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Description

The Spanish lavender is the most colorful of the garden lavenders. It grows as a rounded shrub 24-30 in. high, and 2-3 ft. wide. Foliage is comprised of small linear gray-green leaves; flowers spikes feature several large and showy intense purple bracts, and occur on stems extending 4-6 in. above the foliage in early spring.

Spanish lavender comes from warm and dry areas of Spain, Portugal and North Africa where it grows on shallow non-calcareous soils. This species produces the most unique and striking flower character of the lavenders by developing large purple bracts that grow out of the top of its flower heads. Over a dozen cultivars are available from local nurseries and garden centers with pink, purple and white flower colors.

Spanish lavender is a very colorful plant for use in mixed perennial gardens, in mass groupings and in containers. Like other lavenders, it grows well in sunny locations, in well-drained soils and with low to moderate amounts of moisture during summer. It shows tolerance of temperatures to 15°F.

Water Needs

Spanish lavender grows best on well drained soils with normal winter rains and low amounts of supplemental water during summer. Young plants will grow faster and flower longer with moderate amounts of water during winter and spring; established plants grow well with periodic deep irrigation in the summer. Lavenders are vulnerable to disease and rotting problems when their stems are covered in organic mulch and summer irrigation produces moist conditions.

The chart shown below provides a recommended baseline guide to the monthly irrigation schedule and volume of supplemental water needed to maintain healthy growth throughout the average year. It should be noted there are several months marked by an asterisk (*) when winter rains can provide sufficient moisture and irrigation is not needed. The high and low range of moisture indicates it can grow with varying amounts of water; it is desirable to have leaf litter and the top layer of soil beneath the stems dry out between irrigation applications.

Irrigation Schedule and Graph

Low Water Use Plants

Irrigation Schedule 2

  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
Runs per Month 0x to 2x 0x to 2x 0x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 0x to 2x 0x to 2x
Inches per Run 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1"
 
Inches per Month 0" to 2" 0" to 2" 0" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 0" to 2" 0" to 2"

Range of supplemental summer water: 7"-14"
Range of supplemental winter water: 0"-10"

 
0"-2"
0"-2"
0"-2"
1"-2"
1"-2"
1"-2"
1"-2"
1"-2"
1"-2"
1"-2"
0"-2"
0"-2"
  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
For more information on how to use this Irrigation Schedule and Graph, click here.

Plant Properties

Plant Type: Shrub
Foliage Character: Evergreen
Habit: Upright, Mounding, Compact
Growth Rate: Moderate
Height: 18 in. - 24 in.
Width: 2 ft. - 3 ft.
Water Needs: Low 2
Foliage Color: Pale green
Flower Color: Purple
Flower Season: Spring
Soil Adaptations: Well-draining soil, Rocky soil
Exposure Adaptations: Heat, Frost, Drought, Cold hardy, Aridity, All day sun
Function: Wildlife value, Rock gardens, Residential spaces, Raised planters, Mass planting, Grouped, Foliage accent plant, Flowering accent plant, Container plant, Commercial spaces, Civic spaces, Borders, Banks, Attracts bees, Fragrant foliage, Fragrant flowers, Attracts butterflies, Small spaces

Maintenance

For best results, trim back lavender two times per year. Cut back by about 1/3 of the leafy part of the stems once spring blooms start to fade. This will encourage more growth and potentially a rebloom in late summer / fall. Trim back in the same way again once the rebloom fades. Lavenders that are not maintained become woody and may not last more than a few years in the garden. Lavender will not grow back from cuts made in woody growth below the lowest set of leaves, so the regular pruning, at least once a year, is essential to maintain a clean and compact form. Lavender needs well draining soil to stay healthy. If your soil is heavy clay or drains poorly, you may be better off growing lavender as a potted plant. Spanish lavender is one of the easier small-ish lavenders to grow in inland Southern California (S).

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