Are you considering adding some lavender to your garden or a container this season but you’re not sure which type of lavender to plant? There are several different varieties that all fall under five main types, so picking the correct plant for your hardiness zone and need is important.
With the delicate but strong floral scent and eye-catching purple spikes of flowers, lavender has been a popular plant for over 2,500 years. It’s a Mediterranean native plant, and it’s a perennial herb that thrives in zones 4 to 10. It will produce stunning blue, violet, white, or pink blossoms all summer long to attract a host of pollinators and beneficial insects to your garden.
It’s revered around the world for the sweet, calming scent, and it has several uses in the kitchen, garden, or around the house. Yet, despite how regal it looks, you may be surprised just how easy it is to grow different types of lavender. The secret is picking the perfect variety for your climate, and we’re going to outline 25 great options for you below.
Lavender is a very common plant to have in the garden, especially if you have very sandy or poor soil as this is where it thrives.
Which Type of Lavender to Plant Based on Usage
|Best Drought Tolerance:||Spanish lavenders|
|Best for Landscaping:||French and Spanish lavenders|
|Classic Look and Smell:||Lavandin hybrids|
|Culinary Uses:||English lavenders|
|Fastest Growing:||Lavandin hybrids|
|Longest Bloom Time:||French lavenders|
|Most Cold Tolerant:||English lavenders|
|Most Elegant Stems:||Lavandin hybrids|
|Strongest Scent:||Lavandin hybrids|
|Unique Flower Shape:||Portuguese lavenders|
Main Types of Lavender with Varieties
To find out what is the best type of lavender for your garden, you have to match your hardiness zone with one of the five many types of lavender, including English, French, Lavandin Hybrids, Portuguese, and Spanish. We’ll go a little deeper into each type of lavender below, and list out several varieties under each broader category.
Native to the dry, rocky slopes of the Mediterranean, this type of lavender is the classic “true lavender” that produces very tight blue, violet, purple, pink, or white flower spikes that contrast nicely against a backdrop of aromatic greenish-gray foliage. Herbal and culinary gardeners who want the most fragrant lavender possible should most likely go with an English lavender variety.
English lavenders tend to be fairly hardy, and they can overwinter if you grow them in zones five to eight. However, a lot of northern gardeners rely on frost protection or a microclimate in the coldest regions of these zones. Like most types of lavender, English ones are resistant to drought, and they do best in full sun. They are semi-woody perennials that get between two and four feet wide and two to three feet tall. They are very hardy, and it takes a lot to kill off lavender in this category. A few popular varieties are below.
This English lavender variety grows best in zones five to nine. It’s a very unique blue and fuschia-hued specimen that is called a cushion for the shrubby, compact growth habit. The greenish-gray foliage looks really nice put in rock gardens or along landscape perimeters. It’s a perfect option for small space gardens, and it’s a low-growing type of lavender that spreads up to 18-inches in either direction.
It’ll bloom over and over again throughout the spring and summer to give you a huge amount of fragrance, nectar for pollinators, and color. The flowers will slowly fade to a pretty pastel purple color after they finish blooming, but they’ll keep regularly producing if you prune them.
Munstead thrives in zones three to eight, and it’s one of the hardiest lavender varieties out there. It’s a very cold-tolerant, tough plant that can thrive in winter temperatures down to zone three. It’s widely available on the current market, and it’s a great all-purple type of lavender for culinary use, scent, pollinator attractant, and landscaping needs. The stems can be a bit more crooked than other lavender types, but the pastel purple flowers dry very well while keeping a stronger perfume.
Bees and monarchs are drawn to this type of lavender, and it grows well in zones 5 to 10. It provides you with a stunning display of medium-lilac flowers, but this plant is more cylinder shaped than the traditional stout flower shape that you’ve associated with lavender. It pairs well with multicolored types of lavender like Ballerina, and it produces a moderate fragrance with two blooms per season. The compact growth habit is great for containers, and it’s a fairly cold-hardy specimen that is resistant to deer and other garden pests.
Growing in zones 5 to 10, this type of lavender offers stunning light violet and dark blue flowers that speckle spikes of velvety-feeling blooms. The four-inch long blossoms produce a huge amount of fragrance that attracts pollinators to the space like butterflies and bees. It’s an English cultivar that has long-lasting, tall floral stems that wave in any breeze. Additionally, they’ll rebloom at least one time after the midsummer harvests. They’re perfect for cutting, and this variety will hold the scent and color after they dry.
