Lavender is a popular flower known for its light purple color and sweet floral aroma. While the standard lavender plant produces rich purple blooms, there are certain varieties that have lighter shades of lavender or even white flowers. These paler versions provide options for gardeners or florists looking to integrate more subtle lavender tones into their designs. In this article, we’ll explore some of the most popular options when it comes to lighter lavender flowers and plants.
What Causes Lavender to be Lighter?
Lavender flowers derive their color from anthocyanin pigments within the plant. The specific types and concentrations of these pigments determine the resulting color. Standard lavender contains higher levels of the anthocyanins delphinidin and cyanidin, which lend that rich royal purple shade. Varieties with lighter blossoms tend to have lower concentrations of these two pigments.
Additionally, some lavender plants produce higher levels of other anthocyanins like pelargonidin, peonidin, and petunidin. These contribute more pink or red undertones, diluting the intensity of the purple. The combination of lower purple pigments and higher red or pink pigments reduces the saturation, leading to softer pastel lavender hues.
Environmental factors can also affect color. Higher sunlight exposure tends to deepen flower color, while shade results in paler blossoms. The soil pH also impacts pigment production. More alkaline soils generally intensify purple anthocyanins, while acidic soils promote the pinker shades.
Pale Lavender Varieties
Many different lavender cultivars produce lighter blossoms. Here are some of the most popular varieties grown for their soft lavender shades:
Lavandula angustifolia ‘Munstead’
This English lavender variety grows round, compact bushes covered in delicate pale blossoms. The flowers emerge a very light lavender-pink and soften to an almost white color as they mature. ‘Munstead’ makes a great low hedge or border plant. It also works well for dried arrangements.
Lavandula stoechas ‘Albanian’
Sometimes called French lavender, L. stoechas blooms later than other types, extending the lavender season into fall. ‘Albanian’ has showy plump flower heads on short stems, with ruffly petals in light lavender-pink. The variety is heat and drought tolerant.
Lavandula angustifolia ‘Nana Alba’
Also called dwarf white lavender, this variety has a mounded form growing 12-18 inches tall. Its compact shape makes it ideal for edging beds and walkways. From late spring through summer, it produces an abundance of white blooms above bright green foliage.
Lavandula angustifolia ‘Melissa Lilac’
This variety yields profuse, fragrant lavender flower spikes that open a pale lilac color. As they mature, the blossoms fade to an almost pure white. The 18-24 inch bushes maintain a tidy mounded shape. ‘Melissa Lilac’ works nicely in rock gardens.
Lavandula x intermedia ‘Edelweiss’
A cross between English lavender and Portuguese lavender, this variety has slightly larger flowers on long stems, reaching 30 inches tall. The blossoms emerge a very pale pinkish-lavender, fading to white as they open fully. The flowers make nice cut stems.
|Lavandula angustifolia ‘Munstead’
|Pale lavender-pink to white
|Lavandula stoechas ‘Albanian’
|Lavandula angustifolia ‘Nana Alba’
|Lavandula angustifolia ‘Melissa Lilac’
|Pale lilac to white
|Lavandula x intermedia ‘Edelweiss’
|Pale pinkish-lavender to white
Growing Conditions for Pale Lavender
Lavender thrives best in full sunlight and well-drained soil. Good airflow is also important to prevent foliar diseases. Here are some tips for getting the best results from paler lavender varieties:
– Plant in spaces that receive at least 6 hours of direct sun daily. Morning sun is ideal.
– Improve drainage by mixing compost or gravel into heavy clay or silt soils before planting.
– Space plants 18-36 inches apart depending on variety size to allow for airflow.
– Avoid overwatering which can lead to root rot. Let soil dry between waterings.
– Apply slow release fertilizer at planting and again in early spring. Avoid high nitrogen products.
– Prune plants after flowering to remove spent blooms and shape plants.
– Protect from strong winds, which can damage flowering stems.
With proper siting and care, pale lavenders will thrive for years, providing delicate color and fragrance.
Uses for Subtle Lavender Varieties
The softer tones of light lavender flowers lend themselves to some unique uses where deep purple hues would be overpowering. Here are some ways to incorporate these pastel lavender varieties:
The compact growth habit of varieties like L. angustifolia ‘Munstead’ or ‘Nana Alba’ make them perfect low hedges or edging plants. They can delineate spaces with subtle color.
The low mounding forms and delicate blooms of pale lavender are perfect accent plants among rocks and gravel.
Plant light lavender in pots and window boxes paired with pinks, whites, blues, and other pastels for a soft color effect.
Use pale lavender bushes or hardy perennials like ‘Edelweiss’ along borders to transition from brighter purples to softer whites.
While less pungent than some bolder purple varieties, light lavenders still emit a sweet, soothing fragrance. Plant them along walkways or near seating areas.
The flowers and flower buds of pale lavender dry beautifully. Use them in potpourri or as everlastings in dried floral wreaths and bouquets.
Weddings and Events
Sprays of light lavender flowers make dainty additions to wedding bouquets, centerpieces, and other floral arrangements for special events.
Gardeners and florists looking for a lighter take on traditional lavender have many pastel options to choose from. Varieties like ‘Munstead’, ‘Albanian’, ‘Nana Alba’, ‘Melissa Lilac’ and ‘Edelweiss’ offer blossoms in soft lavender-pink, lilac, and white tones. Their subtle coloring suits them well to edging, rock gardens, containers, borders, fragrance gardens, dried arrangements, and wedding flowers. With proper care providing sunlight, well-drained soil, and good airflow, pale lavender varieties can add their delicate beauty to the garden for years. Whether used in the landscape or in bouquets, light lavenders provide a graceful note when the vibrant purple blooms feel too bold.