Lavender has been used for centuries. With its distinct aroma and countless applications, this flower has won the hearts (and health) of millions.
Back in ancient times, Romans and Egyptians would use lavender as perfume, as well as for bathing and cooking. Since then, a multitude of different health benefits have been discovered about the plant, making it one of the most popular on the market.
Health Benefits of Lavender
Lavender is a powerful antioxidant and antimicrobial, and has sedative, calming and anti-depressive properties. One of my favourite ways to use it is by growing it (so that it can help me feel calm while in my home) or by putting a little bit of lavender essential oil on my wrists and neckline to be fully inundated by the aroma.
Here are some reasons you should start growing your own lavender:
1. Antioxidant Protection
Lavender is a natural antioxidant that can increase the activity of the body’s most powerful antioxidants – glutathione, catalase and SOD.
2. Improves Mood and Reduces Stress
Lavender has been traditionally used to reduce migraines, stress, anxiety and depression. One study found that supplementing with 80 milligram capsules of lavender essential oil alleviates anxiety, sleep disturbance and depression (with no adverse side effects). Diffusing lavender in your home, or simply putting a lavender plant in each bedroom can significantly help reduce your stress and anxiety.
3. Supports Brain Function
Research has found that lavender oil also acts as a natural treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. Inhaling lavender essential oil vapour can help prevent brain oxidative stress and improve cognitive impairment. – imagine what having lavender plants scattered throughout your home could do!
4. Heals Cuts and Burns
One of the most famous accounts of burn healing comes from lavender. A famous french chemist and scholar named René-Maurice Gattefossé treated burned soldiers in military hospitals during the First World War. He did so after discovering that lavender essential oil basically cured his own third degree burns without little scarring. This is all thanks to the chemical constituents of lavender, namely Lineally Acetate and Linalol, which have local analgesic and anesthetic effects.
5. Relieves Headaches
Lavender is particularly good at relieving tension or migraine headaches, because it induces relaxation and relieves tension. One study found that people struggling with migraine headaches saw a significant reduction in pain when they inhaled lavender for 15 minutes. Of the 129 individuals who had headache attacks, 71% of them responded entirely or partially to lavender.
6. Improves Sleep and Insomnia
It is no surprise that lavender helps with sleep and insomnia. It’s sedative and calming properties allow it to improve sleep and essentially treat those suffering from insomnia. Inhaling lavender has been shown to reduce sleep disturbance, improve duration and quality of sleep, as well as fight insomnia and improve overall well-being.
7. Relieves Pain
Did you know that lavender acts as a natural painkiller? If you’re suffering from arthritis or any other issue in the body that might be causing pain, you can rub lavender into the area to help reduce inflammation and pain intensity. It can also help when rubbed into the lower abdomen to reduce intensity of menstrual cramps.
Another benefit of lavender is that it keeps the bugs away! I love using lavender all over my clothes before I go out during the night in summer, because mosquitoes hate it!
Growing Lavender Indoors
Not surprisingly, it loves 8 hours of full sun, great drainage and good air circulation. Once matured, it is even drought tolerant.
Hence, it’s important to avoid wetting its foliage by letting the soil dry out between watering and only watering the plant at its base.
And so, it’s a good idea to plant lavender in a large flowerpot with a drainage hole and plenty of loose gravel at the bottom. This will improve air flow to the roots and keep them from rotting. The plant itself may seem quite small, but lavender has a large root system and will feel suffocated in a small pot.
As far as soil goes, lavender prefers a mix of peat, vermiculite, and perlite, but it will tolerate regular potting soil. Spoil it by placing mulch at the base of the plant to create a barrier between its foliage and freshly watered soil.
Lavender doesn’t require a lot of care, but it does require yearly pruning.
Since the plant is a semi-shrub, it will start to get woody over time. A little wood is okay, but too much will kill your plant.
And so, pinch off the tips of a new plant as it grows and after it blooms to encourage new shoots and shape.
Once it’s about a year-and-a-half old, prune it yearly, cutting down 2/3rds of the plant. A good rule of thumb is to prune down to the 3rd node above the old wood.
Keep In Mind
Lavender will go through blooming periods, meaning that it won’t hold its flowers year-long. However, the plant does have fragrant foliage, so picking a stronger-scented plant will ensure that you can still enjoy the lovely smell of lavender even when your plant is not in bloom.
On the other hand, if you’re prone to scent-related headaches, pick a softer-scented variety. Lavender can smell very strong when in bloom, which can be unpleasant for people with a sensitive sense of smell.
Lastly, lavender is toxic to cats and dogs, so make sure to place it out of the reach of reach of children and pets.
There you have it! Everything you need to know for growing lavender indoors and getting the benefits of lavender every time you come home.