English vs French Lavender

English vs French Lavender

Who wouldn’t mind having a garden of fresh lavender that not only looks like a sea of violet but smells refreshing as well! 

Here is a brief summary of the differences between English vs French Lavender

English Lavender French Lavender
Cold HardinessEnglish Lavender is hardier and can survive harsh winters up to zone 5.French Lavender is relatively less hardier and can survive up to zone 8.
SizeEnglish Lavender is smaller and can grow up to 2 feet.French Lavender is larger and can grow up to 2 – 3 feet.
Bloom timeBloom time for English Lavender is relatively lessBloom time for French Lavender is relatively more
ScentThe scent of English Lavender is stronger.The scent of French Lavender is lighter.
LifespanEnglish lavender lives longer for a maximum of 15 years when given ideal conditions and care. French lavender only lives for 4 to 5 years, even in its native environment.
Soil pHEnglish lavenders tolerate relatively more acidic soil.French lavenders cannot tolerate acidic soil as much as English Lavender.
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Pruning herbs

Both are appealing and the one you should plant depends on several factors and requirements. 

Comparison Between English and French Lavender

Picking the lavender that you want to grow depends on more than just climate and availability.

You may even have some stipulations of your own. Maybe the lavender should be of a certain size only or should be usable in cooking.

After reading through this blog, you should be able to decide on which lavender to grow. 

Size

These days, many space restrictions exist today. But, most lavender variants (French and English) are small on purpose.

This makes them suitable as indoor potted plants. That said, you can find lavender in all sizes. 

English lavender reaches a mature plant size of 20 inches in height and width of 24 inches wide.

French lavenders are 30 inches in height and 35 inches in width.

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Cold Hardiness 

If you live in an area prone to cold and frosty winters, you would need to choose English Lavender.

When it comes to hardiness there is no denying that English lavenders are the hardier lavender variant. They tolerate winters well, even snow, ice, and frost!

The English lavender Hidcote superior can reportedly withstand a temperature of -20℉ (-30℃)!

French lavender, on the other hand, is not as tolerant as English lavender. Most of these lavenders cannot withstand extreme cold especially when snow and ice are prominent.

French Lavender survive better in areas where winter temperatures do not fall below 50℉ (10℃). 

English lavender is cold-hardy towards all USDA zones up to zone 5. French lavender is only cold hardy for up to USDA zone 8. 

Making the choice between these two lavenders is easy if you live in an area with cruel winters! If you are growing lavender outside, English lavender is the best one to pick. But, if you want you can grow French lavender in pots and bring them indoors during winters.  

Is your lavender turning gray? Check here

Lifespan

Lavender lifespan should influence which one you pick. Lavender is attractive, aromatic, and useful. Having it in the garden for a longer time would be nice.

English lavender lives for a maximum of 15 years when given ideal conditions and care. French lavender only lives for 4 to 5 years, even in its native environment.

So, the obvious choice is to buy an English lavender plant if you want a long-living plant for your garden. It can be useful for making hedges and decorating garden borders.

Since it can last for up to 15 years, it happens to be a cost-efficient choice!

But, these lifespans are only valid if you look after the plant properly. One activity that is an important part of caring for lavender is pruning. 

Pruning lavender does two things:

  1. It improves a lavender’s hardiness by stimulating the growth of thick strong stems
  2. Pruning prevents leggy growth and assures plants bloom to their full capacity

If you are looking for a long-lasting lavender that is not expensive in the long run, get English lavender. You won’t have to replace it every 3 or 4 years!

Bloom Duration and Time

A reason why people grow lavender in their garden is the appealing violet, pink, or deep purple flowers they produce.

It makes for an unforgettable sight that is even more beautiful with the presence of silvery-green foliage. On top of that Lavender has an aromatic scent! 

Although flowers on each variant are similar in size, their collaboration and bloom duration vary greatly. The flowers on English lavender do not last as long as the ones on French lavender plants.

French lavender flowers last several months (2-3 months) while English lavender lasts only a few weeks (3-4 weeks). All lavenders bloom at least once while some can even bloom thrice in a year. 

Meaning if you want long-lasting scenic flowers and aromatic scents, French lavender is the best option.

But that’s only if the conditions are ideal enough to support this lavender variant. 

