What To Do With Woody Lavender?
Woody Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is one of the most common flowering plants in North America. It grows from coast to coast, with its native range being Canada and Alaska. It’s name comes from the fact that it resembles a wreath made out of leaves or stems. Its flowers are white, oval shaped and have five petals each. They’re small, but they’re pretty big!
The plant is usually found growing along roadsides, in ditches and other open areas. You’ll see them at roadside stands where they sell their seeds or you can grow your own from cuttings. If you live near a city, chances are there will be some sort of commercial nursery selling them. But if not, then you might want to start your own garden from seedlings or cuttings.
If you live in a cold climate, you may want to look into growing it indoors. There are many varieties available. Some are hardier than others and need regular watering. Others like hot weather so they can tolerate flooding.
A few prefer cool temperatures so they don’t get too much sun or frost damage. If you decide to grow it indoors, make sure it gets plenty of light and air circulation because it likes humidity better than dry air.
It takes between three to five years for the plant to grow flowers. During this time it needs full sun or partial shade. It also needs dry soil and poor soil quality. If you see flowers blooming in the middle of summer, it means that the plant is getting too much sun and not enough water.
Cut back on watering and make sure the soil stays moist but not soaked. Wait until the plant flowers again to give it more water after it’s done blooming. If it flowers in the spring, then it needs more water and better soil. If you live in a hotter climate and the plant flowers in the fall, then you need to make sure it gets more sun and that you give it some shade from the heat.
Lavender can grow up to three feet if you allow it to spread out. If you like, you can limit its spread by cutting the stems with scissors or pruning shears when they’re about one foot tall. This also promotes branching and flowers.
During its first year, the plant should be cut back to around six inches. After that, it should be pruned in the spring just before new growth starts. Pruning can be done at anytime during the growing season as long as you remember to sterilize the tools with rubbing alcohol first.
Simply trim off any dead or damaged woody lavender stems and thin out the center of the clump if it starts getting too congested. This lets more light and air in which will help prevent mold and fungus diseases from attacking the woody lavender.
If you like, you can also take a few cuttings to root and have a new starter plant. This is great if you want to give some away or want to start your own woody lavender hedge. Cut a four to six inch section of stem and strip off the bottom leaves. Plant it in a little bit of sandy soil and keep it watered.
It should start growing roots pretty quickly if you do it right.
You can also start your own plants from seed but this takes a lot longer. The seeds need to be kept warm, not cold. Soak them in warm water for twenty-four hours before planting and then plant just under the soil. Keep the soil moist but not soaked.
It can take a month or more for the seeds to sprout.
Woody lavender is not particular about its soil but does need well-drained soil to prevent root rot. It also grows bigger in cooler more mountainous areas than in the hotter lowlands. Its natural soil habitat is limestone which might explain why it prefers cooler mountainous areas.
When you harvest, cut the stems from the base and place them in a basket or bag. The oils are strongest in the stems so that’s what you want to harvest. You don’t want to dig up the whole plant, just the stems. Hang the stems to dry for about a week and then strip off the leaves.
Crush them to help release the oils and then place in a jar with an airtight lid.
The oil can be used in perfumes, sachets, potpourri, soaps or other bath products. It can also be used as a flavoring or additive in foods. The tea can be drunk or the water from the soaking bag used in recipes or as a tea substitute.
The flowers can be used to make a light body lotion, especially good for drier skin. You can also make a face cream by mixing in an oily substance like olive or coconut oil.
Woody lavender can also be used to make a tincture for first aid. To make the tincture, pour a cup of brandy or vodka (or other high-proof alcohol) over two tablespoons of chopped woody lavender stems and flowers. Cap tightly and shake vigorously. Leave it alone for at least two weeks, shaking it every day.
Then strain it through a coffee filter or cheesecloth and pour into a clean bottle. Add 10-15 drops of this tincture to a cup of water and drink, three times a day for the best results.
If you grow your own, it won’t be necessary to harvest woody lavender until it’s had at least two years to grow. Three is better and four or five years would be best. By that time it will have spread to form a nice big patch. It isn’t really necessary to prune it back either.
