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Alternatives To Lavender – Culinary, Oils & Garden Planning

It can be hard to know what the best alternatives are to certain plants in our gardens and kitchens. Some plants and herbs seem irreplaceable, however let’s look at substitutes for lavender in your home.

In a garden catmint or rosemary make a great alternative for the seas of coloring flowers much loved in Summer. Essential oils that also aid relaxation include chamomile, marjoram, melissa and bergamot.Substitute lavender recipe ingredients include rosemary and Herbes De Provence.

Some of these replacements and alternatives work better than others and it pays to look more closely at where you will be substituting lavender.

alternatives to lavender in your garden
Catmint, Hyssop and Rosemary all make good alternatives in the right bed.

Alternatives To Lavender In The Garden

Whether you have a lavender border to a pathway or as flowering plants in pots you can find that they don’t thrive in your own garden.

An alternative to lavender in a border is catmint or nepeta faassenii. Easy to grow this lovely aromatic plant is a perennial that, once established will have a long flowering period. Compared to lavender, catnip has similar colored spike of flowers, although they are a little more open than lavender.

The one main difference is that you will not have foliage from catnip all winter as it requires a heavy prune in late Fall. Lavender will always provide a focal point and scent when brushed past. Not too big a problem in a busy border, but when we are looking to plant a lavender hedge or line a pathway catnip may not be the best all year round option.

Best Lavender Alternative In A Border

A path or border is often a location where you want a shrub that will offer permanent structure as well as scent and a point of interest. When lavender is not the best option then you can look to rosemary instead.

Rosemary makes a great alternative to lavender in a border, as long as you choose a compact rosemary, like Miss Jessop’s Upright to avoid a structural shrub taking over your pathway. You will have year round foliage and flowering stems, in between leaves.

However rosemary loves very similar growing conditions to lavender, all be it a lot more hardy and easy to care for. Ensure that you have free draining soil and good access to daylight.

For a perennial that will come back each Spring, hyssop makes a lovely replacement for lavender and is a little less fussy about hours of sunlight needed. Relatively easy to grow and will flourish in a border or Country cottage style garden.

alternatives and substitutes for lavender in recipes

Lavender Replacements & Alternatives In Cooking

When used in cooking dried lavender flowers provide gentle floral notes to soften the pungency of other Mediterranean herbs or as a flavor in it’s own right. Used in the North American version of Herbes De Provence and matched with rosemary, thyme and oregano.

If you are using lavender in savory dishes, like chicken or fish you can add rosemary in moderation to replace it, do not replace like for like as rosemary offers a pungency not present in lavender. When using herbes de Provence check the ingredients and you may be able to replace lavender with this.

TOP TIP – If you are using a pre-made herb mix to replace lavender then check the other ingredients and reduce them accordingly in the rest of your dish. So if your recipe called for Rosemary, but your herb mix also contained rosemary, then you may be able to reduce how much you add in addition to the herb mix.

Replacements For Lavender In Home Baking

Culinary lavender can be an expensive and hard to get hold of ingredient. Have a look at some of the options we use and see which would work best for you.

If you are baking with lavender and want a good replacement then look to vanilla or rose extract. The sweetness is matched with vanilla but you will miss some of the floral element. Therefore if a recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of lavender flowers you can use 1 teaspoon vanilla extract with 1 teaspoon dried rose petals.

A close second place some to freeze dried raspberry as you will get a good texture and color but without the delicate floral flavor of lavender.

alternatives to lavender essential oils

Replacements & Alternatives For Lavender Essential Oils

You may use lavender to help with sleeping and reducing anxiety. Here are some suitable alternatives for lavender essential oils for those who find the aroma over powering.

  1. Clary Sage essential oil is a natural sedative known to aid relaxation and give a greater depth to sleep. Use in a diffuser or shower steamer just before bedtime and incorporate it into a healthy bedtime routine.
  2. Melissa or lemon balm oil is known for it’s restorative qualities and it will help to reduce stress and allow you to prepare for sleep. A great replacement for the citrus and floral notes of lavender, but with a softer edge.
  3. Hyssop essential oil is perfect for meditation and relaxing before bedtime. It has a calming effect similar to lavender and can be used in a similar way.
  4. Chamomile essential oil has a sweet apple like aroma with gentle notes that may otherwise be lost if you use it alongside lavender. Instead use with hyssop or Lemon Balm to produce a relaxing atmosphere and calm place of solitude. Ideal in a diffuser that has been allowed to work in your bedroom whilst you meditate just before bedtime.
  5. Sweet Basil essential oil offer the citrus sweetness of lavender without the floral notes. It is a great alternative as it will help to aid clarity and ease anxiety before sleep.
  6. Rosemary essential oil offers a woody and earthy note that will help to aid relaxation and offer a calming effect. Use rosemary in a diffuser during your bedtime routine or as a diluted oil for massage.
  7. Valerian essential oils are known for aiding sleep, distilled from the root. Reduce the number of droplets you use in your diffuser as this powerful essential oil is not a like for like alternative to lavender. If your usual routine would include 2 drops of lavender essential oil, now replace it with 1 drop of valerian.
  8. Sweet Marjoram essential oils are known to contain medicinal qualities as well as earthy and piney notes. A mixture of gentle floral scent with a warmth that you would expect from a Mediterranean herb. Marjoram is used to relieve stress and tension as well as for those suffering with fatigue. Ideal in a diffuser as a replacement for lavender to aid relaxation and help move you to a long night’s sleep.
  9. Bergamot essential oils offer the citrus notes that you are looking to replace in lavender. An ideal essential oil to mix with clary sage to lighten and lift your feelings of anxiety or depression. This essential oil has been used for years to uplift and allow you to waken up brighter and recharged. Use as an alternative to lavender alongside other herbs in a massage oil or pillow spritz.

Replacements For Lavender Herbal Tea

It can be hard to source lavender all year round and sometimes we all want a relaxing cup of tea, but the floral notes may be too overpowering or you may want to mix a new herbal ingredient into the mix.

Chamomile is a similarly relaxing herbal tea to lavender and will go well when mixed with mint or even a lighter note of rosehip. The addition of lemon balm is great for adding citrus notes with a lightness not really seen in mint.

Make sure to steep your herbal infusions for best results for around ten minutes.

What Next & Further Reading

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