The Difference Between French and English Lavender, And Which Variety to Plant in Your Garden

The Difference Between French and English Lavender, And Which Variety to Plant in Your Garden
Photo: aniana, Shutterstock

Not only does lavender look great on display in bouquets, it also has a clean, pleasant scent that many people enjoy and find calming. And if you’ve ever purchased fresh lavender, you know that it can be pretty pricey. So if you’d like to have an endless supply of the fragrant plant, you may want to grow lavender in your own garden.

Maybe you’ve even tried to do it before, but were disappointed with the results. While there are a bunch of possible reasons why you didn’t have a successful crop, one of them might be that you planted a variety that doesn’t grow well in your climate. Fortunately, an article from Smart Healthy Green Living breaks down the differences between French and English lavender, including where each type grows best.

The differences between French and English lavender

There are four major distinctions between French and English lavender, according to Smart Healthy Green Living: size, blooms, scent, and ideal climate. Here’s what to know about each.

Size

While French and English lavender flowers are roughly the same colour, they differ in size. Specifically, French lavender spreads out — typically growing to about two or three feet in width and height — while English lavender remains relatively compact in size and shape as it grows.

Blooms

When it comes to blooming, French lavender is the clear winner. Not only do its flowers bloom longer than English lavender, there are also more bloom cycles during a growing season.

Scent

There are also differences when it comes to scent. The fragrance we typically associate with lavender comes from the English variety — which also produces a much stronger scent than its French counterpart, according to an article from Gardening Know How. French lavender, on the other hand, has a much lighter aroma that smells a little more like rosemary than what we tend to think of as “lavender.”

Climate

Here’s where you may have run into trouble growing your own lavender. While English lavender is tolerant of a variety of different climates — including ones that have (our at least used to have) four distinct seasons, French lavender is nowhere near as flexible.

In fact, it grows best in zone 8, which has a frost-free period lasting between early April and late October. In the U.S., this zone includes cities like Atlanta, Dallas, and Tuscaloosa, according to Breck’s. Unsurprisingly, one of the places French lavender thrives is Provence.

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