Lavender is an ancient plant that originated in the Mediterranean Region, Middle East and India where the summers are hot and dry and the winters are mild.
Because lavender has been grown for so many centuries it has been used in trade and spread well beyond its native lands. Now-A-Days there are many varieties of lavender that have been cultivated and it can be found growing in countries and on continents around the world.
What States Grow Lavender?
There are many states in the U.S. that can grow lavender successfully due to the many different varieties of lavender plants that are available.
Lavender thrives in hot, dry summer seasons so the Southwest (Texas and Southern California) are ideal regions for lavender to grow.
There is also an area in Washington state on the Olympic Peninsula that because of its location, on the far side of the mountains opposite the ocean, has the perfect arid climate for lavender and is the largest producer of lavender in the United States.
Since lavender has been cultivated for such a long time, there have been many varieties adapted to climates in which it originally would not have done well.
Now there are varieties of lavender that tolerate more humidity like what is found in the Southeastern United States and varieties that are hardier, more cold tolerant so it can be grown in the Midwest.
Washington Island, located off of the coast of Wisconsin’s Door County, grows over 20,000 lavender plants annually.
What Countries Grow Lavender?
The image of purple fields of lavender rolling down the hillsides of Southern France is what most people probably think of when asked, “What countries grow lavender?”. That image is correct, but not complete.
Lavender is grown in many countries around the world – England, Argentina, Cyprus, Japan, Russia, Australia, Turkey and New Zealand all grow lavender. Most of the world’s lavender is actually grown in Bulgaria, followed by France and then China.
Here is a pie chart that breaks down where lavender comes from based on country.
Where Does Lavender Come From?
Lavender is an ancient, old world plant that originated in the Mediterranean Region, Middle East, and India, and has been grown and used by civilizations for more than 2,500 years.
Some historians believe that lavender might have first been cultivated in Persia, or what is modern day southern Iran and that the Phoeniceans, being the great sailors that they were, helped spread it through trade with other civilizations.
The Ancient Egyptians used burial shrouds dipped in lavender during mummification. Ancient Greeks used lavender medicinally to treat issues ranging from backaches to insomnia, and even insanity.
Have you read about a perfume made of “pure nard” being used to wash the feet of Jesus in the Bible? Well, that perfume was made from pure lavender oil.
Lavender oil was used by Arabian women on their hair and skin, and the Romans used lavender in their bath houses. The name lavender is actually derived from the Latin word, lavare, which means “to wash”.
In India lavender was consumed in many food dishes and teas, not only for its flavor but also its calming influence.
In the late 1500’s Queen Elizabeth I of England developed a love for lavender jam, drank it as a tea for headaches, and used it as a perfume as well.
Fast-forward to World War I and lavender was used for its antiseptic properties to help heal skin wounds and burns more quickly. During World War II lavender was used as a surface disinfectant.
Where Does Lavender Grow Best?
Lavender grows best in places that are warm, arid, have lots of sun and sandy soil. Lavender is native to the Mediterranean Region, Middle East and India, and as such does well in warm, dry climates where damage from frost is not a concern.
Lavender plants do not need much water after they are established and do well when planted in areas that have good
air circulation or are windy. Lavender does best with full sun or southern facing gardens.
If the region is arid, lavender can be grown as a perennial and can typically be maintained for about 10-15 years.
When lavender is grown in more humid climates it is usually treated as an annual plant. The soil that lavender is planted in, whether in a container or a garden, must be sandy or rocky and the main requirement is that it be well-draining for the plant to thrive.
You might also be interested in “How Does Lavender Grow?“.
Why Is Lavender Grown Today?
Lavender has been grown for thousands of years and has had many different uses. Lavender has been used as a calming sedative, a natural antibiotic, an antiseptic, an aphrodisiac and a delicious herb in recipes.
Lavender has also been used for its aromatic scent in perfumes and creams, as room fresheners and even as insect repellent. These uses for lavender have spanned the centuries and are still some of the same reasons that lavender is grown today.
The majority of today’s lavender that is produced is used for the essential oil and for its aromatic properties.
In today’s market, lavender’s essential oil is promoted as having many health benefits and being a natural alternative to some medications.
Lavender oil is used to help with relaxation and anxiety, as a treatment for allergies and eczema, and to relieve menstrual cramps and inflammation.
Lavender is still grown today for its well-known aromatic properties also, which are used in perfumes, lotions, soaps, cosmetics, potpourris, and room spritzers.
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