This is a compact English type of lavender that grows well in zones five to nine, and it’s known for perfectly integrating into small spaces and containers. The extra wide blooms are very aromatic, and they usually bloom twice during every growing season. This variety does well in poor soil conditions, and it’s very resistant to drought. At full maturity, this type of lavender gets up to 18 inches wide and between 12 to 15 inches tall. It produces stems that are more than long enough to put in cut flower bouquets.
The final type of English lavender on the list is Vera, and this one does well planted in zones 5 to 10. If you’re someone who is into aromatherapy, this is one of the best essential-oil producing lavender plants you can get. It will thrive in poor soil conditions on sunny, dry margins of your yard or garden. It blooms later in the spring months and late in the summer for a minimum of two blooming sessions per season. When you store it properly, the blooms release a perfume that will last through the winter months.
This type of lavender gets between 24 and 30 inches wide and 16 to 18 inches tall. It’s considered to be a heirloom cultivar that has been popular in Mediterranean gardens for centuries. It offers excellent cold hardiness and drought-resistance once it establishes itself.
English lavender is one of the more well-known types available due to how hardy they are and how beginner-friendly they can be.
Suited to grow happily in more mild climates in zones 7 to 10, French types of lavender get their name from the needle-shaped, toothed leaves. The flowers are also slightly fluffier than the slender spikes Lavandin hybrids or English lavender offers. They also grow to be topped with terminal bracts that are similar to some Spanish varieties.
They are not quite as strong-smelling or perfumy as English lavender, but they have a very subtle fragrance. The French types of lavender thrive when you put them in gritty soil, in containers, or in rock gardens. They bloom nonstop from summer to fall in zones seven and up. They’re usually ornamental and not often found in herbal or culinary preparations.
This hardy, compact Spanish type of lavender thrives in zones 6 to 10, and it produces darker plum-colored flowers with violet “rabbit’s ear” bracts that fade to a soft pastel pink as the plant ages. This plant is also called Butterfly Lavender, and it’s a cultivar that looks very distinctive when you plant it in your garden. The foliage has a silvery hue to it with a very aromatic scent. This variety will bloom continuously throughout the summer months, and it produces several flushes from May through later fall.
Anouk performs the best when you plant it in poor soil that is rocky, sandy, and dry. It handles drought very well, and they’re fabulous in xeriscaping situations. They work to repel rabbits and deer, and they draw both bees and butterflies in. For the best results, you want to prune or shear this plant back very hard after the peak summer bloom to encourage much sturdier stems in the fall months.
Goodwin Creek Gray French Lavender
Technically coming from the Lavandula ginginsii species, this unique type of lavender grows well in zones seven to nine. It also has one of the longest bloom times of any French lavender variety. It produces very subtly silver-toned leaves that are lobed and sprawl out nicely beneath the erect, cone-shaped flower spikes. The flowers are a dark purple, and it averages roughly 24 inches tall and wide at full maturity. It is a great low-maintenance shrub for beginner gardeners to try.
If you’re trying to showcase how regal French lavender can be in containers or pots on your patio or terrace, or if you need a touch of elegance in your hedges or borders, this type of lavender is one to consider. It grows best in zones eight and nine, and it produces very thick violet spikes with deep magenta, upright ears and bracts that look a little like “fairy crowns” amongst the foliage. It tops out at two to three feet high and wide, adn you want to space each plant 30 to 36 inches apart when you plant them. You’ll get three con
Class and elegance are two words that commonly come to mind when you think of this type of lavender. It’s a pretty variety that offers very green foliage and short but plump spikes of flowers that are a cerise-purple color. The ears are a very delicate pink to almost white, and they have bright magenta veins. It grows best in zones 6 to 10, and it grows nicely in pots on your patio or in borders or flower beds. It gets between one and two feet tall and wide at full maturity, and you want to space each plant roughly 16 inches apart. It’ll flower three times from mid spring to late fall each year.
French Lavender usually has a very distinct and strong scent to it with very cold-hardy plants.