It will grow back nicely if you just leave the bare stems every once in awhile. It takes about seven years for woody lavender to mature enough to harvest.
Woody lavender is relatively pest and disease free, especially compared to other herbs. The only pests it has to contend with are slugs and snails, which can be deterred by eating them or using iron phosphate in the soil. Fungus can sometimes be an issue but if the soil is well-draining, this isn’t a problem. If you notice fungus growing on the stems, cut those stems out and get them out of the way as soon as possible.
Wood ashes mixed into the soil can also prevent fungus.
If you’re growing woody lavender to harvest, the first thing you need to know is that it has a pretty big growth span. It takes between three and seven years before it can be harvested, at least in a decent enough quantity to be worth it.
Once the flowers have gone to bloom and then seeded, the stems will start to harden and turn woody. They can still be used at this point. It takes a couple more years for them to turn so woody that they are useless, and seven years is the oldest I’d ever recommend harvesting them. So when you decide to harvest, do it in the spring and cut back to the first green stem.
These can then be hung up to dry. If you have limited space, you can cut off the flowers before they seed and dry those as well.
Personally, I choose to just trim off the flowers and leave the rest to dry. This prevents seedy stains all over everything.
Woody lavender can also be used as a hedge. It isn’t thorny like other hedges though so it’s more of a visual barrier than anything else. It also has a nice, earthy smell to it that will prevent anyone from stepping into your garden without permission.
If you’re into magick, woody lavender makes a wonderful tool. It can be burned or mixed with other herbs or incense to help attract love, lift spirits or for protection. It can also be used in sachets to prevent nightmares and bad dreams and to increase the chances of having meaningful dreams. It is also a herb of purification and can be used in spells for healing, consecration and protection.
If you’re just looking for something pretty in your garden, woody lavender is a good choice too. It’s very low-maintenance, grows fairly quickly and can be pruned into interesting shapes or trained to grow up trellises. It’s definitely one of my favorite herbs and I use it as often as possible.
Common Names: Milfoil, deedsmen, knightofthe woundwort, yarroway, thousandleaf, bloodwort, nosebleed
Yarrow has a long and varied history of use in both herbal medicine and in magick. It is native to the northern hemisphere and grows freely in Northern Europe and North America. It gets its name from an old German word meaning “combat” or “war.”
Yarrow was used by the ancient Greeks, Egyptians and Chinese for both culinary and medicinal uses. In ancient Greece and Rome, it was used to dress wounds. The Greek physician, Dioscorides, wrote a whole page about yarrow in his pharmacopeia, De Materia Medica.
Yarrow has long been used as a protective herb and its name may come from the old English word for a bodyguard or champion. Its use as a protective herb is mentioned in the Völuspá or “Prophecy of the Seeress,” which was written in Old Norse around the 13th century and is attributed to the seeress/charlatan/shaman/poet/hunchback/orcish fertility goddess, the Gotinder. In this poem, yarrow is described as being used to make a hedge that kept the monstrous race of giants from venturing any further than the mainland of Norway.
Yarrow was a popular strewing herb (an herb spread on the floors of castles and great houses to give them a pleasant smell) and it is speculated that this is where the idiom, “the best of both worlds,” comes from. This saying comes from a Viking custom of strewing yarrow in the halls before a battle. If the yarrow smelled strong, it would be a sign of victory. If the yarrow had no smell, it would be a sign of defeat.
This phrase could also be linked to the term, “to split the yarrow,” which referred to the process of determining whether or not a person would survive a sickness by tossing a yarrow stalk and examining how it falls.
Yarrow has long been used in magick and as a medicine. The plant represents courage, strength and truth. It is used to increase psychic powers and is known as a psychic shield. Use it in spells for love, money, protection and prosperity.
Yarrow can also be used to strengthen the power of other herbs.
