Today we are going to the lavender, another species of the genus Lavandula very similar to lavender but with some differences. It grows in many parts of the world and is used for therapeutic purposes for some typical respiratory and digestive ailments or disorders. But there is more; There is another, the Alicante lavender ( Thymus moroderi ), an aromatic of the thyme genus with which a liqueur is made in the Levant. We will learn its cultivation in our garden from the first since the flowering is as spectacular or more than the Lavender. And we will comment something about the also called Murcian thyme.
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE FIRST LAVENDER ( LAVANDULA STOECHAS )
The lavender we are talking about today belongs to the Lamiaceae family . The species is of the Lavandula genus , very widespread in the rocky areas of the Mediterranean Sea basin. Lavender is a very rustic plant, which adapts well to different climatic conditions as we will see later and grows spontaneously in many places on the peninsula and part of Europe.
Undoubtedly, speaking of the cantueso, Spain leads in presence with respect to the whole world according to the current distribution shown by GBIF.org.
Cantueso distribution in Europe. Extracted from GBIF.org Lavender is a lavender of medium size like common lavender , about 40-60 cm high, being able to exceptionally (with good soil and irrigation) reach a meter in height or exceed it. The bush, its vegetative part is greyish in color due to its strong tomentose character on the leaves (large amount of hair), with not thick but densely leafy branching and upright posture.
The flowers are united in a showy and compact spike- shaped, oval, cylindrical and slightly angular inflorescence , 2-3 cm long and surmounted by a group of 2-3 well-developed bracts, purple, blue, slightly pink. From our humble point of view they are even more showy than conventional lavender.
The leaves are evergreen, opposite, linear or linear-lanceolate, 1-3 cm long, a few millimeters wide, with a folded margin and pronounced main vein, pinkish-white on both pages.
We distinguish two main subspecies in the peninsula, although there are some more:
- Lavandula stoecha s subsp. pedunculata (It is more resistant to cold and is found in the plateau and mountain areas)
- Lavandula stoechas subsp. stoechas (Found more in the Mediterranean area)
LAWN CULTIVATION CONDITIONS
It supports the heat of the hottest summer and the cold of the coldest winter, in fact it is found in plateau areas where winters are harsh and summers really dry and very hot. Its rusticity is exemplary. It can withstand frosts between -5 and -10ºC. They particularly like sunny and very airy positions.
There is no special problem with the floor. It is also very tolerant but if we have to choose the optimal one then we will look for two characteristics. Good drainage and calcareous soil with neutral or slightly alkaline pH.
Lavender needs not too abundant and not too frequent watering: it is better to wait for the soil to dry out a bit before supplying more water; it normally prefers to stay dry for a few days rather than having a substrate soaked in water. If the soil is kept too moist there is a risk of root rot and fungal attacks. You can get gray mold ( Botrytis cinerea ).
They are not plants that need fertilizers. If the substrate is still very poor and you want to provide some fertilizer, do so at the beginning of the growing season, in March-April.
The lavender, when it finishes flowering, should be pruned to remove all the flower stems. Plants that are a bit weakened and not very compact can be pruned more severely so that only a few cm of stem remain. In this way the lavender plant will grow more, stimulating the development of new shoots , denser and with better vigor.
As a general recommendation, it is advisable that the pruning shears are clean and disinfected to avoid infecting the tissues with viruses, bacteria or fungi.
SPREAD OF CANTUESO
Lavender is propagated by cutting . At the end of the summer period, when the plant has finished flowering, 10-15 cm cuttings are taken from the non-flowering branches of one year. long with a woody part, since for pruning it is recommended to use a well-cleaned and disinfected tool .
Once we have the part for transplantation, it is advisable to “wet” the roots in a rooting agent before planting. We place the cuttings in a pot with a mixture of peat and river sand in equal parts to obtain good drainage, compacting the soil well.
We cover the pot with a plastic bag, taking care to always water, keeping the soil moist and controlling it every day, finally eliminating the condensation formed in the plastic bag. When the first shoots appear, it means that the cuttings have taken root and therefore the plastic can be removed and the plant can be transplanted to a place with good light but protected from cold and drafts, until the following spring. when the new plant will be moved to the outside soil or to a larger pot.
You have to bear in mind that lavenders in general and this one in particular have a high nectar content and are attractive to many pollinators with the benefits that this entails for biodiversity.
MEDICINAL AND AROMATIC PROPERTIES OF LAVENDER
Lavender in general has been known since ancient times for its antiseptic, analgesic, bactericidal, vasodilator, anti-inflammatory properties of muscle aches and is considered a mild sedative . It is the most widely used essential oil in perfumery by far and this variety of lavender is also very aromatic.
In aromatherapy it is used as an antidepressant, soothing, balancing the nervous system, as a decongestant against colds and flu. It is also considered effective in reducing blood pressure and digestive problems.
WE MUST NOT CONFUSE THIS WITH THE OTHER LAVENDER
It will not be the first time that a common name confuses two species that do not even share a gender. This is the case of lavender. And there is a drink, a lavender liqueur that originates from Elche, Alicante and is so called because it is made by distilling lavender but not Lavandula stoechas but Thymus moroderi . It is a drink protected within the specific Denomination of traditional spirits of Alicante. It is a very sweet drink with a lot of aroma and a graduation between 25 and 35% vol. of alcohol.
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE OTHER LAVENDER ( THYMUS MORODERI )
Actually, it should be called cantahueso instead of cantueso, but due to economy of language and its translation from Valencian ( cantauesso ) it has ended up being called the same as the other. And not only that, it is that the flower, at a certain distance, could look a bit like that of the minor lavender. in this case we are talking about a thyme, endemic to the Levantine area of Murcia and Alicante.
This lavender or chanterelle grows in meadows, rocky areas and areas with very poor soils; places with very harsh and prolonged droughts. This plant withstands these climates without problem since it is endemic here. Let’s see what the flower of the Alicante lavender or Murcian thyme looks like. Up close the difference is clear, but it is not so if we see the bush from a certain distance.