Interested in lavender flowers only? Get to know when and how long does lavender blooms. 

English lavender blooms in midsummer. French lavender flower in summer.

The flowers of all lavender bear a scent and so does their foliage. Flowers of lavender are very special because they are appealing and fragrant unlike other flowers in their natural terrain. But, that’s not all! 

Lavender flower buds are the portion that finds application in industry and in the culinary world as well. 

It will be tough to choose which lavender has better flowers. English lavender flowers have more uses but French lavender flowers last very long. We’ll call it a tie!

Scent 

The scent of lavender is so popular so much so that the smell is named after the plant. The fragrance is produced by all lavender plants, even hybrids. The smell from Lavender is strongest during the Spring season. 

Both variants, English and French are known to produce an aroma from their foliage throughout the year. 

However, English lavender has a much stronger scent. It is closer to what the real lavender smell is like.

French lavender is subtle, not so pungent, and is commonly similar slightly to the aroma of rosemary. 

Although both produce an appealing scent, the one of English lavender is more popular. In fact, a number of English lavender varieties (Hidcote, Mundstead, and Vera) are grown commercially just for their fragrance. 

Some French varieties also bear good fragrant properties. Among these is the variant Lavender Grosso. This hybrid lavender variant bears the fragrance and hardiness of English lavender. But it also bears the flowering properties of French lavender. 

Soil pH

All lavenders prefer to grow in basic pH levels and neutral pH levels. This is their natural condition which they grow well in.

Lavenders grow well in slightly alkaline soils up to pH 8. They also grow in neutral soils of pH 7.

If the soil is not alkaline enough, adding lime to the soil can increase the pH level.

You can check back on the pH levels in the soil with a soil test kit. Do not attempt to grow French or hybrid lavender in acidic soils as it will not work. 

English lavenders tolerate acidic soil levels better than French lavenders.

It can grow and flourish and bear a bountiful amount of flowers. 

If you have acidic soil, you should choose to grow English lavender. But, if you are able to amend your soil you can also grow French lavender. 

Similarities Between English Lavender and French Lavender

These two lavender variants do have distinct differences. However, when looking at the care and conditions that they both require, they are more similar than we think.

Taking care of an English lavender plant is no different from taking care of a French lavender plant. 

Here are some of the most common similarities between English and French lavenders. 

  • Both require well draining soils with a high sand or gravel composition
  • Hot climates that offer 6 to 7 hours of sunlight a day are required for both
  • Minimal watering every week or 2 weeks in the case of mature lavender
  • Both require soil that offers low to medium nutrient levels. Overly fertile soil will make the plant leggy and not bear flowers. The soil also has to have an alkaline pH for lavender to grow best. Neutral pH is tolerated but an acidic pH could kill or stunt lavender growth
  • Plants should be grown apart to allow air currents to dry out moisture. Plant them 2 to 3 feet away from each other
  • Pruning should be constantly carried out. Do it once between the Spring to Fall season. It stops the stem from becoming woody and splitting open. 
  • Choosing the right pot or location is essential for growing either lavender variant. The location or pot should be put in the sun away from rain and wind. Pots made from terracotta or clay are best for lavender plants.

Which lavender is better English or French?

So, which lavender variant is better for you? Well, the answer to that question depends greatly on your personal requirements.

Are you growing the lavender for its appearance, its scent, or for its useful products?

If useful and long-lasting flowers are your desire, English lavender is best for you. The lavender plants will last a maximum of 15 years if cared for properly. 

But, if you are interested in just having appealing flowers, French lavender is the better of the two lavenders. They are shorter, denser, and present in many more different colors. 

Lavender is commonly grown in the garden unless you have a smaller variant that can be maintained in an indoor pot plant.

FAQs

Which is the most fragrant lavender?

The most fragrant variant of lavender belongs to the category Lavandula x intermedia (commonly called by the name Lavandin). It is a hybrid cross between English Lavender and Portuguese Lavender.

Is French or English lavender edible?

The most common edible lavender is English lavender that is called Lavandula augustifolia. The Lavandin variant of lavender is edible but is not as widely used and cultivated for products like the English lavender variants.

A popular hybrid lavender variant that is edible is the Lavandula x intermedia ‘Grosso’ variant.