Like all the plants we’ve been discussing, it is used in spells for healing and purification. Yarrow can be tossed on a fire and used to repel or attract certain spirits. Carry it to prevent mental illness or use it in a bath to bring healing dreams.
It is used in spells for protection from all manner of things. Shamans of some Native American tribes use it as a way to see into the future. The leaves can be used for protection or anything that grows from the ground is also protected. This translates as protection for the home and love.
The Yarrow is considered a holy plant by some Native American tribes who used it for purification and in sacred rituals. It is used in spells for psychic powers and to maintain clarity of mind.
In addition, yarrow has long been used in love charms. The scent alone can freshen the air and make it more difficult for negativity to fester. The flowers, leaves and seeds all have their uses in magic.
Use the seeds in all kinds of love magic, especially if you want someone to fall in love with you. You can put them in a love box or mix them with other things.
The leaves can be mixed with other herbs (such as red clover) for healing. Carry them to give you courage and make yourself more attractive. Throw them in the corner of a room to repel negativity.
The flowers can be used in all kinds of love spells. If you want to attract someone, put the flowers in a jar and place it in direct sunlight or moonlight. If you want to make someone fall in love with you, put the flowers under their pillow or in their bed. You can also put the flowers in a red bottle and place it in the light to bend another to your will.
“A hedge of yarrow defend us,
From all perils, evil, and danger;
Wherever we wander,
Oh! let us wander free.”
The plants were believed to have emanated, or sprung, from the blood of a slain warrior and were considered sacred to the ancient Celtic god of war, Nergal (or Niall, among the Irish Celts). It is also thought to had been used in pagan rituals involving human sacrifice. As a result, the plant became associated with death and mourning. The Victorians, however, considered the herb to have healing properties and used it in a variety of folkloric medicinal remedies.
However, yarrow’s most interesting magical property is its ability to produce what is known as a counter-charm. A counter-charm is any talisman or ritual used to ward off the effects of a curse. The most common form of counter-charm in Western culture is the Christian cross. In fact, any herb or potion that is used in time of need can be considered a counter-charm, for it is the act of calling upon higher powers for help and protection.
The Yarrow Plant’s connection to the dead may also give it the power of assisting one in communicating with them. This would make the yarrow useful in divination spells.
This herb is also used in fertility spells.
Yarrow essential oil has a strong scent and should only be used externally.
Yarrow can be found growing wild in most parts of the world. It can also be found for sale in certain herbal shops and through online retailers.
Yarrow grows to a height of between one and three feet and has flat, hairless leaves and tube-shaped flowers that come in white, purple, red, or yellow.
Its linguistic roots are Anglo-Saxon and Germanic, but its magical uses can be traced back to ancient Greece and Egypt.
Yarrow Tea (Infusion)
1 tbsp dried yarrow flowers
1 cup boiling water
Pinch of salt
A piece of lemon rind (optional)
1. Place the yarrow flowers in a cup, then pour the boiling water over them.
Stir in the salt and lemon rind. Cover and let sit for 5 to 7 minutes.
2. Strain out the flowers and serve.
Yield: 1 serving
Yarrow can also be used in sachets and incense for protection and purification. I love this plant so much that you’ll see it used in different ways in many of my posts. It’s just so useful that I think every witch should keep it around, whether in medicine or magic.
And that’s the post about Yarrow! Now go out there and get yourself some! Or maybe just a bottle of the essential oil. I’ll see you next time!
Sources & references used in this article:
Lavender Fields of Palisade by T Spengler – lavenderfieldsofpalisade.com
Growing lavender in Colorado by KA Kimbrough, CE Swift – Gardening series. Flowers; no. 7.245, 2009 – mountainscholar.org
Assessment of suitability and suppressiveness of on-farm green compost as a substitute of peat in the production of lavender plants by G Chilosi, MP Aleandri, N Bruni… – Biocontrol Science …, 2017 – Taylor & Francis
Lavender: How to Grow and Use the Fragrant Herb by ES Platt – 2009 – books.google.com
Cass Turnbull’s guide to pruning by C Turnbull – 2010 – books.google.com