Not sure if your lavender is annual or perennial? Find out the three main types sold in Canada and the United States and why the annual variety is so distinct.
Also see common lavender growing problems and solutions to make the most of your plants.
Tips to Identify Lavender (Lavandula)
Lavender | Genus: Lavandula
Lavender Growing Guide
Woody herb / Sub-shrub
• Hardiness Zones 5 to 9
• Full sun 6+ hours per day
• Well-draining soil
• Flower colors: white, pink, blue, purple
• Trim flowers after blooming
• Lavender dye recipe for fabric
Shop Online: Buy lavender at Naturehills.com (US shipping)
With over 45 species in the Lavendula (lavender) genus and over 450 named varieties or cultivars that grow as annuals, short-lived perennials, or (somewhat) hardy perennials, it may be a challenge to identify your specific plant.
But it is very helpful to know the three main types most readily available at plant nurseries (Canada and the United States) to know whether yours is likely a tender annual or hardy perennial.
If you want to grow lavender for a specific purpose, be sure to see the answers to the Frequently Asked Lavender Questions here as each species has its own unique traits and not all lavender is created equal.
We have a problem! Depending on where you are in the world there are different common names for the same Lavandula species. This makes for some comical and confusing misunderstandings in garden forums.
But because just a few species are popular in plant nurseries (listed below), it is worthwhile to learn the botanical names to avoid problems. And Lavandula angustifolia will soon roll off your tongue.
The main thing we need to know when growing lavender is whether our plant is perennial or annual.
As you’ll see with the photos below, the least cold tolerant is Lavandula xintermedia which has a different and distinct flower shape from the others. These are often sold in pots as annuals.
Other popular lavenders are perennial with varying degrees of cold tolerance with several able to survive down to zone 5 or even a bit colder with extra shelter or protection.
If you want detailed growing tips and answers to frequently asked questions, hop on over to The Growing Lavender Guide.
Related: 12 Lavender Crafts & Recipes
3 Main Types of Lavender
These are the three main types of lavender found in plant nurseries (zones 4-8) in Canada and the United States.
True or Common lavender | Hardy (ish) zones 5 to 9
This species was previously known as Lavandula officinalis and Old English Lavender.
You may know it as English lavender: it’s the only one with some agreement on the common name and the most popular hardy lavender species used in North American gardens.
There are countless variations but they are all distinct from Lavandula stoechas (see #3) which is a tender annual.
Regionalized Common Names
- United States – English Lavender
- United Kingdom – English Lavender
- Australia – English lavender (same term also used for L. xintermedia)
- France – La lavande (French for ‘lavender’)
Some Popular Varieties
- Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote’
- L. angustifolia ‘Munstead’
- L. angustifolia ‘Sweet Romance’ (Proven Winners)
Lavandin | Hardy (ish) zones 5 to 9
- These are hybrids of L. angustifolia and L. latifolia.
- You may hear them called ‘lavandin’ or by their variety or cultivar name.
You may not be able to tell by sight if your lavender is Lavandula angustifolia or Lavandula xintermedia but the important part is, if it resembles either of these groups it is likely hardy, possibly down to zone 5.
Some Popular Varieties
- Lavandula xintermedia ‘Grosso’ is the variety most commonly used to produce lavender essential oils, soaps, and lotions.
- L. xintermedia ‘Provence’ is a favorite for its bud scent.
- L. xintermedia ‘Edelweiss’ has white flowers.
- L. xintermedia ‘Phenomenal’ tolerates harsh winters and humidity.
Annual or Tender Hardy Zones 7 to 10
- Can withstand some brief low temperatures.
- Does better with heat and humidity than L. angustifolia.
Regionalized Common Names
- United States – Spanish or topped lavender
- United Kingdom – French lavender
- Australia – Italian lavender
This plant can be fairly long-living so, if you have room indoors, you can try overwintering it in a sunny location.
More About Lavender
- Lavender Growing Tips | Choosing for appearance, fragrance, beauty products, container growing
- Lavender Dye Recipe | Create a natural dye using lavender leaves
- The Lavender Lover’s Handbook by Sarah Berringer Bader
- Lavender: The Grower’s Guide by Virginia McNaughton
This is an older book often mentioned by growers:
- The Genus Lavandula by Susyn Andrews and Tim Upson (2004)
There are also lavender grower’s associations that offer memberships and conferences.
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