Plant Profile | Lavandula stoechas - French lavender

Lavandula stoechas | French lavender

The scent of lavender is perhaps one of the most evocative and best-loved floral fragrances. 

In the garden, lavender is a low-maintenance evergreen shrub that brings many benefits, from the masses of beautiful flowers in shades of purple or white to the silvery grey-green foliage. Lavender is loved by wildlife, attracting bees, butterflies and more. Lavandula stoechas (French lavender) varieties are less hardy than the English ones. They are easily distinguished in appearance, thanks to the distinctive tufted bracts at the top of each flower and grey serrated foliage. 


Lavandula stoechas Varieties


Lavandula stoechas ‘Papillon’

This is an exquisite, aromatic, variety. The deep purple flowers that appear from late spring all the way into early autumn are topped with lilac bracts and seem to mimic the look of butterfly wings.

Flowering time: May to September

Sun Requirements: Full sun

Soil: Well-drained soil

Hardiness: Hardy to -10 °C 

Size: Grows to approx. 60cm height x 60cm spread


Lavandula stoechas 'Tiara'

This unusual variety offers masses of fragrant, deep-blue flowers topped with contrasting cream bracts — giving rise to the name ‘Tiara’ — from late spring into early autumn.  

Flowering time: May to September

Sun Requirements: Full sun

Soil: Well-drained soil

Hardiness: Hardy to -10 °C 

Size: Grows to approx. 60cm height x 60cm spread


Lavandula stoechas ‘Victory’

From late spring into early autumn, this French lavender will yield tiny, fragrant, dark purple flowers topped with conspicuous purple bracts. 

Flowering time: May to September

Sun Requirements: Full sun

Soil: Well-drained soil

Hardiness: Hardy to -10 °C 

Size: Grows to approx. 60cm height x 60cm spread


Lavandula stoechas ‘Spring-break Princess’

This attractive variety offers tiny, fragrant, purple-pink flowers topped with conspicuous purple-pink bracts from late summer into early autumn. 

Flowering time: May to September

Sun Requirements: Full sun

Soil: Well-drained soil

Hardiness: Hardy to -10 °C 

Size: Grows to approx. 50cm height x 50cm spread


Lavandula stoechas subsp. stoechas 'Lilac Wings'

This striking, compact variety produces prolific deep violet-purple flowers topped with lilac butterfly wing like bracts from late spring through the summer. The greyish-green evergreen foliage is intensely aromatic. 

Flowering time: May to August

Sun Requirements: Full sun

Soil: Well-drained soil

Hardiness: Hardy to -10 °C 

Size: Grows to approx. 40cm height x 40cm spread


Lavandula stoechas 'Provençal'

A compact variety with dense spikes of dark purple flowers from late spring to late summer, topped with light purple bracts.  

Flowering time: May to August

Sun Requirements: Full sun

Soil: Well-drained soil

Hardiness: Hardy to -10 °C 

Size: Grows to approx. 50cm height x 50cm spread


Lavandula stoechas Growing Guide


Planting

Lavandula stoechas is best planted in spring. Plant in free-draining soil – if you are growing on heavy soil, incorporate some good multi-purpose compost to improve drainage. If growing in a pot, add some coarse grit.

Pruning

It is important to prune back lavender after flowering. Cut it back to just below the flower stem, but not so far down as the bare wood. 

Prune annually to maintain a compact shape. 

Once lavender gets old and woody, it is hard to rejuvenate the plant. At this stage, it is best to replace it.


Lavandula stoechas Planting Ideas

 

Lavandula stoechas and cistus in a border. Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Tigerente. Shared under licence


Easy to grow and drought-tolerant, Lavandula stoechas is happy in a sunny border and will thrive in a gravel or rock garden. It is equally happy growing in a container. Position by a path near to a door so you can enjoy the fragrance. 

In beds and borders, purple Lavandula stoechas varieties combine well with pink roses, offering complementary colour and fragrance.

Lavandula stoechas is also fantastic in a herb garden, particularly with other drought-tolerant woody herbs, such as rosemary.


Lavandula stoechas Fact

Lavandula stoechas grows natively in a number of Mediterranean countries. As a consequence, while in the UK we commonly call it French lavender, in America the common name is Spanish lavender.        


Lavandula stoechas 'Lilac Wings' on our 2019 RHS Chelsea Flower Show Garden