There are various types of lavender however the three main types of lavender that are most popular are the English, French and Italian varieties. There are many varieties of lavender that have been hybridized which makes them quite easy to grow hardy. The only downside is that if you grow the seeds they will revert back to the original plant. Hybrid varieties of lavender have larger flowers so if you are after a lavender plant that looks good then a hybrid version is what you are looking to find.
If you are adding lavender to your herb garden for the purpose of harvesting the oil or doing other craft work then you need to plant English lavender is the perfect choice as it has a very strong scent. English lavender is without a doubt the most popular variety of lavender. English lavender is recognizable by its small compact bushy appearance, which normally reaches about three feet tall. It has very striking sliver leaves and small mauve flowers that appear at the end of the long stems. The flowers that appear on English lavender plants also come in shades of blue, white and pink as well as mauve. Gardeners will find the highest concentration of oil located in the flowers of the lavender plant.
The French variety of lavender is well known as the most hardy variety of lavender and will generally reach a height of around five feet. If the plant is relieved of spent blooms regularly you will see that your plant will bloom for almost nine months out of the year which makes French lavender an excellent value for your money. The blossoms from French lavender can be trimmed and dried and used in crafts such as potpourri and sleep pillows. If you find a nice sunny spot for your French lavender you will be rewarded with blossoms that are very rich in color.
Italian lavender is the smallest of the three varieties of lavender as it only grows to be around two feet tall. You will find that Italian lavender is a bit more scarce then the English and French lavender but it is well worth the time and energy if you take the time to grow it. Italian lavender is not as highly scented as the other two varieties but will make a very pretty small hedge or ground cover.
The optimal time to harvest lavender flowers for drying is to do so just before the very last flowers have opened. You should harvest the blooms while the weather is still cool so that you will be able to retain the most oil essence. Hand the harvested lavender in a shady and well ventilated area to dry and then remove the flowers from the stems and store in an airtight container.
Most all varieties of lavender prefer to be grown in a sunny area with well-drained soil.
Lavender has been used as a cure for faintness and has a very calming effect. Lavender is also very good if used cosmetically to take care of oily skin problems.