If you’re looking for an elegant, eye-soothing color for your native garden, Desert Lavender (Hyptis emoryi) should be among your top choices. Not only does this plant lights up your garden with charming silvery foliage and lovely purple flowers, it brings delightful lavender fragrance to your home as well.
Desert Lavender belongs to the family of Lamiaceae (the Mint family), which includes mostly herbs or shrubs, usually with stems square in cross-section. In nature, Desert Lavender grows on dry washes and rocky slopes up to 3000 feet. It is usually found in the southwestern United States of Arizona, Nevada and California. Like most desert species, Desert Lavender has a strong survival ability. It is fast-growing, reaching up to 10 feet high and is covered with oval pale green leaves. This plant does its best in well-drained soil. The hairy surfaces of its leaves help the plant hold onto the water that is mostly taken from small amounts of rainfall. Be careful not to overwater; soil that gets too moist will cause the roots to rot.
During cooler months in the Middle Desert (2000-3500 feet elevation), Desert Lavender tends to become dormant, but rarely loses any leaf. In Low Desert (0-2000 feet elevation), you should plant your Lavender in autumn and right through the winter since it will not turn dormant until the temperature drops below 32 degree F (about 0 degree C). Depending on location, Desert Lavender can be evergreen or cold deciduous.
Desert Lavender flowers are small and surrounded by woolly sepals. When summer comes, the lavender-scented flowers are favored by honeybees and marine blue butterflies. Please note that this plant does not require fertilizer. In fact, it is believed that not fertilizing will encourage greater production of fragrant oils.
One more interesting thing about Desert Lavender is that its leaves can be used to flavor tea. So, if you have this plant, don’t forget to invite your friends over for a special homemade drink ! Not only does Desert Lavender tea taste good, but it also has some medical benefits, such as easing your usual nausea, anxiety and stomach flu. When used externally, Desert Lavender leaves can help treat your wounds, inflamed skin, and bee stings.
Desert Lavender is now available at the Middlebrook Center’s Plant Nursery, located at 76 Race Street, San Jose, CA 95126.
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Eowyndbh. “84/86 Desert Lavender, Trumpet Creeper, Horebound”. Wild Edible and Medicinal Plants. Key2liberty. 27 January 2012
John. “Sonoran Plant Profile – Desert Lavender”. Desert Tortoise Botanicals. 15 April 2013