Bred specifically to have an extremely high oil content, this is an English lavender hybrid that falls into the Lavandula intermedia species. They bloom later than other types of lavender, and they have very strong scents. Most of these hybrids are created from crossing Portuguese lavender (Lavandula latifolia) with English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia). Since this is a hybrid, they are usually much more resistant to disease and vigorous. They also come with a very aromatic sage-colored foliage that looks pretty throughout the year in your garden.
This type of lavender is usually one of the most popular options because they are widely adapted to grow in zones 5 to 10, and they have some of the most famous lavender perfume scents like Grosso and Provence. The seeds of this lavender are sterile, so you can only propagate them through cuttings.
The first hybrid on the list grows well in zones 6 to 10, and if you like lavender in your cocktails, desserts, dried ties, or garnishes, this is the type of lavender to plant. It’s one of the most famous lavender varieties of all, it’s a French hybrid lavender plant that has bluish-purple flower spikes that bloom throughout the entire summer.
It’s a bigger bush type of lavender that gets one to three feet tall and two to four feet wide, depending on how you prune it. It produces one large bush of flowers, but the blooms will come with a large amount of fragrance and really be packed on the bush. The graceful, long stems cut nicely for display in dried hanging bouquets or in floral arrangements. It has a moderate cold tolerance, but it hates humid, wet weather that you find in Florida’s Gulf Coast. It thrives in coastal California, the southwest, and in the Pacific Northwest. It likes sandy soil that drains well and has low fertility ratings.
This very distinct type of lavender grows well in zones five to eight, and it produces giant flower spikes that are between two and four feet long. They sit on top of elongated, elegant stems. It’s an award-winning variety for the scent, and it’s also prized for the lavender wands and cut flowers. The number of blooms a single plant produces embodies that traditional lavender field look when they’re flowering, especially if you plant them in clumps or rows in your garden.
This larger type of lavender grows in majestic, big mounds that get roughly three to four feet wide and two to three feet tall. It offers the cold-hardiness that you get with English lavender varieties, and it also has the heat-tolerance Portuguese varieties have while keeping a pleasant floral aroma and a high drought tolerance.
This type of lavender grows well in zones six to eight, and it’s a great option to help fill in those spring and summer bouquets. It’s great for cut flowers, and it has long, straight stems that are covered with dark purple, richly scented flowers. This is a fast-growing hybrid that will reach up to 36-inches tall and bush out to three to four feet wide, depending on how you prune it. You can’t tuck it into small spaces, but they make up for their larger size with a rugged tolerance for rocky, acidic soil.
This lavender type doesn’t do very well in humid climates, but it can survive decently if it gets enough air circulation each day. This majestic lavender variety works well in mass plantings, rock gardens, or herb gardens.
Very similar to Grosso, this type of lavender is a French hybrid that offers classic, large flower spikes. Growing in zones five to nine, it’s renowned for the cold-hardiness and drought-tolerance, but it also performs well in high-humidity, high-heat planting zones. These big-mounded plants will grow deep green, fragrant foliage all year-round and bloom through mid-summer. These flowers are very deeply hued with blue to purple to lilac tones on each spike. They’re a magnet for butterflies and bees, and it’s a very low-maintenance plant that is easy to grow in ornamental, herbal, or edible gardens. YOu just need to give it plenty of space to grow.
Sensational grows well in zones five to nine, and it’s the perfect choice for beginner perennial gardeners. It’s an easy-to-grow and newly improved hybrid variety that produces very big dark blue flowers on a very compact plant. The foliage is silver-toned, and it grows in a bushy habit on very thick stems. It gets roughly 18 inches tall and 24 inches wide, but this goes up to 30 inches tall when it’s in full bloom. You’ll get a moderate to high floral fragrance that thrives well in hot, sunny, and dry conditions.
This type of lavender is also adapted to grow well in humid heat, unlike many of the options on the list. It’ll grow well in the Eastern United States with their damp spring weather. You can expect this plant to bloom in one or two long-lasting flushes from mid-summer to early fall. It’s drought-resistance, extra vigor, and eye-catching flowers make this plant ideal for anyone new to growing lavender as a whole.
These hybrid lavender plants are very hardy, and they usually get selectively bred to have higher oil and fragrance outputs.
