Sunday, November 26, 2006

Lavandula multifida

On a Florida Forum GardenWeb recommendation, I planted this Lavandula species to replace my long-lived Indigo Spires Salvia. My hope is that it will mix it up with the La Marne pink rose (a Polyantha) that grows near the front of the bed. Lavenders by and large do not grow well in our conditions: They love the Mediterranean (or California) mix of hot sun and dry air. The sun we've got (and then some!), but most lavenders just rot in our mix of high heat and lots of moisture. I have managed to keep alive an English Lavender in a pot by keeping it in the shade, under the eves of my gazebo, where it gets hit with the sprinkler every so often. By the end of the summer, it has just a few living shoots of green, but it will recover nicely over the winter and put on a pleasing show come spring. Then I'll move it back into the shade and dry conditions and nurse it through the summer...

According to my GardenWeb sources, L. multifida thrives here. However, unlike its English cousin, I cannot say that it possesses the most beguiling of scents... The first thing that comes to mind is turpentine. That said, it's grown vigorously in the couple of months it's been in the bed. And it's a very attractive plant, with its grayish leaves and bright-blue inflorescences.

I found the following description from the excellent site of Magnolia Gardens and their very smart Plants for Texas program. We here in Central Florida have many (but not all) the same difficulties that our neighbors to the West have. I'd say what grows well there (judging by Magnolia's site) grows well here...

Lavandula multifida is not your typical Lavender that will melt in our heat and humidity. This species stands up to our wet conditions without the usual problems associated with lavenders. Fern Leaf Lavender has many deep lobed, silver coated, green leaves giving the foliage a lacy appearance and has long straight stems topped off with blue bracts usually found in clusters of 3. Lavandula multifida will grow to a height of about 24 inches and is highly aromatic making it attractive to bees. Great for use in borders, beds, and containers. Lavandula multifida is part of our Plants For Texas® Program, meaning it was Texas Grown, Tested in Texas to perform outstanding for Texas Gardens.

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