Compact lavenders

Enjoy their fragrant, easy grace in pots or as border edgings

Lauren Bonar Swezey

What's not to love about lavender? Flowers of many varieties have a fragrance so heady that they're used to make potpourri, soap, and perfume; some are also used in cooking.

Most lavenders dry beautifully for bouquets and attract bees and butterflies. There's a species for just about every region, from the coast to inland valleys, mountains, and deserts.

Dwarf lavenders, which stay under 2 feet tall (see list below), are compact alternatives to the common varieties that can grow to 4 feet or taller. They're particularly suitable for small beds, border edgings, even containers.

Best of all, they're simply smaller lavenders with all of the same great qualities as their parents.

When you shop, keep in mind that 'Hidcote' and 'Munstead', two well-known compact varieties, are often grown commercially from seed rather than cuttings; that means their growth habit and flower color will vary. Always buy these varieties in bloom (or from a nursery that sells only cutting-grown plants) so you know what color you're getting.