae. It is native to the Old World and is found from Cape Verde and the Canary Islands, Europe across to northern and eastern Africa, the Mediterranean, southwest Asia to southeast India.

Certain cultivars of lavender do GREAT in my high (7,000 feet) and dry Colorado foothills garden. I believe they survive because they are woody plants and smell funny to critters who might want to eat them.

This is Lavendula angustifolia next to a flowering Stonecrop. This one is three years old now!

According to my favorite place to buy plants in Rye Colorado, that just quit selling retail 😦 there are two types of lavenders that are hardy in Colorado,

Lavandula angustifolia (the English lavenders-called English, but originally from the Mediterranean) and Lavandula x intermedia (the English hybrids). Other lavenders, like French, Spanish, and various cultivars you may find sold at Home Depot  are not hardy here! We have talked to so many customers who ask “Why does my lavender die?” and it turns out they planted a type that is not winter hardy.  Please don’t make that mistake. The ones we grow are all hardy to Zone 5, and some brave gardeners have had luck with them at 8000′ elevation.”

Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote Blue’: Along with Munstead, Hidcote Blue tops the list of most hardy lavenders. Hidcote has a deeper violet blue flower and tighter flower clusters and more compact habit than other English lavenders, and it’s our go-to lavender for xeriscape and rock garden plantings. Winter hardy, deer resistant, drought tolerant– this lavender is a good choice for the Front Range. 18″ tall. Zone 5.”

I believe this one is Lavendula intermedia. It’s only two years old.

Lavandula x intermedia ‘Phenomenal’: Silver foliage is covered with a cloud of lavender blue flowers for most of the summer. It’s a very tough variety, even outperforming Hidcote and Munstead in many trials. Grows to 30″ tall and 3′ wide. If you want a lavender with landscape pizazz, this is the one for you. Edible, fragrant, deer resistant, xeric….we can’t say enough good things about this one. Zone 5.”

Most of the plants sold at places like Home Depot and Lowe’s will not survive the winter here! Those plants are grown in places like Arkansas. Also, be sure not to water lavender much. It can lead to brown flowers and root rot!

Note: Can you tell I was raised by a botanist? My Dad hopes so! Much more fun to think about than Covid-19!

4 thoughts on “A Brief High Country Lesson in Lavenders

  1. Plants are a safe place to lavish your care right now. They don’t have issues (other than please care for me!) You can still show your care for them without having to wear a mask. For the un-allergic, they won’t spread anything life-threatening. They beautify your life.
    Yep. My garden calls to me!
    And I LOVE lavender. I’ll never forget the huge fields of it in France. Whole sections of the countryside a mass of purple.
    We have what I thought was a lavender plant. It is thriving, even after a rather nasty Canadian winter.
    Just this week we discovered that what we thought was lavender was, in fact, catmint. (So my Dad was a cattleman. Now if you want to know cattle breeds, I’m your guy. Plants? Not so much!)
    And you know what? I’m okay with that! 😉

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  2. We have never had luck with lavender overwintering. We are zone 5b (Southern Tier of New York) and I would never (horrors) buy perennials at Home Depot, as much as I appreciate the way they’ve handled COVID-19 (one of my cousins works in one so I know). I try to buy locally grown plants, although this special year, the good nurseries ran out so quickly. Alas! I’ll keep trying.

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