Also called spike lavender, this type of lavender falls into the Lavandula latifolia species. This makes it most commonly used to create hybrids in the extremely fragrant Lavandin varieties. Portuguese lavenders tend to have lilac-colored blooms on straight stems, and they have classically-shaped flowers that bees adore. They have a very pungent, strong smell with coarse evergreen foliage. They’re hardy in zones six to eight, and it’s the national flower of Portugal. So, it makes sense that this lavender type will grow very well in Mediterranean-like climates with dry, warm summers and mild, cool winters.
Growing well in zones seven to nine, this type of lavender originates from the higher elevation areas of the western Mediterranean region. You can find it growing wild throughout Southern France, Portugal, and Northern Italy. It’s one of the least hardy lavender varieties on the list, and it can’t survive very cold conditions. You want to grow it as an annual or a container plant in cooler climates.
However, this plant is known for having a higher oil content. It has historically been used to help treat snake venom, and it was also used as an antimicrobial herb. It grows very complex elongated blossoms that are dark purple on the base and fade to a lighter purple on the outer edges. They bloom later in the summer months and stay evergreen all year-round.
There aren’t many varieties of Portuguese lavender available, but you can get ones with a very pungent scent.
The final type of lavender on the list is Spanish lavender, and it’s native to North Africa and the Mediterranean region. It is known for having pretty silver-hued foliage with bigger pinecone-shaped flowers. It may be called Rabbit Ears lavender because some varieties come with bracts on the flowers that stick up like a rabbit’s ears. They grow best planted in zones 8 to 10, and they will tolerate more heat and humidity than other varieties on the list. They’re also hardy down to 15°F or 20°F, but they do prefer warmer weather.
Gardeners in the southern and mid-Atlantic regions of the United States tend to go for Spanish lavender for the resilience into steamy summer weather and the drought resistance it offers. It has a very distinct scent that smells like pine, eucalyptus, or rosemary. It’s usually coveted for ornamental use as a compact, drought-tolerant shrub. This dense, low-growing shrub is about three feet wide by two feet tall, and they work well as filler plants for edging borders in perimeter fence plantings or xeriscaping.
Ballerina is a Spanish lavender variety that grows well in zones eight and nine. It’s a butterfly-style lavender that puts out a pretty display of deep purplish-blue cone-shaped flowers that get topped by white, frilly bracts. This is a bicolor type of lavender that will bloom throughout the spring and summer months, and the foliage looks very similar to how rosemary looks with a very strong scent.
The Royal Horticultural Society awarded Ballerina the Award of Garden Merit as one of the best performing and prettiest Spanish lavenders on the market. It grows well in dry, poor soil conditions, and it looks fabulous in mass or clump planting styles while drawing in pollinators. They also make great low-growing hedges that get up to two feet tall, and they provide nice pops of color in your landscape.
Thriving in zones eight and nine, this type of lavender is a very compact variety that works well in small gardens or containers. It has rounded, plump flower heads with darker blackish-purple coloring and fuschia coloring on the bracts. It’s an evergreen plant in warmer climates and grows in a mounded, bushy shape. The foliage is very close to how rosemary looks, and it grows best planted in rocky, sandy, or chalky soils. You can plant it in border beds, perennial alliums, and patio perimeters.
Kew Red grows in zones seven to nine, and it’s a bicolored lavender plant. The lower flowers are a bold crimson red color and the bracts are a pastel pink with a frilly look. The greenish-silver foliage makes a nice backdrop to contrast with these brighter colors. It tends to grow in a bushy mound that gets 24 inches tall and wide, and it works well in containers or clumped in a low-growing border setup. They need well-drained soil, full sun, and a generous pruning session in the middle of summer to keep healthy. Air circulation is also essential for this plant.
Spanish lavender has odd pine cone-shaped flowers with silvery-foliage that creates a great contrast as it grows.
With such a huge range of plants available, it’s hard to imagine ever getting bored with it in the garden. In spite of the more delicate scent, lavender is a very hardy plant that is eager to grow in poor conditions. Consider testing out a few types of lavender to see which ones do best in your location. You can then take cuttings of your favorites and multiply them throughout the year. Before you know it, your yard will be packed with buzzing bees and the heady, strong scent of lavender.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.