Choosing between French and English Lavender shouldn’t be difficult.
No doubt, these are two distinct species of lavender —different in appearance, fragrance, and growing conditions.
But choosing between them should come down to your intended use, local climate, and soil conditions.
And to help you make the right pick for your garden, culinary, or aromatic purposes, we have arranged a detailed French Lavender Vs English Lavender comparison below.
But you can glide through the overview right underneath this section.
What Is French Lavender?
French lavender is an iconic fragrant, herbaceous plant from the Mediterranean region, mostly cherished in countries like France, Italy, and Spain.
It is one of the most valuable lavender for ornamental uses due to its delightful fragrance and distinct purple blooms with ruffled, serrated leaves.
How the flower spikes are topped with bountiful bract gives it this unique, decorative look.
However, it is not that valued for culinary purposes because of its poor flavor compared to English lavender. But I’ve seen it case after case used in Mediterranean cuisine.
Aside from that, the French lavender thrives and blooms year-round, mostly in warm, frost-free climates.
Meanwhile, you are only sure of spring-to-fall blooms in areas that receive frost.
What Is English Lavender?
The English lavender is the most popular variety in the lavender species from the Mediterranean region.
It is mostly appreciated for its culinary uses. English Lavender is edible and can add subtle lavender flavor to a wide variety of dishes -for baked goods, garnish, teas, and whatnot.
That doesn’t mean it won’t add a touch of elegance to your garden or landscapes.
The English lavender also sits prevalently amongst the most used in ornamental gardening due to its floral and soothing fragrance with dense, spike-like clusters flower appeal that grows taller and cylindrical.
French Lavender Vs English Lavender: 8 Key Differences
|Type||French Lavender||English Lavender|
|Latin Name||Lavandula dentata||Lavandula angustifolia|
|Hardiness||Zones 8-11||Zones 4-8|
|Size||30-36” tall and up to 40” wide||20-24” tall and 24-36” wide|
|Fragrance||Subtle aroma||Strong floral smell|
|Bloom Time||Blooms continuously all summer||Blooms in spring and again in fall|
|Flower Shape||Fluffier spikes with terminal bracts||Slender spikes|
|Leaf Shape||Toothed or lobed||Straight and needlelike|
|Uses||Ornamental landscaping||Culinary, herbal, crafts, and perfume|
French Lavender Vs English Lavender
French Lavender Vs English Lavender: Fragrance
Whenever Lavender plant blooms it dishes out this exotic fragrance with a unique blend of floral and herbal notes.
But not all Lavender scents are the same.
The English Lavender has more fragrance and persistent aroma than the French variant.
It has notes of sweetness, rosemary, muck, bergamot, geranium, and sage –a potent mix.
Meanwhile, French Lavender is subtle and lightly camphorous and is more earthy.
French Lavender Vs English Lavender: Bloom Time
French Lavender blooms non-stop from spring to fall –as long as it is in zones 7-10. It ALWAYS has flowers on it, which is why it is best for Ornamental uses.
Contrarily to the French Lavender, the English bush won’t hold onto its blossom as much. They only gift you gorgeous flowers and scents in the late spring to early summer.
It then takes a break to bloom in the late summer through fall.
But after the first flower, you must prune the bush to encourage another flush when the summer heat passes.
French Lavender Vs English Lavender: Flower And Leaf Shape
Putting the French and English Lavender side by side, you can tell they look different.
Close-up, the English lavender has slender spikes with a whorl of tiny buds, vibrant purple colors, and flowers.
French Lavander, on the other hand, has noticeable fluffier and thinker spikes, with bracts above the flower reminiscent of the “rabbit’s ear” Spanish types.
French Lavender Vs English Lavender Uses
French is better for landscaping, whereas English Lavender is best for seasoning an floral crafts.
I’m not saying the French varieties aren’t edible. All Lavenders are, just that some taste appetizing than others.
Still, you can use French varieties in baked breads, marinades, and herbes de provence. But bare in min they are more bitter.
Best Lavenders For Their Purposes
Lavenders are mostly used for culinary, ornamental, and aromatic purposes.
But choosing the “best” lavender variety involves three factors: your preferences, specific needs, and growing conditions.
Here are your best options:
Best Garden Lavenders.
For Container Gardens and Flower Pots either of the Lavenders would work:
- Goodwin Creek Grey French Lavender
- Anouk Spanish Lavender
- Silver Anouk Spanish Lavender
- SuperBlue English Lavender
- Thumbelina Leigh English Lavender
Meanwhile SuperBlue, Pastor’s Pride English Lavender, and Phenomenal Lavender draws flock of pollinators like bees.
You can also mix them with traditional pollinator-attracting flowers such as Aster and Echinacea
For creating eye-catching Knot Gardens and Hedges, the Goodwin Creek Grey French Lavender, Pastor’s Pride, Royal Velvet, and Vera English Lavender would do a pretty job with their Contrasting foliage.
However, if your garden is raised on rocks, the Blue Cushion and Thumbelina Leigh English Lavender thrive the most under such an environment.
Best Culinary Lavender Is English Lavender
Any English Lavender would serve as a great handful of herbs for cooking. But for specifics use ‘Munstead, Hidcote, and Blue Cushion Lavender
Best Lavenders For Hot And Humid Climate
Lavender aren’t friendly with hot and humid weather.
However, there are some varieties that are more tolerant of heat and humidity. A good example would be Phenomenal, Anouk, and Silver Anouk Lavender.
They almost seem to have love for such weather.
Best Cold-Hardy Lavenders
Meanwhile, if you live in colder locations where lavenders are suspetible to dieback in the winter months, ‘Hidcote, Munstead, Royal Velvet, and Vera English Lavender or Phenomenal Lavender will suffer very little of it.
Which Lavender Lasts The Longest?
That title goes to French Lavender. However, it is not the Lavender with the longest lifespan.
French Lavender’s bloom can survive past its season, unlike any species.
You can still enjoy its sweet and slightly camphorous scent throughout summer and fall.
However, the Lavender that REALLY stands up to time is the English variant. It can last around five years.
Types Of Lavender And Their Cultivars
There are mainly six lavender species, each with numerous lineage varieties under their names, as presented below.
1. Spanish Lavender
- Kew Red
- Van Gogh
2. English Lavender
- Royal Velvet
- Blue Cushion
- Thumbelina Leigh
- Pastor’s Pride
- Betty’s Blue
- Lavenite Petite
- Nana Alba
- Celestial Star
- Lacy Frills
- Little Lottie
3. Lavandin Hybrids
- Impress Purple
- Hidcote Giant
- Alba White Grosso
- Crystal Lights
4. French Lavender
- Kew Red
5. Portuguese Lavender
6. Egyptian Lavender
Mind you, each lavender variety has its own unique characteristics, including color, fragrance, size, and growth habits —but they also have a lot in common.
So that is all between French Lavender vs English Lavender.
Your decision should be a reflection of your needs.
For instance, if it is for culinary purposes, English Lavender is a much-preferred option since it doesn’t have that much bitter content.
But for Ornamental uses, French lavender is more prominent.
The English Lavender varieties also serve well since they have a more persistent and strong aroma and tend to last longer.
It all boils down to what you want this lavender for.